Duolingo changed my life and Duolingo vs school
Hello, my fellow language learners, and hello, Duo-Team,
I wanted to tell you how Duolingo changed my life and of course also thank the team for the amazing work done here.
So let's begin:
I found out about Duolingo in June of last year over a YouTube channel called Vsauce3 and decided it could be fun and useful to learn and speak a third language. So I downloaded the app and started learning Spanish. I was immediately hooked. I told a friend of mine about Duolingo and he downloaded it too. Unfortunately, he stopped learning when he got to the Questions section.
After three months I finished the tree and thanks to Duolingo I've discovered my love for languages.
In the school year after these events I switched to another school which was more language based (you get a second foreign language in third grade (age 13) and another one in 5th grade (age 15). Most schools inAustria only get one additional in 5th grade if any at all) as I wasn't really happy about my former school (actually it was horrible and I'll always think about that time with a shiver).
Of course I chose Spanish as my second foreign language. I had to take a test to validate that I really was on about the level of the other students who have studied for 3 years which I passed with the best mark in both the written and the oral part. The two regular tests per semester both were mark 2 (or B whatever you prefer to say). The second one even was 2+ and would have been 1 (the best grade in Austria) if it wasn't for a hard listening part.
So to sum up: 3 years of Spanish class don't even stand a chance against a few months on Duolingo.
Also without Duo I'd never have switched to this school which I like by far more than my former one.
Again thank you Duolingo-Team and thank you community, keep up the great work and the learning.
Greetings from Austria, Grüße aus Österreich, Saludos desde Austria, Salutes ex Austria, Criculann
So I'm sitting in my bed at a quarter past 2 in the morning. I came home from an awesome prom at which I had a lot of fun with my new friends from my new school about 45 minutes ago and now I'm answering your replies.
It all makes me cry a little bit. My story at the top of the discussion with over 70 upvotes in just about 11 hours. All these replies (especially dankabass3's), 14 lingots given to me. Duo's community simply is awesome. Again I want to thank you all for being awesome and one of the best communities on the Internet. Please do me only one little favour: Never stop with your efforts whatever it is. Keep up the language learning because the language will enrich your lifes. And if life's hard to you, keep going and when nothing works break what's bad and find something new. I did this and it changed everything to a much better version of what it was before. Be it my school, my life in general or myself.
So whenever you think everything fails think about Duolingo (and about my story if you want :) ) and how great this site is. I'd like to give all of you a hug in person but unfortunately that's not possible so it'll only be a virtual one. hugs all Duo-members
You should add that in Austria 1 is the best grade - in the US 1 is the worst grade, that might be confusing for people :) And congrats! Grüße nach Österreich von einer europäischen Nachbarin in New York :-)
Thank you for your suggestion. I did that. And isn't F the worst grade in the US?
F is the worst grade in the US, but then they translate that into a Grade Point Average, and then I think the lowest mark is something like a 0.00 or so. In any case, A+ is the highest grade and 4.00 GPA is the best. Though GPAs are very complicated. XD
Here's how I've seen it:
A+ = Very Good = 97%
A = Good = 93%
A- = Somewhat Good = 90%
B+ = Very Decent = 87%
B = Decent = 83%
B- = Somewhat Decent = 80%
C+ = Somewhat Bad = 77%
C = Bad = 73%
C- = Very Bad = 70%
D = Awful = 65%
F = Failure = 64% and below.
wow! F is 64%?! Here in Israel a failure is below 55% or below 50%, I guess that means that most my grades should be almost F! O_O (only in creative subjects though, like literature and such, I am A++ in math and physics :P )
It varies, a different state or a different city could set the failing bar higher or lower. When I was in high school, an F started at 69%. But I've heard some places have it at 59%.
