I’ve always wanted to be conversationally fluent in another language. I studied three years of German in high school, but that was 25 years ago. At one point in my life, I purchased a German newspaper and a German-English dictionary, hoping to go through it word by word. That was a bust. The speed was too slow and the reward factor just didn’t exist. Suffice it to say, we Americans are at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking another language. Two years in high school is absurd.
I recently discovered Duolingo and have had a great time! For just 5-10 minutes a day, I can blitz through a short lesson and pick up some new words and expressions. These lessons is filled with nice, tiny exercises of translating or transcribing between your target language and your native one.
- Sometimes you pick from a list of words to build a sentence.
- Other times you type out the whole sentence.
- Some exercises involve transcribing what is spoken to you.
- Or you speak back what is written.
In the past two weeks, I have gotten really excited again about speaking German. It makes me want to come back every day and do more. Duolingo is a hoot!
And it’s free. They make their money by providing translation services. If you need something translated you can drop it off at Duolingo and they will employ all the people that are practicing.
Recently one of my esteemed American colleagues has been tweeting from a conference in Paris and communicated how he was able to stick with conversational French and not drop down to English. The group initially thought he was from Belgium! I laughed at that. It reaffirmed my desire to see if I could grow my German. Knowing that several of my colleagues are from Germany, hopefully I’ll have opportunities to practice and attain a similar skill set.
I may have waited 25 years, but I feel like this desire to speak another language is within reach thanks to the innovation of the people at Duolingo. And I hope you are interested as well.!