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I’m constantly trying out new apps, especially free ones, but many tend to be glitchy and disorganized.  Over the past year I’ve been trying to find some travel related apps and one that I came across was the free Duolingo app.

Duolingo is a foreign language app that’s actually intended for kids but the owl mascot looked adorable so I thought I’d give it a try.  The app is compatible with Apple, Android and Windows phones and tablets and includes DOZENS of languages to learn:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Chinese
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Irish
  • Danish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Esperanto
  • Norwegian
  • Ukrainian
  • Russian
  • Polish
  • Welsh
  • Greek
  • Hindi
  • Hebrew
  • Vietnamese
  • Hawaiian
  • Arabic
  • Romanian
  • Czech
  • Swahili
  • Indonesian
  • Hungarian
  • Esperanto
  • Navajo

I started with German but then had the grand idea of adding French which thus far has turned out to be a miserable failure.  It turns out that French is a REALLY hard language for me to learn.  I mean, “enfant” (child) and “enfants” (children) are pronounced exactly the same! I have a feeling I’m going to be giving up on French soon.

No matter what language you choose to learn the Duolingo app is set up in the same manner.  There are various “courses” each with 2-6 lessons to be learned.  Each lesson focuses on a group of words to learn before moving on to a new lesson.  Mastering a full course opens up a new one.

Duolingo App
Duolingo courses

 

Basics 1 and 2 come first, followed by courses like Phrases, Food, Animals, etc.  Right now I’m studying Adjectives and Present Tense Verbs but the Travel category is a full 14 courses away, down in the more advanced section of the app.  I fear I won’t reach that level before our trip in May but at least at I can say “The fly is eating the bread” in German.  Totally useful, right?

 

Duolingo App
Duolingo lessons that show the group of words you’ll be learning

There are various ways that the Duolingo app teaches a foreign language, all of which are easy and fun.  There are matching games, translation typing, speaking via your tablet’s microphone and sentence completion.  Each lesson has a minimum of 17 questions and a completion bar at the top.  If you get a question wrong your bar doesn’t move and you have to answer another question.  If you need help you can always click on an unfamiliar word for a hint.

Duolingo App
Sentence translation with a group of words to choose from

Throughout the app you earn Lingots, Duolingo currency that you can use to buy snazzy outfits for your owl or to unlock special lessons for your language.  I unlocked the Idioms lesson for German but idioms are a little difficult to understand for a foreign language and I haven’t managed to complete the course yet.

Duolingo App
Lingots Store

Duolingo App review

 

The Verdict:  The Duolingo app really is a must-have for your traveling needs, whether it’s for you or your kids.  The food course is one of the first ones offered so it makes ordering at a restaurant much easier and locals always appreciate it when you try to speak their language.

The only disappointment is that courses that are important to me like “Numbers” and “Travel” are waaaay down the course list and will take forever to reach.  It seems to me that “Numbers” should be ranked much closer to the top as it’s one of the basic things you need to know when traveling abroad.

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