I was talked into learning German: Duolingo

Hanna1493 Earlier this semester I shared with all my groups, even the intermediate and upper-intermediate the website Duolingo. One of my upper-intermediate student used it to brush up her English. She got to level 6 in a week. Pretty fast. Considering the fact that she is upper-intermediate that is not surprising if she dedicated an average of 30 minutes a day. A false beginner student on the otherhand started 3 months ago and is in level 5. It’s hard to say how much time he had dedicated to it. Then there is me. I have started German after my Upper-intermediate student invited me to try it out and take the German lessons online with her. Later that day I logged and found her friend request waiting for me. This was couple of weeks ago. We talked about playing around with German during the summer and the possibility to enroll in the course next year – my school will be offering German for beginners. I liked the idea, but as I am a self-directed learner I mighty have a hard time keeping up with the content of a coursebook which I suppose shouldn’t be a problem for the teacher if I keep up with the classes  anyway and productively (if in that case I can actually speak any German, and if  the teacher expects the beginners to do so… we’ll see). I’m willing to give it a try though if Debbie is serious about starting the classes. (She’s one of the girls in the picture used as my header).

As for Duolingo this is how I have done so far:

27 Nov: Istarted the German lessons. My first session took 45 minutes and I started at 11:30 pm. For the following couple of days I still remembered all the word combinations I had learned/practiced and was able to say some sentences orally from memory, but keep in mind I kept reheasing them on my head now and then. From the fourth day on I started to forget words.

04 Dec: A week later, I took a practice lesson based on what I had already done and needed more practice. Duolingo automatically keeps track of your errors and tell you what you have to practice with. Just click and you can do the exercises again. (Less than 30 minutes to practice it) If you don’t never heard of Duolingo you can click here to try it out. How effective it is… I have no idea, but my students keep saying it is fun. I’m not sure what they mean by fun though. I feel the need to combine it with other forms of practicing and using the language. As a reviewer affirms in his website, it is a form of learning structures and vocabulary. Period. Actually I got the recommendation from few students earlier this year, but I only checked it out about few months ago. Now I’m try to put myself in the learner’s shoe.

05 Dec: the 8th day – I started the Basic 1 all over again. I completed the 5 lessons in about a bit more than an hour. I also bought a small notebook to keep track of new language and categorize the vocabulary in a way that is most effective for me. I made read a bit about the rules and took notes. Hanna1494

05 DEC: On the same day, I started Basic 2 and completed lesson 2. Three more lessons to go. I was very pleased that my pronunciation improved and the voice recognization soft was able to understand me most of the time during the lesson.

    I am following the TWD FB page in German so I can have small doses of exposure to authentic language and make an effort to read and understand daily. I chose something I am most comfortable with. I know what people would say in English or Portuguese about the series so it helps. I try to understand a sentence or two and to them to my notebook. I’m going to use Google translater as a way to check my sentence hypothesis when I read the FB posts. I have been receiving The Deustch Welle emails for more than 6 years now. And never had the motivation to give German another try. But it was nice to browse around the page and spot nouns ( because they are always start with a capital letter) and ein/einen/eine/die/das/den/der (the articles)… things I learned from Duolingo. This post is more about keeping a record of my progress as I took the challenge, but one thing is certain:

Duolingo is just a tool. It might be helpful. But just it won’t do the job. Just as just being in a class, doing exercises or activities won’t.

In the past, apart from starting German lessons in a school I worked for back in 2006, I have used these websites. Do you know another website?

The BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/

The Deustch Welle website: http://www.dw.de/learn-german/s-2469




4 thoughts on “I was talked into learning German: Duolingo

  1. Great insights and reflections, Rose. Thanks for taking time to share them with us. I started using DuoLingo to polish my basic and broken Spanish. I enjoyed the process for a while but I later found out that the recording section did not work (on my iPad, at least). I tested it by mispronouncing the vocabulary on purpose and by simply recording nothing. I was always correct despite of this! 🙂 I mailed DuoLingo about it but nobody apparently cared to respond. This discouraged me a bit. I like the idea of following your favorite show in target language on Facebook. I am planning to start a blog specifically for my Spanish and collect all resources there. I will also create a Twitter account solely for my Spanish and see how all the authentic exposure will help me improve my beginner Spanish 🙂 (Language learning process is awesome!)


    • Thanks Osmanaz!
      It is interesting for me that students classify it as fun (it must be the gamification system they have!) because as far as the lessons go it is basically a translation approach. I have to say it is not a bad one though. I wonder what estrategies students use to get past the same mistakes we ended making before we consciously tell our brain sth is like this or not that. Only the translation work is not enough. One needs to make an effort to understand the patterns and make a mental note in order to apply it correctly.
      My experience with the recording system was different, I got it wrong even when I thought I did it right in the first session. But as I can’t assess myself properly I thought I was mispronouncing it anyway. In the second sessions what I had practice the week before was been recognized as correct. I’ll try to test it by saying nothing. I hope they have fixed it then. But I don’t think the system can be 100% accurate, can it? I don’t think I trust machines that much. But human ears can also be misleading. I’m looking for a resource where I can learn the sounds too. I have found the BR, FR so far the most difficult ones. Thanks for commenting. I look forward to hearing your experience with Spanish. I totally agree, it’s awesome!


  2. Pingback: Learning German (again) | ROSE BARD – Teaching Journal

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