Major Digital Project 3: Duoling-whoa!

It’s rare for me to get addicted to an app, but that’s what has happened to me with Duolingo. Perhaps even rarer, it’s an app that’s educational! Or is it? That, and more, in this week’s update on my major digital project!

Last week, for those keeping score at home, I decided upon a direction for my major digital project and took baby steps in getting it started. The first step was to download and try the app, Duolingo (it’s also available on an internet browser, but I’ve moved to using it almost exclusively on my phone).

Well, here we are, one week, and not much else has happened beyond Duolingo, and I’m kinda ok with it. That’s because I’ve spent hours using Duolingo, with at least 30 minutes of time spent on it each day over the last week. This despite it being one of the busiest weeks of my life and career so far! So how’d it happen?

Duolingo embodies the principles of gamification. That is, it takes something that isn’t really normally considered a game (learning a language) and makes it into one. Very effectively I might add. I hope to research more into this for a future post, so if anyone has any resources or knowledge about gamification, I’d love to hear about it.

When you use Duolingo, you make your way through different levels focused on different topics and skills. In this image, you can see the first five skills: Intro, Phrases, Travel, Restaurant, and Family. I have reached level 5 (the maximum level) in intro and level 3 in the rest. You need to complete skills to make your way forward in the course, much like a game.

A screenshot of what Duolingo looks like on a Chromebook

When you click a skill, you get sent into a lesson. A lesson is basically a “stage” in Duolingo that you have to “beat” to move on. The stage consists of a variety of activities or questions based around language. Typically, it consists of: giving a sentence in the new language and asking you to translate it by dragging and dropping words into the correct order, having you read a sentence in the other language out loud (and it does a pretty good job of monitoring your pronunciation), identifying new vocabulary supported by images, and so on.

I learned about screen recording on Slack with help from Amanda and Brooke (thanks!), and found the App AZ Screen Recorder for my Android phone. Last week I did a very brief screencast of a desktop lesson in action; here I recorded an entire lesson from my phone, which is something I have never seen done before (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video recording of a phone screen before which is weird now that I think about it) and certainly nothing I’ve ever done. Watch a bit of it to get a good sense of what a lesson looks (and sounds) like.

I recorded this myself, but credit to Duolingo for the content!

Re-watching the video now really confirms how far I’ve come–like many skills, I suspect learning a new language comes with early gains followed by an eventual plateau. We will see if an when that point comes!

My goal next week is to expand my scope beyond just Duolingo, perhaps by exploring Spanish language learning resources on YouTube–this series looks like a decent starting point. That said, I think I’ll continue using Duolingo as my base learning tool. What do people think? Any suggestions for where to go next? I genuinely want to keep progressing!

6 thoughts on “Major Digital Project 3: Duoling-whoa!

  1. So glad you are enjoying your choice to learn Spanish! I’m really curious about the gamification of education too. I’m using Yousician as one of the major resources for learning to play guitar. It is similarly, a gamified learning experience. I’m curious about what the learning outcomes are for programs like this especially for adult learners. My students use Mathletics which is gamified math and they love it. From what I can see they are benefitting from this type of learning. It’s certainly an interesting topic as the gamification of education programs becomes increasingly popular. Best of luck with exploring some new resources next week.


  2. I have been using Duolingo to learn French and I love it as well!! I found the gamification really motivated me to practice every day. I have been taking a French MOOC as well, but it hasn’t been as helpful as Duolingo. You really need to find courses that are the correct level to be beneficial, which I haven’t found yet. Duolingo does this automatically for you!

    Have you discover yet that you can skip levels by taking quizzes? I found the intro levels too basic and was finding the pace a bit slow. Now if I feel like I know the content, I take the quiz and move to the next level. It also opened up new topics for me then.

    I have also been following French accounts on twitter and watching French YouTube videos. I have found the videos that are meant to teach kids are the most helpful. They are short, entertaining and usually about a small topic. It’s perfect for me!

    Good luck in your quest to learn Spanish!


  3. It looks like you’re doing great! I love how you explained the gamification aspect of the app, because it really is addicting, and it makes learning fun! Someone suggested looking up shows on Netflix to branch out, and there are likely tons of resources on YouTube. Can’t wait to see your progress in a couple of weeks!


  4. Sounds like you found a tool that has really inspired and motivates you. I love gamification your experience is a great one to point to as a successful venture.


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