Using Duolingo French in your classes

Using Duolingo French in your classes

If you haven’t yet tried out Duolingo French, you might want to take a look. I’ve been using it this year with my classes and I’ve found it to be a useful addition to our weekly routine. It’s easy to use and your students will enjoy the gamified aspects of learning – some of my students who won’t do any other assignments will participate in the Duolingo ones.

How to use Duolingo French

You will need to visit the schools version of Duolingo to set up your classes. You’ll choose the language and give each class a name. To add your students, you can send them the link and they can join Duolingo, or if they already have it they can join your class by clicking on the link and logging in with their existing account. This works on both mobile devices and computers.

Once they’ve joined your class, they’ll be asked whether they are starting from scratch or if they’ve already studied some French. Obviously with level 1, they will start from scratch. You can allow them to test into the appropriate unit, but beware that some students are good at guessing or will use an online translator – and this will place them into a much more advanced level than they are ready for. This can make it frustrating once they start doing the lessons, so maybe mention to them that they will only be causing trouble for themselves by doing this.

You can now assign activities to your students. With the new Duolingo French path, you can’t assign specific lessons or skills. They hope to have that function working in January 2024. Until then, you can just assign an XP goal. I assign 50 points per week. Since each Duolingo French lesson earns between 10-15 points, they need to do only one lesson per day to meet that goal. If they do well on a lesson, they can get bonus points, so they might only need to do four lessons each week instead of five.

I find that the gamification in Duolingo gets some of my students involved who otherwise wouldn’t be. They get instant feedback, and they can see their progress as they move through each lesson and the path. There is a variety of activities – speaking, reading, listening and writing. You can make a leaderboard for your classes – Duolingo displays one for each class within the teacher dashboard – to encourage them to earn points.

What else does Duolingo French offer besides the lessons?

In the past, you had to look for the little stories in order to do them. Now, the stories are built into the path. This means that as students do the lessons, the stories will pop up as part of their regular assignments. The stories are cute, short stories that are based on the vocabulary and structures learned in the lessons. They include questions, so students will need to pay attention to the sentences they are reading for both comprehension AND the structure of the language.

At some times, Duolingo offers a classroom quest. Your students can work together as a class to win prizes. A target number of points is set and the points earned each week go towards a classroom swag pack or other prizes.

Another good thing about using Duolingo in schools is that once your students have a schools account (meaning that they’ve joined a teacher’s class), they will have unlimited hearts – no more running out of chances to pass a level! This will carry over to any language they study, so if you have students learning another language, they will also be able to use it for languages other than Duolingo French.

Duolingo French owl

Duolingo French podcasts – a great resource for intermediates

If your students are in level 2 or higher, I suggest trying out the Duolingo French podcasts. These are an amazing resource, and every episode is quite interesting. They are a combination of English and French – the narrator speaking English and the guest subject speaking French. The level is intermediate, and with the narrator helping to restate tricky sections in English your students won’t get lost. There are more than 80 episodes at this point on a variety of topics.

The podcasts feature guests from all over the French-speaking world, so your students can have the chance to hear a variety of accents. Some of them are about culture, others are about regular people doing interesting things. Each episode stands on its own, except for season 8. Season 8 is a 6-part series that should be listened to in order.

If you’d like to try the Duolingo French podcast and take it further with your students, or supply them with more scaffolding, I have a series of activities to accompany season 11, the current season. Each lesson has pre-listening activities to prepare students with the vocabulary they will need and post-listening activities to check for comprehension and practice the vocabulary.

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