Recently, I’ve been working hard on learning German. One of the many aspects of my language learning regiment has included the use of Duolingo.
Now, there are a number of things to not like about it. First, while we’re told that immersive language is the best and easiest way to learn a language (and for good reason) its execution in software tools leaves a bit to be desired. Though Duolingo tries to overcome it through dividing lessons by grammatical concepts and providing notes with each lesson, there is a deemphasis on grammar. The expectation is that you will assimilate it. To remedy this shortcoming, I continue to reference my German grammar textbooks.
Another shortcoming, and this is a real problem, is the computer generated voice. For computer generated audio, I have to say I’m truly impressed. Nevertheless, not only am I left without a real world experience of how other humans sound speaking the language but the further you go the more difficult it is to make out what word is being said. Intonation and accentuation are necessary components for meaning making and understanding. And the program falls short here.
But, laying all this aside, I want to come to the purpose of this post: I love Duolingo. Sure, part of it has to do with the vocabulary building and the spaced repetition, but all of those things play second fiddle to the immersion section of their web app. Here, users upload German (or French, Spanish, etc) documents.
Once on the site, the Duolingo community engages with the readings they find interesting and go to work translating, reviewing, revising, and up voting the final translation. You even get helps automatically generated by Duolingo. Just hover over a word to find lexical glosses for you to chose from.
Once a translation is supplied, you can click on a sentence to see the answer revealed:
If you disagree with the translation, you can edit it to supply your own. Or you can click on the “Looks Good” button to up vote it and provide validation to the work of others.
What does this all mean? It means that you have an ever growing repository of free German to English texts that will aid you in your acquisition of the language.
You can even enter into the proofreading viewing option to have a diglot:
And the best part is that it’s all free. No more searching for German texts to translate. No more searching for diglots to check your work. Duolingo has it for you on their site for free. And, as you can tell, I’ve gotten into the Christmas spirit by translating through some of A Christmas Carol.
So, stop with your excuses and get to translating!