When in Doubt, Duolingo

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During the many, many days of the pandemic, one learns how to keep busy. This can be through work, time spent with family (at least the family members available to spend time with), games, television, and sport--to name but a few activities. It can also mean learning something new. In an effort to get through this prolonged period of non-normalcy that the virus has introduced into our world, I decided to pick up my smart phone, download the Duolingo app and give foreign language acquisition a shot.

I'll admit that I had a bit of head start in learning Dutch as my wife originally comes from Holland and she has used the language in bringing up our children. But hearing Dutch and learning Dutch are two different things. The little advantage I may have had over those who never were never exposed to another language didn't help me much according to the app's leaderboards. But what I learned using Duolingo is that while it appears you are competing with others, you are actually competing only with yourself -- which is a good life lesson too!

Learning a language can be a very frustrating experience, but I found the app actually makes it fun since you can visual the progress you are making in the curriculum they have put together. So, if all else fails—if Netflix becomes Nixflix and if you've worked all that you can work but you want to keep your mind active and can still muster a bit of patience to look at a screen, you might want to give this little app go. Choose your language then start digging in. Hopefully one day (and hopefully soon!) you'll be able to travel to the country in which your new language is spoken and see if how your new language skills fare in the real world.

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