Tag Archives: French

Languages – Duolingo 500

Duolingo 500 Days

I have just completed 500 straight days of learning languages online with Duolingo. Hooray!

I’ve been learning several languages for a few years now.

Duolingo Italian

I have completed the Italian and the French trees, but still pop by there most days to practice. I’m also learning German and have just started Spanish.

When you complete all the exercises at level one or with one crown then the little Duolingo Owl appears, draped in a cape of the country’s flag.

Duolingo French

Duolingo: Where you can learn such useful phrases as –

Italian: Non vedo il tuo dentrificio. I do not see your toothpaste.

I’m sure this must come up several times a day in normal conversation!

Of course, exercises get a lot harder as you progress and some things you just have to learn.

C’è qualcosa che non avrebbe voluto fare? Is there something that he would not have wanted to do?

I nipoti non le mancano. She does not miss her grandchildren. 

The second one is tricky because it kind of translates to ‘The grandchildren are not missed by her’, which is how I remember the sentence structure.

There are many other little quirks that are second nature to a native speaker, but difficult for a learner.

For fun I am also working through the reverse language tree for Italian and French. ie I am learning English as if I were a native Italian or French speaker. This gives me more of an insight into the actual learning process.

For example, assuming I am Italian, the text was:

Quanto è?

The three answer choices given were:

1. How much is it?
2. How almost does that cost?
3. How enough is that?

It is blatantly obvious to a native English speaker that the correct answer is 1, but it makes me realise how laughable the choices may be that I am struggling over, when learning Italian from English.

I’m not good at languages; French was my worst subject at school.  (Surprisingly, I was good at Latin, but since we did not have to speak it, I don’t think it counts!) 

It is best to practice something every day, even if only for a short time, rather than spending an hour once a week. You’d think I’d be fluent by now, but you’d think wrong! Still, I understand quite a bit, even if I cannot speak the language very well.

To practice something that you are not good at makes your brain work harder. It keeps the little grey cells going.

Use it or lose it!

 

La Belle Fleur

La Belle Fleur

La Belle Fleur

Five years of being taught the French language at an English Grammar school, and pretty much all I can say is, “Voici la plume de ma tante!” (Here is my aunt’s pen.) Now I rarely saw any aunts, but when I did, the opportunity never arose to use this useful phrase!

So these limited language skills didn’t help me much in Paris that summer, all those years ago. No-one seemed to understand me – or chose not to because I was English! Even the guy sweeping the street, after trying to understand my garbled French for a few minutes, replied to my final effort of, “Où est le métro?” (Where is the underground?) with directions given in perfect English!

So why are the English rubbish at languages? (or is that just me?)

I think it is because they assume that wherever you go in the world, the “natives” will speak way better English than you can ever hope to speak their language! So why bother teaching a foreign language well at school?