As of today, April 12th, I have completed a 567 day streak on Duolingo, and I have every intention of continuing my daily language practice on the user friendly app. I began this streak with Japanese and Spanish as my daily languages, and added Portuguese at the beginning of March because I want to have some familiarity with the language when I visit Portugal in May. Duolingo is an excellent app for brushing up on languages or even learning a new one, and Duolingo Plus is only $84 per year. For that price, you can practice as many languages as you’d like.
I have practiced a bunch of languages, besides the ones I mentioned previously, on Duolingo over the past several years (French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, and Hawaiian), and I love the fact that I can jump back into practicing any of those languages if I’d like. Though I took French and Latin in high school, I am rusty in those languages, and I only know a small amount of Hungarian, German, Italian, and Hawaiian. It is important for me to polish my Spanish speaking and reading skills constantly, not only because I was immersed in it when I would visit my dad and his children from his second marriage, but also because I don’t want to lose the skills I learned from Spanish classes I took throughout grade school, high school and college. I also feel a responsibility to learn as much Japanese as I can, since I am half Japanese, took Japanese in college, and intend to visit Japan again in the future.
Duolingo truly is a fantastic way to learn any language which is in their system. I highly recommend it!
I was a pretty ambitious kid and consequently managed to take Spanish, French, Latin, and Japanese during my school years. For those of you who are curious about how much exposure I had in school to each of these languages, they are as follows:
MANY years of Spanish (plus cultural exposure)
Two years of Latin
One year of French
One year of Japanese (plus cultural exposure due to my Japanese heritage)
I am so glad I took Latin in high school because it proved to be extremely helpful during medical school, but my decision to take French was primarily a way of filling up my senior class schedule. French was so easy for me that I got the the only A+ in the class. As for Spanish, I was so culturally and scholastically immersed that I approached fluency at a couple of different points. Finally, with Japanese, I wanted to have a more solid understanding of the language of my ancestors and wanted to honor my heritage.
As the years passed I found few opportunities to speak French, so I am now quite bad at it. I can read and understand about 25% of it but beyond that I am lost. I also went through a very similar experience with Japanese.
Spanish is an entirely different story because I keep finding myself in situations in which I could use my Spanish speaking and reading skills. Nevertheless, because I don’t speak it regularly, I am getting pretty rusty in my ability to converse in Spanish. Though I had learned and used medical Spanish out of pure necessity, I now rarely encounter Spanish speaking patients, so that skill is diminishing as well. What is perhaps most frustrating is when I am struggling too find the words in Spanish to say something I was so easily able to convey 10 years ago.
Like any skill, comprehension of a foreign language requires regular usage so that it is not lost. Looks like a trip to Costa Rica or Venezuela may be in order!