‘That Owl Rules My Life’

I doubled up with laughter yesterday when a friend at work said this. She’s a fellow aficionada of the Language app, Duolingo who is learning French. We follow each other’s progress and, to be honest, it can be a bit stalker-esque. ‘ Good job that there are streak freezes. I forgot to practice yesterday’. I told my friend. ‘Yes, I noticed that.’ she replied.

I downloaded the app a couple of years ago. First of all I was really ambitious. I decided to gen up on my already passable French and also learn Spanish and Portuguese because I’ve got a hankering to spend more time in all these countries in the not too distant future. Then I added Latin to the mix because I’d studied it at O-level. What was I thinking? It became ever more time consuming until I got a grip.

Pretty soon I decided to take back control from the owl. I now focus on Spanish learning and also give myself a weekly day off. In those intense first weeks I managed to get myself into the top diamond league and fully intend to stay there. I found that if I avoid playing on Monday I’m not put in a group with all the real keenies. With points amassed, I buy one of those ‘streak freezes’ that I’ve mentioned before. I take the pressure off by starting on a Tuesday with a load of other slackers instead.

Is it any good? Some of the pundits online think not but I disagree. It will definitely give me the smattering of Spanish that I need to survive on my holibobs so that’s enough. Of course if I was going to spend any amount of time in a Spanish speaking country I’d be studying more intensively. For now Duolingo suits my needs. For a start it’s free and the non premium version is more than adequate. It’s also fun and helps form a very positive learning habit, definite plusses in my book. To keep it light I don’t bother with learning where accents go on words. I don’t see the point if I’m hardly ever going to have to write in Spanish. My emphasis is on understanding and articulating speech. My only criticism is that it’s light on vocabulary, I top that up from another app, Tobo Spanish.

As well as the lessons there are stories, often with outrageous plotlines. In the one last night a girl had decided that a fellow student wanted to marry her and take her to live in Rome. It turned out he was only trying out his practice skills on all of the girls in class. There are podcasts as well but I haven’t got around to exploring those. Oh, and with my extra points I can buy an optional lesson to learn the vocabulary to flirt in Spanish. I think that my boyfriend might be a little bit pissed off if I was putting that to good use on holiday after a couple of sangrias!

So Duolingo comes highly recommended from me and quite a few of my friends. Is it addictive? It doesn’t have to be. I think that I’ve got the owl under control!

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