How to Use Duolingo Right

For starters, Duolingo is a free and fun language learning app that promises to teach you all the fundamentals in a language, sufficient to give you a working knowledge of the target language and making you (atleast) conversational. All with just 5 minutes a day.

Today, I finished my daily dose of Duolingo and this flashed before my screen

Admit it, even you had this phase of being unhealthily obsessed with a certain culture/ lingua Franca that you immediately jumped on the Duolingo train to master the language…. And then the phase died out, and so did your streak.

I have many Duolingo friends who once began enthusiastically but currently have a 0 day streak. The most common excuses are:

1. I couldn’t keep up with it due to difficulties forming the habit.

2. It will not make me fluent anyway, then why bother?

3. I don’t think it’s an effective app.

4. I don’t have the time for it.

Number 1 is the most common excuse. Number 2 is very characteristic of a quitter- yes, you can’t become fluent if you’re not willing to. Number 3- how did you come to that conclusion without much effort from your part? For number 4, EVERYONE has 5 minutes a day to spare if their passion for the cause is strong enough. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Here are some plain facts to consider first:

  • Duolingo alone cannot make you fluent in a language, but there are some features that often go undiscovered, taking you farther away from your goal. Duolingo, if used correctly can be a significant step in your journey and can also take you many steps closer to fluency.
  • Duolingo has streaks, leaderboards and challenges for a reason- It is linguistic education in the guise of a game. It’s this game aspect of the app that makes you consistent and hence, successful in your odyssey.
  • The Duolingo algorithm is smart. People learn in different paces, but the algorithm ensures that there is negligible gap in knowledge between a quick learner and a slow one, which is even more advantageous than the school system, just as advertised.
  • Some courses are better than others. Even amongst the 3 languages I learn, the older courses are considerably more fun and well- updated than the newer ones, which lack some features and depth.

Personal experience:

I’ve been using Duolingo for over a year now and yes, I’m comfortably conversational in my target language, German. I also revise French and Hindi (both of which I learned at school). Can’t recommend this app enough. No, this won’t be just me. This will be the result for anyone who is consistent and the app ensures that we are all at the same level by the end of a section. You can spend anywhere between as little as 3 minutes to as much as a whole day on this app. (Although I won’t recommend the latter). On an average, I spend around 5 minutes a day.

Within days of diligently using this app, I found myself capable of saying basic sentences in German and would try to talk to myself in this new language with all that beginner’s excitement. In some tests, I’ve been able to outscore my counterparts who’ve studied the language at school- the only difference between us being, studying for a game vs studying for an exam. Ofcourse we all prefer games over exams!

Owing to my positive experience with the app, I’d like to share some insights and point out where people often unknowingly miss out. I believe there IS a right way to use this app to make it more effective.

1. Duolingo Stories

Some people don’t realise that this feature exists. Unfortunately, it is not available in all languages. But the stories use the language as they’re used in day to day life and are also very witty/cute. These stories also normalise certain topics we usually consider a taboo by casually validating and representing everyone.

2. Free Duolingo Events

MOST people seem to be unaware of this feature. It is a virtual gathering to practice your conversation skills. (Organised via Zoom). Fluency cannot be achieved without practice and this is the best platform to make mistakes, stammer and converse with other learners in a non-judgemental space with shared woes. While I’ve only been able to attend about 2-3 events, I liked my time in each of them and have met some wonderful people thereabouts. Our practice sessions panned out very well. A new feature in this respect is paid events where you are taught by native speakers in your own pace, more like a personalised tutor.

3. Build your streak

Once you build at least a 7 day streak, you will no longer want to break it. Yes, play it like a game and let it not become a chore.

4. Make friends with people you actually know (that includes virtual friends)

*Winks at Lizi and Anjola.* You motivate each other, inspire and get inspired. I get ecstatic whenever I read that they topped the leaderboard or did 10 lessons a day! How inspiring! My tired soul perks up and opens to more learning too.

When your co-learners cheer for you!

5. Make friends with people who have long streaks

These people will serve as your inspiration. I get childishly delighted whenever they congratulate me on my milestones and idolise their dedication. So when you find someone with an inspiringly long streak in the leaderboard, BEFRIEND THEM!

Impressive stats of a Duolingo friend

6. Duolingo Podcasts

Currently available only in French, Spanish and English (as far as I know). Sensitises our ears to the Native accent.

