I recently hit a 1,000 day streak on Duolingo (today will be day 1,040!!) and I wanted to share my experience with the app. If you’re unfamiliar with Duolingo, it’s a great app to learn new languages with. It’s very user-friendly and there is a free version as well as a paid version.
WHAT LANGUAGE ARE YOU LEARNING?
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START?
I was actually inspired to learn French after hanging out with Daphné (who is French) and Rach (who is fluent in French) one afternoon. They were able to chit chat away in French and I knew a very, very tiny handful of words/phrases. It was impressive to see how fluent Rach was with French and how fluent Daphné was with English! I kind of just downloaded the app for fun and had no idea that I’d end up sticking with it for so long.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
So that’s why I went with French, but I have to say, had I known I would stick with it for so long, I wish I had done Spanish, which is so much more practical for my everyday life. And I have a better foundation of Spanish because I took five years of it in school. I struggle with French, even still, because my brain immediately jumps to Spanish first.
DO YOU USE THE FREE OR PAID VERSION?
I started with the free version and once I got a feel for it and realized how much I enjoyed it, I went for the premium paid version. It’s worth it to me, but the free version was also perfectly fine… you just have to watch on-screen ads.
IS IT EASY TO DO?
This is where it stands out, in my opinion. The app makes it easy to follow and learn. Most importantly, it really sets you up to build nicely on your skills. The structure of how it lays out the lessons is brilliant. Each lesson builds on itself. There are tiers, categories, and levels. You work your way through the different levels (1-5) within each category (food, travel, family, etc.) between tiers (unit one, unit two, etc.). The language really starts to click as you move through the whole layout over time.
ARE YOU FLUENT?
NO WAY. I know so much more French though, for sure. I can definitely read it better and I can tell you words and phrases. But as far as more complicated sentence structure goes and definitely pronunciation, I have a long way to go. It’s been fun though to learn and would come in handy when we go back to France (hopefully at some point). I do like how the app is set up in that it does offer you practical foundations for things like travel. (For example, how to order food in a restaurant, how to ask for directions, words/phrases related to hotels, etc.)
I think it’d be a great tool for practicing a language if you were learning it in school, had a private tutor, or were fully immersed in a culture (like moving abroad). I did take some private French lessons before COVID hit in conjunction with the app and that was really helpful for pronunciation and getting one on one help.
I also should note here that I’m terrible with languages. Absolutely terrible. It doesn’t come naturally to me whatsoever, so if you pick up languages more easily you might have pretty good success with finding fluency from the app.
HOW LONG DO YOU DO IT FOR EVERY DAY?
I set a pretty low goal for myself so I can make sure I hit it every day. I try to do two small lessons or one larger lesson every morning. It’s usually no more 15 minutes, obviously that’s not a lot, but it really does add up over time. (Call it a conservative 10 minutes a day, that’s over an hour of practice a week!) When I’m feeling inspired, I might do upwards of 30 minutes. And if I’m in a pinch for time, I do smaller/easier lessons just to keep the streak alive.
HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR IT? DID YOU REALLY KEEP YOUR STREAK GOING WHEN YOU GAVE BIRTH?
It’s routinized into my mornings. It’s usually one of the first things I do! Before having a baby, I would start the coffee, feed the dogs, and then sit at the kitchen island to do it. Now, I end up doing while I’m nursing Jack for his first feeding of the day. I also have it set to ping me with a notification if for some reason I’ve forgotten to do it.
And yes! I did keep my streak while I was in the hospital! Honestly we had so much down time…. most of our time in the hospital was quite boring so I had plenty of time to squeeze in a little bit of French. (And I really wanted to get to the 1,000 day mark, ha.)