Frequent Frenching for Fun

Reflections on one year of studying French on Duolingo

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Screenshot from Duolingo, with the owl wearing sunglasses and the words “365 day streak!”

Last week, I reached a milestone on the popular language-learning app, Duolingo: 365 consecutive days of practice. Duo, their owl mascot, congratulated me on reaching the final tier of the “Streak Society”. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d compare my year of learning French on this app with my prior experience of using Duolingo to practice Spanish.

While I was glad to reach a one-year milestone in French (without using any “streak freezes”, to boot), I had a much longer streak studying Spanish, a language I had prior experience in. However, as I wrote previously, I realized that I could not advance further in that language without more real-world practice.

In mid-2021, I abandoned my streak, which by then was several years long, and quit using Duolingo altogether for awhile. I took it back up on the Fourth of July, 2022, and switched my study language from Spanish to French. My motivation, as I blogged about last week, was a potential move to Canada. I had previously studied French on Duolingo for a few weeks before a trip to Montreal, but had no other experience with this language.

This time around, I purchased a premium subscription, and used the app on my iPad Mini instead of the web interface. The mobile version was more fun to use and was getting updated features sooner, and I felt that paying for the app after using the free version every day for seven years was only fair. (Plus, I really hate ads.)

Soon after I restarted my studies, Duolingo made a major change to the course structure, which angered a number of users. The redesign didn’t really bother me, however, as the new model fit well with the way I had been using the app anyway.

So I continued my French studies, normally doing two fifteen-minute sessions a day, taking advantage of double-points bonuses for completing lessons in both the morning and the evening. I sought to gain enough weekly points to remain in the top-tier “Diamond”…

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch