Welcome to another week of Dear Duolingo, an advice column just for language learners. Catch up on past installments here.
Hi, everyone! It's hard to believe, but this post marks the end of ONE YEAR of Dear Duolingo! 🎉 This week, we've put together a mini celebration of the 27 questions answered by me and many of the learning and teaching experts from across Duolingo.
For fun this week:
(Yes, this is a planted question… from me!)
In less than a year, we have received well over one thousand learner-submitted questions—which means we'll need more than 36 years to answer them all at this rate. 😅
You have asked about specific languages and about learning in general. You've shared moments and posts that blew your mind and made you rethink everything you thought you knew about languages. You've submitted amazing suggestions for how to practice your new language (more on that in 2023!). You've made me cry from being so touched, from your hilarious messages, and from the joy of getting to connect with y'all about the thing I love the most! Thank you!! 💚
What we learned this year from Dear Duolingo
Yep, I mean what did we learn this year, because I learned a lot, too! I might be the one brought to tears reading the Dear Duolingo inbox, but I'm not the only one answering your questions—I've needed a number of amazing colleagues for that. Here's what we got into this year:
- 5 posts about pronunciation 😍 We shared general tips, tips about Spanish and French, how Chinese tones work, and more!
- 4 posts specifically about Spanish, including multiple by Dr. James Leow (who loves Spanish grammar topics the way I love Spanish pronunciation topics)
- 3 posts about grammatical gender—and we're not finished with that topic yet, either!
- 2 deep-dives into Duolingo data, one about what learners in each U.S. state study and one about what different generations study (I can only assume we were involved in some kind of family feud there)
- 1 ultra-nerdy post that I don't think we'll ever be able to beat 🤓
And that's only half of them! We also shared many posts with learning tips, including for learners with ADHD and for those studying multiple languages. Language is always political, and we didn't shy away from this fact in posts about gender-neutral and gender-inclusive language and oral and written languages. You'll have to read them all yourself!
2022 Dear Duolingo superlatives
It's been an amazing year with some incredible questions and posts, and of course I, personally, can't pick any favorites 😇 But if you push me to think of some especially memorable moments from 2022, here they are:
🏆 Most popular Dear Duolingo post of the year: what different generations choose to study. Just fascinating to see how much our language preferences are influenced by this element of our culture, and this was our top post of 2022!
🏆 Learners most likely to submit questions to Dear Duolingo: our German learners, by far. 🇩🇪 We hear you, and I have been meeting with Dr. Kristina Schoen to get your questions answered! I've even started learning German myself. Stay tuned for more!
🏆 Most memorable Dear Duolingo alias: "Non-binary plussed." This reader built on the previous post's alias pun ("Noun-Plussed") in their own emailed question, and we just LOVED it.
Honorable mention goes to Das It Ever End
🏆 Nerdiest Dear Duolingo question: "lo" and "le" in Spanish dialects. I love learning about dialect variations, and this question really got into the weeds: dialects, dialect continua, direct and indirect objects, and animate and inanimate subjects. 😬
🏆 Nerdiest Dear Duolingo answer: puff of air for pronouncing some consonants. As I mentioned, I don't think we'll ever top this one!
🏆 Most unbelievable answer in a Dear Duolingo post: French pronunciation, explained. When Dr. Sharon Wilkinson and I met about this post, I simply could not believe how many patterns you have to look for in French 🤯 Not to mention that she knew all of them!
🏆 Best excuse to dive into the research for a Dear Duolingo post: relearning languages and the savings paradigm. Leave it to Dr. Hope Wilson to have basically committed to memory an entire subfield of research and to turn it into such a fun, easy read.
🏆 Dear Duolingo post that inspired the most unexpected enthusiasm: how to form sentences. Now, I think this is a fun, interesting topic—but I was totally blown away by your response! We'll cover this more in future posts, to discuss more languages and more kinds of sentences. I'm so glad you got a lot out of this one!
What do you want to learn about in 2023?
You've made Dear Duolingo's first year fantastic, and I can't wait to see what you ask about in 2023! We'll keep working through your questions (yes, German learners, we see you! yes, students of word order, we see you, too!), and be sure to send all the language and learning questions on your mind to firstname.lastname@example.org! See you next year!