Opinion | Duolingo is a realistic way to learn

By Chiara Awatramani, columnist

Countless hours are spent on our phones checking our friends’ new posts on Instagram, watching what influencers have to say on Youtube and scrolling through Tik Tok’s many wormholes. We play games for hours on end, from Candy Crush to FIFA 21.

Social media and video games are great forms of entertainment and communication. That’s why we keep using them in our daily lives. My screen time reaches around eight hours a day if I include my computer time—and not all of it comes from schoolwork.

During winter break, as I sat staring at, you guessed it, my phone, I decided to download Duolingo, an app that makes language learning a game, essentially combining entertainment with communication and learning, making this app a realistic way to tackle language goals.

I’ve always wanted to improve my Italian, but I pictured myself sitting in front of a textbook and found the image too stressful and boring. However, Duolingo disguises its textbook heart with a fun and quite addictive video game presence. And so, on my phone’s home screen, it takes a seat next to Instagram and Snapchat.

The player gets five hearts and loses a heart each time they get a question wrong. The questions range from translation to matching to speaking. Completing certain lessons unlock other topics such as food, animals and flirting. Duolingo has a scoreboard which compares your amount of lessons to all the other people that are learning the same language.

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Inspired from Snapchat, Duolingo has streaks which consist of how many days in a row you have met your daily goal, which can range from one five minute lesson to four lessons a day. But one of its best features is the community group chats. Here, one can meet people from all over the world and speak in the language they are trying to learn. Think of it as the Clash of Clans global chat.

Currently at a monthlong streak, I now realize how genius the creators of Duolingo are. I, like almost every young adult, constantly use social media and video games to quench my boredom. Duolingo essentially combines the best aspects of social media and video games. This makes language learning entertaining and fun — and quite addictive, at that.

What’s most impressive about Duolingo is the fact that it unlocks a world of opportunities and people to users. Language connects people. With Duolingo, I can talk to my Nonna better. I can order in Italian restaurants. All of this from playing a game for five minutes on my phone everyday.

Duolingo’s crucial concept of disguising learning in the form of a game inspired me to start searching for other learning games. Among one of my favorites is by far Quizlet. I use Quizlet to study for all my classes because this app, just like Duolingo, is a game and keeps me engaged in the same way other games do.

Overall, when looking for ways to learn a language, Duolingo is one of the best and most realistic ways to learn a language as it breaks up language learning into lessons that are formatted as games. So, when looking to acquire new languages either for an exchange year or a vacation, Duolingo is worth a shot.

Chiara is a freshman in LAS. 

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