If your child is learning Chinese as a Mother Tongue Language, your child might benefit from using Duolingo. I’m relearning Chinese, and I certainly have benefited! I’ve previously written about the Duolingo app way back in 2015. At that time, Mandarin Chinese was not offered. But it was added recently. And did I mention it’s completely FREE?
What is Duolingo and Why Does It Work?
Award the Best Education Startup at a 2014 tech convention, Duolingo is a language-learning platform (website and app). But what makes them different and why I continue to use it is because it is fun, the lessons are short and immersive, and the daily reminders are persistent.
And I’m not alone. There are over 200 million registered users across the world. If you get your friends to join, you can engage in peer-to-peer challenges.
The lessons can be completed in about 5 minutes or less. This means, you can finish a lesson during your commute or break.
The daily reminders (through the app and through email) are sometimes just enough of a push to get me to stop what I’m doing and do the lesson. And you must do a lesson every single day, or you lose your daily streak.
My Experience and Progress
I’ve been relearning Spanish for years so my comprehension is much better than Chinese, which I just started last week. Here’s a screenshot of my Spanish course. My comprehension is right around 50%, which is a pretty accurate appraisal of my fluency.
And here’s my Chinese course screenshot. As you can see, my fluency has not been determined yet, as I had just started the lessons.
By completing a lesson, you add to the progress bar. But over time, that progress bar will diminish, as it assumes you will forget. So the progress bar reminds you which lesson categories are weak.
To get the full benefit of each lesson, you will need to listen and speak. So it’s best to do the lessons in a quiet place. Sometimes you need to listen and write what you hear.
Other times you will translate or match words.
Is It REALLY Free?
The app and website get revenue from advertisements and test certifications. As long as you are ok with the ads (which appear when you’re all good and done from the lesson), then the service remains free. The ads are not intrusive or disruptive to your lessons.
For me, Duolingo has been a very useful tool. I’ve tried physical flash cards (they’re not convenient) and watching dramas (which I don’t really like watching), but these have not been as effective for me. Though I recently saw an interview with BTS member RM saying that he learned English from watching Korean-subtitled episodes of the sitcom ‘Friends’.
But if you (or your child) have a limited amount of time (and money) and don’t want to sit through hours binge watching a show, Duolingo might be a great resource to start with. Of course, you can also supplement your learning with other tools and resources as you gain more fluency.