5 Lessons I’m Learning Using the Duolingo App

What changed learning Spanish this time around and how can this help self-directed learning experiences?

Yo quiero hablar español. (I think I said I want to speak Spanish.) For a long time this has been on my bucket list, especially when visiting Spanish speaking places and wanting to better understand the local culture, navigate instructions/directions, and share information.

So I decided to update my Duolingo app and begin again. But this time it is different. I feel energized by the practice. I am interested to get feedback from my husband and kids who took Spanish in school. To better understand the grammatical and verb tense rules. So what changed and how can this help guide self-directed learning experiences?

Here are the five takeaway lessons that can boost engagement, performance, and growth.

1. I had a desire to learn in the first place.

I am heading to Mexico in a few months and this time I wanted to make myself proud.

2. I gave myself a reasonable goal and time span

I wanted to learn enough words and practice enough speaking and listening so that I could be a functional novice on my trip.

3. I am benefiting from small, achievable lessons

I appreciate that I can spend a few minutes or a couple of hours if I am on a roll. At the end of each lesson, there are three evaluation criteria: number of points earned, time to complete, and percentage correct. Time to complete and percentage correct have 1-2 word descriptors such as “blazing” for time and “great” for accuracy.

4. I earn the points, regardless of performance

Assuming that I make it through the lesson. However, within the lesson, it circles back to my previous mistakes before I finish. I also use the strength move (barbels icon) to continue to review previous units, brush up vocabulary, and work on mistakes.

5. I am learning with others.

I can see that I am not the only one working through the experience. Being placed in a league where everyone is earning points together, seeing who is vying for the top spots makes this a little more fun. I do have a competitive streak in me, but also realizing that this is a low-key race because everyone is working at their own pace and for different goals.

What lesson would you add to the list? And feel free to toss me a grammatical rule or a novice sentence or too in your comments!

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Just as Allison advocates for personalized learning to be used by her clients, she practices it when engaging with her clients. It is important to Allison that she develop a relationship with those she pours into, preferring long standing relationships over quick, one-off sessions.

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