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learn a languageIf you’ve ever tried to learn a second language, you know that it’s never a bad thing to have many ways to try to learn. The internet has given us some fantastic tools for language learning, and Duolingo is the latest site to give it a go. It’s just come out of closed beta and is now available for everyone to use, after being the talk of language learning communities online for months.

Duolingo is currently teaching German, Spanish and French for free to anyone who wants to learn. The site is kept free by getting students to help with translating the web as they learn. As for the lessons themselves, they’re really easy to understand and are broken down into manageable pieces to help you learn.

Sign Up & Social Connection

You can sign up for free to Duolingo with an email address, Facebook login or Twitter login. Of course, whichever you choose, Duolingo then encourages you to connect Facebook and Twitter in order to interact with your friends via Duolingo.

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Each user chooses a primary language to learn, but it’s possible to learn multiple languages with Duolingo. Simply click in the top-right corner and switch to the language you want to learn today. Duolingo will keep track of how much you have learned for each language.

How Does Duolingo Work?

Duolingo essentially takes you through step-by-step lessons to teach you the basics of a second language. It will teach you everyday sentences and useful words for situations, rather than dwelling on the grammar involved. This is great for developing your working language vocabulary, but not perfect for developing a higher-level understanding of the language. That said, most newcomers to a language really just want to jump in and get a feel for it, learning as much useful language as possible in the shortest amount of time. Duolingo will be perfect for these new learners.

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Like many online language learning tools, Duolingo does not allow you to jump ahead to different lessons. You can, however, choose to work on different paths up to a point before revising the things you already know.

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Find out more by watching the Duolingo video.

Translation As Practise

In order to be doubly useful as a business, Duolingo aims to translate websites using student translators. This is one of the reasons that translating is a large part of the student’s learning process at Duolingo. The other reason, though, is that translating short passages of text is such a great way of reinforcing your language lessons and testing your comprehension.

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Within Duolingo, you translate really short 2-5 word phrases which are somewhat out of context. The only context you have to place it in is a short summary of the article you’re translating from. In order to gain translation points, and practise your language skills, you pick the phrases to translate from a list.

Each translation list is made up of phrases chosen with your individual skill level in mind. All users can re-rate the difficulty of a phrase whenever they come across one. Users can also rate the overall document itself, so that the better articles are offered for translation more often than the others.

Questions

Duolingo has a well organised questions section where students are encouraged to ask questions about the language they’re studying. Anything goes as far as questions are concerned: grammar, word usage, exceptions. You can search the questions, answer other people’s questions or post your own questions. When you post, you can choose a category for your question to ensure it gets seen by the right people.

Reminders

One problem many students have is that they forget to practise their skills. Duolingo lets you choose whether to be reminded to learn more of your chosen language on a daily basis or not.

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More Language Learning

If you’re a keen language learner, here are some more articles you’ll enjoy:

What do you like about Duolingo?

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