Duolingo- Patience, My Little Grasshoppers!

ASSIGNMENT: Earn 30 XP on the app before next Monday (Dec. 13th). 

Language-Learning Tip

Many of you have been working consistently on the app for at least six weeks now, and hopefully you feel like you are making progress. That said, it can be frustrating during the language-learning process when you understand your target language, but are not yet producing it. My students and I play a game when they have “center work” [directed free play] during Spanish class. Here, we have “off limits” words, meaning that there is a common pool of vocabulary that everyone knows, and whenever you are speaking freely in English, you must replace said English words with the Spanish. You are “charged” fake pesos (and/or “Spanish taxes”) if you break the rule and say, for example, “money” in lieu of “dinero“.

For children, it is a game to hold everyone accountable; for adults, it is simply forcing yourself to be hyper-aware of the thoughts and words you use. In the previous sentence, for instance, I have learned children (дети), you (ты)and words (слова) in Russian on Duolingo. So as I am typing, I am replacing those words in my head with the equivalent in Russian. When I am talking with others or listening to the radio, I monitor and translate in my head as much as possible. It can be an interesting exercise to note which words or phrases you hear yourself using regularly in your native tongue. (And if you don’t know how to say those words/phrases, start looking them up!)

Point being, try not to compartmentalize your language study: include it in all parts of your life. When you do so, the linguistic output will come faster and more naturally. You have to train yourself more consciously as an adult learner. As a final note, consider that a baby listens to language for nearly two years, 24/7, before producing any intelligible language. By comparison, what percentage of your week are you working on the app? Patience, my little grasshoppers!

Duolingo-Specific Tips

TIP #1- try to limit yourself to working on three “circles” at a time, until you reach the gold or purple (Legendary) level. If you skip around too much to other units, the app will start testing you on things you haven’t actually learned yet.

TIP #2- If you are learning Spanish on the app, I have received excellent reviews from adults for the “audio” and “live” lessons. These are not available in all languages yet, as far as I can tell- but if you see those tabs near the bottom of your screen, be sure to check them out.