Very true. Each state is different and within each state, each county is different, or sometimes each town is different. In my town, it was recently determined that when someone gets a zero on a paper, that cannot be counted as zero points, but has to be counted as 60 points because it would be too hard for the student to recover from the mathematical reality of zero points on a paper. This new grading system helps everyone to excel in life.
yeah, some teachers do 50% is F and then it's completely different in grade school.
never quiet got the letters, but 4.0 is the best grade point average you can get
A+ 100+% A for 90%-99%% B for 80%-89% C for 70%-79% D for 60-69% F 59% and below Minuses for lowest percentages i.e 80=B-
The ranges for grades vary in every state though. So it can be pretty confusing. I live in Tennessee and the ranges are:
A = 93% - 100% B = 85% - 92% C = 75% - 84% D = 70% - 74% F = 0% - 69%
I've always wondered why D's had such a short percentage range . . . ;P oh well haha
Sounds tough. In Australia: A=75-100% B=65-74% C=50-64% (I think... don't often get c's) D=less than 50%, and E is somewhere really low. But 93% for an A sounds a bit ridiculous to me.
In England at GCSE (Ages 15-16) it's generally (unweighted):
A* - 90-100%
A - 80-89%
B - 70-79%
C - 60-69%
D - 50-59%
E - 40-49%
F - 30-39%
G - 20-29%
U - 0-19%
F and G are only available in some subjects. I think it's generally that in Higher exams you can get A*-D and in Foundation exams you can get C-G. Although Gove is going to overhaul all of this and it'll be Grades 1-8 with 8 being the highest...
Technically A*-G are passes, although only A*-C tend to be accepted by universities and suchlike.
Grading with numbers is a lot easier.
Here in Brazil we go from 0 - 10. 0 being you didn't get anything right, and 10 u got everything right.
So if a teacher gives a test with 40 questions, each worth 1/4 of a point. If u get one wrong you get a 9,75. ( I even had teachers that sometimes would use the third decimal place(?) like 8,125.
So it's much more precise than A-F.
BookNerdz, I was in school in Tennessee in the 1970s when this was changed. Prior to that, A was 90-100, B was 80-90, C was 70-80, and D was 60-70. Anything lower was failing. The state school board decided grading was too easy, so they changed to the system you noted. They wanted the average to be in the middle B to C range, so they made them cover most of the grading bell curve, and basically shoehorned in the D!
After rereading some of these comments, I remembered that this has always annoyed me, but WHY THE FLIP DOES AMERICA NOT HAVE AN "E" GRADE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! It makes no sense!!!!!!!! I mean seriously! England has it!!! . . . Maybe that's the reason? . . . Stupid, stubborn Americans :P (I am american so I can say this HaHaHa) xD
I've always thought low grades are the best to get. Low grades mean you have more to learn, and learning is fun :o) (luckily, you only have to take it seriously if you are a medical doctor...)
People in my school who usually get low grades don't care or they have parents or something that they feel don't give them enough attention, so they do something like get in trouble and get low grades so that their parents would pay attention to them.
Most of the girls that I know though really don't care . . . one got a 0 in a class call Freshman Focus where all the grade is participation. :P
Me and my rants, sorry about that.
Rant away, it's good for the soul. I went from exemplary grades to 'meh, what am I living for' in the space of a year. I can't ever come back from that as far as the system is concerned, but it does confront you with the fact that while every single human being has infinite academic potential, it is difficult to really separate that from spiritual fulfilment. Maybe you should look at people as more than what they score in tests.
I read your reply and couldn't agree more. I get good grades most of the time, but these days I've been wondering: "What am I doing?" Your comment on "spiritual fulfillment" for some reason reminded me of a book I read: "Beneath the Wheel" by Hesse. I think grades in some ways have their place, and also testing, but it seems to be such a dominant aspect in schools...
It is something that leaves me with mixed feelings. Obviously, achievement and ability are good things for everyone. Education is a human right, probably more than that, it's a duty that is more holy than the holiest books, for student and teacher alike. The way we do it though, is to take that beautiful ideal and turn it into a chore about as glamorous as making sausages.
Anyone that becomes truly great at anything becomes that way because they love what they are doing. But instead of being a system that finds the greatness in people, we have mindset geared only to eliminate the 'failures'. We don't even consider what we're going to do with them, it's just important to exclude them.
