Friday, September 3, 2021

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:

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

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

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

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

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  3. 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!

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

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  4. 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.)

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

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  5. 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!!

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    1. 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*! :)

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  6. 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.

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

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

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    1. 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!"

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

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

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

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

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  10. 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!

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    1. 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... :)

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

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

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  12. 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!)

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    1. 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! :)

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  13. 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!

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  14. 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.

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

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  15. I've still never tried Duolingo! Sounds addictive!

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

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  16. 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!

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

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  17. 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! :)

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

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  18. 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.

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    1. 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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