1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. The Seldom-Recognized Benefit…


The Seldom-Recognized Benefits of Teaching While Learning (I'm Back, Again)

Hello friends and fellow learners,

My last post, from 3 weeks ago, "The Self-Immersion Technique and How to Use It" was such a highly-viewed topic that I had decided to make a bigger and better Self-Immersion resources list.

Well, that promise to you is 3 weeks old! I am sorry for the delay. Life has been hectic. Recently, a relative was diagnosed with congestive heart failure...to be honest, life is dragging me and others around me by the hair, and I am just keeping up as I am able. But, I want to provide the improved resource list if I can! You guys have given me so many great ideas and references. I hope to do that this week, or weekend, after my big exam coming up on Saturday...I refuse to let you down again. ))

Today, I wanted to discuss the benefits of teaching another language. Now, you may be saying to yourself "Don't you have to be fluent to teach another language?" ...you are probably already wondering how this applies to you, at all.

No, no no.

Who needs to be fluent in Spanish to teach someone how to say "hello" and "my name is" and "my dog wants to play"?

You are supposed to be learning solid knowledge from trustworthy resources in the beginning. As long as you aren't leading someone astray, you are on the right track. No one said you need a degree or a certificate or anything of that sort to help a newer learner of your target language!

Not only can you do so, but you can reap the benefits for free (or for a bit of money on the side):

-You have to solidify the basics...That's right, if you get into advanced grammar but forgot the adjective for "bored," you'll be needing that one. You may even find yourself stumped at a basic concept which never confused you before. New learners are almost like children... Now tell me, what is the meaning of life? Why am I here?

-You have to develop teaching skills...Are you going to just let your student get frustrated and quit? Not on your watch! You now have invested interest in the language (or otherwise) success of another person.

-You will develop a new stage of understanding...Ever noticed the roots in those longer words and how they relate to the more basic ones? Have you ever really comprehended the meaning in Здравствуйте? No? Well, you will. And little things will become far more easy to you. You will like it. Because that stuff is where kids are at!

-You will feed off of the enthusiasm of your student (unless they hate you)...Ever seen someone who is a long ways behind you in learning your target language? You tell them how to say "hello" the correct way and they say it. And they practically glow and begin to levitate. That's the excitement you will be able to see and foster in yourself when you teach someone else to love what you love.

I know a German guy who is a bit older than me, who is taking Spanish classes in school. Though fluent in a bunch of other languages, Spanish is definitely not a strong point. Because I speak Spanish, love it, and love getting opportunities to use it, I decided to help him out a bit. I can't even number the amount of epiphanies I had about words and grammar while explaining things to him. Some rules which I accepted as (from what my English-native teachers had told me) "making no sense" or "strange but true" actually made sense to me. I wanted to run out and scream "THAT'S BECAUSE IT REFLECTS ITSELF" in the street...

I regularly make audio lessons for Spanish for a languages server, but I help with English as well if I can. I like to do "language exchange" endeavors with native speakers of...really, any language. It gives me the opportunity to learn something new and show someone else something new as well. It's rewarding and intriguing to me. Playing games with natives like "say this really long word correctly" made me perfect my mimicking skills on the spot.

Above all, I wanted to stress to all of you that teaching basics in your target language is a rewarding and beneficial thing to do. Try it sometime, if you can. You will not regret it!

Best of luck to all--

October 25, 2018



Thanks Lauriana! I think sharing knowledge and teaching, as long as you are humble and up front about your own limits, is a really freat way to solidify concepts.. and hopefully help out a friend take their first steps. Sometimes, I think the more you struggle with something yourself, the better that makes you at teaching it, because you know the obstacles others face.


Exactly, Silvia! I really appreciate your comment. Once you get to the point of having taught all that you know, then you are sort of on an even plane... and you can even become learning partners...that's another wonderful opportunity! Best of luck))


Miss Spells, I totally agree with you. Learning language can be a project that benefits from group efforts. Research has shown that teachers of average learning capabilities are more patient with their students and understanding of the challenges of learning foreign subjects.

