In the days of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are stuck at home, longing to travel around the world. Whether it’s the streets of Tokyo, Japan, or the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, traveling allows us to broaden our horizons and experience new traditions. Although adventurous vacations have been put on hold for a while, there is still a way for those with wanderlust to explore new cultures through learning a language on Duolingo. Duolingo is a free website that allows learners of all ages to study any language from the comfort of their home. At the beginning of each language learning experience, the learner takes a placement test, determining where they should begin with the language. The curriculum is custom fit for everyone, from the extreme novice to a fluent speaker looking to brush up their skills.
The Beacon was eager to speak with some Duolingo users of all ages and inquire about their experiences with not only the language they are learning, but also how they have immersed themselves in a new culture. Ms. Boyle, who teaches Global Citizenship, frequently uses Duolingo to study Spanish. She stated, “I love Duolingo and practice my Español everyday. I annoy mi hijos, mi esposo y mis estudiantes (kids, husband and students) by sprinkling in Spanish in everyday conversation. I am watching a Spanish language show on Netflix right now, Las Chicas del Cables and learning to salsa dance with Zoom and YouTube.” Learning a new language can open up countless opportunities to learn more about a culture that has unique traditions and celebrations. Walter Payton College Prep student, Claire Petersen ‘21, spoke with the Beacon about her attempt at discovering more about her family heritage through Duolingo. “My family is from Russia, and I have always wanted to learn more about the Russian language. Last year, I began learning the language on Duolingo, and it proved to be much more of a challenge than anticipated,” mentioned Claire. Although the process of learning Russian was very difficult, Claire greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to discover more about her family’s history from the comfort of her own home.
One of the most important concepts about Duolingo is the fact that anyone, no matter if they are a child or adult, can put in the practice and see great results. Mr. Peek, who teaches Guitar, has experience using Duolingo in an attempt to learn both Spanish and German. He shared, “I was excited about the many free features the website has, and how easy it was to get started with the process of learning a new language.” It may seem impossible to learn the dialect of a country half-way across the world, but Duolingo makes it easy, fitting the lessons into the learner’s schedule. The Beacon encourages everyone to spend some time on Duolingo, learning a new language, and also discovering more about the many different cultures and traditions that make up our world.