I have been all over this app called duolingo the past week or so, I have decided to finally step up my language game and try to learn a new one. What better time learn than when stuck in quarantine? The free time shouldn’t be wasted.

I have decided on Portuguese (I will explain my choice in a moment) and although just getting through the basics it is very fun so far.

I can confidently tell Portuguese speakers that I am not a shark but I do eat bread.


I always felt that learning a new language would be amazing, I just have never got round to actually starting. And I never knew what language to choose. But when I travelled around Brazil in 2016 with friends from São Paulo, I learned the very basics and thought it would be nice to keep the ball rolling. I didn’t keep the ball rolling. But I still wanted to learn and when I heard of this app I gave it a try.

It is a very convenient way to learn. I have been doing it daily in short bursts, and the thing with this is I don’t have to focus at certain times of the day in classes. I choose when and where I learn and this is a game changer for me, even if it takes me a little longer. I can imagine so many people are enjoying learning a new language in this way, the app states that more people are learning Irish around the world than there are native speakers.

I am not learning due to a career or for better career/financial prospects, more so because it sounds like an exciting challenge and it is great brain training. So thank you Brazil for helping me decide on a language to learn about. And similar to the US and UK variation of English, I would be interested to learn the differences between Brazilian-Portuguese and Portuguese-Portuguese.

I hope to keep it up. It’s like learning an instrument, real progress won’t happen overnight but with gradual steps. And I know a few of you do speak more than one language, I would love to know how many and what made you choose. If you only speak one, what one would you pick if you could?

Speak to you all soon! (in English for now).



Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!



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80 thoughts

  1. Sam this is brilliant! I too am on Duolingo! I am doing french and German. I can now say, “I am a man” which in truth isn’t awfully helpful but am sure I will soon discover what a woman is. If you want to be “friends” on it, I am Katie862122. It’s such a fun way to learn isn’t it! Katie

    1. Great! Well done on learning two languages, very impressive. And it seems like no matter the language it always starts with ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’ haha, the basics for sure! Hopefully you will soon learn what ‘I am a woman is’ 😀

      Also, I added you. You are way ahead of me in points, so I have something to aim for! 🙂

      1. Oh I’m so pleased! Thank you for adding me … I’m doing ok in French, but German takes me ages to do! The stories are really fun and an easy way to gain points … I love it and it’s given me at least a little bit of structure in my day! Katie Ps I think I can say, “I drink water” now as well!!

      2. I haven’t reached the story section just yet, but something to look forward to. Congrats on learning a new sentence! Every little helps 😀

  2. I studied Mandarin Chinese in university and taught myself Korean while living over there. Right now I am studying Thai which is slow for me. My tip for you to improve your language skills is to listen to Portuguese music; maybe have a beer while watching a Portuguese movie.

    1. Good stuff! Great to hear you can speak a couple of languages and I appreciate the tips too. I will have to watch a few Portuguese movies so I am listening to actual conversations, this is a great idea. Even if I have to put the subtitles on at first!

      Thanks so much for the comments.

    1. This is true for me too. Partly because most kids don’t enjoy being made to learn something (true of school in general really!) and I had no desire then. When we have our own desire it becomes easier to find the motivation, and it seems like this is so with you learning Spanish.

      I hope you keep it up and speak fluent! 🙂

  3. Apparently the differences between the Brazilian and Portuguese versions are quite significant. Our Head Waiter on our cruise around South America is Portuguese and he has trouble understanding and being understood in Brazil. Just keep learning and keep traveling. When it’s safe.

    1. Is this the words do you think, or the accent? Or both? I know for example the wording doesn’t change too much between English speaking countries, however the accents can cause trouble.

      I hope to keep learning long into the future. Stay safe and thank you for the comment!

      1. I’m sure you will. When you can leave the safety of where you are now. Or should I say relative safety. The UK doesn’t seem all that safe to me!

      2. It depends where you are, with such a large portion of the population in London this is being hit the worst, and is just a more dangerous city in general for this reason. I am indeed in the center of London but it seems like most people are playing their part and staying inside.

  4. I speak French – which is too rusty now, so have been practicing recently too!! And started learning Arabic too over the past few years, but more so when I was in Kuwait…

    1. French is a beautiful language. However I can see how some of it can be forgotten over time if it isn’t spoken for a while, or how the non-french accent thickens when speaking it. Glad you are practicing!

      And Arabic, completely different! A whole new world in terms of the characters… I can only imagine what it would be like not just learning a new language, but a completely different set of symbols and alphabet. Good job!

