Learn a new language for free

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My current favorite Android app is Duolingo, a free language learning program that can also be used on the computer. There are currently 10 languages available for English speakers. Right now I’m studying French, and I’m having fun doing it despite the fact that spelling French correctly is well nigh impossible. (Though I’m told English is worse, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.)

Once I progress in French, I’ll be reviewing Spanish, German and Dutch – even though I’ve already studied those languages, I need to review them, and Duolingo’s interface is entertaining enough that it shouldn’t be pure tedium to review German declensions.

Here are some screenshots of the French curriculum:

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See those hearts in the upper right corner? You gain and lose those depending on how well you do in a lesson. If you end a lesson with zero hearts, you have to do the lesson over – fortunately Duolingo varies the exercises a bit, so repeating a lesson isn’t boring.

Your hearts get converted to points at the end of the lesson. You can use points to compete against friends or to “buy” prizes such as bonus lessons on idiomatic phrases.

There are also review lessons that pop up on your Duolingo dash occasionally to help you retain what you’ve learned before:

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My complaints are minor. Sometimes I lose points for misspelling words since my phone keyboard doesn’t have French diacritics. The app would be improved by adding keyboard options. Also, there’s no glossary or declension charts anywhere, which could help with reviewing.

I also hope that they’ll eventually add some non-European languages like Swahili.

But hey, it’s free. And I’m finally studying French in a more concerted way than I’ve ever manged to before. So I’m incredibly happy with this app and would recommend it highly.

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