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Knowing more than one language not only gives you a better understanding of the world around you, but it can also open up new job opportunities, make travel easier, and help you improve your thinking skills. The creators of Duolingo seem to think so too, which is why they've created an app counterpart to the website – newly compatible with iPad alongside iPhone and iPod touch – that makes it incredibly easy to teach yourself a new language at any time.
Duolingo starts you off with the basics of a language and opens up new lessons for you to learn as you master each one. Each lesson incorporates the essentials of language instruction, and features listening, writing, and speaking exercises that reinforce what you are learning. A lesson can be about food, for example, so you’ll learn to identify new words as you rearrange sentences in order, type what you hear, or translate them into English. These lessons both teach and test you at once and waste no time throwing you right into a language, but you’ll be surprised at how easily and quickly you'll start picking things up.
If you already have some prior knowledge of a language, Duolingo also lets you test out of the easier lessons and jump right into ones that match your skill level. Each lesson gives you a limited number of chances to make mistakes, so if you fail too often, you’ll need to restart it from the beginning. The progress-oriented format and unlockable achievements make Duolingo feel a lot like a game, and you’ll want to play it all the time to advance even further.
The other great thing about Duolingo is that you can learn Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, and English as a second language whenever you want and never have to pay anything. Each language comes with an extensive array of lessons that give you tips and explanations on their unique traits, so while you aren’t given formal grammar training, you’ll manage to retain a lot if you choose to continue learning beyond the app. Additionally, if you use it in tandem with Duolingo’s free online services, you can learn new lessons on the go and continue your progress on a computer.
The bottom line. If you don’t have the time or money for formal classes, or simply need an on-the-go refresher, Duolingo is your best alternative for learning one, two, or even six languages.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
A smart, fun, and fast way to learn up to six new languages whenever you want. Extensive and impressive lessons really teach you to write, speak, and read in a foreign language.