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The older you get, the harder it becomes to learn a new language. Adults have the hardest time of all. In fact, the way adults "learn" a language is very different than how a child acquires one. Putting aside the scientific discussion on the nature of language acquisition the question of how we can use technology to aid us in learning a new tongue is an interesting one. Today, we're taking a closer look at Duolingo, which was recently completely re-written for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile!
Duolingo is a free, crowd-sourced language learning system developed at Carnegie Mellon University by professor Luis von Ahn. There are no subscriptions, no ads, no tricks. Instead, it relies on users providing translations to contribute to the project. Currently, Duolingo offers 54 different language courses across 23 languages with 100 million registered users.
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Why should I learn a new language?
Believe it or not, it's fun!
As someone who admits difficulty in learning a second language, Duolingo is just straight-up enjoyable. The app is very approachable with mini-lessons that you can take at your own pace. There is also a clear logic and level of increasing difficulty that makes taking language courses welcoming.
Duolingo isn't meant to make you fluent in a new language – that's far more of a challenge without full immersion – but it certainly will give you the foundation to start.
With Duolingo available on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, you can start a course on your Surface in the morning and then during your lunch break pick up the lesson on your phone at work. The service and account creation are both free and everything just syncs to the cloud keeping all your Duolingo apps – wherever they may reside – up to date with your current progress.
Even better is the ability to go back at any time and re-take previous lessons as a refresher. Toss in some optional daily reminders to keep you motivated and Duolingo can quickly work its way into your daily routine.
What languages can you learn?
If you are an English speaker Duolingo offers courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Esperanto, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Welsh.
There is also a limited selection of courses for speakers of other languages. For example, Spanish speakers can take courses to learn English, French, Portuguese, German or Italian, while Hindi speakers can use Duolingo to learn English.
Duolingo on Windows 10
Duolingo was re-written for Windows 10 late in 2015. Leveraging the Universal Windows Platform, Duolingo is a great example of how the same app can run on your PC, your laptop, and your phone.
The app is relatively small (between 2 and 20 MB), fast, and easy on system resources.
With Windows 10 you can pin your particular language courses to your Start screen for quick one-touch access in addition to pinning the main app. Options within the app include being able to enable or disable sound effects, listening exercises and daily reminders. You can also set your daily goal from basic all the way up to "insane".
Students who are using the app for school can share their progress with teachers within the app. If you feel you are more advanced than the current lesson or subsection, you attempt to test out of it through a somewhat rigorous exam. If you pass it, you reserve the right to jump into the next lesson.
The Duolingo lessons range from basic vocabulary learning through picture ID to tests that have you filling in missing words from a pre-selected bank of vocabulary items. It also tasks you with translating a sentence from a pre-selected bank of vocabulary items and writing out an audible-only sentence using the keyboard
The courses start from basics and go up through phrases, food, animals, plurals, possession, colors, questions, up to modals and politics. You can re-take any section at any time.
During a lesson, you are given four chances to correct your mistakes – if you use up those four, Duolingo has you start the lesson over (because you clearly need the help). In this sense, Duolingo has something of a video game feel to it, making it familiar to all types of casual learners.
If you don't feel like taking a lesson you can always just hit up the practice button to take a quick quiz that doesn't count against your score.
The Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile apps are a joy to use. The design is bright, colorful and easy to navigate. There is no having to figure anything out, and you can just jump into some quick lessons. The feedback within the app is also well done, and the daily reminders make sure that you keep on top of your language learning.
Learn a new language
Tweet at us what language you'll try learning with Duolingo and include the hashtag #Windows10DoesMore!
Learning another language is always a challenge and the level of proficiency achieved will vary between individuals. But there is nothing quite so fulfilling as getting familiar with a new language, especially when you can feel like you are making actual progress.
Plus, people always think multi-lingual people are smarter. So there's that.
Duolingo is a hard app to pass up. It is free, there are no ads, no one is going to try to up-sell you on a service, and it is quite ingenious in its design and structure. Plus it can make you a better human.
But putting aside the mumbo-jumbo, Duolingo is just fun to use, and the Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile apps are very well done. Grab them today and start learning another language. You have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.
Day 1 Sweepstakes:Win a $250 American Express gift card!
Enter to win 1 of 2 $250 American Express gift cards!
How to Enter: Log into Windows Central and leave a comment on this post letting us know what languages you'd love to learn with Duolingo. At the end of your comment you must also indicate you are posting as an entry into the sweepstakes, or use #sweepstakes, for your entry to count.
Full rules and regulations can be found here, but please note that due to sponsor restrictions, the sweepstakes is only open to Windows Central readers in the US and Canada.
The sweepstakes is open until March 31st, and winners will be announced on the blog shortly after the close date.
The Prize: Two super lucky Windows Central readers will take home an American Express gift card worth $250!!
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