Duolingo, the new and exciting way to learn languages on your smartphone. (Photo courtesy of themetaq.com)

by Carrie Victoria

¡Hola! ¿Hablas español? Peut-être vous parler français. Non?

(Translation: Hello! Do you speak Spanish? Maybe you speak French. No?)

If you can’t speak Spanish or French yet, don’t sweat it. You can learn. And no, I don’t mean through a three-credit college course. All you need is your handy-dandy smart phone. Go to the app store, search for Duolingo, and press download.

What exactly is Duolingo? Good question. First of all, it’s an app that can be downloaded onto your phone, but more importantly, it’s a learning tool. From your bedroom to a train on its way to Grand Central, Duolingo gives you the ability to learn a language whenever you want, anywhere and everywhere.

Now that you’ve downloaded Duolingo, you’ll need to pick the language you want to learn. You want to learn Spanish or French? Duolingo’s got it. It also offers German, Portuguese, and Italian as well. And for those who want to learn English, well, Duolingo offers lessons for that, too.

“Learning” probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend your free time, so we completely understand if you’re a little reluctant to download this app, but if you’re worried about being bored to tears by classroom-style lessons, don’t be. Duolingo’s lessons are interactive. In fact, you’re more likely to feel like you’re playing a game rather than learning.

When you first enter into Duolingo, there’ll be a skill tree. You’ll begin learning the basics and then move onto more advanced skills, such as food, animals, plurals, different verb forms, etc. You have to complete each skill before moving onto the next.

Each lesson offers a variety of ways to learn the language. You can translate English into another language or translare another language into English. Duolingo even offers an option to play your answers out loud. Also, for each lesson, you’ll get three hearts. Make four errors, and you have to do that lesson over again. Of course, you have the option to return to that lesson as many times as your heart desires. As Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “Repetition is the mother of learning.”

Duolingo is a great resource to learn foreign languages on the go. And don’t worry about breaking the bank because this app is completely free. If you’re a college student, you know that education rarely comes free, if ever. So, though you may have to take at least one $2500 language course before graduating from college, take advantage of Duolingo and learn for free.

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