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Free, fun language lessons

By Rachel Cheung

Do you want to learn Spanish, French and German at the same time but find the cost of taking three language courses is too high? Are you too busy to attend the one-hour language course held in an inconvenient location? Do you find the ordinary language courses and teachers are too boring? If you have any of the above problems while learning a foreign language, Duolingo can help you.

Duolingo is a free language-learning website which offers lessons in six languages, namely English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.

Users learn a new language progressively according to topics in the skill tree of each level. Each lesson or topic comprises a number of “skills” or exercises to make sure users get a good grasp of the language.

In order to move on to the next, more difficult lesson, users are required to complete certain “skills”. Text translating, voice recording, multiple-choice questions and matching are featured in the “skills” to make sure users can practise reading, writing, speaking and listening. If users have prior knowledge of the language, they can skip through the topics in the skills tree by taking a test.

What is fun about Duolingo is that it turns language learning into a game. Against the colorful and lively backdrop, Duolingo lessons are like game battles. In each “skill”, users are given a several lives. If they answer a question incorrectly, a life will be taken away. A user has to repeat the task if they make a mistake and all the lives are lost.

On the other hand, users will gain skill points if they finish the lesson with lives remaining. They will then be promoted to the next level after earning a certain amount of skill points. There are currently 25 levels in a language. If you reach level 25, then congratulations! You have mastered the language.

Other than getting skill points, users will also earn Lingots, which is a virtual currency in Duolingo. For example, you will receive 2 Lingots for finishing a new skill and 1 Lingot for every 10 days on a streak. With Lingots, users can purchase virtual rewards in the game.

Duolingo encourages interaction with people who share the same interest in learning a new language. Users can connect to their Facebook accounts and compete with friends. You can see how many skill points your friends earn on the “Leaderboard” of Duolingo. If you encounter difficulties in learning, users can also raise questions on the discussion forum where native speakers or more advanced learners will reply to them promptly.

Duolinguo is free as it is run by crowdsourcing. The users can translate texts, which are uploaded by organisations such as CNN and Buzzfeed that pay Duolingo to translate them. At the same time, people can also rate and vote on others’ translations. In this way, users can polish their language skills and enjoy Duolinguo without paying a penny.

Don’t worry if you think you don’t have time to check out the Duolingo website. Duolinguo has launched its app for android and Apple mobile devices. Now you can learn languages anywhere and any time. If users do not have mobile data, they can download an hour’s worth of practice while connected to Wi-Fi and practice on the go.

If you want to learn a foreign language free and effectively, sign up now on and begin your journey right away.

Edited by Lindy Wong