  • 285

Thank you enormously for making this post ! And also for linking through to your other impressive post. I am looking forward greatly to also read that. I missed it when it first came out.

I 100% agree and support what you say here.
And I also encourage people to get engaged in trying this out.
For when you see someone ask a question about language, if you do know the answer, or resources that you found useful to your understanding to share this. It also reinforces your understanding of the concept.
As you wisely say:

As long as you aren't leading someone astray, you are on the right track.

It also is much more likely to expose you to the fun of serendipitous learning. I love serendipitous learning. It is like an adventure. This is a concept I have been meaning to find the time to write about. Perhaps someone else will beat me to it ;P And also encourage others to embark on this adventure.

Assisting others in their learning, is one way you can engage in serendipitous learning.

  • 285

Also, it may be useful for people to check out [Guide] Formatting in Duolingo

And I would love to encourage people to also create a suite of discussions, that you find beneficial for language learning.

This is one, that I continue to develop learning loom - french
Just in case it may be something that might inspire others.


Thank you so much for the link of formatting. You won't believe how long I've been searching for this! .... Thank you, you have ended my quest!


Thank you so so much, lindakanga! I am so glad that you enjoyed my post. For this is the reason I write as I do here and keep returning....;) And yes, do read the previous topic as a whole! I think the comments further benefited me. I hope it will be the same for you as well.

Thank you for your support and commentary! I appreciate it<3


You are absolutely right! Teaching a language, including one's native language, can lead to many new insights. I learned so much about English, my native language, when I went to Japan to teach it, and the experience has repeated itself as I taught and still prepare to teach other languages as well. You have to dig deeper, not only to figure out what's going on, but in order to explain it to others who may not bring your own background knowledge and experience to the task. The result is definitely a win-win for both student and teacher.


This is a very insightful comment; I appreciate it :)).

You're exactly right...I think the broad knowledge of everything deepens when we can share it with someone else. Many doors will open, but it is the ones we walk through that benefit us...

Thank you for reading!


ArtBurnap, my experience as a teacher and learner have led me to the same conclusions. I am a strong proponent of sharing learning experiences. They lead to a broader spectrum of education and encourages teamwork above individual accomplishment. Language is particularly vital to communication. The variations of languages proves the diversity of the pathways of the brain.

Art, I wish that everyone had listened to Science Sunday on pbs radio this week. There are devices available to allow people to “see” through the nerve endings in the human mouth. To me, this concept opens doors to those of us suffering from blindness. I am no longer blind, and I consider my surgery to be a miracle. Daily scientific breakthroughs are our greatest hope. When I was an esl teacher, my students came from every continent except Antarctica. The timing over lapped with the bombing in NY. My students and their forgiving natures brought hope to us all. Most of them came to America to escape death. They found safety and new expressions. Your friend, Cat

Your are so close to a major milestone . Good luck!


I was an ESL teacher in the Bronx at the time of 9/11. Having had a retinal detachment and a successful reattachment myself, I'm heartened to hear of this miraculous development that has helped you.


Thank you for writing this!! It's really helpful and inspirational. And you're absolutely right; I've found even though I'm not very good at math, I've helped my friends before, and through that, have learned more and strengthened my current skills. Why would it be any different for languages? :D

I hope life treats you a bit better in these coming weeks! Thank you again for sharing!! I'm going to save this :)


Ah! I am pretty good in mathematics, but certainly need some work to pass university classes (mostly in specific areas, which I think is common..) I was helping a friend the other day and remembered some very important points that were on the brink of being forgotten. I think it's a great exercise. And that does go for language as well--you are so right!

Thank you for the kind wishes. I appreciate that you found this helpful and decided to leave such a good comment. To infinity and beyond ...best of luck in your learning journey!


Aw thanks so much!! You as well!!


