Duolingo log: week 15

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With one week to go before the big ‘exam’, I’m maintaining the pace of my learning.
I’ve talked about my doubts about Duolingo, the frustrations with the method, my flagging motivation and all the rest of it ad nauseum.
I’ve also talked about achievements and the way that the app hooks you in an enjoyable way. I have a genuine sense of achieving… something. All all for free, which is a fantastic aspect of Duolingo.
I’m not sure whether I will continue to use it after then end of week sixteen but I am very grateful that Duolingo exists.

Duolingo log: week 14

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Since redoubling my efforts last week I’m getting more of a sense of progress. I am moving through the topics at a steadier rate and more seems to be ‘going in’.
With two weeks to go before the live test of my language skills in Portugal, it may not be enough, but I am feeling more confident. At least in my reading skills.  

Duolingo log: week 13

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With three weeks to go before we go to Portugal, I am doing an extra 50% more on the app each day. I have to get out of the mid-twenties doldrums (fluency, not age) and feel more confident in my Portuguese. As mentioned in yesterday’s post on Lingtwins, I am not averse to e-learning, I just have doubts about the Duolingo method.
Maybe *maybe* I can do it but I’m going on holiday with a huge advocate of Duolingo who is sure to judge me… or maybe I’m just terrified of being exposed as a fraud?

App Preview: Lingtwins

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For all the stuff said about Duolingo on this site, you may get the impression that I am averse to online learning.
I’m not but there is a lot to be questioned about language labs and many of these online apps seem to replicate systems that have barely developed since the earliest prototypes of the 60s.
The main argument is that there is no human element, which is quite a big deal, as it goes.
Lingtwins seems to address that by hybridising apps like Duolingo with Mixer, the Skype language exchange.
I have not yet signed up to Lingtwins and am waiting for the Android version due for release in June but this seems like an eminently sensible idea.
When you see the understated sales pitch

Lingtwins lets you
Complement formal lessons
Maintain language skills
Start a new language
Make friends

Something just seems right about the idea. A full review will follow in June…

Duolingo log: week 12

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This week I have been talking to fellow Duolingo users to compare notes on the long and lonely journey of app based e-learning.
This first conversation was with a polyglot who, at 19, puts me to shame as she speaks five languages to a high standard. Her reflections on using Duolingo for a few languages were not positive and she felt that there was too little stylistic freedom and insufficient grammatical rules provided within the system.
However, the second person that I spoke to, an IELTS tutor, was a lot more positive. He is currently at 47% fluency in French and, although he expressed doubts that he is genuinely that fluent, he felt that it has augmented his prior learning from spending a year in France. I mentioned the lack of rules and he pointed out that there are a number of rules, perhaps too many, but on the desktop version.
So today’s log was going to be a massive apology for whinging about how unstructured my learning had been on Duolingo. I was going to say that I had accessed my account on the PC version, found some meaty grammar and felt utterly churlish.
But I don’t.
I saw some conjugation tables and the like for words that I had already encountered, but little more than that. Okay it’s better than nothing, but the adult learner in me is crying out for more guidance. Maybe what I’m looking for is an app that learns for me?

The Guardian Vs The Guardians of Grammar

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The Guardian has been publishing some great stuff lately. Today they posted this article on spurious grammar rules. Within the piece, there is a link to Mona Chalabi’s excellent video on the impact of so-called grammar snobbery on everyone else. In their words:

Why is it that some people feel proud to be called grammar snobs? Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society.

Duolingo log: week 11

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Good grief, I’m glad that I didn’t set my students this as an assignment. Apart from what seems like an over-optimistic  percentile score, I have no way of knowing how learning on Duolingo could be assessed.
I’m dreading my practical ‘exam’ in Portugal in six weeks…

Duolingo log: week 9

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Prepositions has been the main lexical set this week and they are a challenge. It’s been fun but I’m not sure if I will be able to detect them in natural speech by the time I get to Portugal. I am sure I will struggle to use them accurately.

Eight tips for learning nine languages

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I enjoyed this article for Medium by Silver Keskkula. In a short article that is self-described as a ten-minute read, Keskkula mocks the myriad ‘quick tips for languages’ websites, provides a socio-political view on linguistics from his own personal experiences, manages to give some practical advice for language learners AND flogs his ‘Teleport Method’ too.
The Internet is yours for the day Mr Keskkula.

Language and personal development triumph for kids with EAL

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Today the Telegraph ran this story on Children with EAL achieving better results in school than those on free school meals. Maybe I’m just sensitive, but I am sensing an imminent UKIP backlash. “We’re pouring all of our money and resources into immigrants when good honest hard-working British children are being failed…” you know, the usual xenophobic drivel. Anyway, they shouldn’t be working, it’s illegal.
The Telegraph seems to quickly flit away from the subject, preferring to politicise the situation and represent objections to academies. Nowhere, *nowhere* does it give praise to the incredible achievements of these children, the good work of organisations like NALDIC and parents and teachers who are helping these kids to do so well.
So here it goes. Well done. For overcoming immense barriers. For supporting people who hoped to have a better chance in the UK and are making it happen. For improving the UK in a very positive way.