So, I figured it’s time to focus on one of the items on my checklist, that being “learn.” Right now I define that as completing the default daily goals in both Duolingo, a language learning program, and Elevate, a brain training app similar in purpose to the better-known Lumosity website. Both of these are on my phone, and so for about fifteen minutes a day I’m doing a small part to improve my mental skills and to learn another language.
Duolingo guides you through the basics in a teaching model similar to what Rosetta Stone uses, with an immersive learning experience that help you to figure out correct answers on your own with no prior teaching. As you progress, the app considers your aptitude in each one of many different areas of learning the language. In Spanish, the language I’m currently working on, Basics 1 leads to Phrases leads to Basics 2, and so on. Each area of learning has multiple days’ worth of lessons to cover, and lessons give experience points, similar to role-playing games, with the default daily goal set at 20 XP. (Most lessons will give 10 XP on your first completion.) Spanish is exceptionally thorough, with 64 discrete areas of study to complete the course.
However, if you don’t keep at it, your competency fades in certain areas, and you need to take refresher courses in your weakest words in an area of study in order to re-establish full competency in that area. Even with consistent use, the occasional refresher on certain areas the app recommends is common.
I’ve been away from Duolingo for almost two months, so my recent study in this area has all been old material I’ve been regaining competency in. I should finish with that in the next day or two and start in on new material after that.
I can tell you it helps. Living in Texas, there’s a fair amount of Spanish signage around, and I’m starting to understand more and more of what I read in my everyday life. It’s a cool feeling, and I hope that I can be conversational in the language once I’ve completed the full course. Still have a long, long ways to go, however.
Incidentally, the title of today’s blog post translates to “the library is very manly.” It was one of two Spanish phrases that my wife’s high school friend taught her, the other (Spanish since forgotten) is “your mother is under the table.” The first goal of this education is to be able to turn to her and tell her what the Spanish is from my own learning, and not from Google Translate. Because I’m mature like that.