How I Use It
Duolingo is a terrific tool for students to use independently to reinforce six different language skills. With this app available on classroom devices, students work on levels specific to their abilities. Players set usage goals within the app, and receive reminders to practice daily. Different question types require students to work on reading, writing, as well as speaking and listening exercises, ensuring varied skills practice. That said, a disadvantage is that in order to enjoy the full benefits of Duolingo, students must speak while the app records and analyzes speech, which may be hard to do in the commotion common to many classrooms (especially if everyone is using Duolingo simultaneously!).
Overall, I found Duolingo to be fun and easy to use. The user interface is intuitive and clean, and the owl mascot isn’t too annoying. User progress is tracked and graphed via experience points. Money, known as Lingots, is earned for successfully completed lessons and can be used buy outfits for the owl and hearts, which are lost when questions are answered incorrectly. These features, along with the ability to compete with other Duolingo users, gamify the learning progress, hopefully increasing student interest. I appreciate that users start with either a placement test if they have some experience, or from the very beginning for those completely new to a language. Something that would make this app more useful is the ability to store multiple user profiles on the same home screen instead of having to click through a few screens to log users out. Additionally, if teachers could designate specific levels for students to complete through a shared classroom account, Duolingo would become an amazing homework tool or of use in flipped classrooms.