Learning a second language can be tough in a homeschool situation. Some language software programs are very expensive and not always that engaging (sorry Rosetta Stone). A very popular option is Duolingo, and we love it at our house. It’s a free website or app, and can be used to really learn a language. So here is my review of Duolingo as a homeschool language tool.
Things I Liked:
The first big plus for Duolingo is that it’s free. We’re on a tight budget around here and free options are always a bonus.
I also liked the interface. While it doesn’t really operate as a game, it is still engaging. It reads you phrases or words and you need to translate. Sometimes you choose words and sometimes you type them in. It also changes the translation to English or from English, so there is some variation.
You can earn levels, experience points and even currency (known adorably and lingots) to buy features. This is a very minor part of the program but still gives it some flavor and motivation to play.
You can also set daily time goals, which makes it easy and straight-forward to establish a lesson timeframe. We have ours set for 20 minutes. So she works on her French for 20 minutes without either of us having to watch the clock. The app lets her know when she’s reached the goal.
Another plus is that you can use Duolingo for a pretty big range of languages. We generally do French here (we are Canadian, after all), but it’s a nice option to switch to Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish or even Russian for a change or to do some comparison to see how languages can be similar.
Things I Didn’t:
Actually, there weren’t too many problems with Duolingo. Only a few minor details that I didn’t like about it.
Sometimes the voice recordings aren’t that clear, making it hard to understand the proper pronunciation. You do still read the words on the screen so you can manage the translations even if you can’t pick out the pronunciation perfectly.
I probably would have preferred a little more fun to it, like small mini games or timed quizzes. But the straight translation format isn’t bad.
I asked my daughter (she’s 11, btw) and she reported that there wasn’t anything about the app that she disliked at all.
Duolingo is a big hit and we’ll likely continue to use it as our language studies continue. I don’t think it’s going to be enough once we get into more sophisticated levels of language, but it’s a perfect fit for us right now.
Oh, my review is based on the Android version of the app. Some details may differ with other platforms or their website-based format. Their website is duolingo.com and you can get the app at the Google Playstore.