Another way that I spent my time this summer was reviewing my Spanish. I have this desire to be fluent in it, and though I seriously doubt that I’ll ever achieve that, I keep trying. The latest way I’ve been working on it is through a free website called Duolingo. I have to admit that I’ve become pretty hooked on it. There are several other languages available (Italian, German), but I haven’t tried them. So what I’m writing is probably true of all of these languages, but I can only guarantee that it’s true for Spanish. There are achievement levels to reach (I think I’m currently at level 10), and as usual, they become more and more difficult to reach the higher you get. You earn points in several ways. At first, it’s by doing lessons on various aspects of the language (verbs, words about time, colors, people, etc.). Each unit has from 3-10 lessons; once you have successfully accomplished all of the lessons, you unlock the next unit. If you’ve had the language before, each unit gives a chance to pass out of it by successfully completing a quiz. For all of the lessons, you get four mistakes; if you miss three questions, you can still complete the lesson, but on your fourth miss, you have to begin again.
Another way to earn points is to review. If your skills in a certain area start to slip, you’ll see some white area in your completion bar, rather than seeing it fully filled in. You can go back and review any area and get points for each question you get right. These reviews are timed, so you can add an element of quick thinking if you desire (you can choose not to have them timed).
After you’ve reached some milestone (I’m not sure if it’s a number of units completed or a level), Duolingo starts to tell you that you can read a certain percentage of articles published in Spanish (starts out around 30%). You then have the option of being taken to an article and seeing how other students have translated it. You get points for voting on the translation (good or bad) or for editing it. Eventually you start to see some articles that have sentences in lighter type. These are untranslated sentences, and you get to have the first chance to translate them. These are worth quite a few points.
I have found this to be the best online language tool I’ve tried (including Rosetta Stone). There is an option to include speaking in the questions (you have to hook up a mike), but I haven’t tried it. The other question types are transcribing a sentence or phrase, translating from Spanish, and translating into Spanish. Highly recommended! 5/5*