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:: Learning French via Duolingo ::

Learning French via Duolingo

Jan 5, 2014, 3:44 PM

After reading about the acclaimed language learning game, I decided to try out Duolingo during my Taiwan break in December. Duolingo is a free language-learning and crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that, as users progress through the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and other documents.

Since my company is a French company, I reckoned that French would be the most appropriate language to learn. The first few modules of the lesson revolved around the basic words such as "La", "Le", "Les", "Homme", "Femme", "Fille", "Garcon" - really basic words that would allow me to form a basic sentence. It then slowly progressed to "Je", "Tu", "Nous", "Elles" and others. For some reasons, we had to learn a few fruit words in the beginning, such as "pomme" and "orange". Probably to form the word - An apple is red, translated to "La pomme est rouge".

I found the masculine and feminine distinction rather difficult to remember, as well as the different verbs, such as "mange", "manges", "mangent", "mangeon". The French pronunciation is also audibly different from that of the English language, and I had a hard time trying to decipher words just by listening to them. Since the "s" sound is not distinctively pronounced, it was not easy to distinguish between:

"Elles mangent une pomme" and
"Elle mange une pomme"

I have gone through some food words, some animal words and some colour words, and while I doubt I would be able to get by in France or Quebec with fluent French, it was still nice to have a few "aha" moments where I realised why some words are the way they were. For one, now I realised why the brand Baleno is called thus - the French word for whale is Baleine.