400 days of Duolingo !

Bonjour !

So here we are , once again traversing the exciting path of learning a foreign tongue ! And today marks a significant milestone in this journey .. 400 days ! After deciding one fine day that I would start learning French , I am still on track , and the one most surprised by that fact is none other than me !

If you have known me personally , even for a short amount of time, you will understand that I love exploring new things ! Art, music, literature, cinema, games, comics ..you name it .

What you might not know is that this is not the first foreign language that I attempted to conquer. First was Japanese, which seems a natural choice for anyone who watched anime in their teens ! I had mastered hiragana and katakana after months of painstaking repetition, mnemonics and sheer will power ! I went through a hodgepodge of resources , YouTube , the first 2 units in Rosetta Stone, about 10 lessons of Pimsleur Japanese 1 and some text books .. It was in no way organized or disciplined, and ultimately let to that path disappearing into the great clouds of procrastination.

Ooh, and then came Dutch ! I managed to slog through 3 levels of Dutch on Memrise between 2018 and 2019 . And the reason , you ask ? I had just moved to the Netherlands, floating at the western edge of Europe. It was initially a daunting prospect, moving to a country where the language spoken was not something that I was familiar with. I wanted to be prepared , with at least enough skills to survive and converse with people.

However, the reality is much different here . A pleasant surprise you’ll receive is when you hear everyone speak English to some degree . Instead of the full immersive Dutch experience I was expecting, it was more of a lukewarm “Can you please speak in English” situation most of the time. With the great clouds of Procrastination joining forces with the every gloomy weather in the Netherlands, this also turned out to be a failed enterprise. C’est la vie !
I was a little disappointed when I couldn’t get a spot in the corporate Dutch course at my office, because it was overbooked! But slogging on my own, I didn’t know where I went wrong, as I kept forgetting the words soon enough.

Let me not shift the blame this time. I clearly understood that plain memorization didn’t work in the long term , when it comes to learning a language. Also, there were some half hearted attempts at picking up Japanese again while learning Dutch, and that lead to much confusion recalling words .

Finally I had enough. One fine day, which as you know by now – 400 days ago ,I installed Duolingo and began my journey afresh. I haven’t looked back since, and the gamification of the process has kept me on track , constantly remining me every day ! I would definitely recommend this approach to learning a language.  You can and add me as a friend on Duolingo from here [https://invite.duolingo.com/BDHTZTB5CWWKTGWTPTO3IYGDUE ]

There , there. I am not going to market Duolingo and say it is the only way you can learn a language. It is certainly not the only one out there. And I must admit I have also been watching series in French on Netflix , taking time to read French comics and generally spending at least 15 mins a day on French.

But here are MY observations, which can help you learn a language effectively.

  • Choose a language. A single language. Don’t do many at a time.
  • Learn basic vocabulary and keep doing exercises till you can differentiate the words in the language.
  • Try to watch some TV series with subtitles [ kids shows maybe?]
  • Read comics in that language . [ if you are interested in comics]
  • Pair up with friends , keep each other motivated.
  • Spaced repetition, preferably via an app helps a lot.
  • Follow a learning plan , because it makes things organized and easier to understand
  • Keep some time in your day, like when you wake up or before going to bed for practicing the language.

And that is all I have to say regarding my journey and my experience with learning languages.  I am still a humble beginner , always ready with my “plus lentement” and “pardon” . If you have some tips of your own , or maybe you are fluent in French, you can always share your thoughts with me in the comments !

Au Revoir ! Bonne Journee !


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