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Duolingo - Duolingo

Duolingo iPhone App Review.

I was in Germany last summer and plenty of people don't speak English or are afraid to if they're of the younger generation. I had a very hard time getting around and while this may not be the case in every city in Germany, it gave me a reason to enhance my own vocabulary with some basic German. There are many ways to go about learning a new language and my first instinct was to take some courses, which I actually am right now. They're very basic and I kinda feel treated like in kindergarten. Which is good most of the time, but in a course with many other students, you need to follow the pace of the slowest in the class. I'm glad to say I'm not the slowest, so I looked at other ways to enhance my German skills outside of class. And I came across Duolingo on my iPhone. The App Store has quite a few apps that teach you another language, but none are quite as reliable and easy to use as Duolingo. The app is completely free to download and use on your iPhone, iPad or even the web through their fantastic web app.

Learning with Duolingo

Duolingo turns language-learning into a veritable game where progress is stored in the cloud and therefore you can start the lesson on your iPhone and continue on your iPad without having to start over. After you've selected a language to learn, you can easily get started with the Basics section. Each section is divided into smaller units and each unit is composed of smaller lessons. Each lesson takes just a couple of minutes to complete. And with each lesson completed, you unlock the new one. Complete all the lessons in an unit and you'll have unlocked another unit. Complete all the units in a section and you get to take a fun quiz to see if you're ready to proceed to the next section.

However, if you've taken some classes before, you can test out of each section via a quiz. Pass the quiz and you unlock the next section's units and lessons.

Each unit is split into lessons aimed at enhacing specific skills - vocabulary, verbs, grammar, etc. At the end of an unit, you really feel like you've learned something. Even if you've completed an unit, you can always go back and re-take those lessons to ensure that things don't splip through the cracks.

How are lessons structured

Each lesson will rely on several techniques to help you get a grip on the new language. You'll be asked to identify pictures, type out a dictation, translate sentences and even repeat a sentence using the microphone. There are also exercises that let you build up a sentence from a group of available words, by arranging them in the correct order while disregarding the extra words. You will also be asked to type out letter by letter a sentence read out to you or a sentence written on the screen. Without even knowing it, you're practicing reading, writing, hearing and speaking, all in each lesson, all in under 10 minutes worth of time. Do this every day and you'll be well on your way to learning the language. If you're ever stuck on a word, you can always tap it to reveal its translation, without ever leaving the screen.

Duolingo will also allow you to set practice reminders and commend you for streaks - that is, how many days in a row you've managed to learn your language of choice. Even if it's just for one small lesson a day.

When you're learning a new language on the iPhone, the last thing you need is to learn how to use the app that's teaching it to you. And this is where Duolingo shined. From the moment you start the app and sign up to the practice tests and practice sections themselves, you feel like you've been using the app since you were born. Everything comes naturally and that's a clear winner in my book. However, don't expect it to turn you into a native speaker. It will help you enhance your vocabulary, create the building blocks and even cement some of the quirks of the new language, but you will not become fluent just by passing its tests.

While using Duolingo to learn German, I've definitely increased my vocabulary and cemented some of the concepts I've learnt about in my off-line course. It's a definite keeper!


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Developer: Duolingo
Category: Education
Version reviewed: 3.0.2
Price: FREE

Our Rating

5 / 5

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iPhone Review Posted in App Reviews, Books & Education

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