I have friends who swear by Duolingo, a free language-learning app, and say it’s the best way to learn a new language—better than a high school Spanish class, even. And that seems to be the consensus any place Duolingo is mentioned. And would you look at that? It just received a pretty nifty iOS 7 upgrade, so it looks better than ever.
Essentially a game-ified learning app, Duolingo awards XP (and takes away hearts) depending on your skill level. Become more fluent, get more points, and visa versa. Duolingo actually uses text from websites and asks you to translate them. Phrases are delivered based on your level of understanding; beginners get the really easy stuff, while advanced speakers get the hard stuff. It’s an interesting approach, but one that’s dynamic and evolving. And since you’re awarded (meaningless) points, you’re always encouraged to improve.
Right now, Duolingo offers courses in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian, and offers apps for both Android and iOS. According to Duolingo’s website, an eight week study suggests the app is more effective than a college semester, demonstrating the kind of value Duolingo offers. I can tell you I took Spanish in high school and don’t remember a thing, so I might just give Duolingo a shot.
The app is currently free, with no ads or fees attached. For a more thorough explanation on how the service works, check out the video below.