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Duo caught my little niece (Thing that I couldn't do)

A few weeks ago, I asked my little niece if she wanted to learn a language, I suggested that she learn English for obvious reasons. Her answer: NO. I tried again and I received a NO again.

The days passed, and suddenly she saw me while I was on Duolingo, and the magic came. She asked me: What are you doing? I'm learning English. Then she said me: Ahhh, I thought you were playing. My reply was: Actually it's a game too, do you want to try it? Short story: Now she uses Duo every day.

I write this, because maybe you have a young family member, who is not very interested in learning a language. That happens because the most common approach is saying "You need it", of course they need it, but that doesn't matter to them. They just want to play and have some fun, and Duolingo gets that.

Fun fact: She didn't want to learn any language weeks ago, now she want to learn english and japanese. All because of Duolingo.

Greetings from Chile!

September 14, 2019



Wow that is a really interesting story!

Ahhh, I thought you were playing.* ;) a small mistake you made.


Oh man! That is killing me! I have a glitch in my brain haha For a strange reason, my brain associates the word "was" with one person (I, singular you, she and he) and "were" with two person or more (we, they, plural you).


Haha don't worry, everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes i keep saying I have 17 years


Oh nice! THAT'S SO COOL! It's awesome how spanish people are on here. If you have any question about ingles I will be happy to answer them. (Because I love feeling smart) But I'm sure you've got it. LOL


As a native speaker of English I second this comment. IDK how you guys do it, English is such an inconsistent language


Well, people do have a tough time sorting english from their own language.


yeah. that's true. now I understand what you ment.


Don't worry so much, I know a lot of English people who don't know how to write English correctly either :-) You will get there x


Ha most people that speak english dont speak it correctly! its very ironic


I find it's especially apparent in writing. People sometimes are really lazy when it comes to typing, misspelling anything and forgetting grammar. XD


That's probably because they've been speaking for their entire life, they just get lazy with words. It works like that in some other languages too. It's quite funny, but also a little disappointing.


don't worry about it, i'm a native english speaker and i have to admit that if i wasn't i'd never have been able to learn it.

the only thing i like about my own native language is the complete lack of grammatical gender.


"English... the complete lack of grammatical gender"


He is a girl. She married its wife. The man was an actress, his father was a spinster but its mother had been a bachelor. She may have been naif but he was naive. And so on.

(Non-English speakers DON'T copy these, they're all wrong!!)

But I know what you mean. There are dozens of gender-specific words in English, possibly hundreds, and quite a few that really do need to change according to their gender OR the gender of the word they describe. Fortunately for all of us, Male/Female nearly always refers to Man/Woman, or an animal, and everything else is "It".

Although.... Ships are usually "she". Cars and other vehicles can sometimes be "she". So can guns, although some are "he". It gets worse when you get into poetry - read about the "pathetic fallacy" and "personification" in English Literature.

Yes, you're absolutely right. I'm an English speaker too, (and a writer, author, editor, publisher) but I fully realise that I'll never, ever, understand all of it.


When objects are referred to as "she" it's not actually part of the language rules. Rather it's meant to be a way to poeticize / romanticize the object a bit. In other languages, most objects "officially" have gender attached to them. That's the big difference.


yeah that is confusing


Planes are usually a she too. I've found most objects are referred to as "she".

It depends on the region I guess, people have their own slang, or dialect if you want to call it that.


I think also that Australians usually refer to what we would call "it" as "she". (For example, "Why are you reading that book? She's really creepy!")


Bro. he means that you say "the boy" and "the girl" instead of "la nina" and "el nino". lol


I know right. It's so EASY! xD Except everything else. HAHAHA


that does not make since.


The verb "to be" is irregularly conjugated in every language! In English: I was, you were, he/she was, they were.
There is no distinction between singular and plural you. There used to be, when the singular was "thee" and "thou" but those words are no longer used. Whether the "you" is singular or plural has to be gotten from context (although the plural can be emphasized with you all or you guys in different parts of the US or even "youse" or "yinz" in some very specific places.)


And "gotten" is not UK English, only US.


Ah.. US English....

its metre, colour, flavour... etc... :)

Greetings from Canada


Ahh... America... Meter, Flavor, color. I think we made it easier to spell for all the dumb for all us dim-witted Americans.


