What Is It?
Wanna win over locals when you’re traveling? The easiest way to score brownie points is by tossing out some phrases that they’ll understand. Duolingo will teach you how to crack jokes in Ukrainian or ask a Norwegian for directions to the fish market (fiskemarked). The much-hyped Duolingo app offers 59 different language courses across 23 languages, making it the easiest and quickest way to get the basics of language.
How Does It Work?
Within seconds of downloading the app, Duolingo takes on the dual role of language teacher and cheerleader. After choosing a language, simply set a goal: casual (5 minutes a day), regular (10 minutes), serious (15 minutes) and insane (20 minutes).
Along the way, you’ll be reminded of your goals to help you build a habit, setting you on your way to becoming multi-lingual. Once you’ve set your goals, you just select your level (beginner, or try a placement test) and start flipping through the vocabulary lessons. You can choose basic words or jump right into conversational phrases.
Last week, Duolingo debuted chatbots that let you practice texting in French, Spanish or German. The chatbots take on different personas, so you can practice reading and writing slang and pick up on linguistic nuances. Considering the current state of the great call vs text debate, learning how to text in your chosen language is essential.
Speaking of conversing, you need at least two people for a dialogue—and convincing your friends to learn a new language is easy, thanks to Duolingo’s social integration. Create a profile so you can save your progress and spark friendly rivalry with other users.
Our Favorite Part:
I found that learning three words—hello, thank you and beer—made locals smile (and willing to lend a helping hand). But my friend who could say, “I’m sorry I’m such a stupid foreigner,” and ”I’m just in awe of your beauty,” had locals hugging him, practically begging him to marry into their family. Being able to joke and respond to wisecracks is crucial to connecting with locals.
In less-touristy spots, command of a language becomes more of a necessity than a luxury. Most headaches are a result of a communication breakdown. While it takes time to master a new language, you can strategically learn phrases based on categories relevant to travel (food, directions, transportation and time tend to come in handy). Who knows: spend enough hours with Duolingo, and the locals might mistake you as one of their own!
Get It Now:
Annie’s based in Los Angeles but hails from Portland, Oregon. Sort of. She moved to six states by the time she reached middle school, and continues to move around the US and abroad – call her a nomad, but she prefers “Location ADHD.” After studying abroad in New Zealand, Annie circled the globe, graduated from USC, and circled the world once again. For one year she lived out of a backpack everywhere from The Philippines to Nepal to Slovenia to Norway. She’s a curry connoisseur and passionate explorer, taking the road less traveled, the “trail” covered in vines and swarmed in exotic bugs. Foreign lands feel like home, and Annie loves encouraging more and more people to utilize their passports and experience a new culture.