Learning New Languages

I can only describe my brain as Pac Man always looking for Pellets of Knowledge. I have always craved learning new things. Things that are both interesting to me and challenging, like learning a new language.

I wouldn’t say that I am fluent in any language (probably not even English), but I try to know enough to get by when we travel.

My Great Grandfather immigrated from Austria when he was a young man. I spent a lot of time with him as a child and he taught me a lot of German along the way. Random stuff. I could count to 100 in German by about 7 years old and understood quite a lot of words. I didn’t use it much as I grew up, so my knowledge base faded a bit.

In my small High School, Spanish was my only choice for a foreign language so I took 2 years of it. I still do pretty well with it even though High School was a long time ago!

When we were planning our trip to Italy in 2015, I knew that I wanted to learn some Italian. After reading some reviews, I landed on the Duolingo app. The app is educational, challenging and kind of fun like a game.  I enjoy using it.

My language Task Bar

Duolingo is easy to use. I found it simple to jump into a quick lesson anytime. It is free and has 23 different languages that you can choose from. You learn words then build up to tenses and sentence structure.

Sample question

Each Lesson is broken into several sections. As you complete one section, the next one becomes available.

Available Lessons

The app encourages and Rewards you to continue reviewing completed lessons to reinforce those words.

Level Completed Notification

Some of the Languages have an interactive conversation bot that allows you to participate in simulated conversations. This is a great practice tool.

Conversation Bots

I worked on my Italian on the app for several months before our trip there.  When we were in Italy I found that I could understand all the important things.

For our 7 country trip last year I focused on learning French.  I actually completed the entire course.  Here is the hardest thing about learning languages though, dialect and speed of delivery by the speaker. So I read French the best, speak it ok, but struggle in real conversations to translate as fast as they speak. Something for me to work on. You should always be learning, right… I have discovered  podcasts where I listen to conversations in French and it helps with the speed of translation.

We just decided that we are heading to Portugal next. So I started Portuguese. I love learning Portuguese since I have good bases in Spanish and Italian. Portuguese words often are similar to one or both of those languages.

If you want to brush up on a language you learned long ago or learn a new one, I recommend trying the Duolingo app.





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