Lernen durch Fehler. Learning through Failure

Duolingo Levels (I have no idea if the German is right---that's what Google translator came up with.)

My latest micro-obsession is Duolingo, an app that teaches foreign languages through a quiz-based game. It's a nice interface, and the different question formats keep things interesting. I've taken a ridiculous amount of Spanish, but the game has helped me brush up a little. I'm hoping to get to some new material soon (you can test out of levels to move up faster).

My girls have a friend from Portugal, so they've decided to try to learn some Portuguese using Duolingo on the iPad. I had this identical conversation with both girls at different times this weekend:

Child: Mommy, what's the Portuguese word for "woman"? I have to choose it from this list. Me: I have no idea. Child: I don't either! How am I supposed to play this game? Me: You guess, and it tells you whether you're right. Child [a few minutes later]: I didn't pass the level! I have to start it again? Me: Yes, but now you know the word for "woman," don't you?

In school, learners follow a pattern of instruction --> practice --> assessment. In Duolingo, instruction, practice and assessment are simultaneous. You learn from trial and error, from doing. Failure isn't a setback, it provides critical information.

Life is more like Duolingo, isn't it?