Summer Goals: Learn Spanish with Duolingo
Every summer the kids work on a special project. This year the kids are going to get more serious about learning Spanish. I have spoken Spanish to them all since they were born but they have never really shown much interest in attempting to speak it themselves and beyond some basic commands to sit down, come here, look, and stop they really don’t seem to have picked up any of it despite my huge efforts.
I remember proudly telling my high school Spanish teacher that my children would speak Spanish and her laughing at me and telling me that was much easier said than done. She told me without our home being fully bilingual it was doubtful that I’d manage to pull it off but she commended my wishes and hoped me the best of luck as she laughed.
Fast forward and I see just how right she was. My intent to have the kids know both languages did not match their experience. This summer though I have decided to be intentional about them learning Spanish, and I have a tool to help me out. Duolingo is a free online program and app for your phone that can teach you to speak a new language. They claim that 34 hours spent on the app is equal to a semester of a foreign language in school.
Duolingo has been a key tool I have used to keep my Spanish from fading away over the years and is what I used to start learning French as well. The app is FREE to use and their vision for education matches my own. I am so grateful for tools and websites like Duolingo and Khan Academy that make getting a great education free and easy for the average person.
I don’t know how Duolingo will work for the little kids, but we are going to give it a try. They’ve got to do a minimum of 20 minutes a day to earn screen time in the afternoon, but I will admit that I have offered to pay them $1 a week if they do an hour a day. I think an hour a day will be quite difficult, though that is my own personal goal for my practice. I’ll give an update at the end of summer to see how it went and let you know our plan going forward for keeping up with it once school starts.
I want my children to speak two languages for many reasons. I believe that knowing another language opens up your mind to other cultures and expands your ability for empathy and understanding outside of yourself. I believe that they will do better in life if they are able to speak more than one language, many companies pay more if you are fluent in another language and that is an advantage I think my kids can have for FREE using the Duolingo app and website. I believe language forms our perception of our world and opening up our brains to other languages helps us to see life from more than one perspective.
Duolingo also has an amazing Spanish podcast that I absolutely LOVE. The podcast tells simple stories from people around the Spanish speaking world. My belief that knowing another language and culture will expand one's capacity for empathy is backed up by this wonderful podcast. Listening to it casually with me at night has already helped the kids to see life through the eyes of another person. The speakers are all slow and very well spoken and just when you think you might be getting lost they chime in with English to help your brain orient its self. I cannot speak highly enough of the podcast!