Duolingo: Not the key to becoming bilingual

With Duolingo, people can learn a new language while having fun through a gaming experience. Duolingo allows users to learn up to 25 languages, including French, German, Greek, Korean, Spanish, Swahili and Welsh.

New users are presented with a screen displaying the types of goals that can be picked. There is a casual goal, which requires 10 experience points gained per day, a regular goal, which requires 20 points, a serious goal, which requires 30 points, and an insane goal, which requires 50 points. It takes about three minutes (one activity) to collect 10 points and about 15 minutes to collect 50. The user is then given a list of languages to choose from and the option of starting as a beginner or taking a placement test to determine his or her level. This is convenient for people who already know the information in the activities and do not want to waste their time.

Users can complete learning activities for experience points to fulfill daily goals to increase their fluency percentage. Completing a daily goal yields a chest, which contains gems that can be used to buy power-ups in the shop. By achieving their daily goals, they can also obtain streaks, which only exist as motivation. One of the power-ups is called “Streak Freeze,” which maintains the user’s streak for one day of inactivity. It takes a long time to save up gems, causing some people to spend real money to get gems. I think this is a weakness in the app because the streaks feature has the potential to be more rewarding.

During lessons, the user has five bars of health, which are taken away with each incorrect answer. After running out of health, users cannot continue the lesson unless they pay 350 gems (everyone starts out with 500 gems). Alternatively, they can practice weak skills to gain their health back. If I run out of health, I’m forced to wait four hours or pay gems to continue. I think it’s irrational to make an app that claims it is for learning, yet punishes users for failing, just so developers can earn more money.

In another part of the app, users can talk to bots, which is an ineffective way of practicing, as the bots’ responses are often only logical if users types in the exact, expected response. Duolingo also has clubs for users to join. There are leaderboards where members can track others’ progress with different skills and compete to see who has the longest streak or the most experience points.

Overall, Duolingo provides an enjoyable learning experience for someone who is new to a language, but it most likely will not benefit those who are trying to achieve fluency, as real life application of the language is limited. However, the game concept of Duolingo is entertaining, and it helps people learn new skills and practice them.

By Ethan Cheng, staff writer
Photo courtesy of play.google.com/store

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