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Spanish in a Crisis

I have a friend who I met because of Duolingo. A few days ago they ended up in the hospital in a Spanish speaking part of the world. In my journey to find them, I called four different hospitals and various departments in each. I became very adept at asking "alguien habla ingles?" And then in some instances cobbling together some English and Spanish. My friend's family doesn't speak English, save a few words here and there. They were cautious when a stranger called them and not eager to give out information. This is where Duolingo came in most handy, my ability to speak and listen to Spanish is very low. However, I was able to switch to texting with them in Spanish. It wasn't perfect, but, it was enough. And, that bridged the divide. This morning, I was finally able to gather all of the information I needed, and was able to talk to my friend in hospital. 

It has been a very emotional few days for me. Thank you Duolingo. I couldn't have done this without you.

Edit: I have begun keeping a repository of my more exciting and/or harrowing language experiences, like when I got put in jail and the time I rallied our community to help find a blood transfusion for the mother of a former Duolingo staffer. You can read all of them here.

July 23, 2016



I'm so glad you could talk with your friend. This is why Duolingo is so amazing and is still here. How is your friend doing?


About as well as can be expected for a multiple day hospital stay. In other words, a bit miserable. But, I told them I was getting a book to read to them as soon as my friend brings it by. That seemed to brighten things.


Well, tell them get well soon from their friends at Duolingo.

:) And good luck on continuing to learn Spanish.

[deactivated user]

    Without the part "una recuperación rápida" that could be very awkward...


    I'm so glad you were able to track down your friend and speak to them! Learning a foreign language really does build bridges in amazing ways. I hope your friend recovers well and quickly, and that you are soon feeling less stressed.


    Thank you friend. :) I am already much relieved. I hope so too. I think everything will turn out.


    Maybe you are not religious, but if you want people to pray for you, tell us.


    Thank you :) I am not religious. This event happened quite a while back. However, generally, I don't mind if people pray for me. So long as they don't pray at me or send bits of scriptures and such. (I've read the Bible 3 or so times. I was once planning to be a missionary. So, I am pretty well acquainted ^_~). Like I said though, I don't mind prayer. Mindful compassion can bring about a lot of positive things for the world, whether or not I believe any god(esses) exist. :)


    Prayers are bit of compassion.


    Wow, interesting that you say you were once planning on being a missionary. Would that have been a Christian missionary? I was a Christian missionary, but also am not at all religious, simply a Christian. So sad how many of us are so obnoxious!


    Conservative Evangelical Protestant. Though, I do not affiliate now.


    Would love to hear your story, though I guess this isn't the best place to do so!


    So glad you could talk to your friend! Sorry that happened. I hope you aren't as stressed and your friend gets better. :D


    I'm sorry your friend is in the hospital. I hope they recover soon. It must be hard for everyone.

    Sending positive thoughts and free virtual hugs to you, your friend and everyone else affected by the situation. I hope both you and your friend feel better.


    Nice post, I love to read posts about how learning languages makes the world a little better. Your friend has a good friend in you Usagi.


    Good to have you back old buddy, it has been a long time... now you are a moderator on duolingo. Well done!!. Hope I can talk to you later.


    I'm very happy for you that your skills are working for you, usagi. :D I wish your friend a full recovery!

    • 508

    I wish your friend Mejórate pronto. Get well quickly.
    The kindness you show to so many continues to inspire me.
    We are all made better by our ability to know you.
    Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many of us.
    Including showing us some of the great advantages learning to communicate in other languages can bring us. To help us connect, and also have the ability to show kindness and create a richer world that is more rewarding to be part of - for each of us.
    Please wish your friend for us: Aliviate pronto de todos nosotros.


    That is a great story. I am glad you could help, I hope your friend feels better soon.


    wow, when i first downloaded this app, i never realized how important it is to know another language sometimes


    @rileyparke7, it's amazing how helpful even just a little bit can be. So, while I'm not aiming for fluency, I review the Spanish course every year, alongside learning a little of a few other languages. PS, I've edited the link in the main post up above to connect to a repository of my language experiences if you're interested in reading about any more stories like this one.


    We are your friends too! Do you know the Leonard Cohen's song. Mais j'ai tant d'amis, j'ai la France entière..


    I don't! Tell me about it?


    It's not really Leonard Cohen, it's a French song, very beautiful liberty hymn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=765sC3UBKSA


    Such a vivid illustration!


    Do you like Leonard Cohen? I love him.


    tell your friend I said get well soon

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