Ben's Logarion ☪


Duolingo Progress Update

I started using Duolingo way back in 2014, and since then it appears to be just something I do for fun as a hobby. Before that I never really considered language learning to be an activity I would engage in with regular discipline. Yes, of course I always liked learning languages and was intereted in it, but aside from a few classes or brief exchanges with friends, I was much too lazy to pursue it as a serious polyglot would. I did eventually learn to speak Persian through a bit of study and dedication, but that was more of an exception than the rule.

It also happened that 2014 was the first year I spent living abroad, and the place that I moved to was a much more multilingual environment than the one that I had grown up in. So not only did I discover Duolingo just then, but having to deal with multiple languages on a daily basis had become an unavoidable fact of life.

What Duolingo enabled me to do is discover the fact that dabbling in many different languages is fun and rewarding. Of course, there are a lot of dull people in the world who will warn you not to do this. "Just focus on one language! People shouldn't learn language Y, only language X! Don't waste time on a language you won't stick with long term and learn completely!" All this seemingly conventional wisdom is wrong for a number of scientific reasons, but I won't get into that. Ultimately they are all forms of discouragement, and an hour studying Finnish or Swahili is worth more than all words of discouragement combined. It's better to learn Klingon than waste your time convincing others or being convinced by others not to.

So the best thing about it was being able to try a lot of things and figure out what I like and don't like. While I used the app more or less regularly over the years, I didn't ever really bother to maintain my daily streak with dedication, usually losing it after a couple months. It was only last year when I decided to commit to regular daily use as opposed to spurts lasting a few months at a time.

By now I have done many courses in many languages, some harder for me than others. For all the time I put into Polish (more than any other language, in fact), I learned it the most poorly. Turkish and Esperanto were a breeze, naturally, and languages I already had some past familiarity with like Hindi and Arabic did not improve too much, while I found the courses easy. Duolingo is most effective for languages one has little to no familiarity with.

For the past couple years, I tried to a New Year's resolution type thing, with 2019 supposed to be year of Irish. I did work on Irish solidly for a few months, but ended up quiting it due to lack of motivation. Alongside Polish, Irish was one of the "hard" languages for me (harder than Polish, in fact). I still think of going back to it, but after spending the Summer and Fall making a push with Chinese and experimenting with odds and ends like Welsh and reviewing Hindi/Arabic, after much thought I decided to make 2020 the year of German.

German was one of the first languages I tried in Duolingo in 2014 and found it just a little bit too difficult to go all the way with. Years later after making progress in Slavic languages, revisiting German turned out to be quite easy and comfortable. So far it has already been over eight months, and I feel that I have made good progress.

The German Duolingo course is either the longest or second-longest course on the site (after or before Norwegian), and I am not even halfway through it. To complete the entire course with gold would probably take a couple years at least, but it seems worth the investment considering all that valuable content. I also feel from daily practice that the lessons are getting easier and easier, and hopefully one day I'll enjoy the comfort and familiarity with German that I do with Persian or Esperanto.

I have to admit, in the past I would get demotivated with German because it starts to feel a little too easy, and perhaps it isn't exotic enough for my tastes, but now going on with it has become the path of least resistance, and it's better to breeze through some German lessons than struggle over again with beginner level Chinese that has already lost its familiarity to me.

The temptation still exists to wander off into Romanian or do a bit more Finnish, which just came out a month or two ago, but I have been trying to shift my strategy into strengthening and reviewing what I've done before rather than embark on something completely new, but variety is the spice of life! I also never really gave Hungarian the chance it deserved, but perhaps another time.