Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

November 5, 2021

Duolingo App Review + My Story with Learning French.

      My pandemic hobby that I'm most proud of and that I've stuck with the most consistently is practicing the French language on the Duolingo app. In August, I hit my one year anniversary of using Duolingo, and I'm proud of myself for continuing on for this long! I wanted to share a  review and some thoughts about how much I like Duolingo. I apologize in advance for how long this post is- I had a lot to say!

     I have a lengthy history with the French language. In Maine where I'm from, foreign language doesn't start being taught in school until middle school. I was homeschooled for a lot of my childhood, and my mom prioritized teaching me foreign language from the younger elementary school grades, which I think was so smart on her part. If there was one thing I could elect to change about the US public education system, it would be to place more importance on foreign language with younger students. So many other countries have young students learning second or even third languages, and they're fluent in multiple by the time they graduate high school. I feel like it's something the US could do better with as a whole.

    Anyways, thanks to my mom, I started learning French in elementary school! My mom let me choose what language I wanted to learn at a very young age, and I picked French. The cool thing with my interest in French is that my mom's side of the family is of French Canadian descent, so even though I didn't think about it much as a little girl, the French language ties right into my own family history and culture. I had a couple different French tutors over the years of being homeschooled, and did the Rosetta Stone computer software for language learning as well. I went to public high school and took three years of French classes. While I wasn't fluent, I definitely felt that having the background in beginner French from my homeschooled years helped a lot!

    The college that I went to freshman year had a two semester foreign language requirement, so I jumped into a French class from my first semester. I really loved my French professor, Dr. Cox, and my French teaching assistant Liane ended up becoming a dear friend who I am still close with today! Thanks to Dr. Cox and Liane, I get very involved with the French Club, and decided to officially minor in French. I ended up transferring colleges for my sophomore year, but since I'd had such a positive French experience during my first year of college, I decided to keep the minor at my new school.

     Unfortunately, I didn't like my French classes or professors at all at the school I transferred to. The teaching style was different than I'd had my freshman year, and there wasn't a French club on campus or much community with the French language. I was halfway done my French minor so I decided to stick with it, but I had lost some of my excitement. I was hoping that studying abroad in France during Summer 2015 would help me re-invigorate my passion for all things French.

     To make a long story short, overall I didn't have the best study abroad experience. (You can read about what happened in this old blog post.) I was able to finish my minor credits while abroad thankfully, but I had zero desire to continue with French during my senior year of college. Between not loving the professors that I'd had sophomore and junior year, and the not ideal study abroad experience, for a good while I wanted nothing to do with French. The same thing remained for my first year after college when I was very busy with broadcasting school

     I started to regret not keeping up with French after college when I lived in Vermont for my first job! I lived only two hours away from Montreal, and got to do a few day trips there during my year living in Vermont. Being surrounded by French speakers in Montreal, I was a little sad about how much of the language I had forgotten. But I never took the initiative on my own to start re-learning it. Same for my first two years in Charlottesville!.

Studying abroad in France in 2015

     I honestly can't remember where I first heard about the Duolingo language learning app, but I think what finally convinced me to download it was this post on Carly's blog. I first downloaded Duolingo in August 2020 as a new pandemic hobby, and I'm proud of myself for now sticking with it for over a year! I initially downloaded it to start learning Romanian. Fun fact about me: I am obsessed with Romanian pop and dance music. (You might know this if you read my Midweek Ramblings posts each week, as I often feature Romanian songs as my Song of the Week pick.) Romania is also a country I'd like to visit someday. I spent my first few weeks on Duolingo figuring out how the app worked and trying some Romanian lessons, but I ended up switching to French. 

     Duolingo might just be one of the best language learning tools that I've ever seen and used. It's incredibly user friendly and easy, and gives you the freedom to set the type of time commitments that you want with using it every day. I don't have an hour most days to spend learning French, and some crazy days I don't even have 20-30 minutes. But I can guarantee that every single day, I have at least 5-10 free minutes. And with Duolingo, that short amount of time is enough!

      The lessons are short and entertaining. Most of them include speaking and listening components, but if you're doing your lesson on-the-go and not able to have volume on, there are always options to do the lessons without sound and just do reading/writing exercises. While there is a premium version of Duolingo that you pay for, I'm still using the free version! There are a few ads, but I don't find it to be excessive. You get access to all of the same lessons and materials that you get with the paid version. 

     If you continue with Duolingo every single day, you start to achieve certain milestone awards for consecutive days in a row. If you have the free version, there are things called streak freezes that you can accrue to protect the number of days you've done lessons in case you do miss a day. Earlier this year, right after hitting my 250 consecutive day milestone, I missed a day and didn't have any streak freezes at the moment, so I lost my long streak!! But I have been doing Duolingo most days since August 2020, minus a few days I've missed here and there. I'm proud of myself! 

     I honestly thought Duolingo would just be a pandemic hobby, but I'm really glad I've stuck with it. At this point, I'm sticking with the daily language lessons as motivation to hopefully go to France or another French speaking country again in the next few years! It's also so satisfying to feel like I'm following through with something that I started as a little girl. I'm still a long way from being fluent, but feeling a lot more confident, especially in my French reading skills. 

     I can't encourage you enough to check out Duolingo for learning your language of choice! 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


  1. What a cool hobby to pick up, and one that will really benefit you when you travel! Ps- take me to France with you if you go! 😉

  2. I think it's amazing that your mom began integrating language into your education when you were younger! I didn't start taking Spanish until high school and now I've forgotten most of it, which is really sad. At the time, it was required to take at least 2 years of Spanish and then you could have 1 year of another language. I almost chose French, but felt like it was a waste to take only 1 year of something if I had 2 years of something else under my belt. Now, I regret that decision. I wanted to learn French so terribly and never did. Maybe I'll start using Duolingo at some point to learn it! I'm really glad you've had a positive experience with the app! :)

  3. I feel the exact same way about the American school system. We should absolutely be learning another language when we are young, and it should be more conversational and life experience heavy, rather than say, verb conjugation.


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