EDIT 2017: Unfortunately, Duolingo has stopped the translation option and it’s not clear whether it might come back. Duolingo for schools is still an option!
EDIT 2018: Currently there are options to work with stories. It looks promising! Check out the Duolingo Lab where new ideas are being tested, including the stories.
Nearly three years ago I wrote my first blog post about Duolingo and since then it has been going from strength to strength. But I didn’t realise how much it has changed until I attended a webinar to become a certified Duolingo Educator.
One of the things I wasn’t aware of three years ago (probably because I hadn’t done much on Duolingo then) is the ability to translate text. Next time, when you’re bored working your way through the Duolingo tree but want to do some German work, check the “immersion” button (only available on the computer, not on the smartphone apps, and not for all languages yet). On the right hand side are some options for you to chose: levels, topics and whether you want to translate or proofread a text. There is bound to be a topic that you will find interesting. Have a look, even if you don’t want to translate yourself, you might find it quite interesting to see how others have translated sentences!
If you find it still too hard there are more options to practise your German by clicking on “words”. There you’ll see a (hopefully long) list of words you have learned with an indication of how well you know those words. To the right of those words, there is a further button “review flashcards” which gives you another way to practise those words.
If you mainly use your smartphone you can also click on the weights picture top right, which gives you a personalised lesson to improve your skills before you forget them.
In future you will also be able to take a test to show your German proficiency. At the moment Duolingo only offers an English test which is officially recognised by more and more companies. I believe they are working on a French version at the moment, so a German test will hopefully also be here soon.
What I as a teacher find most interesting is the ‘Duolingo for Schools’ option. I can track students progress on Duolingo and as a certified educator I can also give assignments, do lessons with students and let them practise words/ phrases together with me. Soon there will also be games to play.
If a child joins my Duolingo for Schools class, I can make adjustments so that the child only learns words and sentences suitable for children and not for adults.
I still think Duolingo is like Marmite. People from the UK know what I mean by that, for everybody else, Marmite is a food spread that people either love or hate – I, for example, hate it – nobody just says it’s ok, it’s always one or the other. Duolingo is a bit like it. I have spoken to many people who don’t like using it. In that case I would not try to persuade you to use it. If you don’t like it, use other sites to practise your German, there are plenty of other ways. If you do like it, you might already know everything I said today and / or you might be just as excited as I am.
If you have never tried it, give it a go! Apart from any future tests you might do one day, it’s completely free, so you can’t lose. It’s a great tool to use when teaching yourself.
If, on the other hand you would like a little help while using Duolingo, maybe lessons once a month or as and when needed, or if you would like me to set you weekly assignments or need any other help with your German journey on Duolingo, contact me and together we can look at some suitable and cost effective options for you.