Celebrating the Woon 365 days ago today

Duolingo reminds me to celebrate that I’ve been learning languages for a year now. Being the one with the least number of days on Duolingo (Kira’s streak is 1292 days, Erin’s streak is 1212 days and George is 91 days ahead of me), I relished being behind. I see myself as the late starter who keeps my girls going, since the only way I will overtake them is if they decide to stop Duolingo.

Speaking about being last in the family, I also find myself not needing to finish Top 3 in the Duolingo Tournaments and the few times I fell from the Diamond League, I giggled. It’s so refreshing to choose to not be the best within this space of Duolingo. I just learn when I want and do enough to keep the progress. During the weekly Friend’s Quest, I find myself stepping up so that I don’t pull my friend down. Though since I only have 7 friends on Duolingo, I’m mostly paired with my husband. All those quests are the best as I am riding on his coattails – it’s a running joke in the family how I often do less than 25% of the tasks needed to finish the quest sand I love it.

This reflection may start off sounding like I’m celebrating my persistence and love for learning but I hope it’s clear that I’m mainly toasting the ability to enjoy learning and not being competitive. In fact, I feel like a proud renegade each time I don’t get sucked in by the gamification. 

Messages from Duolingo about how I have fallen from the leaderboard *ignore*, how I am just a few minutes short of completing all my daily quests *ignore*, how there are only hours left for a super duper XP Ramp Up Challenge *ignore*, why I should tell my contacts all my achievements *ignore*, if I want to use gems to extend my boost and buy time *ignore* and how I can complete the next achievement *ignore* 

The awesome feeling of being a Duolingo under-achiever! *cannot ignore*

The one aspect I won’t ignore is the days streak and here I confess, there are days when I thought I did my lesson but clearly didn’t. These occasional delusions have resulted in me waking up the next morning indignant (though it’s really my fault). Sometimes I use the streak freeze (you can have 2 streak freezes with refills bought with gems that you earn as you learn), and at times I go to Adak.

I know nothing about Adak but Wikipedia tells us that Adak is the southernmost community in Alaska and on the same latitude as Haida Gwaii in Canada, and London, England. Similarly, I’m sure the less than 200 population in Adak do not know that I visit them virtually once in a while to enjoy their GMT -10 timezone and quickly do my Duolingo. That’s my cheat so I don’t use up my streak freeze. Before sharing this here, only my family (while shaking their heads) know and some obscure server in Apple and Duolingo don’t really care about this. Yes, I know I shouldn't use this loophole.

I digress.

Back to celebrating the me a year ago on 10 Dec 2022 – hooray for starting Duolingo then! I’ve since regained my Japanese fluency (not quite my 1997 level) but close, gave up really quickly on Norwegian, sailed through Granada and Cordoba in Spanish and on my way with my Bahasa Indonesian. I’m already envisioning ordering my meals like a local in Lombok and Bali. Xhosa came and left Duolingo faster than I could say “Masiqhale” (Let’s start!) but I’ve continued my bi-weekly revisions with my study buddy Carol in Stellenbosch. I spoke to countless people and smiled to even more wherever we were and am grateful to them and to myself. 

I look forward to knowing the Woon a year from now and see where she is on her language learning. I wonder who else will she meet along her journey, that she is still behind Kira, Erin and George in Duolingo streak and hope she is not often in Adak.

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