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.
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.
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!