Learning a language can be difficult and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with the Duolingo – Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian for free app. This iPhone Education app delivers quality content with so many learning layers packed into 1 little app that I’m amazed by the depth of this free app.
First off, the Duolingo – Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian for free app has no ads nor in app purchases. And you have an opportunity to learn 5 languages in 1 app. So what’s the catch? The overall concept of this language learning tool is to have you, the user, learn a foreign language for free while helping to translate text on the Web. This is supposed to bridge the language gap for all mankind, or at least on the Web and for those who have an iPhone. This sounds pretty interesting anyway.
You start learning your foreign language of choice at your current language proficiency. You’ll be given words and sentences (in the other language) for you to read and then translate. You’ll be learning and building continually on what you know and what you are learning. And to add another interesting twist, there is a grading of sorts where you and others get to vote on the quality of sentence translation done by others. This is supposed to help reinforce your learning.
The language learning technique is varied in Duolingo, but appears to remain consistent in pattern throughout. You learn by looking at photos with words, seeing and hearing vocabulary words, listening and repeating, participating in multiple choice and fill-in-the-blanks and eventually moving on to translating text in writing, and also by speaking the translation, in both languages. You must work your way from lessons to lesson to complete a book in a level, and all books have to be completed for that level before you can move on and unlock the next. Your goal is to finish each lesson without using up all of your heart lives. Then you test out, and if you want, share your progress with others on Facebook and Twitter.
But if you’re not doing very well, fear not because there is plenty of help to lead you along. Duolingo has a nice drop down feature, during all lesson segments, that will provide words, short explanations of words, grammar, conjugation and tricky language rules to keep you moving ahead. Also, for any mistakes you make, the correct answer is given to help reinforce the learning skill.
There are a couple of other things worth pointing out in the Duolingo app. I love the feature (turtle icon) that lets you slow the speaker down and hear the whole sentence one word at a time. However, when using the microphone feature, I found it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. You have to repeat and speak a sentence into the microphone to record and check for pronunciation accuracy.
I tested it by just making the first syllables of each word in the given sentence (and not the full word), at times it gave me a passing translation and other times it didn’t pass me. This feature needs a little tweaking, but overall works well enough. The only other tricky issue I had was getting the accent and special marks over my letters when needed.
Duolingo – Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian for free is a great app that not only teaches you, but keeps you wanting to come back for more. The developers call the Duolingo iPhone app, “a college-quality education without the pricetag,” and I tend to agree.