There is no such thing as someone doomed to failure, I think it's almost criminal to suggest it. I have a favourite video of a man that was born prematurely, is blind, autistic, a man who any average person would have written off as incapable of achieving anything at all, and yet thanks to someone seeing his potential, and thanks to being supported by those around him, can play the piano with a degree of perfectionism that would have probably intimidated Mozart.
It turns your head upside down to watch it - someone who 100 years ago would have been dealt more than one card that was at the time a death sentence, showing an incomprehensible level of skill at something we consider beautiful...
Academic grading in the United States commonly takes on the form of five letter grades. Traditionally, the grades are A, B, C, D, and F—A being the highest and F, denoting failure, the lowest.
I don't know. O_o weird~
Now you're back to zero. ;P Better than a negative~
Cool story! I like how you make it seem like only getting two foreign languages in school isn't much; in the US we normally don't get the option to study a foreign language in school until we're about 13 or 14 years old. Which I think is part of the reason we have a stereotype for being terrible at languages.
In NY they do not start a first foreign language until 10-12 yo. It's a shame, but I'm doing my part to fix that. I've got my own daughter 7 and the neighbor 10 on Duo french. If nothing else they are also getting exposed to kids movies in french as well. I'm 8 months into my first second language and I'm doing awesome, amazing how easy it is to progress when you don't waste dozen of hours a week watching boring tv in my native language.
It's awesome that you got two people, one of them so young, into language learning. That earns a lingot!
That a US thing :-) In France and I guess in most European countries, you start learning English at 10 (I started at 6) and you add a second language 2 years later. It's compulsory.
Whether French people do speak 3 languages is another story :-)
Another story? Hey, at least in France people try. There is a lot of credit to be given for that in itself. Out here in you know where, we barely become competent in our own language :'(
Honest to god, I have met people from every square inch of the world that take English more seriously than some of my flatmates, people who were probably born in the same hospital as me... Without having to learn anything but my own language, I've made friends with people from Arabia, China, South America, India, Africa, Eastern Europe... it's such a strange feeling, having more reason to respect someone thousands of miles away than someone who lives less than 10 feet away. People who can't even clean their F-ing dishes, and who would readily take the piss out of the friends I have made - it's a topsy turvy world :o)
I don't really know how it is in public school here in Brazil, but I studied in a private school, a German one, so we started learning German the moment we get there.
In preschool and Kindergarten it's mostly little songs. Then in first grade we started learning colors and numbers and animals and ❤❤❤❤ XD And we learn it until the last year of High School.
When we were in Fifth grade we started learning English. When I was still in school they changed it to the Fourth grade.
Sometimes in the paid extracurricular they had the option of some other language, but that was for people who wanted it. But people who wanted extracurricular usually chose an instrument or a sport.
Haha. :D There are also schools that only teach English which today is needed everywhere and therefor not teaching it, would be like never teaching basic maths. The so called "Unterstufe" (I think that would be something like the secondary school) except the heavily language based ones and the HTL (Höhere Technische Lehranstalt/Higher Technical Institute. I went to one of these before a switched school) for example.
Same thing here in Canada. We only get French, except in a few British Columbia schools, where we get Mandarin.
Congratulations to you. It's amazing how you realize when you go to a school (or job) that you enjoy after leaving one you did not, you truly realize how unhappy you were. Keep up the language learning.
I am on month 3 of duolingo Spanish, I'm about 2/3 complete. My memory isn't great, so I go back and redo sections frequently, but I think it is extremely helpful to do so. I am married, with two kids, and a full time job. Therefore, I don't have as much time as I'd like to put into my lessons.
Either way, I'm gaining so much knowledge in such a short time. I live in Texas, USA. We have a LARGE spanish speaking community. I have several spanish speaking co-workers and a few friends as well. Everyone is amazed at how much I already know. It brings a huge smile to my face to hear.
