Duolingo Challenge | 1 Month of Polish Update

Cześć!

This summer, I’ve decided to challenge myself to learn as much Polish as I can, only using Duolingo. Below is the result after studying for one month:

Cases have been my biggest obstacle when it comes to the language, but I really am enjoying the learning process. I decided to do this challenge because I was genuinely curious as to how much a person could learn from only using Duolingo (plus the tips & notes section, since it is part of the course). I only knew a couple of words before starting because of my grandmother. I plan on surprising her at the end of the summer, around when I finish the challenge. She grew up in the United States, but spoke Polish at home with her family, who came directly from Poland. I can’t wait to see the outcome after three months of studying, and how my grandma reacts!

Weekly updates have been posted on the Duolingo forum!

Duolingo Challenge | Learning Polish in 90 Days

If you have been a long-time reader of my posts, you may have seen a post a while back that talks about a free language-learning app called Duolingo. I have always loved using Duolingo as a supplement to my language-learning. Never have I used it to learn a language on its own. That’s why I decided to challenge myself to learn a language from scratch ONLY using Duolingo. That means no help from others, no using forvo for pronunciation, no YouTube videos on Polish lessons, absolutely nothing except the Duolingo Polish course itself.

I have completed two trees on Duolingo so far: French and Portuguese. I was taking classes in conjunction with using the app on my own, so by the time I finished both trees, the lessons were more of a review. What I learned in class was more advanced than what I had learned with the app. Even so, I thought it was great for reinforcing some of the content that I learned in class.

The reason why I decided to do this challenge is because I’m genuinely curious as to how much of a language I can learn with only using Duolingo. I don’t expect to be conversational by the end of the challenge, maybe just have basic knowledge. Since the Polish tree is large, I don’t expect to finish all the lessons in 90 days, if I’m properly pacing myself and making sure that I understand what I am learning.

WHY POLISH?

I probably should have done this challenge with a language that is closer to the languages I speak, but I wouldn’t have had enough motivation to push me to keep learning the language after a while. I’ve been wanting to study Polish for a long time for a few reasons, but one of the most compelling reasons is because of my grandma. She was born in the U.S. but I was told that she spoke Polish at home as a kid. It has been a while since she has used it, I only hear her use some words here and there, but I would like to surprise her by speaking some Polish to her. Like I said, I don’t expect to have an entire conversation with her beyond something very basic. I’m just looking to surprise her!

If you want to follow my Polish language journey, you can check out the first video of my challenge here:

I would also be thrilled if you would join me in my challenge! You don’t have to study Polish, but any language you would like to from scratch. I would love to see how far you could get in 90 days from just using Duolingo. It would be especially interesting to see the comparison at the end if others are studying other languages! If you’re interested in joining me, please leave a comment letting me know either below or on this forum!

My Favorite Resources for Language-Learning

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Forvo

This is a great resource if you are looking to better your pronunciation in a language. While it is not specifically a language-learning website, you can still get a lot out of it. Native speakers of various languages upload a sound clip of how they pronounce a given word. You type a word in the language you are learning in the search bar and it will give you results of different sound clips from native speakers who have pronounced it. With each sound clip, you are told if the speaker is male or female and where they are from. This is great not only because there are many language options but also because you can hear how people from different countries pronounce the same word. This is a quick and effective way of knowing how to pronounce a word without having to ask someone else.

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Conjuguemos

I really like this website for verb conjugation practice. I have used it when I had to teach myself French conjugation for a placement test in a short period of time, as well as for studying Portuguese verbs. Six languages are offered on this website for practicing conjugation but some of the languages also have vocabulary and grammar options. You are able to see verb charts where the conjugations are shown, as well as the English translation of the verb at the top of each chart. You are able to be very specific about what you want to study. Say you want to study -er verbs in the present tense in French; you can do that. Want to review a mix of -er, -ir, -re verbs in the present tense? You can do that too. You are also able to review subjunctive verbs, commands, pretty much any tense or mood out there. You can choose whether your practice is timed or not and for how long you want to be timed.

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Extr@

Extr@ is one of those cheesy educational shows, but do not disregard it! While I usually stay away from these kinds of things, I really like this series because it was specifically designed for people learning a foreign language. This language-learning drama is available in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and German. They use the target language the whole time and speak slower than actors in a regular TV show would speak. This is a great resource if you are a beginner/lower intermediate learner. I have watched it in Spanish and French and highly recommend it. I wish more languages were available. You can find this series on YouTube.

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HelloTalk

The best way to learn a language (if you are looking to speak it fluently) is by speaking it. HelloTalk is social media for language-learners. You make an account and put what language(s) you speak/are studying, and then you find a partner to chat with! I’ve used this app like any other texting app to message back and forth with native speakers of my target language in real time. There are other nice features such as being able to provide translations of the messages and correct your partner’s messages. Another nice feature is that you can control who can find you when they search for someone to speak with. If you feel more comfortable chatting with people of the same gender, you can switch that setting on. There is also an age setting where you can set an age limit of people who can see your profile. I have found some good friends on this app that I ended up speaking with on Skype later on.

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Italki

Probably my favorite resource when it comes to applying what I have learned in my target language. There are so many things I can say about this website, but I will keep this short. Like HelloTalk, it is a type of social media for language-learners where you create a profile and find language partners. You can talk back and forth through messaging but many people you talk to will want to improve their spoken English, so they will most likely ask you if you want to Skype. I have found great language partners, and even more importantly, great friends because of this website. The great thing about this website is that you can write notebook entries that native speakers will correct for you. This is great for getting written practice. You can also ask questions that native speakers and/or other learners of the language will answer for you. This is a website you can use to get lessons online through Skype. I have never tried any of the lessons out because I would rather speak to a language partner for free, but I have heard great things from other polyglots about italki and its teachers. Lessons are not free but they are way more manageable than Rosetta Stone and some of its competitors.

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Duolingo

If you are someone who is very busy, but looking to learn a language for fun then this is the app for you! It does not take a lot of time out of your day and it is free! Language options range from Spanish and French to Russian and Irish Gaelic. I would recommend it for those who do not like to focus solely on grammar. This does not explicitly explain the grammar of the language and kind of throws you into learning vocabulary and phrases, like Rosetta Stone but free. You can learn without feeling like it is a chore. A word of caution: Some of the sentences are very weird and would not be ones that you would apply to your daily life. My opinion: It is a great supplement to what you use to study the language you are learning. I would not solely use Duolingo to use a language.

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Memrise

I mentioned this app in another blog post that I recently wrote. I would recommend checking out that post, as I explain what memrise is and what I have used it for. What I will say is, I absolutely love it as another supplement, like Duolingo. It also does not take up a lot of time in your day but can be addicting.