The age of the smart phone gives us a vast world of mobile applications or “apps”. The newest app on my phone is called Duolingo. My biggest regret of my undergraduate career was not having the time to pursue Arabic. I chose to fulfill my language requirement with Mandarin Chinese, which I am happy to have been able to learn. Software like Rosetta Stone can cost a fortune and learning a new language takes a lot of commitment, one that in particular is easily motivated and engaged within a classroom that has structure and a professor that is able to allow guidance. I was under the impression that learning another language may not be as easy after I graduate at least until I downloaded this.
With a green owl as the icon, Duolingo changes the face of learning a new language. It has only been on the market for eight months and is available for both Android and Apple products. The languages available are Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. It divides the language into various lessons that consist of four to six sub-lessons. It starts at the basics and you are not allowed to move on to the next lesson until you unlock it by satisfying the previous one. The lessons are EXTREMELY interactive and consist of translating from English to the language you’ve chosen, vice versa, matching vocabulary with pictures, speaking, and hearing audio and translating it. The app’s interactive nature not only keeps you on your toes, but keeps you from being bored. It makes learning fun. Another aspect of the app that makes it extremely addicting is the idea that learning a new language is somewhat like a game. You get three hearts within each sub lesson, which represent three lives in a way. Make more than three mistakes and its back to the beginning for you! The idea that you have to unlock the levels gives it a game format as well.
The app gives you the ability to disable the speaking portion, which is perfect for commutes. As a school of communication and school of arts and sciences student, I am between campuses and am no stranger to a commute. Usually I would throw in my headphones and have Chiddy Bang or Drake blasting in my ear, but since downloading this… I’ve found that French seems to make my commute a lot more entertaining and even productive. It also helps that the app is completely free as well!