Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Языки



While Moscow shudders under ridiculous temperatures (expected to go to -30 this week) - now I know why Napoleon retreated - I'm hiding indoors as much as possible. When I'm not working, I'm catching up on my writing. The TV blog takes up a fair amount of time, and I'm polishing a few potential articles in the hopes of pitching them. We'll see how that works out.

However, dodgy writing careers aside, I've had an extremely productive week. I've always wanted to learn a whole bunch of languages, effortlessly communicating with all the peoples of the world. That dream has since come crashing down (I have a degree in Russian and struggle to buy groceries), but every once in a while I try to pick up a new language. Failed attempts include Swedish and Hebrew. This time, though, I think I've found a program that might stick - and it's a free smartphone app. Go figure.

The program's called DuoLingo, and no, they're not paying me. I have jumped into their programs with both feet. They don't have Russian yet, which is undeniably the most useful language to me right now. In fact, they don't have any non-Latin alphabet languages, though there are plans to add some later this year. (And if they ever offer Swedish, you know I'll be aaaaallll over that.) They do have French, which I sorely need to catch up on, and German, which I am really eager to learn. I also threw in Portuguese for the hell of it. Apparently, the app is supposed to take you to a B1 reading level, though I'm somewhat skeptical. It's a tad weak on vocabulary, and I have yet to see how it addresses some of the higher grammatical functions. There's also no measurement of speaking, though I assume there are plans for it down the line. So it definitely has its drawbacks, and shouldn't be used as your sole resource.

However, here's the best part - it's a lot of fun.  It challenges you, and configures its exercises in a way that really allows them to stick. They also have regular review exercises, plus supplementary material. I've already learned more German in the past few days than in any other my other half-assed attempts. Overall, it's an easy and interesting program that gives you a great framework to start from. I'm eager to see how it turns out as the lessons become more complex. Meanwhile, I have some learning to do. Die Frau isst einen Apfel!

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