I’m getting a late start this morning, comparatively. I blame the cats that were yowling outside my window from 5am to 6am. In any case, my plan was to share Duolingo today.

The short version of a long story is that as a third generation American Italian, much of the Italian culture hasn’t been passed down to me, including the language. My grandparents knew it as their first language, but wanted their children to grow up Americanized. So my parents’ Italian is limited and not often put to use, and growing up I only learned a few token food-related words over dinner– il tavalo, table; il pane, bread; etc. I’ve long wished my parents had made an effort to raise me with a stronger knowledge of the Italian language because that would have been SO MUCH EASIER. But since I can’t do much about that now, I decided to learn on my own.

My father sent me the first level of Rosetta Stone two years back as a Valentine’s Day present, winning The Sweetest Papa of the Year award. I love Rosetta Stone, and I have fun using it. Overall, I think it’s the best. However, I use it far, far too infrequently because it takes a bit of discipline to regularly set aside twenty or thirty minutes to sit down with it. Discipline, undoubtedly, plays a role in learning a new language. But lately I’m just lacking in that department. Additionally, ponying up the cash for the next level of learning just isn’t an option for me right now.

This little guy is your Duolingo mascot.

This little guy is your Duolingo mascot.

Enter Duolingo. I found it by chance by tapping into the “there’s an app for that” mentality and simply searching for “learn Italian” on my phone’s app store. I’d done something similar several months ago and not found anything satisfactory. This time, I hit the jackpot.

Duolingo is seriously similar to the aforementioned language learning software, except that there’s no way to measure your pronunciation. In all other ways, it rocks. It’s game-like, accessible, engaging, and free–a price tag I find pleasantly shocking considering the quality of the program. And besides Italian, there are several other languages available. I personally haven’t signed into the website online (which I linked to at the top of the post), but have grown rather attached to taking a few minutes everyday to go through a new level of vocabulary on my phone. I’ve been pretty excited to see my progress.

Since I’m running behind this morning, I won’t go on too much about it, but if you’re interested in learning a new language, it’s worth checking out. I see it as a good way to get my feet wet, keep learning new words, and help me build up the habit of setting aside time to make learning a language a priority. I’m playing with the idea of somehow integrating my studies into the blog somehow, but we’ll see about that. It would be good reinforcement for me, but I have doubts of it being too interesting for anyone else.

In any case: Duolingo. I just felt the need to spread the knowledge. This post feels a little “sponsored post-y”, but all I have to say about that is, “I WISH.”