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In an earlier post, I shared my initial explorations with Duolingo. I have now completed a 384-day streak and think that I have a reasonably good idea of its strengths and weaknesses. Here are some things that I learned.

  1. For me, there was value in upgrading to the $60 per year version of Duolingo Plus. I preferred not to be distracted by ads, my investment helps keep it free for others, and a number of the additional options proved useful as my motivation for a while moved away from relearning the language and instead to “gaming.”
  2. If I chose to continue seriously using it I would add the Spanish keyboard to my machines.
  3. I noticed quite a few differences in my learning experiences when I was using my MacBookPro laptop and when I was using my iPad or iPhone. The latter allowed my dictating my responses when translating Spanish to English faster and with fewer errors.
  4. I enjoyed “following” and being followed by other Duolingo users (and “competitors”). I chose to identify myself both with a photo of me and my dog Rollie and with my “professional identity” ( i.e. a former university professor).
  5. Through regularly monitoring the progress of competitors on the “Leaderboards” I was able to “engineer” winning first place two weeks and 2nd place one week. That last competition was fascinating in that I suspect the winner may well have been a “bot” programmed to make me spend more money (one can buy additional minutes on Duolingo Plus in timed competitions).
  6. The “stories” exercises are clever,  engaging, and often quite funny. Alas, I have exhausted them.
  7. It is very easy to let this program seduce you into gaming rather than focusing on language learning.
  8. It is more “fun” than its competitors.
  9. I’ll probably continue using it.
  10. I have a good sense of how it works and how I can make it work for me.