When Duolingo Fails, Try Inspiration

No, you cannot become fluent with an app alone.

The past two years have been chaotic for everyone, especially young students. Rather than being able to learn in person, youngsters were glued to their screens and hoped to learn something on their tablets and apps. Lost in the tornado of disorganisation, many fell behind in their coursework and lost their motivation to “keep on trying”. While some were successful at managing their time properly, it became too difficult as time moved on. 

One notable example is a student who wanted to switch to French immersion, after having spent some time in Montreal with his family. While the trip was successful in motivating him, he lacked the support needed to bring his positivity to fruition. Yes, Duolingo is a great app but it requires a certain degree of independence, something that many young people have yet to develop. These learning skills are hard to develop independently, needing someone to “spell everything out in black and white”. 

Do I recommend Duolingo?

 According to different sources, finishing the entire language tree is equivalent to a full university semester. This may have many parents over the moon about the prospect but I would like to provide a little bit of context. The app forces the student to engage within a certain perimeter of speech, which may-or not-help them in their specific program. Furthermore, the curriculum is not aligned with the Ontario French standards, set forth by the Ministry of Education. 

I admit, it does look pretty snazzy. However, does it work?
What is the best way to master French?

Inspiration is a network of 12 learning centres, serving both the Greater Toronto and Vancouver regions. All campuses share the same optimistic motif, matching brilliant yellows and blues together. This says nothing about the learning that goes on within their doors, matching expert teachers with hungry minds. Not every student is enthusiastic at first, some reluctant to accept help. Once things get going, French tutoring becomes a central point to their week, having fun while seeing their skills develop. 

What makes Inspiration different?

As cache as it sounds, every child is a snowflake each with their specific learning profile. This means that students will excel in some settings but fail in anothers. Some students try hard to derail the lesson, trying to waste as much time as possible. Smaller class sizes make it more difficult to slack off since they are in constant communication with their teacher. This has a severe reduction of boredom, since they are never waiting to speak or be heard. 

Is fluency possible?

Many parents dream of having their children converse flawlessly in Paris, discussing art or philosophy. I have seen Chinese students develop strong conversational skills, opening up the doors to immersion, travel, and study in a Francophone university. Those students are truly determined, making this subject their interest of focus. Other students are looking to just pass, allowing them to move onto other things that they find either more interesting or useful. In any case, Duolingo cannot hold a candle to Inspiration Learning Center, having seen students graduate and head onto the Ivy Leagues

What does it look like in practice?

  • Comprehensive language assessment.
  • Combining curriculum-based material with relevant culture.
  • Stress on dialogue and conversation.
  • Manual (pen and paper) note taking
  • Weekly homework (oral, written, comprehension)
  • Written composition
  • Verb conjugation and grammar workshop
  • Tests and quizzes
  • Public speaking (in front of a group)
Free assessment

Inspiration offers a complimentary assessment, letting you know exactly how your child is performing. Looking at your child “as a whole”, he or she will go through a battery of problems and questions, signally their strengths or weaknesses. You will understand all of the options available before you, discussing goals and how best to reach them.

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    I’m still learning from you, while I’m improving myself. I definitely enjoy reading all that is posted on your website.Keep the stories coming. I enjoyed it!


  2. Haircuts

    The very heart of your writing while sounding reasonable initially, did not settle well with me personally after some time. Someplace throughout the paragraphs you actually managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a short while. I however have a problem with your leaps in logic and you would do nicely to help fill in those breaks. If you actually can accomplish that, I will definitely end up being fascinated.


  3. Report Card – Inspiration Learning Center

    […] risking out on quality opportunities. While some parents seek to remedy problems with apps-like Duolingo-this is insufficient in developing academic English […]


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