Thanks so much to Luis and all the people who have worked so hard to make this great app available to us. At the beginning I would never have believed I could learn so much in such a relatively short period. I had wanted to start learning a new language for a long time, but wasn't sure how, or when I would fit it into my busy life.
In April of 2012, my wife and I traveled to Lima, Peru, to visit our daughter, who was there for a year of study abroad, and all of her classes were being taught in Spanish. She had studied Spanish throughout high school and college, and after a few months of living in Lima, Laura was quite fluent in conversing in Spanish.
We spent a few days seeing the sights in Lima, then traveled to Cusco for three or four days, and finally went on a four day trek to Machu Picchu. We saw and experienced many beautiful places on that trip, and every place we went I was amazed at how well our Laura conversed and interacted with the people we met as we traveled.
Laura taught me how to say a few things in Spanish, as did one of our guides on the Machu Picchu trip, which was fascinating to me. I had taken a semester of Spanish in high school, but wasn't that interested at the time and I had forgotten most of what I had learned. Now, here we were in a place rich in culture, where the main language was Spanish, and this time, I became very interested. Most of the people we encountered on that trip could speak English, so it wasn’t really necessary to speak Spanish, but as I listened to people speaking this foreign language, I felt like I was missing a big part of the experience. On that trip my desire to speak Spanish, and perhaps another language or two, was born.
After we returned to the states, life got busy. Almost two years went by and I still hadn’t taken any steps to start learning a new language. Then one day early in 2014, Laura sent me a note with a link and said, hey Dad, check out this language learning app. I think you’ll like it. That was the first time I had ever heard of Duolingo, and I started using it right away.
I started with the Spanish course and enjoyed it so much it wasn’t long before I added the German course. As I mentioned, I had taken a semester of Spanish in high school and also a year of German in college, but hadn’t used either of them since. It was fun relearning what I had learned so long ago and forgotten. Common sense told me I should probably only work on one language, much less two, until I had some skill at it before starting any others, but I ignored that, and soon I added the Italian and French courses.
It was hard to manage four new language courses at once, and it wasn’t long before I decided I would work on the Spanish lessons every day, and not worry about the others unless I had free time. I have a full time job and I am also an artist and a musician. I have to fit language learning in when I can. It took me almost six months to finish the Spanish tree, and after that I immediately started the reverse tree, learning English from Spanish, which I finished in much less time. You may wonder why you would study the reverse tree. You do learn some new vocabulary, but the best reason I know of is that when you are doing the timed lessons, many more of the questions will be translating from English to the language you are learning, and it’s more challenging to quickly translate to the new language, than it would be to English.
Soon after I started using Duolingo, I went to the library and checked out a few instruction books to supplement my learning. I found some that I liked that had audio of native speakers, and these have been a great help to me. The ones I like most are from “Teach Yourself,” such as “Complete Spanish,” “Complete Italian,” etc. I listen as I’m driving to work, and I practice saying out loud what I hear.
When I finally got both of the Spanish trees caught up and could keep them golden most days, I started working more seriously on the German tree. I continued to work on the Italian tree slowly, but I decided to stop working on the French tree and postpone it until later. It was too difficult for me to manage four languages and feel like I was making good progress with all of them. The German course is almost twice as long as some of the courses, and it took me a lot longer to finish. After that, it only took a couple of months to finish the Italian tree, and then I started the French lessons again. I went back to the beginning, started the course over, and finished it in less than four months.
Soon after I started the French lessons again, I met a young man from Ireland, Oisin O Doinn, who was in our city presenting a program about Irish at a local university. He was very passionate about language learning, and I told him I was studying some languages. He asked how I was learning and I said with Duolingo. He got excited about that and he told me he is a contributor to the Irish course on Duolingo, and encouraged me to take it. At first I was reluctant, because I felt like I wasn’t very good at some of the languages I was already learning. However, many of my family’s ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland, and I decided to get started with it. I’m taking my time, working slowly through the Irish course, and would like to later study Scottish Gaelic as well, and am hoping that by then it will be offered on Duolingo.
I want to mention that if you don’t have a computer and are only learning on a phone or a tablet with the mobile app, be sure to use your browser to sign into the web version as well. All of the courses have important tips and notes that are great for helping you to learn, that aren’t available on the mobile app. If you use a regular keyboard, as opposed to a touch screen keyboard on a phone or tablet, then be sure to get the timed lessons. They were very frustrating for me at first. I had a hard time getting even one answer correct before the time was up, but as I learned more, I got faster. You have to think fast, and it’s more like real interaction in a conversation. Some of you may be fast enough on a tablet keyboard, but it didn’t work too well for me. As you get more skilled in the language you're learning, the timed lessons become a lot more fun.
Learning languages on Duolingo has been wonderful for me. I have never lost my initial enthusiasm for it and I look forward to practicing on here every day. It has become a daily habit. Every language that I've studied has its own unique rhythm and sound to it that is very beautiful. I can't imagine going to back to my former monolingual self.
My next focus is to continue to get better at speaking with real people. I'm excited that I'm starting to have more and more conversations with people than I used to, mostly in Spanish. I have a lot to learn, but I look forward to the next 1000 days.
Thanks so much Duolingo, for this great learning tool.
What an amazing achievement! What a coincidence that you got to meet one of the contributors! I am quite envious. Thank you for sharing. :)
Hello sir ! Congratulations on your 1000day streak . Hope you still remember a lot and practice as hard .Truly Duolingo makes sense and If you don't mind I would like to see your language skills in play lets say translate a part of your text in each language listed in the text. other users will comment on them .... Have a nice day and keep up the good work!
After learning another language, who (in his/her right mind) would want to go back to being monolingual?!
Anyway, thank you for sharing your great story with us! It is a great motivator for us who wish to become advanced in other languages around the world.
One last thing - Congratulations on reaching a streak of 1,000 days! I can only wish you all the best for the next 1,000 days of learning even more languages!
Yes, only 30 days to go. Language study has become a daily habit for me. I took Spanish in college but did not use it so it was forgotten. I always wanted to relearn Spanish. I bought some courses but never used them. I never "had the time". But then I discovered Duolingo, and ever since the first day I've kept it up. Duolingo is great because it's the first thing that worked for me. Now I'm semi-fluent in Spanish. The most important thing is I've developed the habit of daily language study. I used that habit to help me start learning Tagalog. I'm learning Tagalog mostly by texting with native speakers. They message me in Tagalog, I translate in Google Translator, I message back in Tagalog, and they correct me. It's a fun way to learn.