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  5. Duolingo is... Therapeutic?


Duolingo is... Therapeutic?

I may just be the only one, but Duolingo, as well as language learning in general, appeases my state of mind and I don’t know why. Well, maybe I do.

I’ve noticed that language learning, specifically on Duolingo, places my mind at ease, sort of like playing a video game (for me, at least). A user in the past had compared Duolingo to being like a video game (Nintendo was a primary analogy in this case), where you are fully engaged and in a mental state of complete immersion. I’m not saying language learning is like playing a video game; it’s just the feelings that arise from both that are similar for me. This certainly depends on your perceptions of language learning for I know some people like learning languages, but they are not “that” into it. Like, it’s not a true passion than simply a hobby or perhaps a necessity. Although, I am one of those people who like to “get into” language learning, especially when I am learning on Duolingo. This site is a platform where this kind of immersion is possible, and that is just one of the many things I find unique about this site.

To explain why I feel so at ease when using Duolingo, I think it stems from the things I went through during my usage of this site.

Before and when I took Duolingo seriously, many things were happening in my life. Tragedy struck my family, so I lost members quicker than I had expected. I was working myself sick trying to uphold academic expectations. I was involved in many outside activities, including a symphony, math society, college prep organization, etc. Stress and mourning were basically tearing me apart. My sense of worth deteriorated as I began to see myself fail endlessly. Even more, as I grew closer to graduation, I was rejected from a university that I had hoped to be accepted into, and it was all due to a mistake that my high school made. At that point, I had had enough with the contingencies of life.

Though, what I clearly remember from within those experiences was that whenever I got home from the madness, I would log-in planning to do a lesson on Duolingo. Instantly, I would be doing a full skill or more and all of my worries would vanish. Well, not really, but I wish that was the case. Basically, my mind would be warped to this mental “land of language learning”, usually French, where my focus and energy were purely on that. And, it was something that I loved, so I felt as if my energy was well spent (even though I should have been doing homework instead).

This is not as special as I am making it out to be because I am sure my mind was just distracted from the real world where my focus was not on my current circumstances. But, this therapeutic effect lasted not only while I was doing lessons, but after I logged out. I felt more accomplished than how I would have felt if I finished an essay on that day, or did anything else related to academics. It was like… Like nothing else really mattered but practicing French. Upon accomplishing that, my sense of worth would increase. I could actually breathe. My mourning stopped temporarily. I was happy, serene.

I’m not saying Duolingo is universally therapeutic. In fact, anyone who is reading this and finds Duolingo as a simple past time enjoyment may think I am crazy for finding peace through a website. I am also not saying that Duolingo will get rid of your troubles. But, what I have found is that Duolingo brings me peace whenever I am stressed or hurt. Even now when I am more worried about the future than ever, I come back to do at least one lesson, and it sets my mind straight to face another day. I have also discovered that I use Duolingo more frequently when I am stressed for the reasons already stated, and my current streak is the highest it has ever been.

Of course, I could be the only one thinking this, but who knows. Maybe there are people out there who find Duolingo therapeutic like I do. ^ ^

November 8, 2017



I relate to this a lot. Sad thing is, my parents hate me trying to learn all these languages, and are considering deleting my Duolingo account. With all the progress I have here so far, I don't think I could handle the pain afterwards.


That is sad... One of my parents thought it was "weird" that I was into Asian languages and cultures, but they are not like that as much as in the past. I mean, they were even against me wanting to become a psychologist, so I changed my career plans to satisfy. It's always sad when the people closest to you don't want to support your goals, and it's even worse when they want to even destroy them. But, assuming you are a minor, you will be able to live on your own and learn as many languages as possible. ^ ^

Plus, if your account is deactivated, I don't think you lose your progress. I believe you are able to reactivate it again with the progress you left behind.


When it comes to my parents erasing things, they make it as painful as possible. I'm imagining they will go on my account and delete every language I have done. I also believe that once they see Catalan on the list, they will have no regrets.


Well gosh, you make it seem as if your parents are demons! Do you not have a good relationship with them? Actually, you don't have to answer that if you don't desire. I have heard from many people that their parents think learning languages is pointless, which is absolutely absurd. It's also absurd for people to think that just because you're interested in foreign languages means that you're abandoning or insulting your culture. I don't understand the spite towards languages and I never will. I hope that fate truly doesn't come upon you because you are a valuable member in the community who has such a passion for languages. Never let that passion die away. ^ ^


My parents used to support me. That was when I was studying Mandarin and Korean. However, due to events I will not disclose, my parents lost all their trust in me. Unfortunately, that was also the time I began falling in love with language and linguistics. Their resentment towards my passion is a combination of a lack of trust in me as well as what I described in response to TwentyOneDragons. However, slowly but surely I'm gaining their trust back. Me being able to post here is an example of that. Hopefully once I have their trust back, I will have their support in my passion again.


