Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A-Z Blog Challenge: E is for English

and all its mysterious workings.

For the past couple of years I've been studying French and German via the Duolingo website. It's been fun and educational in more ways than just improving my knowledge of those two languages. is a US based website so when it was first set up - and I began learning there very soon after that  - it was very US centric. If you used a phrase or spelling that varied from the US version when you translated something you were likely to be marked as incorrect. It was extremely annoying as you can imagine but, thanks to them having a system where you could report such matters, things rapidly improved - although a few intractable issues remained for a long time, hardly surprising when much of the work is done by volunteer moderators. They now accept a number of regional variants in most areas - even if I'm still pushing them to accept a couple of Australianisms like 'How are you going?'.

The interesting thing, though, comes in the discussion sections where you can ask questions and have them answered by the moderators or other students and comment on various matters. This is a very helpful part of the learning process but it's also where people can get testy and where the many and varied differences as to what constitutes 'correct' English shows up. Many see their regional variant as the only correct usage and sometimes they defend this fiercely.

As I have a degree in English and am an English teacher by profession, I'm often tempted to join in these fiery discussions but I've learned a thing or two about the internet over the years and so, unless it's a simple grammatical or structural issue, I bite my tongue - or perhaps that should be hold back my fingers. It's by far the safest way as many of these commenters - who I presume come from a fairly insular background where they rarely meet people different from themselves - are so convinced they are right that there's no likelihood I'll change their minds.

Fortunately these people are the minority. One of the things I really like about Duolingo is how most people want to help and will go out of their way to do so. It makes for a pleasant learning system and one that, now I'm close to finishing in both languages, I will miss.
ink i


Stepheny Houghtlin said...

Visiting during the opening days of the #Challege. Happy to discover your blog. If you have time or interest in historic hotels and inns, join me. Hope to see you.

Helen V. said...

Hi Stepheny Houghtlin. Thanks for dropping by.

Melissa Ann said...

I am a fan of Duolingo myself, it is a quite fun website to play around with.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Mandy Justin said...

Wow! You are close to finishing? I didn't know that was a thing? And you must be so dedicated to it!

I liked Duolingo at first, a few years back, before your score started dropping if you didn't have time to complete lessons in the week. When that happened I kind of gave up. I wish that hadn't happened. And I can't stand being notified every 2 days (especially when I'm busy) that I need to play Duolingo! Let me do it in my free time and don't pester me about it!

Anyway, congratulations! Does finishing mean a trip to Germany or France is coming?

A Joyful Chaos said...

Congratulations on almost being finished with those two languages. My daughter is studying French in school. I may have her look into this, this summer to continue her learning.

Helen V. said...

Nice to hear from you, Melissa Ann. It's certainly a fun way to learn.

Helen V. said...

Hi Mandy Justin. Thanks for coming by. I don't think you ever stop learning a language and I certainly need to keep on at a more advanced level. I agree the emails did get annoying so I disabled that fairly soon.

Helen V. said...

Nice to hear from you A Joyful Chaos. I still need to study more before I could be considered fluent but it's a fun way to learn.