365 day streak! Whoo! Duolingo rocks! Thank you free Duolingo for enabling me to learn Spanish!
Just celebrating a year long streak on this great, free site! Keeping my Duo streak has helped me to stay on track towards my goal of becoming comfortably fluent in Spanish. I use other resources, and try to follow as many tips on how to build my Spanish as I can, but Duolingo is the anchor I've found that keeps me in it every single day.
I'm only about halfway through the 7 level tree, and only have the first level to gold (I'm going slower through the other levels so that I have more opportunity to go back and review, in depth later) but I understand quite a bit of what I hear now. Maybe there are people who have more time to dedicate who would scoff at how long it has taken me, but I am delighted with my progress. From nothing to this is incredible to me.
It is so exciting when I start learning a new tense, or some such thing, and then find, that magically even more of what I hear on the radio etc pops into focus, and I understand it. Each day, it feels almost like Spanish is a giant 3-D puzzle, and I am putting more and more of the pieces together!
As a child, my schools tortured us with the "hour a day three days a week" style French classes, from grade school through high school, alternating between Quebecois and Parisian French depending on whatever old textbooks and records our monolingual instructors could get. I still know some French, but nowhere what I understand of the Spanish I have mainly, it feels, learned from Duolingo, in just a year.
For years I've wanted to learn Spanish, but never really got around to it. Life was, and is, too busy to take real courses. In contrast, Duolingo's cute, FREE, bite sized lessons, which I can use any time day or night, have empowered me to start opening doors into a whole new language and set of cultures, which are rapidly becoming prominent in the USA, especially in the South. I love being able to understand, and to even help people in another language.
A few months ago, I was at a Children's Hospital, very early in the morning to beat the rush hour traffic, because we had an early appointment with a specialist. We were hundreds of miles from home. I had just discovered the clinic doors were still locked when a Spanish monolingual family, mom, dad, about 6 children, plus a frail looking toddler carried by the man hurried up to the door. They were obviously stressed out, especially the mother. Listening to them talk, I could determine that they were trying to find the entrance to the urgent surgery center, which, I knew, was just a little further down the complex, in the direction they had actually come from.
I told the man, in Spanish, to wait - please - that I would try to help them. Almost to my surprise, he did, in spite of his frantically exasperated wife rushing off back to their vehicle, to try to find the directions again, from what she said, with the children trailing behind.
I pulled up Google translate, to be sure that I correctly understood exactly what they needed, and also the app for the Children's Hospital, which has maps and instructions. We talked back and forth using my very basic Spanish, and the translator to ensure we both were getting each other. I was able to explain correctly to him how to get to where they needed to go.
I pulled the map and showed it to him. He was beside himself - that such a resource was available. And then, to be sure they had instructions they could use any time, I held the toddler while he downloaded the Spanish version of the hospital app and the translator onto his phone.
He was so relieved, so joyful, that I had actually helped, and ecstatic when he was able to pull up the exact directions and map in Spanish! Just then, his wife came back scolding that he had not followed her, and what was he doing wasting time talking with this white gringa when they were going to be late! etc.
I loved being able to understand, mostly, as he explained how I had helped, and showed her the map. It was pure delight to see how happy and relieved she was too. They thanked me and as they were organizing the children to leave, I was floored to hear his fuller explanation to her of why he had stopped when I told him I would help them.
He told her, that I was one of the correctional officers at the prison he had recently been released from - he named the unit and me - and that when I said I would help, he knew that it was true - I would help. I could be trusted to do the right thing, and not promise anything that was not possible and correct. He told her, still in Spanish, as they were walking off,that I was one of the ones who "walk all night", one of the ones that made it possible to feel that it would be safe to go to sleep. He expressed surprise that I knew any Spanish at all - it is not something I broadcast at work - but that he was glad that I did, because I had been able to help them.
What a small world.
And I was happy too. But still - hoped fervently that he does not tell any of his old prison friends just how much I understand! lol Hopefully, he had made a break with that life., and I pray that all goes will with him and his family, and the sick toddler is healed.
I wish I could get my family interested, so that we could talk together in Spanish, but even so, it makes me feel happy to be increasing in skill and understanding. I encourage anyone who wants to learn another language, no matter what motivates them, to not give up on it. And if there is no other reason than "It is fun", that is a good enough reason. There are lots of other "fun" things that people do, in spite of criticism and nay-sayers, that aren't healthy, or safe, and can even land you in prison or worse!
Amazing amigo! You sound a very thoughtful and caring person. Imagine if they introduced Duo within the correctional facility. It could literally change lives!
Wao, excelente comentario. Primero felicitarte por los 365 dias de arduo trabajo, puedo notar que eres muy perseverante, y sobre todo, tienes el don de ayudar a los demas, eso es digno de copiar y sobre todo ponerte como un claro ejemplo a seguir. Y si, tienes razon cuando dices que estas en nivel 7 "RESPETA TU PROCESO" Haces bien, no dejarse llevar por lo demas, y segir con tu proceso. Excelente la verdad, vamos por mas. Esto recien comienza, duolingo nos proposiona una excelente plataforma para practicar diariamente y al igual que tu, Para i tambien "DIOLINGO ES MI ANCLA DE PARTIDA" Para poder aprender el Idioma INGLES, Un fuerte habrazo a la distancia desde PERÚ. y gracias nuevamente por compratir tu vivencia, calo mucho en mi. Exitos.
I thank my Pimsleur Basic Spanish Language CDs and my Mexican-American co-workers on my progress on my Spanish. Aim high and finish that tree!
You must be so proud! Thank you for posting, it is always inspiring and motivating to hear how well others are doing with their language progression. We all have different learning styles and amounts of time to devote to languages, it only matters what works best for you. Helping someone in another language is awesome. :) This is one of the best posts ever.
Whoo Hoo - Thanks for such an encouraging comment! I have been at it for two years and am halfway through level 2. It is beginning to click now.
This is the sort of story that reinforces what a good idea free language learning is, and how even a few words can really help make the world a bit better for others. Congratulations on your streak :)