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  5. Has Duolingo helped you in un…


Has Duolingo helped you in unexpected places?

To start--I must say that Duolingo is an incredible platform. It offers free education to anyone, and gives everyone the opportunity to learn another language.

It's really amazing to hear the stories of other learners on Duolingo, and how Duolingo has impacted their lives. It's also interesting to hear the stories of users who have actually used their language skills in unexpected places.

Recently, during a visit to New York City, I met a native Swedish speaker in a restaurant who did not know how to speak English. I could understand what they were saying--"Can I order a sandwich?" (in Swedish: "Kan jag beställa en smörgås?")--and no one else could understand what exactly they were saying.

I helped them by being a translator, explaining what the native Swedish speaker was trying to order--and although I did make a few mistakes when speaking Swedish, it struck me that I would never have been able to help this person if it hadn't been for Duolingo.

Has anyone else had any experience like this, where they had to use their language skills? Thank you!

December 22, 2017



My friend was taken to a hospital where no one spoke English after she fell and broke her wrist in Amalfi. Thank you Duolingo Italian.


no i have not had experience's like that, that is super cool.


Not yet, but once there wasn't English subtitles when Spanish dialogue was spoken and my family looked to me for guidance for what was being spoken. I didn't know every word that was said but I knew enough to grasp the gist of what was being said lol. I surprised myself because I always doubted my Spanish comprehension.


Not a Duolingo story, but once I got in a line cab in Washington DC, and it turned out there were two Italian tourists in the back. They spoke no English. But you have to tell the driver where you want to get out. The driver was quite concerned about this and asked me if I could help figure it out. I didn't speak any Italian, but managed to find out that the lady spoke some French. Then all was well — well, well enough. I don't think they really remembered the name of their hotel, but they knew what it looked like. So at least I could tell the driver they'd be letting him know :)

And not my or a Duolingo story, but when my friends and I were travelling through northern Burkina Faso we had a long wait for the next bus. One of my friends had lamented, given our travel through francophone countries, that his linguistic competence was restricted to English and American Sign Language. Well, two folks happened by us in those hours, and soon we observed him engaged in quite the conversation — and not in English. Turns out the town we were in happened to be the home of one of Burkina Faso's major schools for the deaf. Having looked into it afterward, it appears Burkina Faso's deaf institutions owe a lot (their very existence?) to an American missionary, who apparently brought ASL with him.


I thought most children in Sweden are taught english.


They are. However, some of them lose practice and become out of touch with English.


It's very cool that you were able to help the native speaker and the waiter by acting as a translator. I'm sure that he really appreciated it as well. It goes to show that you never know when learning a new language can come in handy. :)


Well, when I was in Turkey we went to a water park and one of the staff members (who was German) started speaking to my sister in German by saying "Wie heisst du?" (What's your name?) My sister looked really confused so I then said "Sie heisst..." (She's called...) And then I had a conversation with him in German because he started asking me how I know how to speak German.

[deactivated user]

    I did once! When I was in Switzerland I was at a park when a young girl came over to me and started speaking Dutch. I recognized the language immediately and I had a good conversation with her. It happened to multiple times but I wasn't quite as good as I am now.


    These kinds of accounts are among my favorite things to read in the forums. They have encouraged me to keep reviewing Spanish each year, even though I don't plan to become fluent. So, thank you Speir_!

    I myself have had four big situations related to Spanish. I and other members of the Duolingo community helped locate a blood transfusion for a friend's family member. This Turkey Day week my friend and I were camping in the boonies when our car battery died leaving us otherwise stranded when Spanish rescued us. I also used Spanish twice in Emergency situations involving getting an ambulance and finding a friend in hospital. I wrote about those events and they are linked Here.

    Because of the Turkey Day incident, I started reviewing my Spanish tree early. Instead of waiting for January to start, I started this week. My brain has felt hungry for Spanish. Also, I've gotten to check out Duolingo's new Level feature, I have been doing so much Spanish review!

    So, don't give up folks! Even a little language can go a long way. :)


    I've read your situations--and they inspire me to learn languages. It reminds me that even knowing some of a foreign language can really affect and help people around you. :)

    Thank you for sharing, Usagiboy7!

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