Duolingo: Learn Languages review

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TITLE

DUOLINGO: LEARN LANGUAGES

DEVELOPER

VON AHN & SEVERIN HACKER

PRICE

FREE

DESCRIPTION

LANGUAGE EDUCATION  

Duolingo, is a free language learning app (with 5 million monthly active users), which has been compared to Khan Academy. Currently teaches six languages, including English, Spanish and French, using a simple graphical interface similar to Rosetta Stone. Actually, it uses timed practice drills, with images and sounds, to help you learn your chosen language and motivates you with points and other game-like achievements. The mobile apps, sync with your web-based profile and practice, so you can pick up your training from where you left off.

The free (and ad-free) apps provide university-level language training, with about 34 hours of using the app (the equivalent of 11 weeks of studying in college).

In the app store you have two choices:

1) Duolingo (Free) | Google Play

2) Duolingo (Free) | iTunes App Store About 

Duolingo has 27 employees working at an office in Pittsburgh, many of whom, like co-founder Severin Hacker, have been students of Von Ahn at Carnegie Mellon, where he is a professor of computer science and something of a local hero.
Born in Guatemala but having spent his adult life in the U.S., Von Ahn is best known for having invented CAPTCHAs, the squiggly characters that you have to type in after filing out a web form to ensure that you’re not a bot.
After realizing that roughly 200 million CAPTCHAs were being typed everyday, wasting thousands of hours of human time, Von Ahn pivoted his creation so that the squiggly characters became unscannable text from books — effectively harnessing the power of the crowd to digitize books.
Google swooped in and bought the new creation, called reCaptcha. By then, Google had already bought another crowd-sourcing game Von Ahn had created, one where people looked at images and labelled them to improve image search.

About Duolingo, Von Ahn says, that he expects more than 50 languages to be added to Duolingo over the next 2 or 3 months, as volunteers start signing up to add their native tongues to its infrastructure. He created the company with Severin Hacker, a Swiss, PhD student of Von Ahn’s at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. Von Ahn is intent on keeping the app free, stating that the majority of people who are trying to learn a language do so to improve their socio-economic prospects, and can’t accord the $300-500 price tags on popular, Rosetta Stone software.

HOW YOU CAN PLAY IT 

Want to learn a new language with Duolingo? Here is how to get started!

– Setting up an Account.

Sign up via Face book or email. When you visit Duolingo’s main page, you’ll be asked to sign up in one of two ways. If you choose to sign up via email, you can link your Face book account to Duolingo later. If you choose to sign up via Face book, it’ll be easier for you to invite friends later. You can also automatically share updates and progress on your Face book timeline.

– Select a language. When you’re creating a new account, you’ll be asked to select the language you want to learn. But you can always change your mind or add new languages later. The current options for English-speakers are: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German.

– Enter your account details. When you’re first signing up, you’ll only need to enter a username and password. If you’d like to add more to your profile, you can click the gear icon in the upper-right corner and select Settings.

You can add your: Full name, Location, Short bio, Face book account (as well as whether you’d like to automatically share progress on Face book), Twitter account and Profile picture.

– Set up reminders. Duolingo works best when you practice every day, though it can be easy to forget. Set up daily nudges to drill your vocabulary to stay on track.

Click the Notifications tab (after clicking the gear icon in the upper-right corner, then selecting Settings).

Check the box next to “Email me when…” and select a time. Try to choose an hour when you won’t be busy driving home, or sitting in class. The end of the day, about an hour before you go to bed, might be a good time to use at first. 

– Click Home to access your skill tree. The skill tree is where you’ll do the majority of your learning. It’s split into different units, and each unit contains multiple lessons. As you progress through the language, more units will be available to you.

 – Test out of what you already know (optional). If you already have a basic grasp of the language, you can test out of parts of the skill tree. Click the golden keyhole at the end of each section to take the test. You’ll have three attempts.

 – Click the first skill unit. It will probably be something like “Basics 1.”

 DL1

– Click a lesson. Within each skill unit, there are multiple lessons. Click the first one to get started. You’ll start out with four hearts (which will later turn to three, as you progress through the language). Every time you get a question wrong, you lose a heart. The goal is to get through the lesson with your hearts intact. Here are the different types of questions within a lesson:

Vocabulary: You’ll see a picture of the item, and be asked to name it.

DL4Translation: You’ll be asked to translate a word or sentence out of English and into the other language, or vice versa.

DL8

dl20

Also you have to select the missing word and mark all correct translations.

DL11

DL10

Listening: You’ll hear an audio clip of a word or sentence, and be asked to type it in. (Note that you won’t be translating for these questions — for instance, if you hear the sentence in Spanish, type it in Spanish, not English.) To play the clip more slowly, click the smaller turtle icon beneath the main speaker button.

Speaking (optional): You’ll be asked to repeat or translate sentences using the microphone on your computer or mobile device. If you don’t want to do the speaking questions, click the gear in the upper right corner, choose Settings, and switch the microphone option to off.

– Well done you already pass a unit. You are ready for Lesson 2.

