Need to learn a foreign language? Duolingo is going to be your best friend. If your business deals with global customers and foreign partners or would like to expand toward non-English speaking markets or suppliers, knowing their language is a must. Although there are several ways to learn a language, foreign language classes and language-learning software can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Instead, Duolingo is the fun, free way to learn a foreign language.
Recently crowned as Apple's iPhone App of the Year, Duolingo uses a crowdsourced translation platform that lets anyone learn a range of foreign languages — such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian — absolutely free. Based on a skill tree in which users start with basic concepts and progress to more-advanced levels, Duolingo uses a game-like interface that delivers an easy-to-use, interactive foreign language learning interface.
With Duolingo, users learn new vocabulary and phrases by answering multiple-choice questions and translating them. For instance, to learn basic French, Duolingo will start by asking you how to say "the boy." You will then have to choose the correct response from a group of three images: a girl in a dress with the caption "la robe," a little boy with the caption "le garcon" and a man with the caption "l'homme."
For translations, a French phrase like une femme will appear on the left side, and you will be required to translate it on the right; hover over each French word for its English equivalent to help you translate the entire phrase. Audio is also available to help you understand and properly pronounce words and phrases. Using Duolingo's method, you will learn how to "parler en français" in no time. [5 Unique Mobile Apps for Your Business]
How to use Duolingo:
1. iOS and Android users can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play marketplace, respectively. Web users can go to duolingo.com and click on "Sign up with Facebook" or "Sign up with Email." You can also sign up using a Google account by clicking on the Log In button located on the upper right corner.
2. Complete the sign-up form by indicating which language you want to learn and filling out your desired email address, username and password. Click on Create an Account.
3. You will then go on a brief tour of Duolingo, learning more about how Duolingo teaches users a foreign language.
4. After the tour, you will be prompted to "Choose your path." You can either start as a Beginner by choosing Basics 1 or jump ahead by taking a Placement Test.
5. Once you have determined a starting point, you must complete each lesson in each level, then take a test to unlock another level. For each level, you will also find tips and notes — such as information on masculine and feminine nouns, accent marks and conjugation — to help you gain a better understanding of the level's objectives.
Here's where the fun really begins: For each lesson, users get a set number of "hearts." You lose a heart for each incorrect translation or answer. If you lose all your hearts in one lesson, you are forced to repeat it to reinforce your understanding of the concepts.
However, for every lesson you complete, you will earn "lingots," a virtual currency you can use at Duolingo's Virtual Store to buy items like heart refills and timed practice sessions.
Users can further challenge themselves by inviting and competing with friends. Simply click on the Find Friends button and send invites to compete with Facebook friends.
Duolingo currently has more than 10 million users and is available on iOS, Android and Web.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.