Yes, that’s true. On the 31st of December I began my new linguistic journey, which I am extremely excited about. For three weeks now, I have been learning Hawaiian. And I have to say that I’m doing really great. Thanks to my teacher.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I’m already learning Marshallese and I wasn’t sure if I would manage to learn two foreign languages simultaneously. I had a lot of doubts and asked myself a lot of questions. Will I find the time? Won’t my brain get confused? Will I stay committed? Won’t I give up after a few weeks? What if I fail?  And will I find the time? But curiosity – yes, you read right, curiosity – go the best of me, and I decided I would at least give it a try.

After choosing a language you want to learn, you have to start thinking about how you’re going to study it. With Pacific tongues, it is easier said than done. Do you remember why I settled on Marshallese? Because I found a textbook. This time around it was similar, except I didn’t find a textbook but an app.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you my teacher. Its name is Duolingo, and so far we’ve been getting on like a house on fire.

Never in my life had I thought that I could even consider learning a foreign language through an app until I found out about the Hawaiian course on Duolingo. You see, I am more of an old-school student – I need a textbook and a nice notebook to make notes in. But I was so intrigued by the course that I simply couldn’t resist trying it out. Especially that Hawaiian has always been on my list of languages to learn (I do have such a list – the Kiribati language is next in line). Because the end of the year is always a bit hectic, I decided I would start with the beginning of January.

I downloaded the Duolingo app, created an account, and set my daily goal – Regular, 20 XP per day. At that time I had no clue what “20 XP” was. Now I know that “XP” stands for “experience points”, and you get them when you finish a lesson or practise your skills. After one week I changed my daily goal to Serious, because earning 20 XP a day was a walk in the park for me (earning 30 XP per day is also super easy!).

Although the Duolingo app is very intuitive and I have no problems using it, I still don’t understand certain things, like Lingots and Crowns. What are these? Do I need them? Kill me, but I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t care. I just want to learn Hawaiian.

And how does Duolingo work? The course is made up of modules which teach you a particular skill. Within each module there are several individual lessons. To be able to progress to the next lesson / module, you have to first complete the previous one. Logical. Well thought out. There are also the “notes and tips” sections for those who want to know something more about grammar. However, this feature is not available in the mobile app.

Speaking of which, I really wanted to use Duolingo on my mobile phone. For simple convenience. But I quickly discovered that it wouldn’t be possible. Why? Because my mobile app doesn’t play any sound! I’m not very tech-savvy, so instead of thinking what might be wrong I’ve switched to the web version, and I’m loving it!

I must admit that I do enjoy using Duolingo. It’s pure fun, and it really makes you want to learn the language you have chosen. I could even say it’s addictive. Which is a big advantage, as it helps you stay motivated. And even though motivation is not something I need – I want to speak Marshallese and Hawaiian one day, and I will strive to do that – it’s nice to know that you will be “reminded” to get back to learning as soon as you start losing your zeal. Believe me, when you see that cute green owl (Duolingo’s mascot) in your inbox, you won’t be able to say: “No, not today. Maybe tomorrow”.


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