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If you want to travel the world you’re going to want to learn a few languages. Maybe not inside and out but you’ll need to know at least the basics. That is if you care about communicating and integrating yourself in the culture of the places you go.
This program isn’t made to learn how to say the basics like hello, how are you, what time is it; if you’re looking to get a solid foundation for the language then keep reading.
So what am I talking about? This is a FREE language learning program called Duolingo. The program offers Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. Although those languages won’t do in some parts of the world, it’s a pretty good start. Also, Duolingo is working on many many more languages as we speak. You can check out the full list of languages to see if the one you want is in the making, or you can contribute to speed things up on a language you already know. Let’s take a look at the program itself below.
For starters you can learn by using one of three methods, your computer, iPhone, or Android device. What’s great about having it on your smartphone is that you can pull it out, open the app and start a course anywhere. The only thing to keep in mind is that, if there is no internet connection, you can only load the classes for your current lesson. So take advantage of the time you have internet and download the next set of lessons if you know you’ll be away from the WiFi world for a bit.
One of the things I love most about Duolingo is the approach to learning the program uses. The design is sleek and simple and you’re given rewards as you progress. Plus it tracks your progress on a chart which you can check at any time. You can set goals to study at least twenty minutes a day or if you’re trying to learn ninja fast, then you can even set it to an hour a day. You’ll get email reminders to keep you on track and you’ll earn prizes along the way to unlock special lessons and other goodies.
The whole feel of the program is intended to resemble a game. You start every level (lesson) with three hearts. Every lesson has around fifteen questions and if you get one wrong you lose a heart. You need to finish the lesson without loosing all of your hearts or you have to start from the beginning. Also, spelling counts! That may seem like a nuisance but it actually works extremely well in making sure that you pay attention to the challenges set.
If you leave Duolingo for a bit, when you come back you’ll notice that some of the lessons you completed aren’t full anymore. Duolingo monitors your activity with the program and will let you know when your brain needs to be refreshed on certain lessons. At that point you can go back and complete them again to refresh your memory. This won’t prevent you from going on to further lessons but it’s great to have a reminder to go “hey, you probably forgot a bunch of these words”.
At the end of the day if you’re not consistent with learning a new language it’s either not going to happen or will take a very very long time. That being said, Duolingo makes the learning process pretty easy and is accessible from your smart phone and computer. Easy like a Sunday morning =D.