Short essay about my experiences on duolingo.com

Posted on Mo 08 Oktober 2012 in Learning

Well, it has been a hell of a time since I updated my blog. Honestly, I was kind of unmotivated doing anything on my VPS, but recently I solved some old issues (setting up DNS server, general administration things on my ubuntu 12.04) and I thought: Yeah, it's definitely time to feed my countless readers (yeah, you just met the first time my irony) with new interesting nibbles. And since I am a more or less motivated Spanish student, I thought I could share my pros and cons with duolingo.com.

I started learning Spanish approximately 5 months ago, when I began my spontaneous planned trip to Costa Rica. I was brutally thrown into (at least compared to Europe) very poor country and took for 5 weeks Spanish classes. Retrospectively, I'd say that I learned pretty quick how to communicate and express myself, but I completly fucked up my understanding of the language on the long term, because I learned it on the incorrect way. Before I even understood what my discussion partner intented to say and would have exposed me therefore in a silly but perfectly normal situation when I requested the unknown word/sentence, where I would need to reveal that I didn't understood,  I just continued chatting and babbled in incorrect Spanish, just to save the conversation and my misplaced ego. Back in Europe, I realized that I need to build up a solid fundament, before I dare myself to improve, so duolingo.com came convenient.

First of all: Duolingo.com is absolutely addictive. You can gain skill points to monitor your learning curve and you can even track other learners to compare, which additionaly boosts your ambition. There are lots of courses and you need roughly 3-5 months to complete the grammer part, if you learn 100 points each day. I need normally around 45 minutes to gain my 100 points. Then every course consits of a translation part, which states the initial purpose of the whole platform and will bring light into your smouldering question: Why the hell offers duolingo.com free high quality language curses, whereby other platforms sometimes claim for an equivalent supply a great amount of money?

Well, the idea behind duolingo is, that the many hundred thousands learners will translate documents. These documents could be blog entries of a very successful internet platform in the english language area. But now, the 500 million Spanish speaking people on this earth can't access this obviously interesting information and therefore, a lot of potential advertising consumers are just lost. The idea is, that the thousands of learners translate these valuable information for to make them accessible by other target groups. Duolingo.com plans to sell translation services and I asume that out there in the wildlife, such a service is sought. Now that we discussed the general concept behind duolingo.com, how good can you effectively learn the foreign language?

In general, I strongly think that there is no such thing as a didactic wondertool, which turns you into a native speaker in serveral weeks or even months. You will adapt and understand a great deal of a language if you all day long learn it, live it and you are completly surrounded by it. This is the case if you make an abroad year on a foreign universtiy for example. Then, if you are motivated and if you're extroverted,you'll probably be fluent after 3 or 4 months. But if you learn 1 to 2 hours a day on duolingo.com, you have a much harder path to follow. After 4 months of daily learning on duolingo, you have a nice vocabulary and a idea of how the language works, but you don't really feel it and won't have this verbal/emotional relationship towards the sound and feeling of the culture/language itself. You'll be able to translate advanced content into Spanish and you will most likely understand the idea behind a Spanish book, but you can't really use the language in daily speech. Duolingo replaces in my opinion the common schoolastic approach and increases the fun level, but it can't teach you a language. There we will need a different strategy: Learning in webcam lessons with foreign people out there! I guess there are thousands of young folks out there who want to learn your language and you want to learn their, so you can exchange and learn from each other. Then, there wouldn't be any hindrance to learn a language completly in the internet. An amazing idea!