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Using Duolingo (Chinese-English) in the classroom, suggestions?

I am an English teacher in China and I have just started to use Duolingo in my classroom. My students are Jr. and Sr. High age. I have been using it to show syntax differences as a way to help with grammar points. Is anyone else doing this? Any suggestions on other things I can do?

Mostly I have been playing around learning Chinese myself and then using English to reinforce some of what I'm learning in Chinese. BTW my preferred way to teach language is for it to be intuitive rather than strictly memorized.

Thanks for any help offered.

February 21, 2019


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Hey - all you educators ! And people with knowledge of Duolingo from a deeper understanding.
There is soooooooo much potential in this question that is posed by PerfectEng554596.

ie. as either an EDUCATOR or a HOST - how to hook in to more intuitive learning that is fun and engaging and supportive ?

I have a garden of ideas, but I need people to draw me out. And I assure you - my ability to do this is not as impressive as what the abilities and skills of this world wide community of brilliant minds are.

It is when we connect. When we bounce ideas of each other. When we challenge and seek and share.
That we create sooooo much more than one individual of any of us.

Where we open up opportunities for ourselves, and the community around us.
And even ... which I hope for ... to open up the global potential of our community around us. Both in this click of a minute moment of reality.

Yet more importantly leaving a legacy of potential to the future. For the next generation.

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You raise some interesting points here.
I am wondering if I could tease out a little more of your concepts of teaching to be intuitive ?

Please be aware, I am a volunteer in Duolingo, and I am opening this discussion not seeking to be a spokesperson for Duolingo. That in this discussion I am expressing my views, and not seeking to express the views of Duolingo.

In my exposure to the courses and the way they are designed, Duolingo also is striving to make the learning of the language intuitive, seeking to implicitly teach grammar. However this is not a straight forward and simple things to do. It requires an enormous amount of work and development behind the scenes. While striving to be fun and engaging. And that the teaching of the language can largely stand independently of Tips and Notes and Discussions about grammar and rules. Yet also providing these key resources which can greatly enhance the speed of language learning.

I am wondering if this is the issue you are referring to when you mention

intuitive rather than strictly memorized.

Or is it that there are 3 major different "ways" of acquiring a language?

  1. intuitive
  2. memorization, mostly through repetition, though enhanced by using other tools such as pictures, audio, mnemonics, story telling, associating other senses and previous memories, etc.
  3. understanding grammar

edited : could people identify other key ways that languages are learned ?
ie. seeking to engage peoples other interests and motivations. Such as if they like a particular activity/sport/hobby/movies/podcasts ? Providing games ? Reading, listening to and telling stories ? Translation of text in target language (language being learned) into source (first language) language, and then visa versa.
However - perhaps these are methods instead of being conceptual means of acquiring language, such as intuitive ; memorization ; grammar.

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Also, I am wondering if you or others have any suggestions on how to teach in a classroom or other setting in a more intuitive way ?

For example if people have suggestions of games or other resources that could be used to enhance this style of language acquisition ?

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Have you checked out googling something like :

teaching English through games


teaching Chinese through games

There seems to be quite a few ideas people have posted on this issue on the internet.

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Are you familiar with the resource, which is another Duolingo product:

This is a great resource for fairly quickly developing a course specific activity, according to the topic you may be wishing to teach.

i.e. syntax differences as a way to help with grammar points

Tiny cards is especially powerful for teaching one of the languages that it offers audio with. English is one of those languages where audio is available.
Unfortunately, currently there is no audio available for any of the Chinese languages.

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also - Duolingo welcomes people sharing of other resources that are also free for the learner to use. So if anyone has other external resources that could be appropriate to share, please do so.

To that end, often these internet flash card resources are mentioned:

They could also be well worth looking into.


WOW you posted a lot...if there is a way to Private Message (PM) you I can discuss more about my teaching style, or if you wish you can PM me. You may want to talk to Octavio Hildalgo about me...

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This is also a great place to have an in depth conversation about this fascinating issue. And may permit others to also weigh in. Thus also enhancing the quality and content of this topic.

I do hope others may weigh in.


Hello, I am late to the party, since this post is four months old. I teach Spanish, French, and Japanese to high school students. Before my school was 1:1 with laptops for all the students, I would pass out mini-whiteboards, project Duolingo on the board, and have students answer as I went around the room scaffolding them. But this year was our first year giving every student a computer to take home. Not everyone has wi-fi, but there is enough time built into the school day where students can do five minutes of Duolingo.

First of all, I assign five minutes of homework a night. Just five minutes. I want the students to keep the vocabulary and the cadence of the language in their minds. If they try to do 200 minutes a night, it is overwhelming, and it won't stay in their long-term memory. Slow and steady wins the race.

Secondly, I really don't like very many of the workbooks associated with our texts. That is to say, a couple of the activities are good, but for the most part I find them boring and un-engaging.

I think the absolute best way to learn vocabulary is by reading. There's a lot of research that backs me up, and my current hero championing exactly how I feel is an author named Bryce Hedstrom. (He's also written some great stuff in Spanish.) And I absolutely ADORE Duolingo stories. Except that they are too advanced for my first-year or even some of my second-year students, so I have to scaffold a lot. I wish they would come out with a simple set of stories for these students.

At any rate, now that we are 1:1, I realized I could ditch the boring workbooks and assign Duolingo as homework. Sure, I supplement with other five-minute assignments also. But this means that during class time, we can focus on the fun stuff, like getting up and walking around to talk to each other (language is communication, after all), playing games, putting on skits, and most importantly, me reading aloud to the students while they react to the story.

So to get around to answering your question finally, I am currently using Duolingo for homework only. Oh my gosh, I love grading Duolingo so much better than having the students rip out pages in their workbooks, and then having me try to look at 120 students' work and give it back to them the next day before they have forgotten what they wrote.

I try to have a balance of memorization, pattern recognition, and intuition. Not every student is wired the same way, and you never know how each one will respond to whatever method. When I read stories, it is Direct Method. I get really hammy and use a bunch of props. I use a lot of Audio-Lingual method also, (this is code-switching where you give a student a sentence frame and they change it however they want) and I put in a smattering of Community World Language (tell me what you want to say, and I will tell you how to say it. Then you practice, practice, practice), Organic World Language (OWL), and have even dabbled in Suggestopedia for funsies. The only one I haven't tried is The Silent Way. But I firmly believe that balance is the key.

If you are using Duolingo in the classroom, can you project it on the whiteboard? Sometimes when I am in another classroom where there is no ActivBoard or Smartboard, I just project the computer on the whiteboard, grab a dry erase marker, and then I can do my syntax surgery on whatever story I am projecting, or a Duolingo sentence. That way, you can circle adjectives and draw arrows to nouns that they describe. Or re-write the sentence in past tense. Or cross words out and write new words. Or however you want to pick apart the sentence.

I believe I heard somewhere that Duolingo will be releasing their stories for EL, so keep your fingers crossed. You may have to pull out a bag of props and draw some of the pictures on your board or maybe repeat the spoken lines really hammy, but the stories should prove to be quite engaging for your students.

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