D is for Duolingo

Language has always been a big passion of mine, and while English has taken top honours, I’ve always been interested in listening to and learning new languages. It all started when I was very young – I went to a South Indian primary school in Maharashtra, resulting in my learning Hindi, Marathi and Tamil (in addition to English, of course) all at the same time for about five years. In secondary school, I stuck to Hindi, mostly because of a lack of options, but in higher secondary, I took up the opportunity to learn French. Two years later, in university, I  decided to give German a crack. Once I started work, I signed up for Mandarin lessons (that unfortunately didn’t pan out), and a few months ago, I started on Spanish.

Now, this isn’t a humblebrag – I’m not saying I’m actually competent at reading/speaking these languages. No, it’s really just that languages (and linguistics) fascinate me. No one likes doing homework, but whether in school or at university, language homework was something I always looked forward to. I enjoyed putting the effort in and going that extra mile, and it never felt like work to me.

The Duolingo website and app have therefore been a very helpful discovery – it’s great to have a language learning tool at my fingertips that offers me bite-sized lessons that I can do on my way to work or back, that I can track my learning progress on, and that I don’t have to pay any money for. I don’t think anything can replace direct, face-to-face interaction with a teacher for language learning, but something like this offers the freedom to pursue a hobby of languages on a less intense, more fun level, without the worry of money, time or pressure. I like that the website also takes into account the fact that memory can fade, and accordingly schedules exercises periodically to review and refresh lessons learnt.

I’m currently learning Spanish on the website, and hoping it will prove handy on an upcoming trip to Spain. I’m 32% fluent already, apparently, although that seems like a bit of an overestimation, considering all I can say are things relating to food and household items. Although, come to think about it, there’s not much else you need to know on a holiday, really. That, and directions, I suppose. Also, I’m sure being able to recite this perfectly takes my score up a few notches:

Yeah, no way that doesn’t come in handy in one way or another, right? 😉


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