I did not know that! In the US, if we say "I've got something" it means "I have something" but if we say "I've gotten something" it means "I've obtained something." Subtle difference...

I wonder if Duolingo would consider a course in UK English for American English speakers? (I'm sure there would be little interest in the converse lol...)


Bro. That's awesome. Even though I know how to speak English, I love it when people explain why we say things and stuff. lol

I've memorized it and don't know things about it. lol


If you wanna get technical, you actually used to be the plural and formal you, while thou was informal and singular, and I'm sure if we still had thou it wouldn't use 'were' so if it helps, just remember that 'you' used to be the 2nd person plural, meaning all plurals use 'were'


Hi Alan, usually, you are right: I/she/he "was" and we/they "were." In this case for "I thought you were playing", we use another verb form called subjunctive. It's used for situations where we aren't sure if something is happening or will happen. Here is an explanation for the grammar, scroll down to "were-Subjunctive" https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/subjunctive.htm


I'll read it, thanks for the resource!


Don't worry, you are doing great at English Alan !


The "were" is right. I never noticed but I think were is plural.

But "was" is for everything but you. LOL

I'm telling you! English is so hard! XD I'm glad I know it and am learning Spanish instead. HAHA! :D


By the way, unless you're using google translate or something like that, you are SUPER good at English.


'Was' is actually the correct term. We even make this mistake ourselves, as native speakers.


And me as a native Spanish speaker sometimes I don't Conjugate the verbs for "you" right. Does that mean it is right? NO.


La unica cosa que es mas facil in ingles es que tenemos solamente una palabra que significa "to be" y no tenemos que decidir si debemos usar "ser" o "estar." (Disculpe por favor mi espanol, que se ha oxidado bastante! Y mi keyboard no tiene los accentos.)


Here is a link to a small executable that allows you to type Spanish accents by holding down the cap lock key while typing the letter.
http://www.onehourprogramming.com/spanish-accents/ I put the text of your message into google translate and it came out with perfect English syntax, which makes me suspicious that your Spanish is rusty. Still I can only hope to someday be able to communicate in Spanish as well.


Your Spanish is pretty good! Just two small errors, en inglés ; Y mi teclado


You have a wonderful and smart niece! I wish you and her the best in your learning! :-)


You're right, learning should be fun, so cheers Duolingo, and happy learning to you both!


Dang, that's a long streak. Whoa


I think I'd be tempted to just say "playing a game" if a little one I wanted to encourage with languages showed any interest, without even mentioning "learning" until they were hooked! :)


How old is your niece?

It's often possible with a child (at least, until they wise up:-), to play the "age" card: "I'm playing this cool game, but I don't know if you're ready for it yet. Maybe when you're a little older..."


Just for the record, you're not supposed to give ages. I understand this doesn't have the intent of a malicious post, just something to think about.


Hi Annika! I don't really understand what you mean, could you say it in another way please? Greetings!


Kids may want to learn something if you tell them that they are probably too young for it.


Los jovenes siempre quieren hacer qualquier cosa que dices que no se permite, por ejemplo, "ah, creo que no eres bastante grande para hacer esto."


thank you for sharing the joy


that's a very nice story. thanks for sharing it!


It's really nice! Good luck to your niece and you!


That is an inspiring story, good for you and your niece! Also, your English is excellent. I hope that someday my Spanish will be as good.


That i really awesome!


We need more people like this

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My daughter has a month long streak due to a similar story. :)


That is excellent! I hope she continues learning English.

Buena suerte a los dos de ustedes. :)


A very nice story brother!!
For me Duo is the best place to learn english 'cuz you can learninh while you're having fun.. I had a lot of difficult to start learning english in the past but after Duolingo, I can say: "Now I love to learn new languages"


Wow, glad you convinced her learning was fun! Well done


Hi Alan,

maybe you want to show her Mondly (free topic with 365 daily lessons), Mondly kids (Android app) or Lingvist.

On Lingvist you just need to "fill the word into the blank" but in the L2 target language matching the given L2 sentence.

But the audio is quite nice (superb, crystal clear) and they play the full audio the target language AND show the L1 base/source language.

