They let you try one of their basic courses of any language you choose before you even decide to register. Unfortunately, they only offer certain languages such as English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Esperanto, Turkish, Norwegian and Ukrainian. More language will be added in the future.
You’ll learn your course in many ways: a picture with a name, listening, writing, and speaking. Duolingo courses are split down into categories. At a certain level, they give a few tips and notes which include some grammars before you proceed to take the course. So, kudos for that! However, I wish they would explain a bit more on the accent mark because up until now I’m still confused when to use and when not use it.
Once you’ve finished the tree you’ll unlock the golden bird a.k.a recognition from the Duolingo team.
Duolingo has their own virtual currency called Lingot. You’ll receive a lingot when you level up, finishing a skill and so on. You can use that to buy items from their virtual store that will definitely help you with your course.
There is a daily goal which you can set from 1 XP per day up to 50 XP per day and you can change it anytime you want. At the top right there is a fire icon called a streak. It counts how many days you’ve succeeded in achieving your daily goal.
So, if you don’t want your streak to go back to zero, make sure you nail your daily goal or you can buy a streak freeze at the virtual store if you don’t have time to practice for the day and keep the streak intact. Bear in mind that a streak freeze only works once. The purpose of the daily goal and the streak is to help you stay motivated while doing your task.
Their “add friends” option is different than the others. You can follow (add) user you come across at the discussion. There are 3 options; search the name of the person you want to add, send an invite through email and find friends through Facebook. Let’s face it, not all of us have Facebook. Not all of us have friends that share the same interest so, the only best option here is to follow any user that you like in the discussion that learns the same course you took.
You’ll have instant feedback for both writing and speaking, so, no more waiting for days to get a review on your exercises which is awesome.
You can skip the basic lessons by selecting the Placement Test. You’ll be presented with this option upon choosing your course. If you want to skip certain categories and want to test all your skills at once, you can do so by clicking the test out of (# no) skills yellow button. Don’t want to learn a lesson by lesson? You can also skip this by clicking the test out yellow button on any skill page at the top right corner.
I took a Spanish course here and I am glad they provide the Spanish alphabet characters and it makes my life easier when it comes to writing sentences. When you have finished learning on each category you can test it right away. You can strengthen your memory in 3 ways; redo, practice all the categories you’ve done and polish your skill by taking the strengthen skills.
When doing exercises, they provide an instant correction. Let’s say I wrote it the wrong way, they will explain why I got it wrong. It can also differentiate between an error and a misspelling (typo).
During listening and writing exercises, it provides a slow version reading when they read the sentences. It’s good because sometimes they read it quite fast and I couldn’t catch up.
Hover your cursor to any words to know more about the tenses, verb conjugation or perhaps you need some clarification.
They have a forum called discussion. You can ask anything related to your course or Duolingo. It has lots of good information and various topics.
There’s also the Immersion. Based on my understanding, it’s where you can test your language skills by translating a document (articles from Wikipedia etc.)
Other than that, you can also view and edit the translation and give up votes or down votes for it. The documents have various categories ranging from technology, art and literature, entertainment and much more.
Like Memrise, Duolingo also has their own App of the same name. Unfortunately, you can’t use it in offline mode. It requires an internet connection in order to use it. Not only that, it doesn’t have Spanish alphabet characters. I’d definitely give them 5 stars if they have it. Apart from that, they also don’t provide the tips and notes like the one on their website.
What confuses me a lot is that there are different words that have the same meaning. For example numbers – tres (three), trece (thirteen) and tercero (third). The word de also has lots of meanings. I wish they could create a column and compile together all those similar words that have different meanings as well as different words with the same meaning. That’d be great.
English course won’t be available if you choose English as your speaking language. At first, I thought they didn’t offer English course there. It’s only available once I changed my speaking language from English to Indonesian (similar to Malay). This process is called a reverse tree.
It’d be great if they offer the course to people who choose English as their speaking language too, and let them decide if they want to take the course or not. Don’t simply assume people that choose English is already good with it. I myself want to improve my English as well.
The fluency indicator is unreliable. In my opinion, the only way you can measure how fluent you are is by communicating with a real person.
Regarding written exercises, rather than mixing both English-Spanish writing and Spanish-English writing together, it would be better if they have separate exercises for that. Sometimes they are more Spanish-English writing then English-Spanish writing.
There are times where the audio recording doesn’t pick up the speech correctly. It identifies the wrong one as correct and the right one as incorrect.
My conclusion, Duolingo by far is the best website among the other two as of now. Is it possible I can speak fluently by taking courses here? Yes, it is (depends on your definition of fluency 🙂 ) It’s definitely worth spending your time here.