While I’ve always loved Italian, learning the language really became important to me after my daughter met and married an Italian man while working in Turin, Italy. When we first met him, his knowledge of English was already impressive and since living in the UK, he is fluent in English.Meanwhile, my daughter has become fluent in Italian and they are now pass on their love of languages to their young sons.
Therefore, I felt the need to better understand Italian in order to communicate with my Italian son-in-law’s family when I visit them again. I also feel that if I visit them in their country, I should try to speak their language instead of forcing them to speak English. I also want to encourage my grandson as he becomes more fluent in Italian. Currently, at 2 1/2 years old, he is ahead of me in understanding and communication, but I intend to make up for that!
In school, I learned French and some Latin, but the teachers emphasized grammar to the detriment of communication, and I don’t remember how enjoyable those classes were. When I started learning Italian in earnest a little over a year ago, I knew I wanted to take a completely different approach to traditional learning, which is why I chose Duolingo.
Why choose Duolingo?
Honestly, I was drawn to Duolingo for two reasons: It’s free and it’s fun.
The lessons can be completed in minutes, and the colorful, animated characters look inviting, most notably the iconic green owl. Each character represents a native Italian speaker: a man, a woman and a child reading a sentence. I found this to be a positive way of getting our ears used to the various Italian sounds – although I did find the gruff old gentleman’s voice a little hard to understand at times!
Duolingo vs Duolingo Super
Disadvantages of not paying Super Duolingo (formally known as Duolingo Plus) is necessary to watch the ads that appear at the beginning and end of each lesson. However, most ads only last a few seconds, 30 seconds at the most, so it’s easy to walk away, make a cup of tea, and return for another lesson, if you so choose. You can also only make a certain number of mistakes before timing out. Pauses typically last four hours.
should i sign up Super Duolingo, I’ll be allowed to make unlimited mistakes, can track my progress, and have offline access to lessons. However, for my purposes, the free version works just fine.
notes: If you’re interested in giving it a try, Duolingo does offer a two-week free trial.
How to use Duolingo
Most of the exercises on Duolingo require you to simply translate from English to Italian and vice versa. Here are some of the most common questions you’ll encounter while studying:
‘click what you hear’
This exercise involves inserting the correct word in the blank. You really have to listen carefully, as the differences in pronunciation of some words can be very subtle.
‘Select matching pairs’
This exercise requires you to listen and click on the correct pairing. Five English words must be paired with five Italian words in adjacent columns.
‘Translate this sentence – Italian to English’
This part is self-explanatory – just translate Italian phrases to English using the words available. Not all words need to make sentences; some are completely redundant, just to throw you off.
‘Translate this sentence – English to Italian’
Here you are given an English sentence and you have to click on a series of Italian words to form the correct sentence. E.g:
‘say this sentence’
If the microphone is enabled, you can tap the “Tap to Speak” icon to record yourself speaking Italian sentences. Words turn blue if pronounced correctly – though I’ve noticed it usually accepts my pronunciation even if it’s not accurate!
Here you have to choose the correct translation from the three words provided.
Whenever I finish a class, I jot down my mistakes on a piece of paper (old school, I know) but I’ve found that if you click on the “dumbbell” icon, Duolingo will record all mistakes that you can revisit at any time.
Each unit covers a different topic and consists of several lessons that become more challenging as you study. After completing a few units and hearing some stories, you progress to the next level. There are 51 units in total, and each unit contains 5 levels, along with 66 skills (ie specific topics such as questions, adverbs, etc.) and four course parts.
Are these stories the most thought-provoking yet entertaining dialogues: You have to answer yes or no to the questions at the end of each story. Again, the dialogue helps to adjust your ears to natural Italian.
Duolingo also introduces basic grammar and new vocabulary in the “Tips” section at the beginning of each lesson. It is important not to neglect this section as it is very helpful in helping you understand and master each unit.
As you progress, you also gain experience points (XP) as a way to stay motivated. You can set daily XP goals you want to achieve and compete with other users for positions on the XP leaderboard.
After completing the course, you will also receive ingot (is called gem on mobile), which is Duolingo’s virtual currency. You can use Lingots to purchase various in-app features such as Streak Freeze, Heart Replenishment and Streak Betting.
Duolingo also encourages you to keep learning. If you skip a day, your streak will reset. My current streak is 456 days, but some of my most loyal users are over 2000 days!
You also have the option to join daily virtual meetings with Italian learners from around the world.
What changes would I make to Duolingo?
Given that Duolingo is mostly run by volunteer contributors, not everything is perfect. For example, you may occasionally come across phrases that are grammatically incorrect.I’m particularly surprised by the translation of “I’m from England”: instead of choosing I am English or I come from Britainthey chose I come from Britain* This sounds unnatural in Italian.
I also found some sentences not suitable for everyday use. Once, I was asked to translate the ridiculous phrase “Are my shoes electric?” into Italian. Unless they develop some new kind of footwear in Italy that I don’t know about, I doubt I’ll ever use that word in my life!
I was also a little disappointed to find that Duolingo offers podcasts in French and Spanish, but not in Italian. Hopefully these will be available in the future.
Finally, while Duolingo is great for memorizing new phrases and vocabulary, listening, and reading, the app itself doesn’t help much with speaking.To do this, you need to seek help from a native speaker, or use the Duolingo’s coursesor use an external platform such as italian.
For now, I will continue to learn Italian with Duolingo the way I have been doing for over a year now because it fits my lifestyle, but I realize that just learning Duolingo every day won’t make me a confident speaker.
I am planning a long stay in Italy in the spring. I wish I could have basic conversations with my new Italian family. I already know that since starting to study with Duolingo, my vocabulary has grown and I understand a lot more, so we’ll see how I cope. I’ll keep everyone posted. goodbye Currently!
Advantages of Duolingo
– Most features are free
– Fun and visually appealing
– Easily complete a lesson in just a few minutes a day
Disadvantages of Duolingo
– Podcasts are not available
– Some sentences are weird and unrealistic
– You may encounter occasional grammatical errors
Christine is a retired library technician and a lover of foreign cultures and languages. She especially enjoys learning Italian because of the music, culture, food and her extended Italian family. Living in Wales, she has also been embracing the beautiful Welsh language, and she is learning and making great progress with Duolingo.