Developer: Duolingo
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Previously a free language-learning website, Duolingo has brought its ramified learning tool to iOS, and it’s a pretty great idea. One that’s sure to prove beneficial to those trying to learn a new language.

The idea behind Duolingo is that it offers up bite sized and, crucially, fun ways to learn a new language. Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese are catered here, so there’s plenty to sink one’s teeth into. It’s possible to learn all of them at once, by switching between them at regular opportunities, but I wouldn’t advise it. Instead, as the app suggests, Duolingo is geared towards daily practice and progression.

Offering up a flow chart of sections, users start out with the basics such as learning the words man, woman, child, along with any relevant gender nouns to go alongside that, followed by other terms such as learning or playing. This is all built up to eventually lad to food, animals, plurals and other key phrases. Users might not end up completely fluent in their chosen language, but there’s a great foundation of knowledge here.

Learning such terms is done through a series of questions that offer visual, audio and written clues. Early questions might offer up a photo of a person to indicate their gender, for instance, while later ones might involve listening to someone speak a phrase and the user must determine how to spell it. Eventually, users find themselves having to translate entire phrases.

It all works pretty well and proves satisfying to progress through. Much like a game, players are given a certain number of lives in which they are able to make mistakes before having to restart the section.

Give it some time and it all starts to sink in. Like with learning any language, practice is essential but Duolingo makes that practice fun. It’s amazing what a levelling up and experience based system can do to one’s motivation. It’s great to see it be used for a good purpose.

Posted in: Education, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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