On Lingvist you can complete 3-4 exercises per day:

  • learn 20 new words
  • review 100 flashcards
  • accomplish a 85% accuracy (with recalling the words in the L2 target language and being able to correctly type them out into the blank)
  • complete 1+ grammar/reading/listening challenge

I am just not sure what all the language pairs are on Lingvist; Spanish->English might not be available....I would have to check (I am currently not signed in; their community forum is gone).


Thanks a lot for your suggestions! I'll check them!


I am a retired person so obviously not so young any more. But I can also see the attractiveness of Duolingo because of the game-like format. I am addicted to Duo because I have a lot more time on my hands and can afford this addiction. But I also want to add that I like so much learning Spanish on Duolingo, that I also decided to go back to French, which I knew quite well when I was young but after moving to the US did not have opportunity nor motivation to continue. It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to find out how much French I do remember even though most of my adult life I have been using English, which is not my mother tongue either.


I recommended Duolingo to a mum for her son. Her daughter is in my daughters school (4), hes 13. He is struggling with this English and she asked me if I could help him. I'm not a teacher or very good at French (hence learning it on Duolingo) so I suggested he try to see if it will help him before exploring other avenues. She saw me today and told me its fabulous and he loves it.

Just to clarify - Im English and I now live in France.



Sort of a similar thing happened with my not-so-little (she's almost 12yo) niece. She'll start French soon (tomorrow, actually) at school and, although she is reluctant to learn languages (she is quite gifted for them, though), I proposed her to skip some of her summer secondary homework if she did some DL lessons every other day instead in order to get a bit acquainted with the language. It isn't still her first choice cellphone activity but I'd say she has been enjoying it enough to have some hope about it. :D

PS: If you check my duome profile, all the French from Spanish stats are hers:

  • 16 crowns
  • Level 7
  • Words 395
  • XP 928
  • +197 XP to next level



That's great! You could study French as well, so you can surprise her with a few questions or phrases when she doesn't expect them!


I actually do. I study it from English while she does from Spanish.

Interestingly, the few times I've prompted her, she has replied, not accurately but nicely close. As we say, "tiene muy buen oído".

Trust me, if she used her natural talent for languages she'd be WOWnderful with them! She has other preferences right now, that's all, but I'm happy she is "in" and she doesn't find the whole thing scary or overwhelming as languages are usually rather intimidating for most people. =)

PS: And about your little niece... Both English and Japanese! She aims high! Great for her! You're proud of her, aren't you? Rad, indeed! Up with your little niece!!! =D


Duolingo should make a site specific for kids that gets the updates designed for the younger audience!

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It doesn't need a separate site. Just put the correct age in when the person signs in, and they ask for a parent's email address when the child joins, and make the account private. Children can't come onto the forums.


It is often suspected that they are trying to appeal to the younger audience with design changes for example.


That's a cool story! I'm trying the same on some friends.


Your English is really good, keep working on it. You are doing really well! I’m trying to learn Spanish right now, so I know that learning new languages can be hard.


I learned english as a native speaker, so I can tell he is learning. Also, I can tell that he doing great, his grammar (in a foreign language) is almost as good as mine (in my native language).


Thanks Lady! Best wishes on your Spanish journey!


that was a really inspiring story, and it helped me thank you


I used to hate not being able to learn Spanish fast enough in the classes at my school. So, I turned to Duolingo. Best choice I've ever made. I love how you can go at your own pace. Anyone else?


The main problem with school's system is that it's based on a "average pace system". Everyone goes forward at the same pace, so the fastest and slowest learners are in trouble.


Yeah. Good thing I'm HOME SCHOOLED! WOO!


Duolingo is almost like a game! On my iPad I have three folders with apps, one of them is for studying and another is for games. Every time I want to open the app, I open the folder with games thinking it's in there


Haha! I know right?! :D


I love this! It's great how much you care about your niece's activities too!


that is so awesome!! glad she's liking it.


Great strategy! Children (and adults!) will be drawn to a game easily. We do this with math, and it works well there too.


wow great story. same thing can be done to older people who may be disinterested in learning anything but Duolingo may be fun for them while learning :) I am going to try my mom get into learning English and maybe some other if she wants and update it here


Funny different from what it thought she would do


Wow! That's very good that your sister is learning English! Duo keeps surprising me!


I wish i had duo lingo when i was young


oh dear. how are you doing?


I think next time she will say yes$$$


in love that story Pray to god she will say yes.


English is one of the hardest languages to learn! Keep it up!! :)

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