Quarantine; procrastination, Netflix or Languages by Harishni Manoharan, The Henrietta Barnett School

Wallowing in the pits of social distancing this past week has fried my brain with endless episodes of Gilmore Girls, lack of social interaction and mouthfuls of stocked up quarantine food. After five years of high school was abruptly put to an end with the cancellation of GCSEs, I diagnosed my boredom with… a ‘Duolingo’ Spanish account! Now before you boo and throw eggs at me, let me insight you into what my life learning Spanish has been like the past few days while you have been cooped up on your sofa watching Netflix.

It all started last Monday morning when I woke up and flung the curtains open. Motivation pumped through my veins. No more Gilmore Girls for me! It was time to reborn, spiritually cleanse myself with the birth of my Spanish skills. Well, in all honesty, enhance my already rusty GCSE standard Spanish. The moment I pressed the download button of the Duolingo app on the App Store, my life took a turn. Firstly, it gave me a sense of productivity; motivating me to continue developing my Spanish. The usual lows of finishing a Netflix show and having an existential crisis about what to do with my life no more existed. My ten minutes of daily Spanish everyday would last forever!

It was a tough journey I must say. The cartoon characters on the side of the screen motivated me on my conquest. I earned gems that I could spend in the Duolingo store and lost and gained hearts to do the exercises. The satisfaction I felt was unmatched; I had never felt this way before. With each lesson, the difficulty level slightly increased enabling me to expand my vocabulary.

Speaking from a scientific perspective, the app uses the clever concept of ‘spaced repetition.’ Spaced repetition is simple, but highly effective because it forces learning to be worthwhile, and like muscles, the brain responds to that stimulus by strengthening the connections between nerve cells. And so, by revisiting vocabulary and grammar the memories are consolidated and strengthened allowing you to be able to remember things long-term. The brain is constantly stimulated for short period of time everyday rather than hours making it both convenient and effective.

During these unprecedented times, why don’t you take on the challenge of learning a new language or any other activity you like instead of seeing how many seasons you can binge in a day. Even Harry Styles has taken up learning both sign language and Italian among other activities. Don’t waste time, grab these opportunities and make the most of it! Better yourself!

DUOLINGO: https://www.duolingo.com/

Harishni Manoharan

This Is Local London | North-West