DuolingoHope you all had an excellent Easter break (staying well away from any obvious puns here). Now that we’re well into spring, it’s normally the time that people start to think about getting away, if they haven’t already taken a few days off.  I’m off to Barcelona in two weeks to catch a bit of sun, while preparing for which I came across our app of the week.  It’s called Duolingo and it’s for helping you learn another language in a quite innovative way.

A lot of language apps which teach you to speak words by using flashcards to help you link the mental picture of an image to a particular word.  This is a really great way to learn words and start putting them into use, but sometimes people learn in a different way and need a slightly different system to help them speak another language.  Duolingo gamifies language learning, by turning every level into a set of playable games with hints and tips to guide you through.

You need to pass each level before moving onto the next one, with a graphically led UI it feels very much like a well designed educational game.  Divided into well thought out sections, you progress through each one and pick up bonuses for doing well and loose lives for getting the answers wrong.  You need to get to the end of the level without loosing all of your lives to progress onto the next one.  At various intervals there is a Test Out option which gives you a much more in depth test than at any of the other sections in the app.

Languages available include Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese; giving you plenty of chances to learn a host of new languages.  It’s a completely free to download and use app, with no hidden charges, which is actually one of the most interesting parts of the app.  This video, in a roundabout way, explains how the app makes its money – from teaching people another language and at the same time getting them to translate individual sentences from foreign language websites.

Duolingo is a great app, it makes learning another language really simple and it’s completely free.  I would thoroughly recommend downloading and giving it a go if you’re taking some time away one day soon.