Duolingo log: week 1


As a part of the TESOL degree that I am involved in, I considered a writing module that encouraged my students, the ELT teachers of the future, to attempt to learn a language using technology. The main idea was to identify the learning support that is available to their prospective students, as well as to emphasise the role of the human teacher.
It was a nice idea but it needed testing, so I am bravely stepping up to the mark and trying to learn a language using only electronic means. I thought it might be a hoot (vile) to share my experiences online, thus making a case for or against e-learning, as well as pushing the experience into a sort of meta-continuum where I learn alone using just an Internet connected device, then I blog the results into the lonely void, using the same device.
The most famous app for language learning at the moment is Duolingo, so I will be using that and the language I will be attempting to learn is Portuguese. I have never studied it before and am not sure that I know any Portuguese speakers well enough to put them through painful attempts at conversing with them. Conveniently, I  am going to Portugal on holiday in May and so this will act as a summative assessment of my learning. Oh good grief…
This week I have completed the first basic unit. I speak Spanish to an intermediate level and I’m already confused by the contrastive features between the languages. I am doing well enough at this level, but I am wondering how I’m going to get to grips with the pronunciation. Portuguese seems less phonetic than Spanish, although the sounds I am hearing are similar to the counterpart words in Spanish but the spelling is significantly different. Nonetheless, a nice easy start and I’m enjoying gathering lingots.