Learning French

Started learning French via Duolingo. So far an amazing experience. I am in awe. The app is fun and addictive… and I’ve just realised “fun and addictive” are also part of their official marketing language. So it’s interesting to see that users of the app (i.e. myself) are experiencing the process the way they wanted us to.

I spend about an hour every day on the app, though not always at one go (it’s a great alternative to social media by the way). Already I’ve learned about 100 new words in less than four days (according to the app at least) and have gotten a faint grasp of French grammar and sentence structure without much strain or struggle, thanks to the gamification of the learning process. I’m still at the very first modules (what the app calls “skills”) so I haven’t quite teased out what Duolingo’s flaws are yet, but as of now it’s been, well, fun and addictive. And mainly because it’s really quite strangely satisfying to be learning a new language without breaking into much of a sweat.

(Of course, as we ascend the skill levels, things are going to get harder and I have no doubt we will need to put in more effort into reinforcing the new knowledge. But the app strives to smoothen this process and make it as enjoyable as possible.)

A 65-year-old woman on the app (they have tiny forums embedded within each skill level for people to engage in discussions) has been on a Duolingo streak for more than a year and she can now read and speak French, albeit limitedly. That’s quite an inspiring story and proves many things — that we can start learning new things at any age, that smart and well-designed products like Duolingo can bring extraordinary value (even joy) to people, and that by consistently chipping away at something every day, even something as “tough” as learning a new language can be totally doable and conquerable.

Which, by the way, is an idea most well-articulated by James Clear.

Alright, enough talking. Let’s go get 1% better every day.

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