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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Frugal Duolingo: Progress Report

Like many, I spend too much time noodling around on the internet. Since noodlers are the product being delivered to advertisers (via blog links and those tempting ads that track your habits), I occasionally succumb to the "good deals" that pop up. I am a weakling for bargains, even if my spending remains in control. I waste a lot of time and add to the clutter with which I always struggle.

I have been trying to shift my noodling from Nordstroms to Duolingo. I am not always successful, but I am wasting a lot less time. After my initial rush of success, my progress is slowing down. I have trouble with some negatives and some adverbs. And, unlike my French teachers M. Giordano and M. Moore (how I wish I could thank them), Duolingo does not give partial credit. How awful to hear the buzz of failure for a careless error--like saying "the" instead of "that"--in a lesson on adverbs, even when you get the adverb right. I never thought I would miss the mere quarter point deducted by my red-pen-wielding French teachers for each tiny mistake.

Duolingo rewards you with virtual currency of lingots. So far, I have not spent any, not because I am a natural saver (though I am), but because I am not really motivated by the gamification of the site. I am, however, motivated by the percentage that pops up: according to the site, I can now read 45.7% of French articles. I can actually read more, because my French goes beyond the lessons I've completed.

I have spent more than thirty years lamenting the deterioration--the near demise, probably--of my French. Last year, Miss Em said "How much French did you have?" I answered "Four years."

I should say that this was four years of the excellent New York State Regents program. My high school French enabled me to pass out of French via placement exam not only in college, but in graduate school. If I hadn't left high school after my third year and had taken French my senior year, I would have read Madame Bovary along with my class.

The wise Miss Em said "Then it will take you four years to get it back." It's looking like it will take me a lot less than that.

The French has become more of a struggle ("une lutte"--wow! popped right into my head!). I was doing a lesson in my office and a colleague dropped by. When I told him what I was doing (and this fellow is a trained linguist), he said "Why do you want to do that?"

But I do; I do.

Frugality Index: many lingots stashed away PLUS less money spent on the "bargains" that bombard us on the internet.


Duchesse said...

I am really curious about what the question behind his question might be, but my first, emotional instinct is, "What a twerp!"

I had a PhD linguist as a teacher for French summerschool and he actually sneered at us.

I have fared much, much better with FSL teachers who understand that students want to integrate into everyday life in Qu├ębec: talk to their children's teachers, the dentist, etc.

You might also quote Charlemagne to this him: "To have another language is to possess a second soul."

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--I have to admit that the incredulous question rather shocked me too. Thanks for the Charlemagne quote. Love it!

Shelley said...

V. strange question for a French teacher - perhaps it was about the means rather than the goal? I've been playing with Spanish on Duolingo - very fun!