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https://www.duolingo.com/breonnia1

Is this actually a VERY accurate learning a language site?

I've learned french last semester but I'm not in it this semester (not by choice) is this a good website to learn languages from?

4 years ago

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/porkcfish

As an autodidact Francophone, I have studied via many means: cassette courses (just dated myself), books, movies, radio (back when you needed shortwave to hear French radio), and now DuoLingo.

I think the site is very good because it just throws you in the water. I have read, though I assume this is from DuoLingo press releases, that completing the tree will give you the equivalent of a B1 CERF fluency (able to handle common situations, write simple text, describe ones life literally or figuratively). I believe that to be true. I think daily use of the site will easily establish basic proficiency in the language.

Now accuracy is quite different from the ability to communicate. Some exercises are pronounced incorrectly, or, worse, fail to allow that there is no distinction in spoken French between «il disait» and «ils disaient». There are mechanisms for users to report this. It does not handle idiomatic English well. On the other hand, some of the French idioms are ludicrous and would never be used (e.g. I wanna live in your shoes so I can take every step with you). I am surprised «chouette» hasn't been inflicted upon us. But are the exercises always accurate? I'd argue no. Some of this has to do with the fact that there are myriad ways to say something in any language. You can only have so many translations. But given the crowdsourced nature of the site, new translations are added constantly.

Does this matter? I'd also argue no. Just bite the bullet and remember the answer for the exercise and if you are sure your answer is correct, report it.

The flip side is that each exercise has a discussion area where people can deconstruct the whys and hows of the language. We are blessed to have a user named Sitesurf, who is a native speaker but also has the ability to explain in perfect and clear English why something occurs the way it does. Not only that, s/he appears to be a grammarian and is at home discussing the finer points of the subjunctive as they are with everyday locutions.

The same occurs with the immersion section. Going head-to-head translating actual website pages gives you additional insight into the language. There are many great translators on here (and don't let their level fool you - some people are new to the site but not to the language) and each sentence can be parsed or you can take it to the discussion section of the article or onto your profile page.

I will say I have had no luck with the speech recognition on here and turned it off. But I have the advantage of having spoken the language for years. I do not need pronunciation drills. Others say the speech recognition works well. So it could just be my using Chrome.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to learning a language: some feel you need to learn all vocabulary, some feel you need to learn all grammar. I prefer the mechanics of a language (though if you don't know what «il m'a posé un lapin» means, no amount of grammar will help). And I do feel that the intuitive tutorial on here does have some flaws. Latin-based languages are hell on Saxon tongues (English and German especially). Sometimes it helps to have direct instruction on grammar. The discussions are helpful here, especially since there are a few people who really lend their knowledge to us above and beyond the call of duty.

I am a reader and I enjoy grammar, so I'd suggest this book to fill in the gaps from the site: http://www.amazon.com/Conversational-French-Lessons-Cortina-Method/dp/0805014977/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8qid=1392913107sr=8-1keywords=cortina+french

(I assume you are in the US.) It is like $5 used (don't buy it new, it is out of print) and hasn't been updated since 1951. However, the grammar section is wonderful. I highly suggest it to supplement your DL studies. YouTube has all of French in Action, which was an amusing French language show on PBS to teach people elementary French. And the Foreign Service Institutes government language courses are online for free. The Open Culture website has tons of language links for slowly-read French news, language instruction, audio books, etc. There are many ways to do this.

The site is easier for me because I have years of learning behind me (though my gaps in knowledge still astound me). For a new person, I can think of few better ways to get acquainted with a language. As with any new task, you'll improve in direct proportion to what you put into it. I require strong fluency as I plan on moving abroad. So I am focusing. But you will be able to communicate simple thoughts within a month just doing an hour per day.

Overall, you can't go terribly wrong with the course. Plus, the web is literally being translated thus keeping the site free for all. I've had a great experience in just 25 days on here and have told everyone who says, "I'd really like to learn..." about it.

The site is not even two years old and is having growing pains, but the crowd-nature of it is quickly fixing a lot of it.

Bonne chance!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Senlando
Senlando
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I love how you mentioned "chouette". This semester it was in the vocab section of my French book, and when we asked the prof about it she just told us to ignore it and not to ever use it or we'd never be considered cool. Kind of makes me what to use it even more.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/porkcfish

I have heard it a few times in Montreal but never in France. I wonder if Austin Powers uses it «en version français».

I use it for the same reason you mentioned. But I do my "Roger Moore thing" when saying it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Have a lingot for this great essay and exemplary motivation !

And I wish you success moving to Montreal. Though Montreal isn't the best place to practice French : many people will switch to English the second they perceive the slightest accent. Others just don't know a single word of French (or they feign it ;-))

People in France some times use chouette to mean "Cool". I'm surprised you've heard it more often in Montreal than in France though ! In its literal sense it's also a kind of owl.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/A51f

Oui! Duo lingo rocks! I am making so much progress and I am only on level 6!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Senlando
Senlando
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I have, and am taking, Spanish, French and mandarin at University and now using Duo to learn Portuguese. From the content I have learned, I would say in 2 months I've learned about 2 years of university Portuguese,. This is a bit of an extreme case though because Spanish and French help my learning to speed up a lot. But just being able to do a few lessons a day on the phone, i find very convenient. So try it out, if you don't get addicted, you're free to leave. :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/javax
javax
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It is indeed. In fact, many users here have posted about their results and how they are better or the best in their classes. Just have fun, and remember to review your lessons frequently.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OlderThanRome
OlderThanRome
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According to a study from a year ago, 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to one semester of college education:

https://www.duolingo.com/!/comment/138340

I'm wondering if you'll think the same after 34 hours? :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LennStar

That said, in a semester you have about 20 weeks teaching at most. Lets say 16 - it is easier anyway. That would mean 2 hours a week. BUT in college you dont do 1 on 1 teaching. AND I think in this 34 hours is the time you take for reading or asking questions in the forums not included (which your teacher would help you with in college).

So: Yes, it is effective, especially because it is flexible on your time and cost-free, but I would not venture to say that it is more effective then "normal" 1 on 1 or small group teaching. Your brain is not faster because of a nice webpage (but it is more fun with a nice one then in a boring class room)

You should plan about the same time in hours as you would in "normal" lessons. You can make them as fast as in an intensive course, of course, on your own time, at your home - and that is the big plus.

In other words: The time you need to learn is probably about the same, but you cut all the overhead, which could easily take 1/2 of the total amount of time.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PolyglottC

I think so :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Parisian_Dreamer

Duolingo is the best! As OlderThanRome said, 34 hours of using Duolingo is equivalent to one semester of college education. It also teaches you grammer unlike other software.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

And some people learn a great deal in a semester of college, and some learn very little. ;) Same here on Duo, IMO.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adrienne58

It could possibly improve one's spelling, too :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/porkcfish

Glass houses, adrienne. ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hudafitriA

yes indeed. it's like taking class at university, except it's easier and more fun. i'm still new though. happy learning

4 years ago