On a concluding note, the right way to use Duolingo is to use it everyday. If you need motivation to do so (which we ALL need, being humans), look up to your friends and ofcourse, your own streak too.

A small piece of motivation 💪

PS: I’m back!

79 thoughts on “How to Use Duolingo Right

    • Thank you sooo very much! 😻 So sweet of you to remember. The documentation work was almost easy. I missed reading your posts. Now that I’m back, I’ll be sure to catch up.
      Just checked, unfortunately Persian isn’t available yet. If they ever make it available, I’ll remember to let you know! They do have many rare, endangered languages too but some common ones are still not there. I wanted to learn Sanskrit and Urdu, both of which are currently unavailable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot! Indeed, motivation is what makes all the difference. If we have a cause, it’s easy to stay motivated. Most people just begin for the sake of its popularity without a cause and give up, which is understandable. Thanks again for reading! 😀

      Like

  1. Ur back 😭😭😭😭😭 .
    Thanks for being back 🤧.
    I know I sound dramatic, but I’m so glad you’re back!!!!!!
    I gave up on Duolingo about 7 months ago 😂. I tried learning French but then I got bored, hehe. Nice post though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot! Getting bored is an acceptable excuse 😉 We are all wired differently and not everyone is going to find everything fun. Thanks again. Your “dramatism” is much appreciated 😂 Thanks again. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually loved Duolingo when i used to use it. It was important then. And motivating, i was good, and enjoyed it for around five months but well mine excuse was filled with heart. It broke and with it practising with the lingo here. But i will recommend it.

    Thanks for sharing
    Narayan x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot, Daphny! I guess 5 minutes a day is not very long but Ofcourse, if one intends they can always do it. Usually most people learn without a cause and hence can’t find the motivation, time or need. But I still believe 5 minutes a day can be made if there’s an intention.
      Thanks a lot for your comment! 😊
      Will catch up on your posts soon. Happy to be welcomed so warmly 💖🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Will get myself motivated and try my best to give it time 🙂
        You’re very much welcome, thrilled to have you back and looking forward to read more from you again 💖🌸

        Like

  3. Oh , Sam!
    I’d really love to use Duolingo everyday because I really do admire the French language. And Duolingo is a lovely app for this
    Unfortunately, I find my self dataless on some days or am discouraged by network issues
    Nevertheless, I’ll still strive
    Thanks for this post ☺️☺️☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I hope you continue to be successful in your odyssey, Sam my sweet. Five minutes a day is an achievable goal for sure: if you don’t have time to smile, or 5 minutes to spare on something you like, then you are TOO BUSY! And that is no good.
    As for me, trying Duolingo, oh, I don’t know. I limit my dependence on my phone. I leave it at home as often as I can. Take advantage of wiFi at home only. But I’ll certainly keep this in mind when I feel the need to add a new language to my vocabulary. Never a waste to learn a new means to communicate.
    And I’ll remember where the suggestion originated. Thanks.
    Glad you’re back. To me that means all your affairs fell right into place. Good for you, young lady. Welcome to the grown up world. Stay sweet. xoxo 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are ever so sweet, thank you so so very much! 😀🙏💝 Not everybody has a reason/necessity to learn a new language. Since you are fluent in Japanese, you may not require the help of language learning apps 😉 How cool is that! Asian languages are in BIG demand in Duolingo. You are a master in a language that many people yearn to learn.
      Thanks a lot for your sweet words. The process was indeed smooth. I got my official name slightly altered (actually, got a letter abbreviated) and that helped a bit. Thanks again, my dearest friend. Really missed you.
      I really like that you spend as little time with technology as you can. Luna is a better company for you than gadgets! 🌜😉 Thanks again for your eternal kindness. You add so much joy to my soul. 💝

