Suggestions for Students
I am a firm believer in teaching other languages at an early age. The American school system I work for does not always follow this ideology. However, I have been exploring your program with my son as a potential to use with other students. Since I work with younger children (elementary school) trying to teach them with this program becomes challenging because they do not always know how to write out the answer in their native language. I have resolved a lot of this issue with having them answer verbally but it also keeps them from getting any spelling practice in with the new language. It would be awesome if the typing what you hear feature could be turned on and off as it is not useful in this case. It would also be awesome if there were a spelling test connected to each lesson separate from the regular lesson so younger age groups could practice both. A teacher could type in like I do, and they could practice spelling in a secondary lesson so the younger student still enjoys learning without becoming frustrated because of their native language level and lack of progress.
Isn't teaching other languages at a young age good because the children are young enough to have those other languages become native languages of theirs? :D
Duolingo is good for those of us too old to gain any more native languages, but it seems terrible for becoming a native speaker of a language. This has come up in other threads too:
https://www.duolingo.com/comment/10568531 includes a list of tips on how to raise a bilingual child, and some of these tips can be done in classrooms as well as at home. :) It also has a link to http://www.lazymomsblog.com/2014/05/12/how-to-raise-a-bilingual-child/
At https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9629453 another parent asked about using Duolingo to teach a 5-year-old Spanish, and some of the comments (especially from beadspitter!) are about other methods to help a 5-year-old become a native speaker of Spanish better than Duolingo can.
Note that the immersion mentioned in those comments isn't the same thing as the translating-articles section of this website that Duolingo misleadingly calls "immersion". Here's a better description of what immersion means in the context of language learning: http://www.carla.umn.edu/immersion/faqs.html