Learning French with the Duolingo app

I try to do something new every year. That’s how I ran my first 5k, learnt to snowboard, and learnt to ride a horse.

This year I’m going to attempt to learn French. I was pretty good in Spanish, having taken it for five years in high school. I also took French for three years and that was… a disaster. I failed it miserably for the three mandatory years.

Then my parents said we got our permanent residency papers to Canada and that was the last time I really used my Spanish.

I’m learning French because second official language and it keeps the mind flexible. Plus I felt like an idiot when I visited Paris. I could read a lot of the simple instructions but communicating? It was apologies and really bad French. So if I ever end up there again, I’d like to at least be mediocre.

There are several options to learning a foreign language. There’s private tuition, group classes, audio programs like Rosetta Stone and apps.

I’m trying the Duolingo app. It’s free and game-fies the learning process. I started with the basics – “The girl, the boy, the apple” and your answers move up through the game. It offers Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, English and Italian.

You have to create sentences, type translations, listen and type and repeat phrases. So far, I suck at the speaking – I was never great at French pronunciation.

Based on reviews, it’s not perfect and there are some bugs that need to be worked out. It also doesn’t make up for the practice you get when speaking with a native speaker. You can have all the grammar you want but you only get really comfortable by speaking the language. (I learnt that while in Japan.)

It’s free and so far it’s fun. Will I learn something from this? Repetition does lead to retaining.

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