As many of you know, I’m a huge advocate for Duolingo. It’s an incredible way to learn languages at home and to maintain languages you already speak. Right now, I’m maintaining my French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic through the website. But I’m also studying new languages like Polish, Russian, Portuguese, and Latin.
I find it all incredibly entertaining, being the enthusiastic polyglot that I am. It’s formatted in a way that seems like a game. You level up and get points that you can exchange for fun lessons in idioms and flirting and such. With enough progress, you can even earn certain language degrees and add them to your LinkedIn profile.
First off, let’s talk about Duolingo. For those of you who don’t know, Duolingo is the most popular language-learning website and application in the whole world. They use exercises, podcasts, interactive conversations, and elaborate courses to teach over 35 languages, some of which are fictional, like Klingon and High Valyrian. Aside from fictional and major world languages, like French and Russian, they also offer courses on less popular languages, such as Navajo, Swahili, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Esperanto. The options they offer are seriously impressive.
Here are a few fun facts about Duolingo:
- In 2013, Apple made Duolingo the “choice app of the year,” which was a huge win for them.
- On average, the Duolingo database is updated 3,000 times per second.
- There are over 300 million active users on the platform.
- The top Duolingo language in Sweden is Swedish, which is taken primarily by refugees.
How To Pick Your Duolingo Language
Aside from entertainment purposes, there are other reasons people choose to learn languages on Duolingo. As I mentioned before, refugees in Sweden are learning Swedish, and this applies to a lot of other refugees studying the language of their current country of asylum. Along with that, many people use the website to learn the native language of their country, primarily in places with hundreds or thousands of dialects, such as India. This also applies to expats.
For me, I chose to learn Polish because that’s where my family is from, even though only a few of my family members in The States can say “hello.” Studying Polish has helped me feel more connected to my culture and made me eager to return to Warsaw, one of my favorite cities, to show off my new skills, even if it’s just to order a coffee.
When people ask me for recommendations on what languages to learn on Duolingo, I usually tell them to start with their family’s cultural language or the second most-spoken language in their country; something they can feel passionate about. Alternatively, I recommend a language that would be most valuable for their given career.
For example, if someone wants to or is currently working in international business in Europe, I’d tell them to learn German, as Germany is the economic powerhouse in Europe. Knowing German would be invaluable in this career path and could help you get a higher-ranking job. If someone works in the fashion or culinary industry, I’d recommend Italian. For someone who already speaks or is studying Romance languages, I’d recommend one of Duolingo’s newest editions: Latin.
So when you’re choosing your Duolingo language, you should first decide why you want to learn a new language. Is it to connect with your family? Advance your career? Communicate with foreign friends or prepare for a study abroad? Or are you a polyglot, like myself, and looking for another linguistic addiction? Once you answer the questions, the choice is easy.
The Best Way To Use Duolingo
One thing I appreciate about Duolingo is how they push you to practice for even just five minutes every day. When you are learning a language, you need to be constantly working on it. People may be intimidated by this. But when all it takes is just five minutes a day (which may turn to a highly entertaining thirty-minute session) it seems easier to take on. You’d be surprised how much you can learn working just five or ten minutes a day for three months. It’s highly rewarding to be able to carry even just a basic conversation in a new language.
Duolingo recently started rolling out podcasts and interactive conversations, which has been a nice way to mix things up a bit. If you’re at an intermediate level or higher, you can listen to these podcasts (which are often in the forms of stories) while you work out or even while you’re falling asleep.
In a time like this, where people are looking for ways to stay productive and make a good use of their time, Duolingo may be the best thing for you. At least give it a shot. I think most of you would find that you really really enjoy it, maybe as much as I do 🙂