This is my second coming learning French. My first time learning the language was back in junior secondary school. I really wanted to learn French. I think that I can say the same for many of my classmates. But we had this ravishing beautiful woman who was our French teacher. Mrs. O was beautiful quite alright. But she had an acidic tongue. When we made mistakes, she tore into us: “Animals! Nincompoops! Imbeciles!!” French class was a regular dosage of verbal abuse.
I still remember her name. If she walks into this room now, I am sure to recognise her instantly. She is unforgettable. You see, it was a love-hate relationship. When it was time to cross over to senior secondary school, many of us simply abandoned French. The fear of Mrs. O again was the beginning of wisdom. Anyway, I have pretty much been away from French since then.
However, I am back to learning the language and I have a new teacher. Say hello to Duolingo, a mobile app that makes language classes pleasant and effective. Duolingo offers a series of lessons in various languages, so it isn’t limited to just learning French. The app provides spelling, composition, listening and speaking exercises. It requires an internet connection to connect to servers for the speech feature to work.
For example, it presents a French phrase or sentence for you to translate. But it also reads it out so you can learn the pronunciation. It tells you whether or not you got the translation correct without a rant or a string of expletives. When you complete one lesson, you are moved on to the next, just like it happens in regular school.
Duolingo is actually a very nice teacher. Even my son, who has had a not so good run with French in school, now uses it to practice the language. Hopefully, he will get better at it too. And I am hoping that at least I can attain a passable level of proficiency in this language that I have always loved.
Duolingo is available for Windows Phone and Android (and by extension BlackBerry 10) devices.