How I Use It
This product is used best as a way to practice word acquisition and build fluency. It is very easy to use an implement, and what makes it particularly useful is that it presents information in a variety of forms with prompts that ask the user to: listen to target language and decode, provide word in target language based on the English equivalent, write what you hear, multiple choice, and pick and choose sentence builder to name a few. I would ask students to use this tool 10-15 minutes a day as a resource skill builder, and what makes it inciting to them is that is uses engaging graphics coupled with a leveled game approach. One of the biggest drawbacks of the app, however; is that there is little explanation of grammar rules. The app is based on the premise that the user will gain knowledge by playing through the experience, but I often find that there are many grammar or usage questions with definitions that are lacking.
Overall, I enjoy this tool and students are eager to engage in it. Duolingo is very easy to use, visually appealing, and the iphone app version is particularly great. Personally, I found that playing with the tool to learn an unfamiliar language gave me quick understanding and workability with some basic sentence structures and tools. I'm not sure how long a student would stay with the program in a self directed way. While it is fun and easy to begin with, it would take some structure to keep students on target in order to work through it. Additionally, as a teacher, there is no control over the content. Students can test out of certain sections of the program, but each level is set in it's content, so a teacher would need to plan ahead in orderto pair Duolingo with ongoing units.