Most people here are at least trying to learn German – some take full on classes, some carry phrase books. It’s always a common topic for us and has become a social thing – whether it’s arguing whether we really need to learn the genders of animals over learning how to construct sentences, or talking about how the woman on the Michel Thomas tapes is really pretty stupid and needs to have her ears cleaned.
As we were talking about German a few months ago, someone recommended the site Duolingo to me. It’s a pretty new site, and is free (yippee!) I’ll go into more detail, but its learning method is great for the way I like to learn – I like to DO, not STUDY. It has very very little grammatical explanation, you just type what you hear, or see into the other language. I’ve been told that it is very similar to the Rosetta Stone method.
The reason why this amazing site is free is that you give back – in return for language skills, you use those skills to translate the web. From Amazon reviews to blog posts, you are given articles within your ability level to translate.
Lessons come in small bitesize chucks on topics like animals, food, accusative, plurals… and can be completed in a few days if used for the recommended time each day. In each practice you listen and read the German and write English, and also vice versa too. You can also give the answers verbally but I have that turned off most of the time.
There are also multiple choice questions like the one above.
When you get a new word, it lets you know. At any point (except in the tests) you can hover over a word to be reminded of the English.
A downside to this site is that it sometimes has really random example sentences. I guess that’s the fun of learning languages… It also learns from its users, so sometimes it has mistakes in the corrections, too. There is a questions section in each lesson where people can bring these mistakes up.
So you can see I got this one wrong – and it asks if maybe I was still correct. It’s still a pretty new website, so they are open to suggestions and corrections.
So in return for the lessons, you are given articles like the one above. You can still hover over the words to get reminders.
With only 10 mins a day, I can really improve my German ability. It’s a really great method for learning and it has a social aspect, too as you gain points and there are leader boards and so on. I am currently the only person out of my group who is (semi…) regularly using the site but I have a long way to go before I beat two of my friends from work!
Downsides include, as I said above, that it’s not a perfect programme and that the sentences are often repetitive or completely random sometimes. But also you can’t choose what you study so right now I’m stuck trying to pass through animals to get to the next level which would probably be more useful.
You can get Duolingo in German, French and Spanish. It’s free! So try it out! And if you do join, add me as a friend – my username is Kotoko!