Why DuoLingo is the Actual Best

Duolingo is a language-learning website (and app, although I don’t use the app as much) that –finally–makes learning new words somehow both easy and fun. Here are four reasons why I love it.

italy street

The Italian alleys that I’ll be able to navigate with ease, thanks to Duolingo….

1) It works.

I love the idea of knowing another language, but I have failed to actually learn one over and over again.

With Duolingo, which I started using abroad about two years ago and have picked up again this summer, a little bit of Italian has actually stuck.

It may not be the best/most efficient/most pedagogically correct tool out there, but I can stick with it, and that makes all the difference.

2) It’s fun.

Duolingo is like a game. You can set goals and collect points (for answering questions correctly) and rack up “lingots” (for completing levels or a certain number of days in a row). It tells you how “fluent” you are. There’s a graph that shows your progress day-to-day and noises that cheer you on as you race against the clock.

For the first time, I actually enjoy learning a language after the first three days.

3) It’s competitive.

I am incredibly competitive (sorry family) and Duolingo feeds that (sorry again). There’s a leaderboard that shows how you’re doing compared to your connections each day, week and month, and now that my whole family (including my father, who dropped about four language classes in college and now does Duolingo) is playing, I have incentive to learn my way to the top of the field.

The various language skills are grouped into categories (house, people, possessives, etc) and those turn gold once you’ve mastered them, but they also decay over time, meaning that you have to constantly be practicing to keep all your skills gold as well as to learn new ones. This is referred to as “gilding the tree” and it’s serious business (here’s a blog post on keeping your tree gold).

4) It’s collaborative.

While Duolingo does bring out my competitive side, it’s also incredibly collaborative, and this is more seamless than in any language-learning app I’ve used before. Users can leave comments, so you can see what people have written about a particular phrase and discern why it tripped you up, for example, or if it has a more colloquial meaning. The other/business side of Duolingo is translating the Internet, and you can earn points by doing that too. There are also discussion boards for more general topics and advice.


Duolingo is the first program, including Rosetta Stone, that has worked for me on a consistent basis. I’m nearly halfway through Italian now, and next I’m going to give German a shot–all the better for studying theology.

Happy travel Tuesday! Linking up with Bonnie, Sara, and Christine

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The Surf’s Up VoxBox: Review

IMG_1750I know, I know: every blogger in the universe got a VoxBox this month.

However, I was absolutely shocked to get picked for the Surf’s Up box. I am, frankly, the least beachy person on the face of the earth. I hate the sun. I tolerate sand for approximately five minutes, then I start complaining and feeling sorry for the bedouins. Summer is not my season. So this was a surprise!


I don’t have a whole ton to report with this box. First up is the nail polish. My take: great polish, terrible color. I never ever wear orange or anything that matches orange, even. I know there were different colors, so I guess I was just unlucky!


It went on pretty nicely and didn’t chip substantially for about a week. This is a day or two in. It was pretty happy and sunshiney, so turned out better than I thought. I’d buy the polish, but not this color.


This is my favorite thing from the box: it’s aloe vera gel mixed with lotion, which helps on a sunburn. As an exceedingly fair person, I think this is genius. I don’t really get the “refreshing ribbons” thing, especially since it comes out of the bottle barely visible, but this lotion gets two thumbs up.


Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit coupons! Very nice, but smoothies aren’t really part of my diet and it also requires that you buy juice, which I don’t ordinarily (aren’t you proud, mama?). This will be a nice treat sometime this summer.


Ummm so the First Aid Shot…something about this seems off to me. Our parents all taught us that medicine isn’t candy, and it’s bad to medicate with liquor, but now grown-up medicine is served in shot form? I can’t quite put my finger on what bothers me, but this does.

I haven’t tried it yet.

The last thing in the box was either mascara or shampoo/conditioner samples. Sadly, I got the shampoo/conditioner. I hate buying makeup so I always hope to get it for free! The Not Your Mother’s Beach Waves Shampoo set is nice, but doesn’t do much for me as I already have wavy/curly hair that’s been going crazy in the humidity. I’ll probably pass this one on to my sister, who likes the wavy beach look.

I absolutely love VoxBoxes, but this one was a swing and a miss for me. The products were all fine and fun, but I wouldn’t try any except the lotion on my own.


All products received for free from Influenster for testing purposes. I did not receive any other compensation; all opinions, however poorly formed, are my own.


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