My Favorite Free Language Learning Program on the Web

May the fourth be with you!

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Since today is my favorite day I decided to write about one of my favorite things – Language!

Specifically foreign language, as I have a bad habit of starting a new language before I am proficient in the first one.

For example, in high school I studied French but tried to teach myself Japanese. I continued to study French in college and added official Japanese courses but decided to try and learn Russian over spring break.

Currently, I am committed to reach fluency in French and Japanese (no matter how long it takes) and study Swedish for fun and heritage. The point is that I love language, I love learning language, and I am always looking for new, fun, and efficient ways to learn/study. .

1. Duolingo

I love this little green owl. A classmate told me about this wonderful site when I lived in New York City. It is completely free and well designed by native and fluent speakers contributing the programming. You can create goals, set reminders, and learn multiple languages. If you fall off the horse for a month it is easy to hop back on and continue learning. Each session integrates reading, writing, grammar, vocab, listening, and speaking (though the last is optional). You can join discussions and practice your interpretation skills as well as peer review others’ work. The sight is user friendly and you can download their app to practice on your smartphone (great for those long subway rides or short work breaks).

The Downside – Doesn’t have all the languages I want

It is still a new program and they are constantly creating and adding new languages (this is a plus!). It’s a personal downside to me because while I love their French and Swedish programs I wish they would add Japanese. However I do appreciate that any language is welcome – they just started working on Klingon and are almost ready to beta Esperanto.

The Upside – It feels natural

Unlike a classroom and many other language learning programs Duolingo doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the language. It is hard to explain…out of all the classes and courses I have completed this program feels the most natural. It builds

Check them out at

MIA & Good News

In true form I have fallen behind in updating my blog. I promise to be better!

I think my trouble is a lack of focus, procrastination, and a new development in my life. I hoped that focusing on education would drive the blog but I fear that might not be the case. Instead, it is a part. I consider myself a “jack of all trades”. I have extensive interests and experiences and it continues hinder find my “one true passion” (which is probably a load of bull for me). Thus, education is a part of this blog but not the soul of it. From now on this blog will be an intersection of education, travel, teaching, art, reflection, and any other random happenings I come a cross.

Will I go MIA again? Probably

Will I come back? Definitely

On my new life development? I have been accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). It is a well known program run by the Japanese government to place native English speakers in Japanese schools. I will be an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). At this point I don’t know what grade I will work with or where I will be placed but I have about four months until I leave.

I am ecstatic about JET and returning to Japan. JET take up a lot of posts over the course of the year, but right now I think I will just post about whatever until it all comes into focus.

Until then, ta!

Series: Ghost Student: Intro

or….The one time I wish I went to Harvard

To my excitement and dismay I found out that Pasi Sahlberg, lauded Finnish and International Educator and author of Finnish Lessons, is currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. He is teaching a course called The Teaching Profession Around The World and I would kill to sit in his classroom. Fortunately, Sahlberg posted the course syllabus on his website complete with required texts and focus questions.

I decided to turn myself into a “ghost student” and self-study my way through the course. I am not ready for grad school but that doesn’t mean I should not challenge and expand my mind. I want to learn as much as I can about education in the United States and in other countries. I know from experience some of the best lessons come from personal intention and unexpected opportunity. I can’t sit in on his lectures or hear his guest speakers, nor do I have classmates to bounce around new knowledge, experiences, and ideas, but I do have the opportunity to explore new resources and guide my thoughts with critical questions.

So here is the plan:

I will post bi-monthly summarizing what I learned, responses to the focus questions, and my own personal thoughts and ideas regarding education. Since the course is broken down into weeks each post will contain one week’s worth of work.

You can check out part 1 and 2 of the syllabus here:

HGSEat103: The Teaching Profession Around the World Part 2

Check out Pasi Sahlberg on his website