  5. I’m learning Spanish. (I speak Polish already, which helps in understanding some Slovak and Russia languages). I agree watching novella’s on Spanish TV stations has helped. It’s the reputation. Good luck! boa sorte! 😉

    1. My sisters boyfriend is Polish, so my sister says things (and sings) in Polish from time to time… maybe I will pick some of this up! It would be so cool to know a language and it open up doors to other languages due to similarities too.

      Thank you, and thank you for sharing!

  6. I speak five languages, although my Spanish and Chinese are only at level B2, which is one reason that I still have lessons in both. Started learning Italian and hoped to take an intensive course in Italy in June, but of course that’s not possible now. You might like the book “Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners” by the linguist Michael Erard. I wrote a blog post entitled “On Language”, which also dealt with the issue if you are interested.

    1. Sorry the Italian course hasn’t been able to work out, I hope you are able to continue with it after this pandemic is over and things get back to some kind of normality? And five languages, amazing. Very impressive William, and I will take a look at the blog post now.

      Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  7. Learning language (even if just for brain training) is never time ill spent. I’ve used duolingo before, and had hiiiigh hopes because I love languages. As a consequence, I know how to “decode” several languages but I can’t speak or write any. I took Latin in highschool, then switched to German for some reason. Then when I thought I wouldn’t be able to take german in college I switched to Spanish (those three languages, in that sequence, was not an additive experience). My mom is from Canada and so I picked up some french at home, looked at Russian on Duolingo, and am now trying to teach myself (and my blog readers) ecclesiastical latin with short translation exercises.

    All of those helped me to understand how language works, which is useful for appreciating my native tongue even more.

    If you’d ever like to blow your mind, go to etymonline.com and just type in words that come to mind. You’ll be surprised, I guarantee it.

    Great post, thanks for this!

    1. I visited the site you mentioned, it is fascinating! I feel I have discovered a new hobby learning the origins of words and how they have evolved over time, so thank you for that! Like you say it must have helped you to understand a lot about language just by dipping your toes in and learning some from the ones you have experience with. I envy your curiosity and desire to learn.

      Thanks for sharing Scoot!

  8. Great post, Sam! I’m also learning Welsh on Duolingo right now (we’re planning on moving from London to Wales in the near future); I think it’s a great site for learning languages. I also speak German because I grew up in Germany, and Greek because I lived in Greece for 20 years. At school I learned French and Spanish, too, but there’s not too much left of that…

    1. Oh cool so you’re learning in preparation for moving? I think the Welsh would love to hear someone had dedicated time to learn their language. And it is great to know you speak more too! Amazing and I am pretty jealous in all honesty :p

      Thank you Roberta for sharing.

      1. Yes, the Welsh love it when someone’s interested in their language and culture. Ooh, I’m sure you’ll speak perfect Portuguese soon, Sam, which I’ve never managed!

    1. Nice! I can only imagine how interesting it is learning Mandarin Chinese… it is so different and must take much longer to learn. Fascinating language 🙂

  9. Muito bem! É isso aí Sam! Se quiser praticar, conte comigo. 🙂

    Existem algumas palavras, que quando você coloca nas frases, te tornam um verdadeiro “Brasileiro” haha

    One that I love is “Eita” (in english you pronounce something almost like “eh-ta”). You can use this word in different contexts like surprise, happiness, sadness, agreeing or disapproving something. Isn’t a word that can be translated in English… and depends on totally on the situation.

    You just change the meaning by saying it longer or shorter… like “eiiiiiiitaaaaaaaaa” or “eita” HAHAHA (I’ll send you a voice message later with some examples).

    1. Thank you Marcio! I appreciate it. When I get better at Portuguese I will send you some voice messages with pride in return 😀 And I will definitely ask for some advice, such as with ‘Eita’ as I wouldn’t know how to use this.

      I am looking forward to practicing more!

    1. Canada is fascinating with having such a big French speaking population, I can imagine it is a popular second language choice. As I said in a comment above I found it hard to learn in school and I am sure many others feel the same, as it isn’t our choice at the time. Only when we have a true desire does it make it easier!

      1. They have the French Immersion schools now starting the kids when they’re 5 or 6 years old. It wasn’t like that when I was in school & French was an option when I was around 14. I just could not get it at all. I mean now I know a few words in print & what they mean, but by no means can I understand it spoken. Now with such a large population of Asians, some schools offer Mandarin & the Indian languages. There I’m totally lost….hahaha…

      2. I edited the comment slightly for you 🙂 it is strange I can edit your comment and you can’t! Odd the way WordPress has designed it.

