If you’ve been around my site at all, you know that I’ve dedicated my professional life to learning languages.  I just like learning languages.  Can’t really explain it.  

Lately, I’ve been doing everything possible to learn French.  

I’ve been listening to podcasts, watching videos, and reading books.  

I’ve also been using DuoLingo.  

While using DuoLingo, I’ve been doing some research.  Does DuoLingo really work?  It’s still kind of new, so it’s hard to say.  Some say it works, some say it doesn’t.  

So, here’s my take on it.  

I think it’s working.  But, I am using it in a very specific way.  And, if you want results, I am going to recommend the same to you.

If you have ever been on DuoLingo, you know there are three “paths”.

First, for each skill, you can earn “stars”, or “medallions”.  You get a gold star each time you master a skill.

Second, there are stories.  You can read the stories and fill in the blanks when prompted.

And, third, there are podcasts.  The podcasts are new.  Currently, there are podcasts for French and Spanish.  Honestly, the podcasts seem pretty agenda-driven.  I’d ignore them completely.  If you are using DuoLingo, you are using it to learn a language… not to be indoctrinated in an agenda.  

So, back to the stars/medallions.  

French and Spanish are the most developed languages on DuoLingo.

Here’s how many stars there are for each of the languages I am constantly studying.  Some more than others.  I haven’t really done much at all with Chinese and Esperanto yet.  

  • Spanish: 244 stars
  • French: 231 stars
  • Dutch: 123 stars
  • German: 122 stars
  • Greek: 95 stars
  • Chinese: 88 stars
  • Esperanto: 70 stars
  • Italian 66 stars

Here’s why I am telling you this.  It hit me this week that if I could finish one star/medallion a day, I could learn a language in that many days.  Since most of my focus is on French these days, for instance, I could learn French in 231 days.  

You could do the same.  

Dedicate the time and you could learn German, for example, in 122 days.  

What I am suggesting is not easy.  But, I do think it’s doable. 

It takes me about an hour to go from the beginning of a new skill to a gold star.  

Sometimes, if the concept is a tough one, and if I am making lots of mistakes, each skill takes up to two hours.  

So, worst-case scenario, let’s say it takes two hours to learn each new French skill.  2 x 231 = 462 hours.  To be on the safe side let’s round it up to 500 hours.  500 divided by 313 (6 days a week for 52 weeks) equals 1.59 hours.  

So, if you dedicated one and a half hours a day to French, you could read and speak French in one year.  

Now, that’s not all I am doing, of course.  I am also reading and listening to French at other times.  For me, it adds up to about 3 hours a day.  But, this is my job.  I am not saying you have to dedicate that amount of time.  

But, I am saying that I think DuoLingo is working.  But, I only think it works if you put in some serious effort.  And, make sure you stay focused on the stars and the stories.  I have found the podcasts not helpful at all.  


Back to school

On August 10, classes will resume.  We will pick up where we left off.  

During the month of August, we will meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.  

After Labor Day (Monday, September 6) classes will meet every weekday morning, Monday through Friday.  

Here is what I will be teaching:

Latin 3: Third Year Latin by Robert Henle  • 6:30-6:55 am CST

We have six chapters left in this book.  We will resume in chapter 16.  Skip this class if you can.  Instead, read Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  But, if you have to read the Henle book, I will do my best to help.  

Spanish • 7:00-7:25 am CST  

We stopped at the end of Chapter 17 of the book All Spanish Method by Guillermo Aviles. In August, we will pick it back up in chapter 18.  I am still learning Spanish.  So, I am “teaching” this class.  Really, I am learning in front of my students.   If you want to learn from someone fluent, I recommend my friend David Durham.  His site is here: https://daviddurham.org/language.

French • 7:30-7:55 am CST  

Last year, I took students through the first 20 chapters, or so of Le Francais par la Methode Nature.  This August, we will start the book again.  What I said about Spanish also applies here.  I am still learning French.  So, I am “teaching” this class.  Really, I am learning in front of my students.   If you want to learn from someone fluent, I recommend my friend David Durham.  His site is here: https://daviddurham.org/language.

Latin 2: Lingua Latina, Exercitia Latina  • 8:00-8:25 am CST  

We stopped at the end of Chapter 19.  In August, we will pick it back up in chapter 20.

What do I recommend?

“To learn Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, or German, which books do I order?”  This is the most common question I receive.  

To find my answers, just go to my site, www.dwanethomas.com.  

Find the resources tab, and find the language you are looking for in the dropdown menu.  

For example, if you are looking for the books I recommend for learning Latin, click on the Latin tab: https://dwanethomas.com/resources-latin/

Same for Greek.  Same for Spanish.  And, so on.  

Down at the bottom, below languages, you will see three more tabs, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.  

These are the three categories I have used for years to organize my goals.  They are based on Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

In these tabs, I include books and links that help me achieve these goals.  You may find them useful as well.

I’ll make it easy for you.  Here they all are:

And now… the same thing I say every week.

Subscribers sometimes use my weekly emails as reminders to unsubscribe from my site.

Just keep in mind… I offer something no one else in academia (as far as I know) offers.  Stick with me for 3 uninterrupted years and you will have a lifetime subscription.

I now know this is a dumb business decision on my part, but I have heard from many of you that it is a huge help, so, for now, the offer stands.

Of course, if you are just starting out in Latin, you may be happier with Visual Latin.    

Visual Latin is a full-blown Latin course.  It is rigorous, just not as rigorous as the classes on my site.  The classes on my site are more “next level” classes, really.

By the way, if you are into etymology (the history of words), and if you would like to see me make a fool of myself, you might enjoy Word Up.   

Five years ago, or so, we launched this series just to see if it would work.  It did.  And, after years of listening to many of you beg for more, I finally gave in and agreed to make a fool of myself once again.  So now, Volumes 2 and 3 of Word Up are available.

And… if you aren’t a member of my site and would like to join, click here: https://dwanethomas.com/join/.

I hope you had a very happy Saturday!

If someone forwarded you this email and you would like to hear from me every week, just go to this page: https://dwanethomas.com/
Scroll down a bit until you see my book, Via.  Enter your name and email and you will hear from me weekly.  You will also get a free copy of my book, Via!