I now have a Duolingo buddy!

My husband, Wayne, is now my Duolingo buddy! This blog post is dedicated to him.

Readers who have read my previous blog posts probably know by now that I’m very impressed with a free online program for language learning called Duolingo. Yes, I’ll admit it up front. I am just a tad obsessive about learning other languages.

I follow other learners on Duolingo, mostly random people from all over the world that I don’t know personally. It’s interesting to compare my progress with theirs from time to time.

But now that Wayne has become seriously committed to Duolingo, I have someone in my own household to compare Duolingo notes with.

Wayne grew up in a Texas town bordering the country of Mexico, as did I, so we have heard Spanish spoken all of our lives. When Wayne finally tired of seeing me have so much fun with my daily language sessions on Duolingo, he made another attempt at learning Spanish on Duolingo (he had started and stopped a time or two before, as lots of people do). Now he is on an over two-month streak (earning Duolingo experience points every day) and very proud of his progress.

I also applaud his success, not only from a personal standpoint, but also because I want to learn more about how people acquire languages. This morning I asked Wayne to talk to me for a few minutes about his Duolingo study. Here are some observations he made about his learning process.

(1) He enjoys the “repeat after the speaker” questions and views them almost as a “gimme.” (I would like to add that he has a very authentic accent in Spanish. I am especially jealous of his ability to produce a perfect rolled Spanish “r.”)

(2) He feels the need to go back and study certain grammar points, for example personal pronouns. I try to discourage him from doing too much grammar in the early stages of language study, but I can sympathize with the urge to learn grammar rather than acquire it by use.

(3) He personalizes the Duolingo program to fit his needs. On a busy day, he may return to an easier exercise just to get point credits for the day. When life is more leisurely, he may challenge himself to a new grammar or vocabulary topic. When asked to match Spanish and English vocabulary words, he disciplines himself to try to match them without resorting to process of elimination to get the right answer.

(4) He likes the format change in Duolingo which allows the learner to continue an exercise, no matter how many tries it takes to reach the end. (Previous versions of Duolingo would only let you make a limited number of errors before you “lost” the round.)

(5) He isn’t sure if Duolingo study is translating into real world use of Spanish, but he believes it will when he advances in the program.

Although I realize that Duolingo is not the only language program available, I think it has a lot going for it: it’s free to all users; it’s available 24/7 on desktops, laptops, tablets and cell phones; and it’s user friendly and lighthearted in approach.

“Have you done your Duolingo today?” is now part of daily conversations in our household, and I enjoy talking about it!

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