Additional Lessons from Duolingo

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I wake up every morning and do four things: pray, drink tea (FYI the Starbucks London Fog tea latte tastes like the devil– stick to Chai or Matcha), workout, and I do my little Russian lessons. I have an unbroken streak and have busted through every league. Now, I am at the top and there is nowhere else to go. I am also halfway through the units. I have used just about every language learning software and program, believe me. My favorite is still Pimsleur. (I wanted to be the female Dr. Pimsleur before the age of 20– my youthful nerd dreams. Did all those languages in his brain lead to his heart attack that led to his death at 48? We will never know…). I digress. Duolingo has been a positive experience. Here is why:

  1. Weird sentences: They teach you the most useless sentences that stay in your brain. I learned how to say, “Where is my fly?” Just take a look at the screenshots I have included here. Whose brother doesn’t speak at all? Are Russian younger brothers mimes? Why is there blood on the ticket? Is there blood on all Russian tickets…? Are these subtle cultural lessons? Do people have pet flies? The intrigue keeps us going;
  2. If you are patient, you can learn so much for free: One of the main reasons why Duolingo is fun is because it is free. I can literally let little ads play. I go grab my tea and by the time I come back, I am ready to roll. Their ads are weird little phone games I would never purchase. You can pay to skip the ads and then have unlimited hearts. The way Duolingo works is you have 5 hearts each day, and you lose hearts with each mistake. Once you run out of hearts, you can’t proceed. So, people buy the premium version so they can keep going. To me, the losing the heart for each mistake is great. It teaches you a lesson. I figure if you have something to lose, you are more invested;
  3. Go big or go home: I wanted to learn how to speak Russian. With Duolingo, I had no choice but to get the Russian keyboard and learn script. There is no way around it. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but I am grateful. It has taught me how to read and write Russian. Which is wild. Maybe this will be my fourth language I am fluent in;
  4. You’ll swim: This program just throws you into things. It has zero explanation for anything, and you have to literally figure out everything. You have to sit with the sentences and really think about what was the difference or what a plural word triggers. I had a headache for like two weeks when I first started this program because of this extra use of the brain. Now, it’s a bit better. I am still asking questions and trying to figure nuances out. Regardless, I am swimming; and
  5. Competition is healthy: The whole escalating the levels and leagues was serious for me. Now, I have reached the last one, and there is nowhere to go. I think they should keep the leagues going. Seeing where everyone stood on the leaderboard really motivated me to keep my consistency and volume of lessons going.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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