Normally I am not a quitter. I usually finish what I have started. But this time, well, I have quit. No, I haven’t quit learning Hawaiian; I have quit learning Hawaiian with Duolingo. On 31st March I said goodbye to the app. So yes, I’m one of those people who have made Duo The Owl sad.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Actually, no… I’m not being honest right now. It was an easy decision to make. It was an easy, knee-jerk decision, taken out of frustration. A no-brainer. Do I have any regrets? No, I don’t.

For three months I let Duolingo be my teacher. And I have to say that the app was a great teacher … at the very beginning. After a while, when more “serious” grammar was introduced, everything changed. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it was Duolingo’s. And maybe no one (and nothing) was to blame. It just didn’t work out, I guess. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes you sign up for a language course, and after a few classes you decide not to continue. If you don’t want to give up on learning, you simply look for a better alternative. I did exactly that.

I succeeded in completing eleven modules on Duolingo. I started the 12th, but I just couldn’t finish it. I didn’t understand the grammar, I kept making the same mistakes, so finally I asked myself: “Is this worth your time?”. The answer was obvious. Because I had already bought a book – “Learn Hawaiian At Home” – I came to the conclusion that there was no point in waiting.

Even though I am no longer using Duolingo, I must admit – just to be fair – that I did learn something thanks to the app. I learnt a few words and maybe two or three phrases. Yes, you read correctly. A few words and three phrases after three months of learning. Definitely not the result I was aiming for. And what about grammar? Well, when it comes to grammar, I didn’t learn anything. No, I’m sorry; that’s a lie, because I learnt determiners. I nearly forgot about them, and they are so important in the Hawaiian language.

So that’s what Duolingo managed to teach me. As I’ve mentioned earlier, either I’m a poor student or Duolingo is a bad Hawaiian teacher. It may be both. But it doesn’t really matter now. Now I have my book, and I really like it (I know, I know – I also liked Duolingo when I started learning ʻōlelo Hawaii). I go through one chapter a month, which is super slow, but you have to remember that I’m learning Marshallese as well.

What can I tell you about my learning experience so far? I think I’m beginning to grasp the sentence-formation rules. Kahikāhealani Wight gives you a step-by-step instructions, so that you can understand what and why you are doing. That’s what I wasn’t able to find on Duolingo – solid explanations. I am aware that Ms Wight’s book won’t teach me everything, but I’m quite certain it will give me the basics. The basics we all need if we want to acquire any foreign language.

I won’t deny, I was eager to test Duolingo. Never before had I used a language learning app, so I was extremely curious. Especially that Duolingo started offering a course in Hawaiian. Everything seemed to tell me: “Go for it! It’s gonna be great! You just have to try!”. And so I did. Would I do it again knowing what I know now? I’m not sure. I have realized that modern technology isn’t my cup of tea. Is it because I’m not 18 anymore?

Of course, I’m not saying that I will never get back to Duolingo or start using any other app. I have learnt over the years to never say never. We shall see what the future will bring. Perhaps someone will create a really awesome app that will teach people Pacific tongues? By the way, I would absolutely love to be that person. If only I was better at IT… Anyway, for now I’m saying goodbye to Duolingo – I prefer to rely on my book. But is it forever? Only time will tell. So maybe I should rather say: “A hui hou, e Duolingo!”?


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