[Opinion] I did Duolingo for 700 days, and this is what I learned


Duolingo’s homepage used to determine the progress made for each learner.

Nicole Ochoa

I did Duolingo for 700 days, and I learned a lot about the app, and my chosen language of study, Spanish.

Duolingo is a website and app that helps teach you basic foreign languages. Spanish, Italian, French, and other Native languages are all included. It is free unless you pay for a premium subscription that gets rid of ads and an unlimited amount of “hearts” that excuses more mistakes within a lesson.

Upon opening the app, you get five hearts, or lives, and you start at the top. As you advance and pass levels, you advance within the language. For every level you pass, you receive XP, which allows you to compete with other learners on the leaderboard.

For some languages, you can practice through easy stories, podcasts, and the Duolingo forum. For every day you practice, you earn a streak, which is a count of the days practiced in a row.

I practiced Spanish on Duolingo with a 700 day streak. I started in March right before the pandemic and have continued with it.

I chose Spanish as most of my family speaks the language. I became motivated to continue to practice my Spanish so I wouldn’t get rusty until I saw them after quarantine. I started off quickly, passing tens of levels a day and advancing fast.

As it got harder, my motivation started to falter. I would only do one or two harder lessons a day as my hearts would quickly disappear from typos and wrong answers. I would rely on the podcasts, stories, and easy levels to continue my streak, which didn’t help me to advance my grammar and vocabulary as fast as lessons would.

The goal stopped being to learn and practice Spanish but to meet my streak. It became addictive in the wrong way, almost like a chore. 

It did, however, still have some fun to it. I especially got into the podcasts provided on Duolingo.

I would press play in the mornings while I was getting ready for school. While the Duolingo lessons took more of a vocabulary and sentence structure pose, the podcasts focused on real life situations.

Using both English and Spanish, it walks you through how to introduce yourself, order from restaurants, and even how to pay. These lessons are really useful as it makes the skills you learn transferable to real life. It also is an easy way to earn XP and use it to keep your streak alive.

When using Duolingo on the computer, it also has live talk. While risky, you can connect with a group of people around the world using Duolingo as well. From there, you can talk with them in their chosen language. I wasn’t as willing to try this as it is somewhat awkward talking to others and most of them are over the age of eighteen. It would be useful, but the lack of filters made me uncomfortable and unwilling to use it.

With that being said, the lessons don’t always explain why something is incorrect, just that you got it wrong. It makes it somewhat frustrating as you would get the same answers marked off again and again without understanding why.

The most helpful tool within this was going to the Duolingo forum. It is a place where you can post questions and talk with others online to figure out the right answer, but even then the information you receive is unreliable at best. 

So would I recommend Duolingo? Yes, I would.

With everything said, Duolingo has still helped me to grow my Spanish vocabulary and introduce a different type of learning from my phone. I would however recommend practicing with Duolingo on the computer as there are no hearts. This allows you to learn the language for a longer period of time without having to stop and refill your hearts. I would also recommend not to focus on the streak, as this takes away from the value of learning the language and turns it into a chore.

Practice with other mediums in the language you want to learn, not just strictly with Duolingo. This allows not only for diverse language building skills but it can also teach proper grammar and more vocabulary to add on with Duolingo.

Despite its flaws, it really is a good way to learn a language. It allows for easy vocabulary building, and its different voice actors allow you to hear a language in many different ways.

With that, I wish you the best of luck in your language learning, and to quote Duolingo, “15 minutes a day can teach you a language. What can 15 minutes of social media do?”