I'm sorry... I shouldn't have pushed you into revealing that. I know whatever I say won't help you, but I really hope things go well with your relationship with your parents in the future. You're young (I assume) and you have a chance.


I'm so sorry to hear about your parents' attitudes. Is there any way you can use Duolingo in private, perhaps on a school or library computer? (Or even a private browser window.) If you like working from textbooks, perhaps you could find PDF or kindle versions to use on a laptop/phone, if that would be easier to "hide"? - Assuming that conversations with your family aren't going to be productive, that is.

What's important to remember is that you need to hold onto what makes you happy. Even if you can't find a workaround, the worst comes to worst, and you're disallowed from languages while living at home, just try your best to look forward and find peace in the fact that soon, you will be able to learn whatever languages you want, and you will be able to devote yourself as much as you want to your passions and interests.

Good luck with everything, I hope your situation gets easier soon. (supportive hug)


That would be really, really sad if they deleted your account :( its like, wouldn't they be glad your learning all these languages? I mean, if you ever end up going to a different country where they speak one of the languages you're really good at, it would really come in handy! I really hope for your sake that they change their minds. Why do they hate it that you're learning all those languages anyways?


Their resentment of my passion for languages comes from them wanting me to learn enough Spanish so that I can speak it as well as my English. Problem is, I don't want to. I find Spanish a very boring language. This created a ton of resentment from my parents' part, especially when they found out I was trying to learn endangered languages. They also don't like me learning the "Middle Eastern languages," making them come off as Islamophobic.

However, a little while ago I connected with my true heritage language, Quechua. It's a widely spoken language across South America, but it's disappearing across the younger generation. I thought my parents would applaud me learning Quechua, and they did, but still insisted I learn more Spanish. It's an ongoing conflict that I believe can only be resolved by me moving out in a few years.

[deactivated user]

    Your parents should be grateful that you choose to spend your time following intellectual pursuits instead of doing drugs or acting like a hooligan on the streets like a lot of teenagers do. That is such an outrageous thing to get angry about because working to understand and communicate with more people is a virtue and they are angry at you for wanting to do good. Learning languages will also make you more likely to have a successful career. There is literally nothing wrong with learning languages!


    Wow, that's crazy! I hope they let up some. Its hard to stop doing something you love, especially when its learning the language of a totally different country! I really hope things get better for you! I wish you the best!


    I have to agree with your opinion on Spanish. I live in a state where Spanish is a prominent language, and it would have been more useful for me to have learned it. But... I just have no interest in it. At my high school, they only offered Mandarin, Spanish, German, and French. I chose French because it was the only language that seemed promising at that point, and I quickly discovered how culturally rich it was. I'm sure Spanish is culturally rich too, but I just don't find it interesting. Plus, I hear it everyday, so that's probably a factor for my disinterest in it.


    That's really sad to hear. I can't imagine ever wanting to punish a child for wanting to learn something, no matter whether I thought it was particularly useful or not.


    We stand with you.


    I'm genuinely sorry to hear about all your troubles, I really hope you can find a way to work through them well in the long-term. But, I can definitely relate to you in the sense of finding, at least temporary, release through Duolingo/language learning. Due to struggles with mental illness that have, essentially, left me (completely) non-functional in the Real World, there really isn't... much that I can do, at all. Pretty much the only thing that gives me a (small) sense of self-worth is languages, seeing my small accomplishments slowly build up over time. Working my way through a language gives me a sort of sense of self, of identity, and it helps me - at least temporarily - not feel like a Waste.

    Some days I even just find Duolingo itself relaxing; if I'm feeling particularly stressed or anxious I'll spend hours just re-doing skills - or revising vocabulary on Memrise - because the repetition helps to keep me calm. That also has the added bonus of improving my memory for the words practiced, so I can even find a little joy in knowing that the things I'm practicing are Really Sinking In. I find language learning in general not only an enjoyable hobby, but it can be a way to improve my mood slightly, and sometimes I can even use it in place of other, less "productive" coping mechanisms.

    Even asking questions or writing comments helps me, as at the moment Duo is the only site where I feel "safe"(-ish) to do so. Being able to communicate with people, after years of next to total isolation, is amazing, and I think writing things out helps me to learn to use my language better. (One of my "symptoms" is, basically, poor and unnatural grammar / speech patterns, because I can't isolate my thoughts and communicate them effectively; although taking time to write out posts, and to practice doing so, is, I think, helping a bit.)

    I remember reading a few posts a while back about people experiencing similar, semi-therapeutic feelings from Duo. I just love the fact that not only can a simple website be educational, but it can really help some people, even if only in small ways.

