What were your New Year’s resolutions this year? It’s fun to go back and read them a quarter of the way into 2014. One of mine was to learn some working Spanish (a language equal parts practical and sexy) and to get going, I downloaded the most recommended language app I could find to my iPad: Duolingo.
Influenced by the general gamification of culture, Duolingo has vocab and grammar-themed rounds (food, clothing, verbs, questions) of questions involving matching pictures and words, repeating phrases and typing translations. A tiny animated owl coach tracks how many you’ve done and how regularly, and berates you or praises you accordingly.
I’m obsessed (estoy obsessionada). The combination of question types and the encouragement to go back and strengthen each section (it saves your weakest words and phrases to re-test you) really works, not to mention the competitive feel. A goody-two-shoes like me just becomes desperate not to disappoint the motivational owl. You’ll probably still need a conversation partner to learn the language, but I’m enjoying building up my vocab first with this.
Oh yeah, and you’re helping to translate the internet while you play.
See also the excellent Twitter account Shit Duolingo Says for some of the weirder sentences it’s asked people to translate.