1,000 Days of Duolingo

This morning I achieved a milestone by reaching the mark of having used the language-learning app called Duolingo for 1,000 days in a row.   I have tried to create a long-running streak before, but I was always so busy I would forget to use it on a given day and, well, there went my streak!   THIS time I was determined to make it a rock-solid habit, so I made sure that I used the app and got 50 experience points (which the app considers to be the INSANE level of a daily goal) before I even got out of bed.   This is what has made the achievement possible.

One of the reasons why I like Duolingo is because it is already changing and always improving.    They keep adding more languages, and sometime last year, they added an additional challenge by adding 5 levels of difficulty to each language.   I had finished the all the skills in the “skill tree” for several languages (Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Chinese), and now I am simultaneously going back and working on each language to get each to level 5 and learning some new languages from the beginner level (Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Korean).

Another set of features they have added are new modes of learning, so you can read stories, or listen to a series of podcasts in the language you are studying.   They have rolled these new features out for Spanish, and they are seeing if they are popular enough to create the other languages.

The basic feature of Duolingo, however, are the “skill trees” that focus on one skill at a time (such as a category of vocabulary or a grammar point), starting from the simplest (present tense) and going to the most complex (the conditional and subjunctive tenses).  They have added skills to the most popular languages (such as Spanish and French) and will probably continue doing this with the other languages as well.

In short, it never gets boring because if you complete a skill, a level, or an entire language, there will new content to learn the next week.   It’s why it has been such a pleasure to go on this journey of 1,000 days.

Why am I so into this language-learning app?   I’ve been a lifelong fan of learning foreign languages and about cultures of other countries since I was the age of 6.   My uncle came to visit and he had been living in Honduras for several years as an engineer.   He was divorced, but remarried a woman from Honduras and he was bringing her to meet my parents (he was my mom’s younger brother).    I was amazed at his ability to speak one moment in a way that I could understand, but then he would suddenly turn to his wife and speak some sort of gibberish that I couldn’t.    I started asking questions and he explained to me that he was speaking a different language.   I had heard of other languages, but never saw a person who could switch effortlessly between them.  I vowed that some day, I would like to be to do that too.

And so I did.   I studied Spanish in high school, French and German in college, and Japanese and Chinese in graduate school.   My problem is keeping them from fading in my mind from lack of practice by trying to practice them all at once.   It seemed an impossible task to organize given my busy life until Duolingo came along and it enabled me to do this every day, and to enjoy myself in the process!

So if you sign on to the Duolingo app, add me as a friend.   My real name is Jerome Rowley, but my username on Duolingo is Luojieli, because that is my name in Chinese!


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