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Why Duolingo Is Hands Down The Easiest Way To Learn A New Language

•, Seth Stevenson
 I myself have been habla-ing Español for the past three weeks, with Duolingo as my guide. Verdict so far? ¡Excelente, mis amigos!Until we genetically engineer the Babel fish that Douglas Adams envisioned in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Duolingo may be our best bet for a global uptick in inter-lingual understanding. The app currently teaches Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese to English speakers, and teaches English to speakers of those languages plus Dutch, Russian, Hungarian, and Turkish, with more on the way.

As with all else that manages to hold the attention of post-millennial America—Foursquare, Instagram, The Bachelor—the key to Duolingo’s success lies in gamification. Whether it’s vying to become the virtual mayor of a taco joint, racking up likes for our vacation photos, or battling viciously to wed a homophobe we’ve just met, we clearly enjoy turning the stuff of life into bite-sized, recreational competitions. Duolingo recognizes that humans are wired this way. It also recognizes that the key to learning a new tongue is repetition. So the app transforms language study into an amusing diversion, replete with points, leaderboards, and video game “lives.” At the end of each successfully completed round, we’re rewarded with a trumpet fanfare and a delicious sense of accomplishment.

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