Why you need Duolingo, the language app.

Icon vector designed by Freepik
Icon vector designed by Freepik

I’ve learned Spanish off and on since my first trip to Mexico in the early 1990’s. I need French to increase my marketability to international humanitarian aid organizations. It’s one of the “preferred” candidate requirements for aid jobs that actually pay. I live in Japan where, for the last 16.5 years, I’ve needed Japanese for everyday life. In my former career, I assisted others develop their cross-cultural and linguistic skills. Needless to say, languages are a thing for me. I need them like chips need salsa and French bread needs butter.

In May, 2014 my husband had a business trip to France and there was no way I was staying home— he was going to PARIS for crying out loud! Determined to speak at least a little French and spend zero yen doing it. Duolingo language app entered the picture. Duolingo’s “Learn a language free forever…” promise and exceptional graphics caught my attention as I browsed the app store (Don’t worry android users, google play has it, too.)

Doing what every app hound instinctively does when FREE shows up in the description, I clicked “get” without a second thought. I love, the app. It’s utterly fantastic and the user interface gets better with every update- so does the user experience. Here’s a list of solid reasons you need to expand your language horizons right now:

10 reasons for adding Duolingo to your language learning tool-belt.

  1. It’s free. There are no in-app purchases or “lite” sampler versions. It’s the real deal, soup to nuts from the outset.
  2. It’s fun. I don’t know about you but, I have the worst time putting my nose to the grindstone and learning languages from a vocabulary list or a text with little visual stimulation. Duolingo’s gamified approach is the digital version of interactive learning techniques I employed when presiding over many a class back in the day.
  3. It’s global. Not only do they have a native English speaker user appeal, they also include oodles of other mother tongue language speakers. Even Japanese. Fantastic for learners of all languages, if you coach, mentor or instruct foreign language learners, Duolingo is an excellent resource for you and them. If you’re a teacher, check out their Duolingo for Schools program.
  4. It’s intuitive. You don’t have to be a techie, a geek or a hopeless nerd to figure out how to use this app. It’s obvious it was created to be as simple and as easy to use as humanly possible.
  5. It’s goal oriented. If you’ve got any background in the business realm, you’re probably familiar with the concept of SMART Goals. Specific, Measurable, Assignable (attainable), Realistic, Time-bound. It looks like they used every one of these categories as they constructed the app.
  6. It’s measurable. Sticking with the SMART Goal thing for a minute, language learning in your target language is easily measured and tracked with visuals (color changes, status bars) and analytics (graphs, numerics and progress charts). Knowing where you are in a particular course is literally a no brainer.
  7. It’s beautiful. The graphics, the lay out, the design, the concept and execution are best summed up in one word, “impeccable.”
  8. It’s social. Imagine the fun if your whole family made learning a language a project. Or your fellow classmates? You easily see everyone’s progress and encourage slackers to get with the program.
  9. It’s accessible. With both mobile and web based applications, Duolingo is easily accessed whether on the fly or at home. The web based version even has extra features such as discussion boards and the ability to join language development teams in the Duolingo Incubator. (Anyone want to join the Japanese for English speakers team?)
  10. It’s worth it. “I’m glad I only speak one language.” Said no globetrotting expat, ever. Learning languages is the best way to connect with people in the places we explore and live. With an app like Duolingo, there’s no good reason not to learn a little something other than English.

Go on, get it. You know you want to!

[Disclaimer: I received no benefits, financial or otherwise from this review. All views are my own and reflect my personal opinion and experiences.]


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