Once more it is June. Again. And again I embark upon that epic effort of daily blogging, take three, wherein I call upon myself for a kind of rambling focus, picking from a list of daily topics, and with neither planning nor advance writing, strive to pepper this blog with the free-thought, free-writing wonder that is another one of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be:
June 6th // Something You Have Forgotten
About a week and a half ago, one of those interesting, come-out-of-nowhere web tools released an Android application to supplement their already awesome and growing website.
If you haven’t heard of Duolingo –and you are at all interested in learning a second language– you should check it out.
Rewind. About a year ago now, just as I am writing these thirty posts, I wrote a post about something I was learning: French.
Claire was primed up for Kindergarten, I seemed to have countless acres of free time on my hands, and I had this urgency of consideration that told me I should probably try and be a good-type-dad by keeping up in that supportive, educational way I’ve always espoused as a fatherhood philosophy.
And I did. At least a little bit.
But part time language instruction is tough.
About the same time as this was happening I found and started using a product called Duolingo. It this “free” website designed for a really interesting kind of language instruction. It was built on this innovative kind of pay-with-your-time model: the idea behind it (as I understand, at least) is that the website business model is really as a translation service. Anyone can upload a document to translate, a certain number for free, but you can also pay for speed or quantity. I haven’t really researched it much –particularly as I don’t have much that needs translation– but that’s how I followed the workings of it all.
The translators, however, are not professionals: they are crowd-sourced. People. Users. Folks like me who are using the system to learn a language.
I’m a translator simply because I’m a user of the system. And even though I’m just in the early skill-level stages of learning the language, my contribution to the translation of a larger document is valuable because it is compared against dozens or hundreds of other users doing and learning and translating at the same time. The scale of it — the aggregation of thousands of small contribution– produces fast and largely high quality translation results. And by contributing and working through the learning modules, I get to learn French at the same time. Or German. Or Portuguese. Or whatever.
I picked away it for a while early on, but never really could pin down enough time to focus. And then, like I started this post with above, about a week and a half ago Duolingo released an Android app. Since I spend a good hour each day on the train –with a phone, and time to kill– since downloading it I have worked through a lot more learning modules, added some new skills, and been learning French again. I’ve been a lot more dedicated in my study: Beaucoup! Je suis un nouveau homme!
I’ve also realized just how much of the language I’ve forgotten, too.