Learning a Language via the Duolingo App

Learning a Language via the Duolingo App

30 before 30 – Number 2 – Learn a Language

For months probably years I have wanted to learn another language. At school I gave up languages when I was 14 so I never really retained any of that information in to adult life yet actually used it to hold a ‘proper’ conversation. I have little French and German knowledge of numbers and greetings but that is about all. Over travelling Australia in the past six months I have come across so many people who speak 2, 3, 4 or even 5 languages! This just makes we feel very LAZY and like I need to do something about my lack of foreign language skills.

The easy option would be to learn French or German both languages I have touched on and after some time would find bits coming back to me, but no. instead we have chosen to learn Portuguese – because if my boyfriend wants a shot at getting a Brazil Olympics job he needs to know the language. So once we have chosen the language the next part is finding a way to learn it. There are online sites, off line computer programs, books, cds but most of these cost either for the program or in internet usage – especially downloads. Hello Duolingo App – free (but currently only available for apple – watch this space for an android version though) to download and works offline however more categories open up when online.

Home Page

Home Page

The App

Split up in to different categories – food, animals, phrases etc. Each category then has lessons inside of it with different format questions. With the categories getting more and more complicated as you advance. The whole app is then split in to four sections of which have a different number of categories and lessons to complete. The first level has taught us plenty of phrases some good, some every strange, verb tables and lots of words for food, drink and animals.

The question format is great way to learn within each lesson you will receive a few questions in each format.


1. Translating what is spoken in Portuguese to written Portuguese.


2. Translating a written Portuguese phrase to written English.


3. Writing out the Portuguese, using the prompt for masculine or feminine and the picture.


4. Translating a written Portuguese phrase to English using the prompt words or the other way around.

There are a few other question forms that are used however these are the main ones.

Sometimes they tend to throw in a new word you have never heard of without explaining it first which can be tricky along with learning the verb tables as there is no index/glossary to explain properly the bits you don’t understand. However most of the time it has been straight forward and easy to understand the new words. It is important to practice each category to keep up your skill level – one of the good parts of this app is it makes you go back and practice everything if your skill level starts to drop before you can move on.

I have been writing everything down as I have gone through the stages of the app – this helps me to get familiar with the words, refer back to it all even without the iphone to hand and figure out the strange word in a sentence when it brings up a word from one of the first lessons that didn’t stick in your brain.

The app provides you with scores, and stats about how many words you know and if you can make phrases and sentences. At the end of each lesson it will go over all the new words you just learnt and during the lessons you are able to click on the word to help you understand the definition – like most European languages there are masculine and feminine to learn.

They also have a website which allows you to create an account and learn via the website, from what I’ve seen on the website there are better explanations of words or phrases.


  1. 9th June 2013 / 6:26 pm

    Sounds great – I’ll give it a try.

    I’ve been using memrise – free but online service (app not very good yet) which uses gaming style and mnemonics. I had no language skills 5 months ago but now have almost 800 Portugues words and phrases.

    We have been living in São Paulo for two weeks now – so the pace is definately increasing 😉

    Good luck with your plans for the Olympics.

  2. 12th June 2013 / 7:44 pm

    I’ll definitely check this out! I’ve been using a different app + google translate. To communicate and learn.

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