This is Duolingo, a language-learning website/app that deserves some serious recognition. It offers over 10 languages for English speakers, as well as courses for non-English speakers around the world, and they’re in the process of adding more.
But wait, I don’t want to do any more schoolwork! Not to worry little one, Duolingo is actually more like a game. You can compete with friends, and earn “lingots” (which are basically Duolingo money) to buy power-ups, extra activities, and bonus skills - like Flirting.
I’m already taking a language, what do I need this for?
It’s not really a secret that most school language courses (in America, anyway) suck and only teach you to speak the language at about a third grader’s level. Which is why Duolingo is so freaking awesome.
Teachers can’t give every student individualized attention, but Duolingo can. If you’re not learning the way you want to or as much as you want to in the classroom, Duolingo is a really great resource. It’s easy, tailored to you, and really effective.
Duolingo tracks your progress and reminds you when you haven’t studied for a while or need a refresher on something. Already semi-fluent in a language? No problem, just take a shortcut to more advanced subjects or test out of the lesson.
The lessons start with the basics (he, she, hello, thank you, etc) and move up to harder stuff. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary first, so you can learn the language and then the grammar that goes with it - much simpler than the system most schools use. It also tracks the number of words you’ve learned and how well you know them.
And you don’t even have to write out the flashcards!
Duolingo is perfect for reviewing everything you forgot over the summer or giving you the extra help you need. And if you’re trying to learn a language on your own, it’s fantastic - you don’t have to create your own lessons. Whether you’re trying to learn your second, third, or fifth language, I seriously recommend Duolingo.
Okay, what else?
Duolingo also has discussion boards, where you can ask for help with a hard lesson, make new friends, watch for updates, and share your achievements.
Even better is the Immersion feature. It won’t send you to Spain or France, but it’s pretty awesome. Duolingo takes real articles from the internet, which users translate. You can translate articles from your native language into the language you’re learning or vice versa, which gives you more experience and makes the Internet more universal.
You can suggest new languages and track Duolingo’s progress in creating new courses. Bilinguals (older than 13) can help to create these courses. Duolingo has a long list of courses that can be contributed to, like Punjabi, Hebrew, and Vietnamese. Oh, and Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, and Esperanto.
And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE.
If you love languages or just want to pass French class this year, USE DUOLINGO. Download the app and practice a language while you wait for the bus instead of playing Angry Birds!
You’re going to need boots with at least a 1 inch heel (1-2 should do it), a ASTM/SEI approved helmet, and breeches. I’d definitely buy a pair of breeches if you’re thinking of sticking with English for more than a couple lessons. Jeans aren’t generally as stretchy as breeches are. For boots, paddock boots and half chaps will most likely be the cheapest option if you’re just starting out. Your coach might let you ride without half chaps at first, cause they aren’t exactly fundamental, but I would definitely suggest them because they protect your legs from getting pinched by the saddle while you ride. If you’re going to keep riding English, I would also suggest you buy a pair of riding gloves… They’re especially handy in the winter.
I haven’t really ridden Western (not truly) so I can’t compare the two, but I do know that the way you hold the reins to the way you sit is different. The stirrups are probably also going to be a hell of a lot shorter.
I wish you luck! :)
As someone who has ridden both western and english, some advice:
English saddles are /tiny/. You will feel like you might go over the back at any time, and it’ll feel weird. Also, losing your stirrups or having to ride without them sucks, those metal pieces can be painful. Also, you’re always riding with two hands, and your coach will want you to keep ‘em short.
But, on the plus side - putting on the saddle will be so easy you’ll want to cry. Everything is so /light/ and it’s /great/. Also, english is hella useful for starting out riding, you learn a lot more about balance.
And finally, jumping. Jumping is fun in an english saddle. Jumping is not at all fun in a western saddle. You will like that part.
Hope you enjoy! It’s really best if everyone tries both disiplines, it’s very useful experience!
Baby Flamboyant Cuttlefish in egg case (on a sock?!) - Daniel Geary
Hey guys, my friend Dan is becoming a super talented underwater photographer. He refuses to get Tumblr, much to my dismay. Let’s try and convince him otherwise. Hands up if you’d like to see him post his stuff on Tumblr.