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    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 4th 2013
     (11006.1)
    Duolingo

    So Duolingo is a website that teaches you a language for free, giving you points for practising and getting things right, and also - here's the twist - makes translating actual, online text a part of the "course material". So when you've gone through and learned one section, you go on to translate some Wikipedia page or some such for more points and to achieve "mastery" of that section.

    The way they keep it free is by charging for the translations that their users do. The result is not quite as good as a professional translator, but an order of magnitude better than a machine translation, and at a much lower cost than a professional. In other words: Websites get cheap translations, we get to learn a language for free!

    Their iPhone (also Android? I don't know) app is really nicely made as well but leaves out the pronunciation exercises for obvious reasons.

    So I'm doing this to learn French, a language that I sort of learned in school but never got good enough to use and subsequently forgot. What I love about not having a person or a CD teach me the language is that I go completely at my own pace. I hate it when I'm pushed further ahead when I don't feel ready which just leads to me getting nervous and forgetting everything. I take a LONG time and a LOT of repetition to make this kind of stuff sink in, so I'm easing into it. I registered a year ago or so, but kept falling off it. Hoping now to stick with it.

    As such, I'm making myself a goal. There are 80 or so modules with at least three exercises in each right now, which makes it... Let's say 400 exercises. My goal is to have finished all the exercises in all the modules by the end of 2014 and to have full marks on all of them by the end of 2015. Sounds conservative, but that's on purpose. I'm aiming for getting at least three hearts on one exercise per day. If I'm not ready to quit after achieving that, I'll spend the extra time doing their timed practise runs to increase my knowledge of the vocabulary I already have.

    Anyone else interested? Maybe you have a second language you need to brush up on or maybe you want to go to Italy and actually know how to do more than order an espresso? (that's my next goal! End of 2018?) Come join me!! :D

    Here's my profile. I don't think you need an invite to join, but if you do, chuck me your e-mail address somehow and I'll invite you.
  1.  (11006.2)
    Oooo signed up (followed your fb link :-) ) Really useful I hope (set the dd's up on it as well, dd2 already several bits in 0-0 )
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.3)
    It's really improved since I first joined up, there are so many lessons now! It's a bit crazy at first, because you don't get any introduction to anything, just get up and go. You can mouse over all the new words to see them, however, and you can take all the lessons as many times as you require.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.4)
    I've started using this to re-teach French to myself. I miss being able to speak and think in another language, and the simple joy of regaining knowledge is kind of amazing. Thanks for the heads up on this, Magnus!
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.5)
    Hm...I wonder...do they have Québécois French as well?
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.6)
    I think it's only the standard French at the moment, I'm afraid. Are they too different to learn one and then learn the other?

    Alan: Not a problem at all! Do add me!
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      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.7)
    They're not HUGELY different, but still different. I visited Paris years ago and spoke in Québécois French (which all Canadians are required to learn) and...they didn't like me very much.
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      CommentAuthortaphead
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.8)
    (Insert resident translator's grumbles about outsourcing free translations from learners. And yet, such a cool service. AMBIVALENCE IS MY NATIVE COUNTRY.)
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.9)
    Hahah, I would say that professional translators probably don't have anything to worry about, at least in the grand scheme of things. People just learning a language don't have the knowledge of the culture and background of both languages and won't be able to translate to the level needed for - for example - books, movies, games etc. Some of the stingier studios might look into this as a solution, though to be 100% honest, there are a lot of translators out there who should never be allowed near a film, game or book anyway, so this might be for the best. :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2013
     (11006.10)
    @taphead I'm with you... *grumbles*

    Also, it only has European languages, it looks like. I was really hoping for something keep working on my Japanese. When that one is down I think I'll move to Russian or German.
  2.  (11006.11)
    @Oldhat - it won't have been the Québécois french. Parisians are often like that to anyone from outside Paris, let alone outside france!

    Enjoying this thus far though... (DD2 is also doing it, and is doing far too well for my liking (mutter))
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      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2013
     (11006.12)
    I'm sorry, I'm a bit lost. What's a DD2? Are these your children? Hubby? I CONFUSE!

    Raz: They're expanding as they go along. They started late 2011 with only Spanish, so the expansion rate is actually pretty good! :) We might see Japanese before long, though I imagine the Asian languages would be more complex to implement.
  3.  (11006.13)
    Doing the German and really finding it useful.
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      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2013
     (11006.14)
    Littlepurplegoth, I don't know...I ended up with probably the only time a Parisian told me to just speak English because he preferred it to that French.
    • CommentAuthorFlxzr
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2013
     (11006.15)
    It's a long time since I've been in France but I'm led to believe that, at least in certain parts, they're extremely picky about foreigners speaking French. Makes no sense to me, I'd think making the effort is a good thing.

    I made the silly mistake of deciding to try learning Icelandic. Turns out it's one of the hardest languages about and, alas, not on this website.
  4.  (11006.16)
    @Magnulus sorry... dd2 = dear/dratted daughter no.2 ... (but I had a good lol at the thought of DP (the partner) doing this sort of thing, if it doesn't make a computer or a camera do something :-)

    Didn't say... I'm doing the Italian route first, I have people I can bludgeon into letting me practise on them that way...

    @oldhat that is quite some feat. 0-0
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2013
     (11006.17)
    If I had children, I'd be pushing duolingo on them early. Really cool that your DD2 is getting into it, maybe she'll become one of those language wizzes! She's in exactly the right age to start, so I hope she stays interested. :)

    Things are going well on my own at the moment. Another few days and I'll have caught myself up to where I was when I last fell off it. Silly time to fall off it, as it was just about to get to the FOOD!
    •  
      CommentAuthorNygaard
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2013
     (11006.18)
    Whoa. Thanks! This seems like a gameification that can actually work for me. Currently brushing up on my very, very basic French. Found some Facebook friends and acquaintances already in there that's been keeping this little gem from me, the bastards. Must catch up to them and crush all of their scores and hopes...

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