If you have read our front page, you may already know this, but if not, we try to travel to Finland annually. Well, I know I am stating the obvious but the pandemic has changed our plans, so around January of 2021, M & I decided to do something that would placate our inability to travel to Finland this year. Our daughter, E, introduced us to a language skills app called Duolingo after hearing us discussing the lack of options to learn Finnish, at least quality options.
After E gave us a tour of the app (she was learning French and Russian), M & I downloaded it to our iPhones and immediately began learning. The app is easy to use, meaning if you are older than 25, you can figure it out. Finnish was one of the available languages, but there are more languages available through Duolingo than I thought possible. Everything from Irish to Navajo, Hindi to Swahili, and many in between, there are few languages not covered by this app and that is for English speakers. There are many options for those whose first language isn’t English. From Duolingo’s website, they state they offer over 140 different language courses in 40 different languages and are growing daily.
Some technical background regarding Duolingo:
It is available on both the web and in the app and uses a 'freemium' model, meaning the app and the website are accessible without charge, although Duolingo also offers a premium service for a fee. M and I used the free version, which forced us to watch ads, but it also slowed us down to help deepen our learning (my opinion as an instructional professional). The app works sort of like a game (the gamification model for us nerds) and has a social aspect built in, both of which strengthen the user’s learning. The study process in Duolingo combines various methods such as: listening to the pronunciation, reading sentences, voice recording, forming phrases by ordering words, and matching images to words. Unfortunately, Finnish does not include the voice recording feature which is bad for me since the pronunciation of Finnish words is where I struggle the most.
The Duolingo app is available on all major platforms, including the Apple Store, Google Play, and Android, and was Apple’s “App of the Year” in 2013.
In my opinion, Duolingo is not a stand-alone language course, but it is a way to stay engaged in a language such as Finnish when you may not have any native speakers around you. It's easy to use, it's fun and it works. ... If your goal is to achieve real fluency, remember to read, speak, and truly live the language that you're learning! Duolingo can be a good part of this formula.
M & I have been studying Finnish for over 300 consecutive days. We are now able to speak basic sentences with each other. Our favorite is “Söpö pupu on pörröinen”. Yes, it’s silly, but there is something fun about saying “the cute bunny is fluffy” that we both liked and it also drives our kids crazy. While Duolingo has been great for our learning, it is our own interactions in Finnish and those with M’s mother (Finnish native speaker) that have really helped us learn. We have scheduled our next trip to Finland and are both looking forward to using our new language skills with M’s Finnish family and friends. We expect to find out how much we still have to learn as well!
“Meillä opiskelemme Duolingossa suomea ja eri kieliä”
Unit 1 of Finnish in Duolingo