    Best of luck with your studies, and with life in general. I hope you can sort out the university-situation, but regardless of what happens in the end I hope you can find a way to make peace with the result. :)


    Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot that people can relate and find common ground within each other, no matter how different the circumstances are. I'm sorry that you are enduring psychological issues; I know that isn't easy to deal with. But, I'm glad Duolingo has impacted you in a positive way. ^ ^

    As for the university thing, it was never settled, although I'm attending a different one that I actually like a bit better. So, I guess it's not so bad, but I still have regrets over the past. Nevertheless, it's a done deal and I am loving my current university!

    I wish you luck on your studies as well, along with your health!


    Duolingo was very important to me too. When I found it, I think it saved my life.

    I talked very briefly about my experience with Duolingo in an interview a couple of years ago. But, I only mention it as "a dark time". What happened was, I was getting ready to graduate and head off to grad school. But, then I became so ill that my professors banded together to help me finish my last few classes and even then I barely managed it because I could only show up half of the time and even then sometimes I left early or was taken to the emergency room in the middle of class. My best friend moved me and my cats into his house so he could take care of me. Graduate school was out of the question. I became very depressed, not knowing if my health would ever improve because none of the medication was working.

    Being home sick all of the time left me with a lot of time on my hands. Someone on Tumblr told me about Duolingo so I started learning Spanish. Then, I started learning everything I could to help answer questions in the forums. A couple months later, I got an email inviting me to become a volunteer. I was really surprised because I was openly genderqueer. But, staff was very welcoming and wanted me on the team and my co-mods were great too. Their open acceptance and even willingness to embrace who I was, it's been really good for me.

    So, in a very short span of time, Duolingo had offered me a valuable hobby, warm acceptance, and a way to help make a contribution to the world again. It's had a huge, positive impact on my life. I've now been here for four years doing what I can to support the forum community and the Duolingo dream. :)


    It's amazing how the darkest moments in our lives can often take us to the greatest places. Even though things like death or illness are not desirable, who knows where our suffering will take us. ^ ^

    Thank you for sharing your story. It actually gave me a bit of confidence today, since I've been stressing a lot recently. If you could survive college in that past state, then there's no doubt I can make it... I hope. XD

    Thanks again!


    Aw, that's really sweet. I'm glad it's a calming/reassuring thing for you. I'm sure the devs would like to read this :)

    I never really have time to just sit down and only do Duo (usually it's between classes on the run), but that sounds awesome!


    Yeah, I don't have much time to just sit and purely focus on practicing. But, with the time I do have, I take advantage of it. Hopefully, your life will be less hectic! ^ ^


    Wow! I love the facts! Yea. I'm mainly learning Swedish for right now. I'm getting more and more fluent in it as I go! What are you mostly fluent in?

    Kaylee the Spider-Man weirdo


    I would say I am proficient in French, in terms of reading comprehension. I am much worse at speaking French and my listening comprehension is pretty poor. But, I have only been learning for three years, so I have much progress to go. ^ ^


    Three years sounds like a long time! I've only been on this site for a few months, and I have realized that it takes a long time to learn a new language! Maybe it wouldn't take as long if I were slightly more dedicated... :)


    Wow! I never knew Duolingo had that affect on people! I'm glad it has helped you out as much as it has. I'm sorry all the happened to you. And I know what you mean about duo almost being like the only thing that mattered when you were doing it. I almost feel the same thing, but differently, if that makes sense. Its almost like once I get on and start doing Duolingo, I have this newfound energy and excitement! And I never wanna stop! I guess for me its just that feeling of, "I accomplished something today." Whether it be a lesson or leveling up, or seeing my streak number rise or seeing my lessons gold from full energy bars. There's just this fire inside of me that I don't quite understand, but I love it! Duolingo is truly amazing! I just can't say it enough, because its just so true!


    I agree, TwentyOneDragons! It helps me to do more if I have a visual gauge of how much progress I've made.


    I think it's one of those situations where you can't explain the feeling, but you feel it regardless and that's the important thing. I'm glad it has a similar effect with you! Honestly, I thought I would sound like a lunatic if someone else read this, but I had no idea so many people could relate. I feel less awkward talking about this now. Thank you so much for your input!


    That's another one of the things I love about this website. Everyone is so nice and everything and there always seems to be this handful of people who can relate to what you experience. Its like you're never the only one! Ever! Its so wonderful! And you're welcome! :)


    That's great! I'm glad you found something that helps you. I hope everything turns out ok for you!


    Thank you! Well, I hope things turn out alright. I'm still worried about the future (mostly concerning getting into medical school), but language learning seems to get my mind off of the stress. I wish you luck on your learning!


    I'm glad to hear that Duolingo has helped you, especially in more ways than one!


    I'm glad, too. ^ ^

    Totally unrelated, but I think it has been awhile since I've seen you around. I'm glad to see you again!


    Everyone is saying TwentyOneDragons, but I don't see him/her in this discussion!

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