App on the Map

What has a green owl mascot, a passive-aggressive app interface, and a satisfying *ding*?

Oh, and was co-founded by a guy from Canton Zug, Switzerland? (Where I live!)

If you guessed Duolingo, you guessed right!

I've blogged a few times about my experiences using Duolingo to learn German (I had a 700+ day streak until recently*), but when I found out the local link to my daily habit, I knew I had to blog about it yet again. 

Severin Hacker (how great a name is that?) is a 37-year old computer scientist who grew up in Canton Zug. After studying at the local school and attending ETH Zurich, Severin went to America and attended Carnegie Mellon University where he teamed up with his professor Luis von Ahn to develop Duolingo in 2012. Today Hacker is Head of Technology at Duolingo while von Ahn is CEO.

*Apparently jet lag, timezone changes, and general emotional turmoil are not conducive to language learning. Who knew?

In honor of Mr. Hacker, I am sharing a poem I wrote last year about Duolingo. (Because repetition is the hallmark to this app. 😉)

each correct answer

brings me closer

to understan...*ding*

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting Poetry Friday today...join us! 

36 comments:

Loretta said...

What an interesting connection to your neighborhood. Would you ever have a chance to meet Mr. Hacker?

KatApel - katswhiskers.wordpress.com said...

Fascinating, Bridget - and fabulous. Love it! Your poem, that is.

Linda Mitchell said...

Ha! I think a bilingual book about the development of this app is quite appropriate for my library shelves...but what American living in Switzerland would be just perfect to write it? What person with a 700 + daily habit on the app might really know the ins and outs. Help me out here, Ms. Magee!

Tabatha said...

Severin Hacker, what a great name! I love that "ding" and dread the corresponding "dong of wrongness." Too bad about your 700+ streak ending :( I missed a day while I was on vacation, not because I forgot and didn't do it but because I kept messing up and ran out of hearts before it counted. (Passive-aggressive, indeed.)

Mary Lee said...

I adore knowing you have such a close connection to DuoLingo (my current streak: 80 days)! After reading this, I had to add a bit to my post about the startling realization that I *almost* know enough Arabic to read the word GHAZAL!!! I do love that ding!!

Amy said...

I love your poem! I’ll be sharing your post with with my college senior. She is a linguistics major and has used the app. I think she’ll find this interesting. She speaks Mandarin, Arabic, French, and Turkish. Thank you for sharing.

Susan T. said...

This is a great reminder to get DuoLingo Spanish up and running again! A 700-day streak is amazing.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Your post and your poem make brushing up on my long-ago Spanish classes seem appealing. I love "understan...*ding*"

Linda B said...

You had good motivation in those 700 days, & I'm thinking you're amazing, Bridget. Perhaps it's time to 'to understan...*ding*'!

Carol Labuzzetta said...

Ah, Bridget, I love Duolingo! I used the app to learn some Dutch before going to The Netherlands in 2016 and then last year, used it to learn Italian, thinking we were going to spend a week in Italy while my son was there for the summer working. (But, that all got dashed by the pandemic and I stopped using it despite making progress with Duo. I'll have to get back to it! I actually enjoyed learning a spoken language very much...(I took Latin in HS!) Cool hometown link there!

laurasalas said...

Love this--we've used Duolingo before a couple of international trips to try to learn at lest the basics! *ding* love it!

mbhmaine said...

You're inspiring me to try out Duolingo. My daughter uses it daily to work on her French. My German has wasted away from college days and it might be interesting (challenging? overwhelming? satisfying? invigorating? choose your adjective...) to try and resuscitate it. Clever poem! (I really need to investigate to discover the true power of that ding!)

Michelle Kogan said...

What a clever poem Bridget, love that "*ding*" at the end, I can hear it in my head–perhaps it's time to restart again… thanks!

Elisabeth said...

I did not know about this Swiss connection to Duolingo! A 700+ day streak is amazing. And you're right - repetition is key and this poem is a delight worth repeating.

Bridget Magee said...

I wish, Loretta, but alas, I believe Mr. Hacker still lives in the US. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Kat! I'm a sucker for a play on words. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Huh, Ms. Mitchell, could it be me?
*ding* I think you might be on to something... :)

Bridget Magee said...

Oh no, Tabatha! Missing a day WHILE trying is the pits! The 'dong of wrongness' haunts me...passive aggressively. ;)

Bridget Magee said...

Yay for 80 days, Mary Lee! And yowza learning enough Arabic on an app to read anything is very impressive. May your days be filled with *dings*! :)

Bridget Magee said...

Holy wow, Amy, your daughter is a language superstar! Does she practice all of these languages via Dualingo? :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Susan! Yeah, sometimes I think about brushing up on my Spanish from my HS/college days, but I can barely handle English and German now. I can't imagine throwing in Espanol - "¡Ay, caramba!"

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, JoAnn! I hope you do! Duolingo is fun and a bit addictive. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thank you, Linda! Amazing what a bit of positive reinforcement can do for motivation. :)

Bridget Magee said...

If you jump back on the Duo wagon, Carol, do let us know how you are progressing. Maybe a trip to Italy will be in your future again... :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Laura! Yes Duo is good for basics - it has helped me immensely with my German. :)

Bridget Magee said...

I'd love to hear if you go back to your German language learning by trying Duolingo, Molly. Since you've had some background with the language I think you will find it pretty satisfying. And oh that ding! :)

Bridget Magee said...

The *ding* will draw you back, Michelle. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Elisabeth! It was very cool to find out a hometown Swiss guy has made such a difference in the world. :)

Ruth said...

I've still never tried Duolingo! Sounds addictive!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Bridget, you make me laugh every time! I spent some time with the passive-aggressive owl trying to get up to speed in Spanish for my PreKinders and their families, and it worked until actual day-to-day took over. I love learning about the Swiss connection, and perhaps most being reminded about cantons and one called Zug!

Karen Edmisten said...

I can hear that Duolingo *ding*! Love it. My daughter has used this app but I had no idea about the Swiss connection. Severin Hacker? What a fabulous name! :)

Bridget Magee said...

It is, Ruth! Tread lightly or the bell ringing green owl will hook you with his talons... ;)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Heidi! I love having kind readers/commenters like you who encourage me weirdo self. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Karen! I tend to think Mr. Hacker might have been born to go into computer science - his name was his destiny! :)

Denise Krebs said...

You are always so punny! I am a Duolingo fan, Spanish for me. I've gone over 100-day streaks three times now. I don't know how many days total I have studied. Do you get a chance to practice your German on the streets? I'm looking forward to being back in California, so I can get some practice beyond our little Duo.

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks, Denise! Yep, I am forced into using my German most days, though I have to say that I am much more proficient at reading and writing than speaking and understanding (the Swiss German dialect is tricky - understatement). :)

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