“Even a quick 5-15 minutes on Duolingo helps my mind to focus and improves concentration.”

Hi! My name is Vivien and I am currently finishing the third year of my pharmacy degree at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. I’ve been working in two pharmacies for the last two years. Ideally, I hope to see myself in the hospital sector in a couple of years.

While I’ve been shielding in lockdown, I’ve grown bored of using the same social media apps on my phone every day. There’s only so much of Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook to scroll through before it becomes draining.  I’ve always wanted to improve my language skills because I love travelling and conversing with local people. Plus, I really enjoy learning new skills and gaining more knowledge. So, I decided to make lockdown my chance to finally give Duolingo a go.

Duolingo is a free online learning language platform where users can spend five or more minutes every day learning or improving their chosen foreign language. I’ve been using the app daily for a couple of weeks now. I usually use Duolingo when I wake up and before I sleep, depending on what I have planned for the day. Even a quick 5-15 minutes on the app helps my mind to focus and improves concentration. It’s allowed me to take my mind off any stresses, particularly if I feel I’m not being productive enough.

One major change I have made because of Duolingo is my sleeping pattern. During lockdown my sleep schedule started to go off course, and I struggled falling asleep and waking up at reasonable times. Since starting Duolingo I have made a point in using the app at certain times before I sleep and wake up, as part of a lockdown routine.

Using Duolingo, I’ve also been able to have conversations with my friends in different languages, which has improved our friendships because it presents a new topic to speak about and gets everyone learning together.

I’ve taken up Mandarin and Spanish at the same time because I have some previous knowledge in both languages. Using the app has boosted my self-esteem as I have managed to recap existing knowledge and consolidate what I already know. As a result of my new confidence, I’ve taken up a sign language course. Having a change in mindset has encouraged me to replace watching Netflix with other activities like cooking and reading new books.

I’d say to new starters, pick one or two languages to start with -, either ones you have already have experience with or ones that you are really interested in learning. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t make it through a lesson without making mistakes, do the practice sessions and read the tips. It’ll eventually become familiar and second nature; you will whizz through some of the lessons. Hope to see you on Duolingo and stay safe!