Welcome to our new app spotlight series! We are excited to bring you this new content and we hope to have a good eye for what’s good and what’s not when it comes to apps. Using our ‘millennial’ mindset, we are going to strip back our favourite apps – showing you how we find them useful and how they could benefit your backpacking trips too! Let’s start with Duolingo.
How many times have you committed to learning a something new, only to find that the inconvenience of it all leads to you not fulfilling what you had initially hoped? Chances are it’s more than just the once – we know from our personal experience that priorities always take precedent and it’s easy to let new goals slip. That’s where Duolingo first rocks our socks. Convenience is key when it comes to learning new things, especially languages. Having lessons, that incorporate reading, writing and speaking on your phone or tablet means you have immediate access wherever and whenever you want it – a recipe for success. That ten minutes while you wait for your stop, Duolingo. That five minutes while you wait for you food to come, Duolingo. That 15 min… okay you get the idea. Seriously though, you’d be amazed at how much time you can put into learning a new language with this app, simple by committing time you would have otherwise wasted away on Instagram.
It’s not just the wherever or whenever with this little beaut of an app. It is the whatever too; with a current total of 18 language packages to get stuck into, whatever you are looking to learn it is likely that the option is there. You can tailor the app to work from your native language, so if your a native Spanish speaker English is going to be a course available for you to learn. There are a few lesser known and lesser used languages available; notably Irish and Welsh – two languages that have, in recent history been struggling to survive, so it is great to see that time has been spent to incorporate languages of this ilk to ensure they are here to stay! Duolingo run a ‘hatching’ community driven process as they develop new language courses, for example Hindi is currently sitting at 59% hatched – we’ll definitely be checking this one out when it hits beta.
One thing we particularly like about Duolingo is that it doesn’t focus to heavily on reading, writing or speaking and delivers the courses very much as a collective of all three. This is a great thing, let us explain why. When you’re out and about in your newly visited city, it’s likely you’ll want to read – be it a menu, a tourist leaflet or a traditional parchment, having the ability to understand what you’re reading is essential and Duolingo doesn’t forget this. Likewise, even if you think you can speak the language – your accent might not be so well honed. Think how hard you can find it to understand people with incredibly strong accents sometimes – the same goes for you! As well as that being able to jot down a few words in the local language can help a ton when it comes to asking for directions and no-one knows any English. Make sure you pay attention on this one. Lastly and probably most obviously, the app actually uses your device microphone to test your oral skills with your newly learnt language. As I have mentioned above, it doesn’t necessarily teach you all the nuances of how the language is spoken, but it does give you an incredibly good grounding in the principles.
We really like this app and have found it to be very useful not only for long-term language learning, but also to dust off a particular language before we arrive in a country where it is spoken. The app has an easy to use interface and offers a huge variety of courses that cater for all skill levels. The app also integrates social competition really well and you can soon find yourself competing with your bestie for the longest streak, but we’re to cool for that – we think…
In all a great app and more importantly it is free – so no extra costs to learn that language you’ve always wanted to. Now what are you waiting for?! Go and get learning.