Exploring Language Apps

Having several thoughts during each day, I thought I should probably just put them on my blog. Because you really want to know my thoughts!😅

Todays Thoughts – Language Apps

A few years ago, along with my family I started sporadically using the language App Duolingo. At the time, due to MEcfs, my capacity for memory and understanding was extremely bad. It’s still not amazing, but since stepping into the blogging world, I guess I have found ways of managing and helping my brain along. Choosing the optimum times and not doing too much. Whilst basically giving myself a break from making “Comparison(s) … being the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt.

Who am I kidding, lol, as I scrape myself off the floor following another campaign email. Really, there is only one person writing this!

Language Overview

Opting for Duolingo, in now middle age, initially I attempted to brush up on school day French, whilst adding in some Latin and Mandarin. Nothing like making life easy for oneself. I can speak a little very basic French, but not well. And my verb conjugation is still pretty terrible. With my vague memories of French lessons being of a teachers face and clothing covered in chalk patches. Yes, chalkboards. She was so kind. And my one native French speaking teacher always scribbling “INSUFFICIENT” over my homework!

Persevering, I attempted Latin, which made me laugh. And as I can’t read Mandarin characters, I didn’t get far with that either. Duolingo doesn’t offer pinyin. Only the language as is. Although I do know a few words in Cantonese, embarrasingly too few to be honest from my days of living in Hong Kong. With the nine tones of Cantonese, as opposed to the six of Mandarin. I had some friends who got in a pickle. Just don’t mix up the tone for sugar when doing a prison outreach visit! I still enjoy answering the phone with:

  • Wei – hello.
  • Da cuo dian hua – wrong number.
  • Moumuntai – no problem. This learned from repair people, on an occasion when I managed to shorten the life of a light switch. Which impressed them. HK can do that to you! Lovely place, but tests your endurance. Probably the humidity.

I could frequently confuse a taxi driver staring at me with glazed eyes as I tripped out an unintelligible destination. Problemas en le casa is another story set in Spain! And I think I only know hello in Portuguese. Great!

But where the learning was concerned with MEcfs, as ever I pushed myself too much to try to learn too quickly and expect too much of myself. Neuro symptoms increased, thus affecting my ability to communicate and function on a daily basis, so I eventually had to stop.

Why Try A Different Language?

Moving on a few years. Current dreadfully disturbing world events have encouraged me to pick up a language attempt again.

This said absolutely without me wanting or trying to come across as some kind of misplaced rescuer. But it seems a worthwhile effort even though minute, in support for a culture under severe stress and challenge.

So, without trying to completely befuddle my cogs, which isn’t difficult let’s be honest, I am now tentatively combining the Duolingo, Mondly and Drops Language Apps (there are many other Language learning Apps available) in an attempt to learn some basic Ukrainian. It seems like an appropriate small act of support and rebellion. And perhaps I may learn enough for it to be of some use at some point. I hope people won’t find my reasoning flippant, it is sincere.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

The Apps – Beginning With Duolingo

I tend always to look for economy first, and then decide if I feel I will use something enough before considering a paid option. I am still deliberating.

I decided to start back with Duolingo, and am definitely learning some ever so basics at *streak day 30 something. *A streak being the number of consecutive days learning, as opposed to a trolley dash around Tesco au naturel! Their free option is pretty generous. With a few interruptions with Ads. But as we all use so many Apps that have Ads it hardly seems like a hardship.


Duolingo is sentence builder starting with basic easy words to recognise, gradually increasing difficulty and works with a hearts system. You need hearts to complete a lesson allowing for mistakes. Mistakes costs heart. Success gains you hearts.


You can practice as regularly as you like on lesson sections already completed, which is a massive bonus as I need to go over and over it. You can gain hearts that way too. Win, win. Revision and successes help you gain gems and hearts. As does watching 29 second ads. There are leader boards and leagues. Which encourages perseverance. And you need that when trying to get your head around numbers!


Mondly allows you a free new lesson per day, I think you can choose between 5 to 20 minutes, but that may vary. You can redo the days lesson many times as you like in that 24 hour slot. Once that 24 hours has passed, you can’t revisit the previous lesson for free. You just go on to the next one. But there are a few free top up options you can repeat as often as wished. Again, Mondly builds on words then sentences. Where Duolingo presents the words only in the Cyrillic alphabet.


Mondly offers the option to switch between Cyrillic and Latin/Roman at will. Which is so useful. Because if you aren’t familiar with Cyrillic or struggle to memorise the symbol and sounds, you could struggle. But it also has a chat bot, but way beyond my current level of understanding. But I base this all on my MEcfs brain. For others, it’s probably far easier.


