Review: Turkish for English speakers on Duolingo

So, yeah, that is more or less how I sound and I hope you understood me and if this proves to be good, who knows… I’ll prepare more videos or not 😛

Anyways, my point here is to do a short review on Duolingo’s newest release, its Turkish for English speakers course. As I’ve said before, Turkish has slowly become a popular language for pop culture fans due to music and television and this piece of news came in the best time for many of them. Probably, most of my views also apply to other Duolingo courses, but I am quite confident that it all depends on your previous knowledge, time available and many other factors.

First of all, one of the big pros of this course is slowly introducing yourself to new concepts and being able to practice not just one skill, but the four main communication skills in language learning: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing and speaking.  Unlike other apps or self-teaching methods online in which you simply repeat and memorize words without more or less the logic behind them or how to construct sentences on your own (i.e. being an independent speaker of a language), Duolingo is a great tool. Plus, the whole game-like environment in which you can earn “lingots”, compete against friends or buddies can be quite entertaining and motivating for gamers or younger learners. Not to mention, it can be a great tool for preparing yourself for language certification exams. In fact, Duolingo is preparing their own language certification exams, in which you can take them in any place of the world with an Internet connection and just by paying a small fraction of what other certification exams cost (hopefully Universities, workplaces and other institutions worldwide take note of this and support this great idea!).

Now, going back to our main topic, Turkish, it is the first time they design a course for a non Indo-European language, so there is still a long way to polish off (which I’ll discuss below), but the positive aspects is that the interface itself is quite friendly and that you can really feel you make progress in order to become an independent speaker. Such feedback is positive and encourages you to try, try and try again. Not to mention also that you can use Duolingo online or on your phone.

However, now comes my critiques regarding Duolingo. First of all, the Turkish course is still on beta and that means it is not available yet on the mobile app. Duolingo started out as a mobile app, so it would be good to see an option for beta courses to be available on the mobile app regardless of the problems any beta version may have (though you can use it on your mobile browser). I also believe it lacks proper interaction among learners and/or native/competent speakers who probably need help or simply put in practice their skills. I know that there is some sort of bulletin boards in Duolingo, but I would expect it to be highly linked with the app or website itself.  Also, since Turkish has its own particularities, specially in its grammar, I would expect to see a short introduction on it before starting your lesson. There is an explanation, but it’s found at the very bottom of the page, so it’s hard to really know what to expect in the lesson you’re about to start. Due to these different rules, you may get problems like the following ones:

 

These are mistakes that Harry spotted and kindly shared his screencaps with me.

These are mistakes that Harry spotted and kindly shared his screencaps with me.

I had to scroll to the very bottom to find this really good explanation of what I am going to learn on this lesson.

I had to scroll to the very bottom to find this really good explanation of what I am going to learn on this lesson.

 

So, my conclusion would be: Duolingo works great for the motivated language learner looking forward to becoming an independent speaker and creating foundations on the language. Not everyone likes or understands the same learning methods, so it’s important to keep in mind that some people may need interaction, memorising words or even going to a classroom to properly learn the language and/or create learning habits. There are things that Duolingo needs to improve in order to become *the* referent for self-teaching language methods, but I am quite confident they do know more or less what they need 🙂 .

(Big thanks to all the people from the Asian Lingua Franca Challenge, a Facebook group in which the members have agreed to start learning Turkish in 6 months 😮 -at least at a quite basic conversational level-, specially to Emin -who kindly proofread my Turkish greeting on the video- and Harry -who lent me his screencaps from the mistakes he has found on Duolingo-… Teşekkür ederim!)

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