My parents told me how happy they were that I joined since, while not fluent in French, I am conversational. While my former exchange student and her husband are pretty fluent in English, their 6 ½-year and nearly 5-year old boys are not. My dad and husband attempted to learn a little French by using Duolingo for 2-3 months.
Duolingo is a language-learning platform available on both Android and Apple devices. It was originally developed by Carnegie Mellon University professor, Luis von Ahn (an IT guy). He developed the platform in order to make learning another language inexpensive and more accessible for everyone.
Duolingo teaches you another language by providing reading, writing and speaking practice. As someone who has the speech perception to know her French accent is far from perfect, I have to say that one con I noticed is that the app accepts a wide range of accents, even incorrect words, at times and cannot provide detailed feedback, only whether it accepts your pronunciation or not.
A couple of weeks before we were all supposed to meet, my dad and husband competed with even greater intensity than usual. I would receive texts from both reporting that they were receiving emails about one passing the other up and vice versa. Nighttime was particularly competitive as they would each try to gain the lead after the other went to bed.
My dad has a natural gift for foreign languages, but my husband told me that he has always struggled learning languages. Learning French was quite a feat for him, especially when it came to French pronunciation, which is extremely difficult for many Americans.
While my mom teased them that they could only stay things such as, “I have a red apple in my pocket,” by the time my former exchange student and her family came, they worked really hard and accomplished a lot. They were able to independently read and write some basic sentences and understood quite a bit when my former exchange student and her husband spoke to their boys. My husband thought it was pretty funny that parents from all over the world seem to say the same things to their children. My friend would say, “Just a minute. I’m talking. Wait a second. I’m talking to Ellen.” - universal good parenting!
While neither my dad nor my husband were ready to work on improving their accents (they still needed to work on basic language and grammar skills), I was reminded how much dedication it takes to learn a language. Kudos to those of you who have already accomplished this. I know many of you already have a good vocabulary and understanding of English grammar. What an accomplishment! Now you only need to polish your conversational skills by seeking accent improvement services. If people still have trouble understanding you, you are very close to changing that. Have no fear! You have come to the right place. Your ability to improve your accent is only a call or email away.