Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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February 7, 2014

DAVIS: Changing your life begins with one step.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Some of you may recall a piece I wrote in the early days of this column that dealt with my inability to conquer New Year’s resolutions; specifically my decision to abandon my quest to learn Spanish. I’d purchased the Rosetta Stone software and downloaded a bunch of old songs by Pitbull of “Timber featuring Ke$ha” fame where he frequently rapped in Spanish in an attempt to partially submerge myself in the language, but as a new year dawned I was nowhere closer to ordering lunch from Chipotle in the native tongue of the our neighbors to the south. Here we are in 2014, I’ve withdrawn myself from creating New Year’s resolutions so I don’t get caught up in the February trend of ‘abandoning your resolutions’ and as I type this I’m at Spanish Level 7 in the Duolingo language program and have a Spanish vocabulary of roughly 130 words.

I’m sure some of you are confused, “didn’t you just spend 125 words talking about how you’ve given up on learning Spanish?” You’re right, I did. I still haven’t made a New Year’s resolution and the small, but satisfying amount of progress I’ve made in learning a language wasn’t based on any internal drive to better myself, I just remembered that I’d downloaded a game to my phone a while back and had never played it. Duolingo is an app available free for ios and Android devices that allow users to begin learning 6 different languages through simple games of translating short phrases, and identifying pictures. The whole game is delightfully simple, and the app features a cartoon owl who will give you tips on the home screen. If you earn enough ‘linguots’ (in-game currency earned by completing language levels) you can buy your cartoon owl teacher a 24k gold suit. Does the gold suit help you learn faster? No. Does it make logging on fun? Yes.

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