Aine tries to learn a new language

The challenge was simple: learn enough Spanish in 30 days to hold a conversation with one of the teachers in the Spanish department. I was a young pupil falling in love with the duolingo owl, eager to learn its secrets and master its linguistic challenges. I breezed through the first few levels in a few days, learning such vocabulary as cerveza (beer), comer (to eat), etc.

We loved with a love that was more than love — I and my duolingo owl. Then I shattered its poor corázon.

Reader, I don’t intend to portray myself as one who takes pride in breaking the hearts of digital owls meant to teach languages. It wasn’t the owl, it was me. My life was too much. Responsibilities piled up. Our daily sessions grew shorter with the passage of days. I skipped one day, too exhausted to complete an exercise on the app.

The messages started almost immediately. “Where are you?” Desperate, searching for something it did wrong. Message after message, day after day.


Now and then, I still reflect upon the times we shared together — my duolingo owl and I. The euphoria and rush of learning a new language. Feeling my brain make the connections was quite the exhilarating experience.

But I was not equal to the challenge. The weight of my two language classes crushed down upon my aspirations of learning Spanish. And, since the quintessential aspect of language learning is daily repetition, the second I skipped a day in favor of sleep, the ghost was given up. I could feel the owl slipping away from me. “Who?…Who?…Who is this language imposter?”

So, to the duolingo owl, I am sorry to have let you down. I hope you find someone who doesn’t let life come between you. But for now, I return to my French and my Latin.

Gracias, entrante.


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