My entire life since I can remember, I've wanted to learn another language, actually, as many as I could possibly learn. I never did, I kept telling myself I would someday, but didn't. In October of last year, a friend told me about duolingo, that it had a few different languages and that it was free. I created my account within minutes of receiving this information. I became instantly hooked. My New Year's Resolution is to be fluent in Spanish by the end of the year. I'm well on my way, and so very thankful for duolingo!
If anyone could give me their opinion, from experience, not just pure opinion, what would be the next most valuable language to learn living in the USA? (Pick from the options on duolingo)
Cool story. I, too, want to be fluent in as many languages as possible. I think my first goals will be all languages with more than 100 million native speakers.
For the next language. There are a few German speakers in the US and French is the fourth most common (after English, Spanish and Chinese) but still way behind Spanish.
Here's a wikipedia article about the matter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States#Main_languages
There's even a Spanish version ;)
As for which language you should learn after Spanish from the options available on duolingo. It sort of depends on where you live. I'm Canadian so I learned French after Spanish and found it an interesting challenge, the grammar was easy to learn (after Spanish) but the pronunciation and spelling is still a difficult challenge, you can really see the Latin roots and how they went different paths through history. So if you live in or near Louisiana and have an interest in Cajan culture and are interested in visiting a French speaking Cajan community or you live in a north eastern state and would like to visit Quebec or New Brunswick or a French town scattered throughout English speaking Canada, than I'd highly recommend French (though Quebecois, Acadian and Cajan variates of French are a bit different than standard French). Also I find French television, movies and music to be awesome! But the easiest language you could learn after Spanish is Portuguese, (I'm learning it now and am quite impressed at how quickly I'm picking it up, but at the same time it could become boring because it's not as challenging (the Pronunciation is fun though, nasal like French but not as difficult). Also I think it might be slightly easier to find Portuguese speakers from Brazil in the US, then French speakers. As soon as mandarin Chinese is available I'd recommend learning it (it's currently in the incubator). I'm a native English and semi native mandarin speaker so I can tell you that Chinese grammar is probably as easy as it gets for languages (other than esperanto). It has no verb conjugation, no articles (a,an,the), and like English it's an Subject-verb-object language. But the logical yet completely foreign vocabulary, the 4 tones and the writing system will be a big challenge. So unless you are very ambitious, I'd stick with a few romance languages first, they will boost your language learning confidence as each additional language will take less and less time to learn, but if you jump language families your language learning pace won't be as fast.
One more suggestion if you decide to learn French or Portuguese you should consider learning them from Spanish instead of from English, that way you are constantly practicing and maintaining your Spanish! The Spanish-French course is already available on beta and the Spanish-Portuguese should be in beta shortly as well. Anyways... best of luck! Learning languages can be extremely addicting!
Fantastic advice. I love the idea of learning from Spanish to Portuguese or French. Brilliant! I still have a little ways to go in my Spanish lessons before I move onto another language, but I can't wait.
I'm Brazilian and don't know Spanish XD But I don't want to learn Spanish from English, I guess I'll have to wait a lot for Portuguese-Spanish. I already have to relearn German from English. I'm also waiting to see if they will launch other Latin based languages to be learned from Portuguese.
Since they already have Spanish-Portuguese well on its way in incubator, the Portuguese-Spanish shouldn't take too long since I hear they reverse the courses immediately after they are done. Also both languages have courses in English, so I feel that they could possibly recycle some translations. Either way it shouldn't take long. I know as soon as Sp-Por is available I'm going to jump trees to try that.
I have no facts about the next Latin language from Portuguese but I think it is very likely fr-por and than por-fr or vis versa since portugués has more speakers. I say this because French has a lot more speakers than Italian or Romanian (and they are already doing sp-fr).
P.S. I would have attempted my Portuguese in my reply but I think at my level I'd just confuse everyone! Next time I hope! Haha
It will probably be fr-por/por-fr and then ita-por/por-ita. I don't anticipate any Romanian until it's on its way out of the Incubator for eng-rom (it's now at rom-eng)
Well done; thank you for sharing. I am going to show your story to my son who started learning French in secondary school; hope your will be his inspiration
Oh that's awesome. Simply the thought about how I could help your son by only having written my story is beautiful. Have a lingot. And good luck with your and your son's language learning,
How did you get so good on the oral part by only using Duolingo? Did the microphones lessons were enough to really practice?