DL14

DL15

DL16

– Hover over words for help. If you’re not sure about a word, hover over it with your cursor. Duolingo will either provide the translation or give you a few options.

Note that as you get further along in your studies and your sentences become more complicated, this tool won’t be as useful. Beware! Duolingo will note that you peeked. However, you won’t lose any points for this.

– Use keyboard commands. Navigating through Duolingo lessons using the keyboard is a lot faster and easier than clicking. (It will also come in handy when you’re doing timed quizzes.) Here’s what to do:

Enter: Submits an answer

1, 2 or 3: Selects a multiple choice answer

Up and down arrows: Scrolls through choices in a drop menu

Ctrl + Space: Replay audio clip

Ctrl + Space +Shift: Replay audio clip more slowly.

Click the gear in the upper-right corner and select Help to see a visual table of keyboard commands.

– Practice! The key to retaining your new language is drilling what you’ve learned. Every few lessons, stop and do a few practice rounds. Or, if you only have 5 minutes to work on your language today, spend it on quizzing yourself. Duolingo offers a few different ways to test your skills:

Practice overall: Navigate to your skill tree, and click the blue “Practice all skills” button on the right. You’ll be randomly quizzed on everything you’ve learned up to this point.

Practice individual skills: To refresh a skill unit, click the blue “Practice skill” bar on the right side of the page, below the lessons. This will run you through what you learned in that particular unit.

Practice weakest words: Click Vocabulary, on the navigation bar at the top. Then click the blue “Practice weakest words” bar at the right. Duolingo will run you through the words you’ve learned recently or seen less often.

– Keep up on your progress. When you pass a skill set with flying colours, the module will turn gold. If you slack on practicing, however, your progress will decrease and the modules will slowly turn different colours.

– Click the Immersion button on the top bar. The Immersion section allows you to translate sentences from actual WebPages, as well as reviewing other Duolingo users’ translations.

– Select a document. You can choose whatever is at the top of the popular list, or narrow your search by selecting a category on the sidebar at the right.

– Rate a sentence. Try clicking a sentence. The translation submitted by another user will pop up. From there, you can decide if the sentence is right or wrong. If it’s wrong, you can click Edit and submit a better translation.

– Translate a sentence. Click a sentence that’s greyed out. A text box will pop up, where you can enter your translation and collect more points. If you’re not sure about a word, hover over it with your cursor. Duolingo will provide a few suggestions.

– Use the discussion tools. The forums can be a good resource for answering questions, finding supplemental material, or simply connecting with other users.

Click Discussion on the top bar to enter the main forum. From there, you can select your language on the right sidebar.

Discuss skill units: Each Skill unit will have a discussion board, below the lessons.  You might find answers to common questions there.

Discuss individual sentences: You can ask other people for help in the middle of a lesson. After you’ve answered a question (whether it was right or wrong), you’ll see a Discuss Sentence button at the bottom of the answer section.

– Follow friends. If you’d like to follow someone else’s progress, navigate to their profile. Click the blue “Add friend” button at the top of the page. From then on, you’ll be following that person’s progress. You can see how may points they’ve accumulated on the leader-board, at the right of your skill tree.

– Post status updates. On the home page (at your skill tree), click the Stream tab near the top of the page. From here, you can post an update on your progress that your friends and followers can see.

– Download the mobile app. Duolingo is available for free on both iOS and Android. You can still do lessons, practice vocabulary, and translate pages from the app.

ADVANTAGES

1) It’s free, for real. No fees, no ads, no gimmicks.

2) A college-quality education without the price tag.

3) It’s fun. Lose hearts for answering incorrectly, advance by completing bite-sized lessons, and track your progress with shiny achievements.

4) It’s constantly improving. Your learning experience only gets better over time.

5) If you want to learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, or English, the fast, fun, and free way, there’s no better choice than Duolingo.

6) Duolingo is changing the way people learn languages.

7) PC Magazine Editors’ Choice for Language Learning says about Duolingo: “Among iPhone apps for learning or practicing a language, you can’t beat Duolingo.”

8) The Wall Street Journal writes: “Far and away the best free language-learning app.”  

DISADVANTAGES

1)  Duolingo is an app in which I dint find any disadvantage (even the internet connection which you should have as long as you used the app –with the new upgrade is fixed). But I have to refer, that with Duolingo, it is not possible to learn a language if you do not know the English language. For example to learn Spanish you have to choose Spanish for English or English for Spanish. Actually you have to speak English and then learn Spanish or Spanish and then learn English. Of course, as Von Ahn promises, they will be new upgrades with more languages so you will not have to use English to Spanish and etc… 

CONCLUSION

With Duolingo, you learn a language completely free, without ads or hidden charges. You have fun while you learn, levelling up and competing with friends. So, do you want to increase your level in a language or learn a language from the beginning, with the easiest and funniest way (like you are playing a game) and all that totally free? Then hurry up and download Duolingo!

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DUOLINGO

If you want more information about this app then try the following link.

http://www.duolingo.com/

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