Drops free options (I’m not a Cheapskate honestly) offers the learner again one topic, of 5 minutes per every 24 hours. But it is worth it, and I am leaning toward this App for a subscription. One topic you can learn is the Cyrillic alphabet and its sounds. Which is also really useful.

It goes through a set of letters and sounds in a format that repeats and tests your recognition. Plus there are many other topics to choose from. Which expands as you learn. It also allows you to revisit the words and letters to practise. But so far it’s not a sentence builder, where as Duolingo and Mondly are.

Drops is probably the most animated, with a different screen colour for each question. That might suit some people and not others. It is very much a drag and swipe type App. Rather than point and press. For myself I have to take care with animations as I can become dizzy and feel yuck. But I’m not ruling them out. I just need to limit use. So their free options probably suit me quite well. And from what I have tried, their teaching formula is again different. But again effective. It’s nice to have a mix.

Using The Free Options

Duolingo is probably the best of the three for a free App option for me, as you basically get more. But depending on your cognitive skill. You could race through and learn loads as long as you have hearts. But with free options in all three, it gives the App user opportunity to decide which works best for them before signing up for a subscription. Which all three have.

All three Apps have types of league tables, I guess to encourage the competitive spirit. A weeks streak on Mondly opens up a quiz. All record your progress and encourage streaks. You need to actually sign in for that. But each App has pros and cons. It’s all a question of personal taste.

App Comparison

With both Mondly and Drops the formats are different to Duolingo. And are more animated visually.

Where as Mondly is animated, but less so. All have a drag and drop style in lessons.

Having the combination of Apps is really useful in helping me not get too cosy with the learning style and accent. Where one App is a sentence builder, another is adding words into a sentence and so on. Hearing different voices is good in testing your comprehension.

But my spoken skills aren’t very good and I am not confident. The Apps invite vocal responses. But will hopefully improve over time. I prefer to use the spoken option when no one is within earshot! But Facebook is probably always listening! Lol!

What I would say is that Duolingo and Drops enable you to start at the absolute beginning. So while Duolingo presents words in only Cyrillic alphabet, it has helped me get the hang of Drops, then Mondly. Drops offers the option to learn the alphabet as a topic. Where as Mondly starts building sentences immediately, but doesn’t offer drop down definitions and translations of every word. So for an absolute beginner, I’m not sure.

I am definitely using what I’ve learned in Duolingo in Mondly. Without it I’m not sure I would get very far. Again bearing in mind my MEcfs brain, which can often stall or function seemingly in reverse.

Both Mondly and Drops annual subscription looks like it works out at equivalent to around £1.00 per week. So in the scheme of things is not expensive considering what is on offer. Monthly and quarterly are more expensive. Duolingo also has the Premium version. All offer a free subscription trial period.

But the variety that can be accessed for only the cost of time is very impressive. And well worth having a look. There are a wide selection of languages to learn or brush up on.

Language Group

I found out about Mondly and Drops via a local facebook language group which has been set up recently. Many European languages are being learned and are already confidently spoken. So far there seems to be two of us learning Ukrainian, so I think any meet up groups are a way off.

But I have been offered the option to host an informal group at home, with them knowing I have MEcfs, so perhaps that might happen. I have no experience of Eastern European languages, but can hear Asian in them and I enjoy the sounds and the logic of the language. But again I do come unstuck with conjugation. One day…

Other Learning Resources

I have also invested in a Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet workbook, for oldies, which I will progress to. But I do feel Duolingo has given me a good starting point. Of course there is youtube if your brain is quick enough, which mine definitely isn’t. Meeting in an informal conversation group to speak the language you have chosen to learn, which would be fab, but MEcfs doesn’t necessarily agree. Boo to you MEcfs.

Along with podcasts, audio books and programmes one could listen to. Which one of my young folk who *proud mum alert studied mandarin at degree level, often recommends searching out. I won’t be reaching their dizzy heights of expertise, but enjoy listening. My learning capacity is a snails pace with a gnats attention span, I’m not really in the podcast et al league at the moment.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it. Will I become fluent? Probably unlikely. Being realistic. But maybe I might become confident enough to use what I learn, if there is ever a need in our locality. I absolutely love language and definitely have more patience to learn at a snails pace now. Without feeling a failure for repeating ni ue ne tak (it is not so) about forty times to *make it so. *Picard reference. And like so many people, I know a few words in a few languages, but not enough in more than one to string a useful sentence together.

Honestly, why are we so bad in this country at teaching and learning languages? Hopefully one day that will change.

Until next time.

Have a blessed day

мене звати

Penny signing off
Doodle of yellow flower in a mint green flower pot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.