I finished Level 1 of the Duolingo Esperanto course in 50 days, after about 70 hours of study. Near the end of Level 1, I created an Esperanto-only Twitter account and could read and write basic tweets in Esperanto.
All subsequent levels of the Duolingo course after Level 1 are just a repetition of what you’ve already learnt. So the emphasis is really on practice.
I completed the Duolingo course on May 14, 693 days in (1.9 years), studying for 15 to 30 minutes a day. And today’s my two-year anniversary of starting the course. (Post on my one-year anniversary: 365 Days of Esperanto).
- Duolingo builds a long-term learning habit.
- The Duolingo course will get you reading and writing Esperanto.
- The course was designed by fluent volunteer Esperantists.
- The course is one of Duolingo’s least popular, and so lacks many of the features of its more popular courses (e.g., stories, speaking exercises, etc.) and is buggy (for instance, the Words lesson always starts with the same five words, despite its database of thousands of words).
- The course vocabulary often teaches new roots rather than compounds (e.g., plantojn instead of kreskaĵojn, simpatia instead of ŝatebla).
- The course doesn’t do a great job teaching the correlative table.
- Once finished, the subsequent drills don’t seem to concentrate on my weaknesses, just random past chapters.
I was first introduced to Esperanto in college. I’d tried books and Lernu before, and they didn’t stick. For me, Duolingo worked well. But, if you do use the Duolingo app, make sure to also keep the website open in your mobile browser, as only the website has grammar lessons (called Tips, at the start of each lesson; just click on a lesson in the browser, then go back to the app). I wish I’d learnt that sooner!
Overall, I recommend the Duolingo course as a great way to build a firm foundation in Esperanto.
I don’t personally enjoy videos, so the other learning technique that worked well for me was to look for Esperantists on Twitter. I created a separate Twitter account to post only in Esperanto in and to follow others. These are small, bite-sized chunks of Esperanto to read and write. I’ve encountered people from around the world who do not speak English but can converse with me in Esperanto.
I’ve since switched to Mastodon (because I don’t want to send ad-dollars to a white supremacist, anti-Semite, misogynist, proto-fascist). The way Mastodon divides itself into servers makes it far easier than it was in Twitter to create a feed of text primarily in Esperanto. Indeed, that’s the focus of the Esperanto.masto.host server.
For more on my thoughts on Duolingo, see my blog: Addictive Technology to Teach You a Language.