If you didn’t already know, my girlfriend Caroline is from the Netherlands. Thankfully for a lousy linguist like me, her English is to a native standard. Whilst this is an amazing skill of hers it has meant that I haven’t put enough* effort in to learn Dutch.
Things are about to change! I’m ready to roll my R’s and tackle the famously challenging Dutch language. Thankfully we are in the 21st Century so I can skip night school and turn to my trusted iPhone to learn. Duolingo is my app of choice and I am going to document my learning journey on this page.
Learning Dutch on Duolingo
Week One on Duolingo (5-11th August 2019)
So, here we go! It’s time for me to download the app and begin met leren. I have opted to stay on the free play of Duolingo for the first week to find my feet and see if it’s the app for me. There is a 7 day free trial of Duolingo Plus so I imagine I will give that a go in due course!
It has taken a couple of minutes to get setup with Duolingo and select the language I want to learn (Dutch in case you hadn’t realised yet!). Couldn’t have been simpler!
The lessons through you straight in to images and word-based exercises. A picture of a man, a lady and two children are on the screen and you need to pick, “de man”. I got this right, just. Duolingo is broken down to bitesize lessons so you feel like you are progressing fairly quickly even from a standing start.
Anyway, within a few minutes I’ve got to grips with basic words to describe family relationships. It’s time to add eating and drinking in to the mix. As part of the education system that Duolingo have built, you will find yourself writing out very odd sentences.
“I am a child and the man drinks milk”
I’m not sure which part Caroline found funnier; the bizarre sentences or my attempts at speaking back to the app.
I have set a goal for 20 minutes of learning a day. This is one of the more committed goal settings available in the app so feeling rather proud of myself. Now I just need to actually do it! It is worth noting that my 20 minutes will be cut short if I use up my 5 lives through incorrect answers. This is something that you can buy your way out of via the Plus membership though.
Week One Summary:
- I really like the intuitive interface of Duolingo
- Finding 20 mins a day to learn is possible
- I feel like I have made progress on learning the basics of the Dutch language
- Next time I eat an apple in the Netherlands, I can confidently tell everyone what I’ve just done
Week Two on Duolingo (12-18th August 2019)
The good news is that I’m still going! I have to say though that it has been tough to stay committed for 20 minutes a day. If it wasn’t for (too many) alerts from the app and via email then I think I would have easily missed some days.
In terms of learning, it was the week of plurals and some new vocabulary. The Duolingo method of teaching seems to be very effective at quickly learning new words and constructs. A mix of visual and verbal cues mixed in with repeition is helping me to start putting together sentences. A small but a fundamental step!
Competitive people rejoice! Duolingo has a leaderboard to keep you engaged and encourage you to put in that extra 5 minutes each day. I haven’t quite worked out how they arrange the rankings/groupings but I assume it is based on learners of a similar level. However they do it, I like it!
A short update from me this week but progress is being made and next week I hope to come back full of new language skills.