So, as I mention somewhat regularly on here, I’m currently learning Spanish from Duolingo. It’s an immersive learning experience somewhat similar to what you receive from the Rosetta Stone, only the app is free and admittedly doesn’t go into quite the detail available for hundreds of dollars through Rosetta Stone. (There is an excellent comparison of the two learning programs on lifehacker.com here.)
I’m nearing the end of my course. Spanish in Duolingo has 59 subjects to choose from, all taught in a specific order as one lesson will build on the ones previous, which makes perfect sense. Most subjects have as many as 10 lessons in it, so there are hundreds of individual lessons to learn. Starting tomorrow, I’ll start subject 54, Verbs: Modal. There are only two lessons in this particular subject, and then I’ll move on to unlock two more subjects.
I’m finding that it does lack the pure immersiveness of Rosetta Stone, as many of the lessons will repeat certain phrases which my phone has learned through its autosuggest feature, and Rosetta Stone starts teaching you the language in a way to make you think in that language pretty much right off the bat. But I am finding that I can read much more Spanish than I could when I first started the program, and that on occasion I can catch a snippet of conversation in passing. I’m still not up to carrying on a conversation in Spanish – I’m very shy of what I have and haven’t learned – but hopefully one day I’ll become more conversational. At this point, I’m happy that I can at least read some Spanish and can suss out the occasional new word from context. It might not lead to true fluency, but it is a start, and you can’t beat the price tag.
Would I recommend Duolingo to others? Well, that depends. If you’re mission is fluency, I would sink the money into Rosetta Stone. If your interest is more casual, Duolingo is a perfect option to become acquainted with a language. I’ve been happy with it and I’m looking forward to trying out another of the 21 languages Duolingo offers once I’m done with Spanish.