Friday, August 10, 2018

In Praise of DuoLingo

For a few months, Adolf has been teaching himself to speak Spanish.   (Well I AM retired.)

The vehicle for instruction is a website called Duolingo which teaches any of some thirty odd languages over the internet.  One of the good things about it is it's free.  Yes, you don't have to pay a  cent.

About fifteen years ago, I started to learn Spanish before travelling to Argentina for two weeks.  I used a programme called the Rosetta Stone which was on a CD.   The initial or basic phase was covered off on one CD which cost about $30.00 (from memory) but the next CD which took you through to some degree of fluency cost over $500 so I said 'to hell with it.'

I must say even the basic stuff was helpful.  I could understand a menu in a restaurant and converse haltingly with a waiter.  The Cook and I took a day trip by minibus from Mendosa up to the Chilean border.  The 'English' version was $75 and the 'Spanish' version was $25.  We went 'Spanish' and got by, just.   As an aside, the shade temperature in Mendosa at noon on that October day was 38 degrees while we were standing next to a thirty foot snow drift close to the border, looking up at Mt Aconcagua.

Today, I'm quite a way advanced from that level but now I need to find someone who speaks Spanish so that I can go and chat over a coffee or a beer once a week.

Duolingo uses pictures, written and spoken word, with translations required both ways.  Best of all, if you think you have been wrongly marked on a question you can report that to the operators.  I have been impressed by the speed with which they have come back with 'we now accept your translation.'

Further, there are numerous fora where one can go and discuss linguistic points with other students, some of whom have been users for a very long time.   I see from Wiki there are over 2 million users and that Spanish is the most popular language.  BTW that's Central American Spanish, not Spanish Spanish but who cares?

I expect it will be a long long time before you can learn Te Reo on Duolingo.


Alan Hancox said...

Its good to do positive things in retirement, might do something similar soon. At the moment I am restoring an Alfa Romeo classic sports saloon. So when I finish I might try Italian, to fit in with the car.

David said...

I expect it will be a long long time before you can learn Gravedodger on Duolingo.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Very droll! I think GD even would approve.