The oral part actually wasn't that hard. For example one task was to form sentence with acaber de+actions. The only real challenge was when I had to explain how to use a computer,
Also I have a nice teacher who realised although my speaking skills might still be a tiny bit underdeveloped (though not that much) I'd soon catch up with just some exercise.
And Duolingo basically already teaches a bit of what's needed. You still have to put it together which can be quite hard at times but it's there somewhere :)
Just a side note: There are different number systems for foreign languages. In English you call the first foreign language a "second language" L2. In German you'd say "erste Fremdsprache" (first foreign language), in French they even skip the word "foreign" and say "première langue" (first language), which implies the first language taught in school. In the English system you can have multiple "second languages", in the Franco/German system you keep counting (first language, second language, third language ...). The mother tongue is usually never accounted. I spoke with some teachers in France about it, and for their understanding only the time in school matters, and not the quality you speak a foreign language. Personally, I have learned as my second [foreign] language latin, but forgot it completely. Now I speak French, Spanish and some Norwegian and have no idea how to put them into Franco/German order - I therefore prefer the English system ;)
When Criculann mentions his second and third foreign language, he implies that he is going to leave highschool with four languages (including German and English)
Thank you for this interesting piece of information. Who'd think labelling foreign languages could be so complicated? Have a lingot.
That's wonderful! I've read about the education system in Germany and Austria, and I really wish we had that in America. I won't be able to really indulge my interest in languages until next year in college! I plan to take German and Arabic there.
That's awesome. I wish you good luck and should you ever need help in German feel free to ask me. I may not seem that active but I'm usually on at least once a day.
Congratulations! Just a minor fix: Is is "Saludos desde Austria". Otherwise, it sounds like Austria itself is greeting us :)
i am inspired by your story!! now i have courage to learn a totally new language!
Until you mentioned it at the end of your post, I didn't realize you weren't a native English speaker. Hope you do as well with Spanish.
Thank you. English already has become something like a second native language for me. I hope Spanish and other languages will become too.
I wish you good luck for your language learning as well.
This is absolutely amazing! Congratulations!! =) It is certainly not easy to find someone who has enough discipline to study a language not being in a regular course. It's great that Duolingo provides us the tools we need for that to happen, but, even greater is you taking this opportunity and making the most of it! Congrats again, wish you a lot of success!
Thank you. I wish you too good luck with your language learning. Hopefully it will open up new opportunities for you and enrich your life like it did for me.
Congratulations from an American struggling midway through German, but still a big Duolingo fan. Very heartening story.
Thanks. I wish you good luck and should you ever have questions in German feel free to ask me.
I have to agree that Duolingo is a great site to learn and practice a new language. (and it's free). I am learning French and Spanish and find it easy to keep studying regularly because the lessons are in bite size chunks. Whenever I think I am forgetting vocabulary or grammar I can just revise, and I constantly surprise myself with the things that I do remember. I am from Australia and learning additional languages is not highly regarded. Which is surprising as Australia has one of the most diverse migrant populations in the world. I am in my sixties and enjoy the mental stimulation of learning a language. I also am going on holidays to countries where French and Spanish are spoken, and hope that my new found skills will make these trips more enjoyable. Great work Duolingo!
Wow 200 upvotes, 75 comments! You guys are just awesome. Also I got 41 lingots for my discussion, another 22 for one of my posts in here and a few others from other posts of mine. I'm thinking about doing something with them. Stay tuned for next week.
I would not compare 3 years in class with your 3 months with duolingo. You probably spend a lot more time learning than students in class. And your learning with duo was very intense - you were focused on this. And in school they probably learned only to pass test - just suficient enough, but not with passion. Learning on your own (or even better - with a private teacher) will always beat school group teaching in sence of effectivenes.
