The last time I reviewed the normal version of Duolingo based on the Chinese version, now I will review Duolingo+ based on the Spanish version and talk a little bit about the Spanish course itself!
So what does Duolingo+ offer? Well a couple of things. The first one that surprised me quite a lot, was the option to buy extra courses as you progress which normal users couldn’t buy.
So instead of having 7 courses to reach to level 1, I actually had 9! I didn’t progress enough into level two to know if their any more, but honestly the fact that they offer these extra things is honestly pretty great.
These things don’t go away either. I got Duolingo+ because I refereed a friend and it only lasted a week, after this it stayed.
So now, it looks like I will forever have two extra courses on my feed. They weren’t bad courses either. They gave me the “Flirting” course and the “Idioms” course, which are things that many people want to know when learning a language.
Personally I found the “Flirting” course much more useful, as the language was far more natural. For me the “Idioms” course just seemed too hard, they had such complicated structures and so many new words that it just felt too early in the course process to learn it. Granted, if I were to continue learning Spanish (which I won’t do very much of until I achieve Chinese fluency) I would want to learn it eventually, so it’s of course good to have. On the whole, more content is never a bad thing.
The other main thing that Duolingo gives you is progress quizzes, which you take every so often to see how your progressing. It’s another fun thing to do, and makes the learning process even more fun than it already is. I managed to reach a level of 1/5 in just a week though, which is a strange thing to me. There are 7 levels in the Spanish course, however I’d only done one level, which is by far the smallest on the course. I appreciate that I did study Spanish at school before (although I feel like I’ve forgotten basically all of it by now) and a lot of things are easy to guess as the language is a lot like English, however it still feels like progress is too easy.
Theirs a common phenomena in language learning called the Dunning Kruger effect. In the case of Duolingo, it’s where you have false illusions of your mastery in a language due to suddenly being able to do more than you previously could. This seems to be what Duolingo seems to be taking advantage of. And I believe it is something that should be taken advantage of.
At the very start your going to suck like balls at a language, however if you compare yourself to native speakers your going to feel depressed and not motivated. So what else do you have? You have your rapidly increasing test scores (which are going up so quickly despite being so new – I must be so good at this!) as well as the option to rapidly progress through lessons if you choose.
It’s honestly a really good way to motivate yourself and feel like your progressing really well. Not to mention score boards which motivate you to surpass others and think “Ha – I’m better than all those other language learners” (as you stay up later to 1am rapidly learning all lessons possible just to keep your #1 spot)
And don’t get me wrong, I believe Duolingo is still pretty great, not just addictive. It’s extremely good at getting you hooked into the positive feedback loop and learning more and more. The way the lessons work is essentially by testing you with many sentences. These sentences can be incorporated into your speaking and adapted and changed to fit many different scenarios, really giving you a foundation in speaking.
I believe that there are other better methods that I’ve found now, however I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Duolingo is absolutely the best way I’ve found to get yourself hooked on language learning before moving on to more difficult things.
I’ve heard that the Duolingo latin based language courses are really good, and significantly better than the Chinese course which I took. So for that reason, I would say seek further advice if you are tempted to continue using the app. I personally wouldn’t see too much of a problem with people using it as that addiction it brings is so powerful.
I can only bring my personal experience from the Chinese course which I took. I had a 69 day streak and progressed quite slowly as I wanted to become fully confident in the courses before progressing further. During this time I only progressed to level 2 (Chinese has a level 0) before deciding that the learning content itself wasn’t very good and that I wanted to move on to other things.
8 months after that, I came back to Duolingo and did the placement test and I unlocked every single level of the course – it thought there was nothing new for me to learn. However I know that my Chinese level is still very poor, although I am conversational, and can understand about 20% of drama’s that I watch, so it won’t get you to fluency, which is a shame, but of course perfectly understandable. I think I learned much more outside of the Duolingo course during this time, so ultimately it’s faster not to use it, but perhaps you may find it easier to use it even if it is slower.
Duo to these reasons I personally am not willing to try anything like this for the Spanish course yet, so I recommend looking at other places to find more information on that. Perhaps you can find people’s experience in the comments if people have tried it already.
Another advantage that the Spanish course brings is stories – which are simply amazing. They are brilliantly entertaining, educational and funny. Personally I think it would be much better if they were the principle places people learn from and the course lessons were supplements. There are such a huge amount of these stories in the Spanish course that it makes it so much better than any other Duolingo course I’ve seen.
If nothing else and you want to learn Spanish without Duolingo, consider blasting through all of the courses in order to unlock and read these stories, they’re extremely good!
Duolingo continues to also gamify education via a league system (which does get competitive) and a shop system and make learning a language easily accessible. I don’t think you can get to fluency using it, but you can certainty make a great start and get yourself through the door (if your uninterested in the traditional immersion based methods for learning) before moving onto more advanced things.
Duolingo+ itself though is currently £6.59 a year, which is a pretty low price. The weekly progress quizzes and additional courses, lack of adds, and offline lessons may actually be worth it to you as it’s so cheap. It’s worth researching how supported your course is as well. If your learning a language e.g Chinese which doesn’t have these stories or extra lessons then maybe it’s not worth it for you.
There is also another reason to donate, and I think it’s worth mentioning, because although some people don’t find it important, I personally do. Consider whether paying for Duolingo+ is worth it simply to support free education and thank the developers for creating such a lovely addictive service to help so many people learn and get through the door.
At the time of writing, my entire country is staying indoors due to coronavirus. This means that a lot of people are just bored and have nothing to do. If you belong to this group why not learn a language?
I would say that if you lack motivation, Duolingo is the best place to go, because it’s very addictive. I didn’t necessarily start learning Chinese initially because I wanted to become fluent. I just wanted to learn a little bit to impress my friends, now ten months later I’m trying as hard as I can every day to learn it and I’m getting results.
So please, seriously consider it. And tell me if you do. You can find an invite link here which should give both of us a little head start if you follow it. For every person who follows it I’ll learn another level of my Spanish course, setting stuff like this helps you learn too 😉
What are your thoughts on Duolingo, I’d love to know!