How has Duolingo helped you personally?
Example, I am someone that ahem might have gotten into heated "emotional" discussions on the internet, say fb, for instance, but now I use less emotional language and focus on facts and words (in English, which is the language that I speak), and I am far less triggered into getting into an argument and using straw-man tactics.. In other words, I no longer sound so "crazy" on the internet, I'm more of a person who will calmly argue facts, and I attribute this to DL actually.
I get what you are saying. It has certainly made me think differently about how i speak English. The way a lot of people and myself speak English in this part of Northern England, is simply incorrect. I try my hardest now to make sure all of my sentences make sense and i am not using double negatives or dropping letters and stuff. I try to pronounce things more 'correctly' without seeming pretentious, (which i guess it kind of is).
My dad said something today and although i understood it of course, I imagined what it must be like to try and learn English. If what he said was a listening question on Duo and i wasn't from this area, i would have had no clue what he was saying. England is wierd place where every one sounds different and each city/town has its own culture. Accents are cool but it would be better and less alienating if we all spoke the same one.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that your local dialect is "incorrect." Dialects like Geordie have been around just as long as "standard" or "BBC" English. The standard form grew in the 15th C. with the printing press and centred on the London dialect - where most publishing was being done. It's one of the rare forms of English in which double negatives are "incorrect." Don't look down on your local dialect. It's good to be able to speak standard English correctly - because it's taught around the world and everyone knows a bit of it. But your own dialect carries a precious history. Its dropped letters, and alternative vocabulary, and double negatives have been around just as long as the dialect that became the standard and deserve equal respect.
Edit: My grandfather grew up speaking Lowland Scots (not Scots Gaelic), which is even considered to be a separate language by academics, not even a dialect of English. The whole notion of "correct" English helps to build consensus around a standard, but devalues equally ancient dialects of the language. What's correct in standard English is flat-out wrong in Lancastrian or Scouse, for example.
Likewise here in America. We each have accents attributed to each region or state. There's the Southern accent, the deep Southern Accent, the Boston and New York accent that do resemble English accent, the Lousiana accent (Cajun), and that's just to name a few. Then there's the Spanglish and other slangs that are specific to culture.
It's because English does not have the noun genders unlike Romance languages. English also has a unique sentence structure. Arguably, people native to the English language consider their manner of speaking as perfect grammar, whereas someone who is merely learning or practicing the language would notice the contrary. Accents do differ as well depending on region.
... besides giving me lots of grammar drill for free before my Italian exams at evening school? ;-)
It's common knowledge that knowing other languages opens doors to many different cultures that enrich our own lives, but to most people the biggest hurdle is the sheer amount of effort it takes before one becomes proficient enough in a foreign language to be able to take the smallest of advantage of it. Nobody says foreign languages are easy, but from experience most beginners are still shocked at how steep the initial learning curves are and give up before they can reap what they sow. It's inspiring to see how the Duolingo folks seem to have finally found a way to make learning languages much less intimidating and more fun -- something that many language textbooks and courses claim to be but simply aren't. Best of all, the community here is so supportive of each other -- people are generous with constructive, encouraging feedback -- and that makes a world of difference!