Finding My Language Learning Match

Right from the start, I’ve wanted to learn a language for my 50-by-50…but I couldn’t pick between French (my high school language and the language that held my heart) or Spanish, the more practical language for an American. I went back and forth…and back and forth. Now that I’ve decided it is time to get started, I stopped waffling and chose Spanish. Next up is to choose a method.

I am not opposed to classes, but fitting a class into my schedule would be tough. I’d rather fit a software program into my daily life in short bursts. First I did some research on the most popular programs, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Language101.com. Of the three, I far preferred Language101.com. It seems a good match for my learning style and what I am hoping to accomplish, which is learning the language fast enough to see progress in just a few months. I tried out their free trial lesson, and found it appealing.

You are given a phrase in English and a literal translation in English of the Spanish phrase. You are supposed to speak the correspondDuolingoing Spanish phrase. If you don’t know it, you request the phrase first. After saying, or repeating the phrase, you grade yourself on how well you did. Phrases are added and the program circles back to the earlier phrases, giving you a lot of practice and the chance to really learn the phrase before moving on. I especially like that it is using my feedback on how well I’m learning to either re-do the lesson later, or to move me on to more complicated phrases.

The biggest impediment to starting any of these programs is the cost. All are expensive, and Language101.com is the priciest. I decided that before spending any money on a program I should research free options. I soon discovered that there are several free language learning apps, and the highest rated is Duolingo. It is available online and also as an iPhone and iPad app. I decided to try it first on my iPhone. I often find myself playing games on my phone when I am waiting or when I’m killing time. Why not learn a language at the same time?

Within a few minutes I was able to download the free app and take the first lesson. I set myself a goal of spending 15 minutes per day learning Spanish, but I plan to do more than that. The app uses my phone’s microphone to assess my speaking capability and its speaker to give me the correct pronunciations for words and phrases. The biggest drawback on the phone is that I cannot add accent marks in the written portions. This app is well organized into lessons though, and highlights weak areas so that I can redo lessons as desired. I think it’s a good place to start.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and take advantage of what technology can offer to help you meet your goals!

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