2 minute read

Few months ago I accidentally stumbled upon the Duolingo app while searching out for something else. When I grew up, I had almost little to no exposure to languages other than my mother tongue. I studied Hindi to some extent during my school days, but that didn’t stick with me for long mostly because I was forced to study than out of my own interest. Years later, I started watching movies in other languages (mostly south indian) with subtitles. That kindled my interest in finding more about those languages and trying to learn them. In the path of learning a new language, I strongly believe that we don’t just learn only the language. We get to know about the culture of the people speaking the language, unique traits and dialects, similarities with other languages and much more. I had been to Paris once in the past. That time I had zero knowledge of French. Well, I knew merci and used as much as I could. Google Translate was my savior back then. I wanted to converse with the locals in French when I make my next visit there. There started my quest to learn French, and it began with Duolingo.

Like any other learning activity, it was little difficult to be consistent in the beginning. I worked on one or two exercises a day with an average streak of 3-4 days for few months. The ramp was little difficult as I was totally new to the language. I quit the exercises in the middle when I felt bored or lost. I then chose some easy exercises to continue building up my vocabulary, kept practicing until I find it comfortable with the difficult ones. It reminded a line from the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear.

If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t need to map out every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it.

– James Clear

Eventually I started enjoying it and now looking forward to learn everyday. It has become one of my daily habits these days. I recently completed my 100 day learning streak as well.

Screenshots from Duolingo.

What do I like about this app?

  • Bite sized exercises - Each exercise is carefully curated and timed to make learning easy and fun rather than a chore.
  • Different streams to learn - Reading, writing, speaking, listening, conversations, stories, podcast, quizzes. Stories and podcasts are really interesting ways to build connections and associations from what we learn in reading and writing.
  • Spaced repetition - each level builds upon the learning from previous levels and reinforces learning naturally.
  • Rewards and awards - exercises are generously filled with opportunities to claim rewards and awards that help the learners to stay motivated.
  • Learning stats - weekly stats about learning

I’m sure working through the exercises in this app alone won’t make one fluent in a language. But it is great place to start learning. The most important thing in acheiving a goal is to get started. There is no journey and no end without a start. On that count, this is a great place to start learning a new language.