        I do believe it must be easier learning from 5 or 6, compared to 14 or 15. I never really learned in school but partly because I had little desire to then. Now it is different so I will see how easy it is to learn as an adult!

      3. Thanks, Sam.

        I had no desire to learn either, & I had a father who said no $#%^&*!@@!&*^!!@!! way French was going to ever be spoken in HIS house! But I had to choose 2 electives, & that was the only one left after I had chosen the first, because the others interested me even less.

  10. My mother tongue is French;
    my main language is Dutch.
    I learned English at school and watching Formula 1 on tv,, reading car and later LGBT media, also while travelling and with the internet.
    I had some Spanish at school.
    I understand some Germand and can say a few things.
    I studied Latin and classical Greek with some hours of modern Greek.

    1. Wow, an interesting mix! I hope you have been able to keep many of these up and keep speaking them. I could only imagine being able to learn such a variety Timothy. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I’ve been learning Spanish in Quarantine on Rosetta Stone. I do love the flexibility of Duolingo. I try so hard to stick to it Monday-Friday. Some days fall short, though. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!!

    1. Love that it is called Rosetta Stone! Great name. You sound like you have stuck to it and been consistent, well done! I will see how I get on. I am on a 12 day streak so far and this streak is motivating me to keep going 😀

  12. I also decided to pick up Duolingo during my quarantine time! I used the app regularly in high school to aid my Spanish classes and I thought it was pretty fun! I’m trying to learn French right now – one of my big travel dreams is to visit the countrysides of France, Paris, and Disneyland Paris as well. Similarly to you, I’m not necessarily trying to be 100% fluent, but I’d love to be able to communicate in the native tongue and just do something different to exercise my brain. Glad to know someone else is playing with Duolingo in their free time! (Once I start to get a better grasp on French, I’d love to start picking up some German!)

    1. Great minds think alike, eh? :p it sounds like the app has been helpful to you learning a couple of languages. Good luck with your french and I hope that you can get to visit when this isolation is over! It is a beautiful country. You can hop over the border too and speak to some German locals if you learn a bit of that beforehand 😀

  13. Well, I speak four foreign (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese) languages. My four-language blog proves it! My mother tongue is Finnish. In addition to those languages, I understand some German and Swedish, but not to make conversations in them. My wife speaks more languages than I.:)

    Stays safe and healthy!

    1. Very impressive! It sounds like the household speaks more languages than some towns do!! Well done to both of you, it’s amazing to hear especially from someone that currently only speaks one…

      Thanks for the comments, and stay safe and healthy too!

  14. I’ve been using Duolingo for a few years now and I love how it has developed since then.
    Currently I am using it in an attempt to improve my Japanese. Even though I don’t know how to convey that I’m not a shark (yet), I can finally talk about how my dog sells hats. I actually used that sentence on my friends when I was living in Tokyo and because we were having so much fun with it I later turned my dog’s backstory into an animation.
    I wonder what fun sentences there are in other language courses on Duolingo.

    1. Your dog sells hats xD I guess these funny sentences keep us talking more and speaking more in other languages. I want to walk up to Portuguese speaker and tell them I am not a shark but my dog sells hats and see how they respond 😀

      Keep it up, using the app for a few years is great going! Thanks for your comments.

  15. I speak English and French, as well as a little Spanish. Lately I’ve been working more and more on my French as I married a francophone and we are hoping to raise our children to be completely bilingual. I have a lot of work to do! But I’m using duolingo as well which is helping. I’m also getting my husband to speak to me more in French and I’m trying to answer him more in the same language… Best of luck with the Portuguese! It’s a beautiful language.

    1. Nice that you are planning to bring up your kids to be bilingual. Learning a language is a lot of work but well worth it! It will be good to speak with someone daily that that knows the language for sure.

      Thank you and all the best with learning 🙂

  16. About 2 or 3 years ago Jason and I had talked about taking a trip to Germany so we started learning some German on Duolingo. We enjoyed using it though we stopped after a few months when we decided we weren’t going to Germany. If we ever plan to go again I’ll certainly start using it again!

    1. A fascinating language! I hope you get to go, at least you know learning is easy with the apps in our hands 🙂

  17. We are a household of English mother tongue but French as a second language. Our cat, Louis Catorze, is bilingual, and he knows how to ignore us in both languages.

