I saw some friends on Facebook discussing Duolingo. While I had briefly heard of it I had never paid attention to it. So I decided to log on and check it out. It is pretty cool, as an intermediate level Spanish speaker I wanted to see how I did on their placement test and what the classes were like.
First off it is free which is a good way to get people interested. They follow the things that it seems like all the popular sites are doing and gamify learning a foreign language. So you see your friends, and you see how much experience they have earned in the last week, month and overall. You have a streak counter (like stack overflow) to track consecutive days you are practicing (which is also important for foreign language learning so you are getting repetition daily). When you level up role playing game style you receive their virtual currency which you can save up and use to buy bonus courses. And you see all your friends events which encourage you to keep working at it so you pass them in the rankings.
All in all it is a very cool site. Additionally they have an IOS app, and I think Android as well, so I can practice on my phone too. So how did I place? I ended up placing at their level 4 for Spanish which I felt was a bit low, but I made a few rookie mistakes. There are some terms they used that aren’t common in Mexico (they are either Spanish or Latin American) so I had forgotten them and missed those questions. After playing around with it for a day I am at level 6 Spanish. I will work my way through all their Spanish content and then either play around with the German (which I haven’t really used since High School) or else the Italian which I haven’t used for about 7 years so I have forgotten most of it. The only thing the site is missing for me would be Latin. I would love to learn Latin on a site like this. They do have some unusual languages such as Esperanto and Klingon. Greek might be a cool language to have on there as well, though not sure how they would handle the different alphabet. But I guess there is a Hebrew for English speakers so I could check that out to get an idea of how they are dealing with teaching you new letters as well.
Anyway if you decide to check it out follow me at my link here.