That is super what other countries are doing regarding language. In the US most folks that hit college(that were born here) can't read or write English at the 7th grade level, much less speak another language. The exception, for the most part, are immigrants where English becomes a second language out of necessity and they have English mastered, and I mean mastered, in record time. Embarrassing for the folks born here and I am one. They actually wanted to start college courses in "ebonics" here.
I agree that we should begin learning languages earlier in the US - and that at least one foreign language should be required. That being said - I had a comment made to me by my cousin's Michoacán (Mexican) husband, that he understood why Anglos in the US weren't interested in learning another language, because their chances of either travelling to a country where no one knew English, or of meeting someone in their own country who didn't know English, were very small, so why waste the effort?. The fact that learning a second or third language helps you to understand how your own works better just doesn't seem to compute with conservative small town school boards. (plus they are strapped for cash, and don't feel that it is as important as "the basics"
All so true. I lived in MX for 5 years. Talk about strapped for cash and learning a language out of necessity and pure motivation... I met 9-12 year old shoe shine kids that have more command of English than rappers/actors/sports stars born in the US and are 20+ years old. Again sad. If someone wants to learn though, truly wants to learn something, there is always a way. Duolingo is a perfect example. It's here, it's free and best of all, it works. The fact that it's also fun is icing on the cake.
Once my uncle went to France and he had to ask something to a group of elderly (I think) women and he tried speaking in french but his french wasn't really strong so he had to change to English, so they said that he was not American because he tried to speak their language and that Americans have no respect for them and think everybody has to know English.
Other thing I notice is most Americans run from subtitled foreign movies like the plague. So a perfectly good movie has to be or dubbed or remade. Like the movie "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", the whole trilogy was released in Sweden in 2009, it was beautifully made and it was already there! But noooo! We want money and they won't watch a movie in swedish, so let's do a remake off a two year old movie! They made an almost exact replica..... ( Took that out of my chest)
Academic grading in the United States commonly takes on the form of five letter grades. Traditionally, the grades are A, B, C, D, and F—A being the highest and F, denoting failure, the lowest.
It's great have read that. Duolingo is changing everyone's life teaching us new languages easily. I've learned English and now I'm learning Portuguese —It's not too hard to do if you are an Spanish speaker—. Thanks Duolingo!
Saludos desde Venezuela Criculann :D
congratulations...it feels great to hear some success stories. Sometimes, I doubt if I will be fluent in German OR i am just wasting my time. These stories give me encouragement.
Fluency is hard to achieve. But when I studied English I learned how important it is to immerse oneself. I never learned vocabulary and in general didn't do a lot in English. My learning basically consisted of the 3 or 4 lessons we had per week and quickly going through the test material when we had an exam. But from the 2nd year to the 4th year we got small English books we had to read, each week a different one. I think I was the only one who really read those. Later I started playing games and reading novels in English. Thanks to these I achieved fluency somewhen in 4th grade. Now English in school is simply funny for me. The level is B1-B2 whereas I'm about C1-C2.
Well, ya ..immersion is the way to go while learning the language. Thanks for sharing your experiences of learning English. I am listening to German radio stations and trying to find some elementary books to acclimatize myself.
I had been learning in primary school (1992-2000) and in secondary (2000-2004) school in Poland. I don't know what is the scale now, but in times I mentioned the lowest grade was 1 and the highest 6, though 6 was almost impossible to get, because you had to be perfect (over 99%) The lowest permissive grade was 2 (from 50% up to 59%). Nowadays, a lot has changed, but I'm not conversant with school. I've heard that the permissive limit is much lower now, only 30%
ow thats amazing in britai they do nubers and letters in secondary schools EP is the best and highest level adios
I have learned so much more using Duolingo than I ever could have at school in the US. Our systems are set up so that most kids never take a foreign language, and it is truly sad because we are so diverse it's almost necessary. But this app has changed my life, and I've only been on it for less than a week! It's definitely more productive than taking a class at school and wasting years of my life.