Love this. I tutor English to a bunch of Spanish speakers - and I saw how well this works today working on verb forms. The students who were a but more advanced were able to help and explain the concepts of the verb form we were working on, and in the process understood it better themselves (I just facilitated, if the explanation was going in the wrong direction.) I encourage this in my classes.


Excellent application of my point you have here in your comment! It's great to see. I appreciate your reading of and enjoying this.;)


I agree! Something that I have tried and that really helped was picking a time when your family will be home for dinner and making it a Spanish(Or whatever language your learning) dinner. you have to talk Spanish(even if it is very broken) and have a Spanish meal, and even use Spanish manners. This will really stretch your mind and is a great way to exercise the language that your learning.

Note: you can do this with a bunch of friends that are learning Spanish as well.


That's a nice idea! I am so glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading and this suggestion! Best;)


Thanks for sharing! It's really good advice. At university they tried their best to give me the impression that you're only allowed to teach a language if you're absolutely good at it (and maybe have a degree or two). It intimidated me so much that I never even thought about teaching one of the languages I speak fluently - but with Turkish I sometimes try to teach my partner some words or concepts. It helps so much to understand it better and to memorize it far longer. I should definitely look for a way to do it more often and with other languages!


Emma, that is so true! Well...you always have to think, what is in their best interest is that fewer people offer the knowledge, so they can keep their jobs;))))

I am so glad you read this and enjoyed it! Best to you and your language journey!


I have the other way around. I've started learning Spanish in order to help my teaching. I've wanted to know how a person learns from the start, what's effective, what's not (I hate those word searching games in English courses, pure waste of time). Now I know. And I can chat a little bit with all the cheery Spanish people (or sad ones). But I still wonder about some wonderful teachers I've met through my life. They have their like magic talents to just put knowledge into one's head. Perfectly understandable and unforgettable. How do they do it. Nevertheless, good topic here =)



Great comment! I applaud you as a teacher for trying to work with the perspective of a student....this is a wonderful dedication.

Thank you very much for reading, and for your comment. Best of luck in your 'studentdom' :)

  • 1704

Two teachers were talking during a break.

-- Let me tell you what happened to me.
-- I was teaching the lesson about x which, you know, is pretty advanced stuff, and after I finished explaining the concepts, one student said that he didn't understand something.
-- I explained it again, even better than the first time. Then I asked him if he understood. After a moment of thinking he said, "Sorry, teacher, I still don't understand."
-- The third time I explained it so well that I even understood it myself.


Laurianne, are you teaching in a tutoring environment or classroom?I admire your commitment to spreading language throughout the globe. It has been a long time since I have seen your posts. I miss them. It is nice to hear about your progress and willingness to share with others. Proud to be your colleague and fellow learner. Your friend , Cat


Catherine, you are so sweet. This comment made my day! I am glad to be "back"; thank you for the welcome <3.

I usually teach online or in-person, not in a class-type environment (because of my age, I would say). Maybe one day...for now I have the convenience of time and my home for this, and anonymity :)

Thank you very much for reading and thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate it, and you!


Hi LaurianaB, thanks for posting this. I particularly liked the part about solidifying the basics first. Basically everything seems to build on itself. So if you don't know the basics, you aren't going to get the more advanced stuff. Welcome back! I'm sorry to hear about your relative. Again, thank you and welcome back aboard! :)


Thank you so much, Saved_by_Christ! I really appreciate your comment. Keep up the great learning progress ))


Thanks Lauriana


You're back! I agree, btw, teaching is fun and a great way to reinforce your knowledge. But why not ask them to just join Duolingo?


-LiamAnderson-, Hello! First of all, thank you for reading. To answer your question.... I tend to recommend Duolingo for those learning recreationally, but for those in classes with specified skill sets to learn and little time, I refer them to sights which have customizable sets and allow training paired with versatility and unlimited access. Those students are typical for me, and so it is easy for me to help them accomplish whichever tasks they are assigned with high accuracy. ;) But, as always...

Long live Duo!

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.