    1. Haha, do you think cats are super intelligent and just refuse to show it to humans? Maybe that is why past civilisations worshipped them at times? Makes sense.

  18. I’m genuinely rubbish at learning new languages, so I’m really thankful to have grown up bilingual! I’d lived in south India for a good number of years when I was a kid, but I didn’t quite pick up Tamil… at the very least, I can grasp the meaning of what’s being said to me!
    Over this summer, I’ve decided to ignore the debris of my ongoing attempts to master French (what, six years or so now?) and try to learn Icelandic! It’s supposedly really hard to learn, because it’s got roots in old Norse and hasn’t really changed much, but it sounds really interesting!
    Good luck with Portuguese!

    1. This is so cool Matt, growing up learning a new language is so beneficial. And I wasn’t expecting to hear Icelandic here! I would love to visit, such a beautiful and amazing country and speaking with locals would be great.

      Thanks Matt, and good luck with your learning too!

      1. Me too, Sam! It sounds very cool and important, even with the few words I know now, and it sounds like a great language to sing in, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sigur Rós, and that’s where it all began!
        Interestingly, there’s been a lot folk-metal music tying in various non-English cultures and languages with straight metal music, bringing in some instruments that may not otherwise be seen in the genre, like a Maōri band from New Zealand, a Mongolian folk-metal band and a Russian folk-punk duo mixing in traditional folk instruments, and even a Delhi-based band mixing influences from North Indian Punjabi music! It’s interesting, but non-English languages fit the metal vibe quite well! (I know all this because I’d been working as a radio DJ before everything shut down. My first task of order was getting Ruled By Secrecy back on the airwaves! 😀 )

      2. These mix of genres and influences sound fascinating! I will have to take some time out to hear it for myself. Props for getting Ruled By Secrecy back on the radio, well done sir 🙂

  19. I am Italian and I got a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages, I studied French and Spanish. I spent the last year in Australia and now I can say I am very fluent in English too 🙂 To be multilingual is amazing!

    1. Wow, good going! However have you picked up the Australian sayings and phrases? The fact that they say ‘how are you going’ instead of ‘how are you doing’ always made me smile 😃

      Great work, I can see you are very fluent in English. You speak some really beautiful languages too and I’m very jealous!

  20. Sam – Delightful post! I applaud your initiative in learning another language. I took four years of Spanish in college but did not keep up on it. I think I will attempt the AP Duo-lingo and see if I can’t revive my ability to speak Spanish. My own little quark, I have learned how to swear or say not very nice things in the following languages: Japanese, Gaelic, Norwegian, German, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian. I have a friend who speaks 9 languages fluently. I am in awe. Good luck with the learning Portuguese. -Jill

    1. Nine languages?! Your friend has a superpower! and you should try the app, I am finding it very fun 🙂

      Also, I find it hilarious that the words we tend to learn first are the rude ones. Maybe these apps should have a rude version to learn? We would all learn so fast 😀

  21. I speak decent German, very useful when traveling to German or Austria. My Spanish is okay but needs a lot of work, I try practice every so often. Duolingo’s a good app to pick up a bit of the language.

    Good luck with your Portuguese, I only know a handful of words of Portuguese. Hopefully it’ll come in handy when you get a chance to visit Portugal, Brazil or Africa 🙂

    1. This is very impressive Jason. I would love to speak another language, so you being able to speak two is great!! Oh how I wish I could 🙂

      Thanks for the motivation, I will try to keep it going 🙂

      1. It’s pretty cool. I’m not fluent but good enough that I get use out of my German at least.

        It’s a useful skill to have, particularly given the industry you work in! It won’t hurt when you get a few Portuguese speaking visitors 🙂

  22. Well, I speak English and Turkish ( my native language ) , English is a passion for me cuz The last 5 years it brought tons of amazing stuff into my life. Recently, I am trying to learn hindi. I might use some apps like duolingo and before that ı wanna go with the baby technique, ı will try to consume as much as ı can, and you know there is a huge industry of movie. well, other than that ı wanna talk more about english. As ı said to learn english ı have given so much effort to speak and sound like a native and yeeeeeahh ı did it!!! Now ı have my own youtube channel and ı am looking forward to make awesome content to contribute what ı have learned, experienced during the process. I would love to share with you as well 🙂 :


    1. Your English is great!! And I love that it has brought many great things into your life. Another benefit of learning a language is being able to appreciate the poetry/ movies/ music, you name it. A new door opened to so many new bits of art 🙂

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