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, welcome back. Long time no see. And I do belong to those people who give up on Duolingo after about a month. However your post has inspired me to go back again. I am particularly interested in the “taboo topic” it has. I wonder if they are interesting. You really spike up my curiosity on this. Right now I am content with just watching videos of Spanish and Thai. I mean beginner language videos. I wonder which is more effective, videos or Duolingo? It is great to talk about language learning online since the more methods we know, the better we learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot, my friend! I was on a break and it’s nice to be back. I absolutely loved your king and thief story.
      Oh, Duolingo stories are the best of their kind for sure 😉 The stories casually represent great demographic diversity, expat life, different sexualities, friendship among people of different genders and cultures, all of which shouldn’t be a taboo, but are seen as such in most parts of the world.
      After all, diversity is the very beautiful of existence, right? Duolingo stories walk an extra mile to show why it is so.
      I think YouTube videos are very effective to improve your listening skills and are much required, but we do require some practice exercises, which Duolingo provides. If you’re looking to learn Spanish, I’d recommend Duolingo 200% as the course is old and well updated. We are taught the language as they are actually spoken by the natives, unlike what we learn at school.
      Thanks again for your lovely comment! Happy to hear from you again 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • thank you for the informative post and the informative comment. You have made duolingo so appealing that I will definitely try it out. Language learning is something I truly enjoy right now. And you are so inspiring, always.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, this is such an informative post Sahana. My god, these days there is an app for practically every thing under the sun. 5 mins a day is not much to spare to learn a new language. Will remember this when I decide to go in for it!!
    How have you been? Done with the college admission and formalities?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Mam. Isn’t it? Name any of life’s woes and there’s an app to the rescue 😜
      I’ve been very well, Mam. The formalities went more smoothly than expected and college procedures have been fine too. Very kind of you to check, Mam.
      Thank you once again 🙏

      Like

  7. Whoa, 500 days of anything is awesome. I’m not really an app person, and due to the way Chinese is, I’ve just brute forced my way through memorising the characters. Maybe I should add in some Duolingo action just to supplement my learnings. It’s so cool that you’ve picked up German because of this. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, Duolingo works for an excellent supplement! Not everyone is an app person and that is perfectly fine.
      Thanks again for your visit!

      Like

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  9. Wow, 500 day streak. That’s really impressive, Sam. The highest I ever got was 271. After I lost it, my motivation naturally withered. You’ve highlighted brilliant features on the app that could definitely increase one’s usage and enhance learning. Welcome back, Sam. 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

    • 271 is GREATTT!! Totally understandable that your motivation withered after losing it.
      It’s actually kinda sad. Thanks a lot for your comment, my friend!
      Just out of curiosity, which language were you learning?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was learning Spanish at the time, but I’m learning French at the moment. As they are both romance languages, I’ve detected some similarities between them. It’s really impressive you’re learning German, do you have people with whom you practice?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Practice speaking? Not really. But I’ve attended Duolingo events a couple of times to practice.
        Wow! Romance languages sound “Romantic” for a reason. So cool that you’re on the mission to learn a second one already! Here’s wishing you success in this adventure. What’s your Duolingo user id, if I may ask?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my gosh, the other day when I saw you reach 500-day streak I had the BIGGEST smile on my face!!! Congratulations!!!! You are such an inspiration to me.
    I feel like Duolingo hacked my brain haha. I know myself… I’ll get ambitious for a few days and then start being lazy. There’s no way I’d be practicing every day unless I had the motivation to keep that little animated flame alive 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on the 500 day streak , Sam. I never heard of this app before but it perked my interest so I will definitely be checking it out. Thanks so much for introducing it to me.💕❤️💕

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Aaah I started using Duolingo to learn Spanish twice, but I always didn’t end up getting finished haha- I do still know a bit of the basics, but congratulations on a 500 day streak!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I didn’t even know you were on a break, Sam. I hope you’re doing good. Your streak is a motive factor for anyone who wants to learn a new language. Kudos to that! 🥳

    I’ve used the app a few years back, and did learn it at a conversational level but I wasn’t regular though. I didn’t know it had podcasts, stories or events. Maybe they’re new features! I’m hoping to install the app again to start something new. Have a good day, Sam! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for your comment, my friend 😀 Just out of curiosity, what language were you learning? 👀 *Curious Googly eyes*
      Thanks for your kind visit and do get back into the Duo train in case you have an intention to learn a language again 😀
      I’d say; join Atleast for the sake of those wowly stories 🤩🤩 (They’re amazing and the characters always say savage things to eachother lol).

      Like

  14. Good job! I’ve been learning German too and I definitely agree with you. A large part of using it daily is just to stop making excuses. Five to ten minutes isn’t a huge chunk of your time.

    Liked by 1 person

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