Wondering how good Duolingo is for learning Spanish?
Congratulations on looking to explore a new language! I know how challenging it can be to try to become a polyglot, as there are so many options out there.
Most of the time the journey toward becoming fluent in a new language is full of obstacles and rewards, and it takes several years. This is why it’s really important that you’re using the right tools to accelerate the process.
Below, I’ve prepared my honest review regarding how good this platform is for learning Spanish and some ways you can complement your education.
The 7 concepts I’ll be reviewing are:
Keep reading to take your learning to the next level!
Let’s start off by addressing one of the most important parts of learning a new language – the way sentences are structured and how they sound.
We’ve all heard about someone who spends countless hours studying a language only to learn that, once they tried to speak it in a foreign country, they sounded weird and couldn’t even express themselves properly. This mainly happens due to the way most courses are structured. They’re meant to teach you the basics, but not an advanced level of speaking.
Spanish is not only highly contextual but also tends to be very slang-dependant. I’ve seen this happen in Mexico several times, as sometimes even within the country, people from the north have trouble understanding certain expressions southerners use.
When it comes to Duolingo, the platform handles this somewhat well, since it does teach students the common ways to ask a question or make a statement while sounding natural, but fails to go deeper into everyday speaking.
Now, to be fair, this happens in most courses, so don’t blame Duo for it! Besides, learning a new language is always about getting the basics down first and then taking on common expressions and slang once you’re more advanced.
This one’s more oriented towards how well-prepared you are once you leave one level and move on to another. Ideally, you want a course that makes sure you’ve learned what you had to before bombarding you with new information.
Personally, I believe Duolingo does this very well as it not only requires you to have a certain amount of right answers before moving forward but also tests you before you’re about to go to the next lesson. The platform also rewards you constantly for completing the courses and keeps you motivated by gifting you additional XP or streak freezers.
Now, just as it happens with every other language course of this type, you need to put in the work both on your devices and in everyday life.
My advice would be to try to practice whenever you can. Whether this means talking to yourself in Spanish or talking to a friend who is fluent in the language. Every bit helps.
Having said that, you’ll only be able to progress between levels if you’re signed in to your account, so if you’re having trouble doing so, please check out our article on how to fix that.
Moving on, let’s talk about one of the most important parts of learning Spanish (or any other language, for that matter) – additional resources.
Now, what does that mean, exactly?
Well, it means many things, and I find the best way to illustrate it is with a personal anecdote. Some time ago, I was trying to learn French through Duolingo. All was well, and I felt on top of the world. But suddenly, I started to realize that although I could understand subtitles and was acing my lessons, I was also having a hard time watching series or playing games in the language.
That’s when I decided to complement my studying with external resources.
Duolingo will provide you with the basics, and if you’re consistent enough, within a couple of months you should be able to ask for “Un café Americano” or directions in any Spanish-speaking country. If that’s what you want, then more power to you, you’ll soon be communicating perfectly with many new people.
However, if you’re striving to master the language completely, then I would 100% recommend learning outside the platform as well. Duolingo is great for learning Spanish, but watching a show, joining a class, or even playing video games in Spanish will take your fluency to the next level.
Depending on where you’re reading this from, you might have easier access to one type of Spanish over another. Europeans tend to learn the language from Spain, whereas North Americans, given their proximity to Latin America, usually get their external lessons from their southern neighbors.
You might be asking yourself, “why does that matter?”, and here’s the answer.
Although Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Latin America may sound very similar, there are actually many differences between them apart from the accent. I’ll talk a little more about this in the next section, but for now, let’s focus on which type of language you can focus on while on the platform.
At the time of writing of this article, Duolingo only offers Spanish from Spain. The reason behind this is probably the fact that the very basics of Spanish are very similar regardless of where it’s spoken. This course will be more than enough for anyone who wants a basic to intermediate understanding and use of the language, but it might not be enough for people who want to go the extra mile.
Asking for a cup of coffee, directions, or the price of a beverage is pretty much the same in any Spanish-speaking country, so if that’s what you’re going for, you’re covered. But if you want to be the bilingual wonder of your family, then I’d recommend picking a Spanish type that you like and focusing on it.
Following along the lines of the previous section, here’s something interesting that you should take into consideration. Every Spanish-speaking country has different expressions and sayings. While people from Spain call their friends “tío”, the word usually means “uncle” in other countries.
These differences might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, they’re what set apart a native speaker from an intermediate student.
To be completely honest, in this regard, Duolingo won’t be of much help, since, as I said before, it’s much more focused on teaching you the basics. From the platform, you’ll learn how to communicate with people very well, but you’ll be stumped when a native speaker utters a weird expression.
Now, to be fair, this isn’t something exclusive to Spanish. If you’re from America and go to London, it’ll probably throw you off to hear people say “Bob’s your uncle” now and then. Every language type is very particular and unique.
The bottom line here is that Duolingo is very good for learning Spanish, but if you want to blend in with native speakers, taking an external course that covers slang and common expressions is strongly advised.
Now, I’d like to talk about something most people lack the patience for – the time you need to invest in the learning process.
Becoming fluent in a new language is always a challenge. There are many factors to consider, including expressions to be learned and pronunciation errors to correct. To be successful, I’d recommend spending at least an hour every day practicing your Spanish both inside and outside the platform.
Depending on how hectic your life is, you should be able to complete this language course within a few months, but this is not set in stone. Duolingo is very good for learning Spanish, but as it happens with everything else in life, you get the progress you work for.
That being said, if you have children or are simply too busy with school, there’s no shame in lowering the recommended time a little. Duolingo is designed to keep lessons short and simple, so even 30-minute study sessions can go a long way.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that you’re consistent and patient throughout the entire process.
Now, this is easier said than done. In a perfect world, you should be able to get these sessions in uninterrupted, but life doesn’t always stick to our plans. If Duolingo keeps freezing, or you’re having any other kind of problem that’s slowing down your progress, do not hesitate to check out our many solutions below.
Finally, let’s talk about what your expectations should be when you complete the course. As you’ve learned throughout this article, there’s no denying that Duolingo is very good for learning Spanish, but even good things have their caveats.
Sure, the course is great, and it’s designed to prepare you for any situation. Whether you’re traveling for a vacation to a Spanish-speaking country or simply want to impress someone (wink-wink), the platform has you covered.
However, don’t expect to finish the course and be the next Antonio Banderas. Once you’re done with all the sections (which should take anywhere between a couple of months to a year depending on how much time you have to spare), you’ll be at an intermediate level.
If you want to go deeper and wish to learn common expressions, slang, or even become completely fluent, you’ll have to use some of the additional resources discussed before. If you’re lucky enough to have a native Spanish speaker in your life that can help you practice, asking them for help would be great.
And if that’s not an option, I’m sure there are Spanish courses you can take at any university near you. They’re usually not too expensive and might be just what your learning process needs to take flight.
That about covers it!
It’s really admirable that you’re trying to learn a new language. It shows not only your desire for knowledge but also your interest in other cultures. Spanish can be one of the trickiest languages to learn, as there are many expressions and pronunciations that are always a challenge to get right.
However, I’m certain that, if you stick to a routine, analyze the lessons carefully and look for additional learning resources, such as Spanish classes at your nearest community college, you’ll be a fluent speaker in no time. My recommendation will always be to get your start with Duolingo and use the foundations you get from it to jump to the next level.
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Have a great day!