Free Way to Learn a Language Before Traveling Somewhere

duolingo reviewWhen I travel to a country with a language I’m unfamiliar with, I try to make sure I have some key phrases down.  For a while, I had tried Rosetta Stone which, in addition to being expensive, didn’t emphasize the types of words I wanted to learn quickly.

I can still say “the horse is in the airplane” in many languages.

Then I found a free app called DuoLingo.

DuoLingo is a video game that helps you learn a language.  You have to complete levels to progress and it doesn’t let you cut corners.  It was all over me about le, la, and l’ in French, whereas Rosetta Stone offered me the correct articles when I was making choices.

duolingo review

DuoLingo also isn’t just for English speakers.  There’s a variety of language speakers they have support for:

duolingo review DuoLingo Languages



The app keeps track of your lives and your experience level.  I’ve been slacking on my French (which I should know better in general but don’t).  My mom signed up for the app, so now she can see when I’m not practicing.  I get a good nudge when she mentions that on the phone 😉

Unfortunately, the language options are still limited for English speakers, but they are still releasing more languages.  They are relatively new, and just released Dutch.

duolingo review languages

I’m hoping they release Russian at some point, though I understand that would probably be too tricky with the iPad keyboard.  Anyone more knowledgeable than me know how easy it is to switch language keyboards on the iPad?

Speaking of iPad, DuoLingo is available in both the iTunes and Android stores.

And does it work?  My mom was impressed that I could speak French enough to get around when I was in France.  Most of the time, I had to explain things in a wordy way but I got my point across.  Sometimes, I was writing checks I couldn’t cash when I started sentences.

I confidently ordered the duck at Cafe Kleber (My review is here;  Pizza in Motion also reviewed it here).  The waitress responded with a flurry of words and I stared blankly back at her.

My mom laughed and explained she was asking what sort of preparation I wanted, medium?  I said “not red?”   My mom quickly saved the day with the proper response.

But DuoLingo is pretty cool and I enjoy playing it.  But the guilt trips (from the app’s reminders that I haven’t logged in, not my mother) definitely make me feel guilty!

duolingo review overview


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. Settings > general > keyboards (or international) > add new keyboard

    And then to switch btwn keyboards you’ll have a key with a globe between the key that switches to punctuation and the space bar and you just press that.

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