Tag Archives: duolingo

The teacher becomes the student

No, not because I’ve gone back to school to take a PGCE or any other teacher training. Rather, I’ve decided to play student by taking Russian lessons – partly because most of my private students are Russian and I’d like to know it in order to help them, and partly because I’m currently still in Cyprus, where Russian is the new English when it comes to languages employers want.

I’m taking level 1 lessons, which is one 90 minute class a week, and these are my starting stats:

  • English is my mother tongue
  • I speak, read and write Greek fluently. I grew up in Cyprus, which meant having to learn it at school and constantly being exposed to it, and although I hate using it I can with no problem. *
  • I’ve been using Duolingo for about a year, and I’ve done both the Russian for English speakers and English for Russian speakers courses. I don’t feel confident with it (though see above, that’s partly me never being confident with other languages), but I do know the alphabet, a lot of vocabulary and a little grammar. **

* There are two reasons this is relevant: one, it proves I have (or at least, used to have) the ability to learn languages. Two, Russian is more similar to Greek than English – at least when it comes to the alphabet – and I’m hoping that comes in helpful in finding it less foreign.

** I admit that I did the courses without reading the grammar notes, which probably help you learn more. I think they offer a good foundation for knowing the basics – and probably work great for people willing to get out there and learn by making mistakes – but it’s probably true that it’s a little too gamified to be properly educational.

The first lesson was actually last week. It being the first lesson, it focused on the alphabet and some basic phrases that I already knew, but there was one major surprise: it turned out to be a Russian course for Greek speakers. It should be interesting learning my third language in a class for speakers of my second language…

Have you learned a language through Duolingo? Have you taken any language classes as an adult? Tell me about your experiences!

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