This school year is starting on a note of uncertainty. While teachers are used to preparing lesson plans, they now have to prepare for changing plans — from in-person school turning virtual, to students opting to learn from home, to “hopscotch” learning with alternating groups of students in the classroom.
It’s a time that requires everyone to be flexible, none more so than educators.
Students, too, have to adjust quickly, sometimes packing up their desks to continue learning at home, and sometimes being given the okay to report back to school for in-person instruction. None of this can be easy for them.
What makes things easier for students and educators is adaptable learning materials. And when it comes to language learning, Duolingo leads the field for reaching students wherever they are.
Duolingo is a language learning app, with short lessons in the language of your choice. (There are close to 100 courses available, including 39 for English speakers.) What makes Duolingo of special significance to educators is that all learning content is free. This means teachers can assign their students to use the app to supplement their classroom learning — and it means any student with a device and internet connection, anywhere in the world, can learn on Duolingo. Whether students are in the classroom or at home, learning doesn’t have to stop.
What sweetens the deal, especially for students, is that Duolingo is fun. Any student who’s played a game on their phone will gravitate to Duolingo’s quick, bite-sized lessons, where they can earn points and even climb leaderboards based on their weekly learning totals. Duolingo’s “da-ding” noises for correct answers and completed lessons make practicing Spanish a confidence boost — and arguably as fun as playing video games.
Additional learning materials from Duolingo include listening and reading practice through short stories featuring a cast of lovable, diverse characters (a purple-haired teenager is a fan favorite); podcasts, featuring true-life tales told in the language being learned, with narration in the listener’s own language for context; and at-home learning resources for parents.
Beyond these core features, Duolingo is a versatile tool for language learning: students can select which lessons to practice, go deeper into certain areas like people or fashion, and choose the number of lessons they complete in a day. But be warned: they might not want to stop learning.
And in a year featuring so much stop and go, a learning tool that kids don’t want to — and don’t have to — put away as plans change is a win for everyone.
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