Since italki decided to stop the free language exchange part of their website, the best place to get free language exchanges is on Duolingo Events! Duolingo Events are basically online video calls that are hosted by a Duolingo user. They organize the Skype/Zoom callers into “rooms” by the languages they want to practice and then you can stay as long as you like!
How to Start Using Duolingo Events
To start using Duolingo Events, head to the Duolingo Events website. From there, make sure you are logged into your Duolingo account by clicking the Login button on the top right corner.
Once you’re logged in, you can see all the events that are currently happening. You can filter the events by the language you are learning and the level you want to practice at. You can toggle the button below to show events that are still available instead of showing events that are already filled.
Once you find an event during the time period you’d like to practice, you can click on it and get more information on the event itself before you decide to sign up for it.
There’s a section with Duolingo Event details, telling you which languages will be available for you to practice, how long the practice will be, the language level of the speakers, and whether it’s an online event or an in-person event.
There’s also a section telling you what to expect in the event and whether there are specifics topics that they’ll cover. Some hosts also have links to their PayPal since they are organizing all these events for free.
Once you decide on the Duolingo Event you want to attend, you can click the “Attend for Free” button on the right side.
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A notification will pop up letting you know that you’re confirmed to attend the event and they’ll send more instructions to your email address. This will be the same email address that you have connected to your Duolingo account.
Are Duolingo Events Free?
Yes, most Duolingo Events are completely free. Some hosts may include PayPal or Venmo information in the event so that you can donate if you want to.
The hosts do the events for free, so definitely consider donating if you really enjoyed it!
However, some events charge a small fee, like the one below:
Personally, I do not recommend doing one of these. Since it is usually a group, you can get a much better deal by taking personal classes on italki for the same price or even much cheaper.
If you choose to do one of these, you will not get your money back if you don’t show up to the event. If you cancel 24 hours in advance, then you can get a refund.
This rule may change though, so double-check the refund policy before booking.
Do Duolingo Events Earn You XP? How Many XP?
Yes, you can earn XP by attending a Duolingo Event! (Which is a great way to earn XP super fast!)
You earn 250 XP for every Duolingo Event that you attend. In order to earn the XP, you need to actually join the event (by clicking the “Join Now” button).
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How to Cancel a Duolingo Event
If you can no longer attend a Duolingo Event, it’s super easy to go and cancel. That way, the host can know how many people are actually going to come.
Plus, some events have a limit on the number of users that can sign up for the event, so this will open up room for someone else.
After you signed up for the event, it should say “Attending” underneath the event. To cancel, just click on that button and choose “No longer attending.”
A sad Duolingo Owl will pop up so that you can confirm your cancellation. Super easy!
How to Attend Your Duolingo Event
If you chose to attend a Duolingo Event that is currently happening, you can join right away by clicking the “Join Now” button. If not, you can add the event to your Google Calendar to remind you.
Make sure that you have Zoom downloaded ahead of time and leave a few minutes before your event to get everything ready to show up on time. Try to find a quiet place and use headphones so that it’s easier for the other users to hear you.
The easiest way to get to your Event is by heading to the email that Duolingo Events sent you. Click on the “See Details” button for your event and it will take you straight to the page where you originally signed up for the event.
From here, just click “Join Now” if it’s time to start. It will ask you to “Launch Meeting” and this will open Zoom.
It shows the meeting information and then allows you to join with Audio and Video. From there, the host will organize the meeting.
For example, if the Duolingo Event you signed up for had multiple languages, then the host will ask you which one you want to practice. Then they will put you in a “room” with other users who want to practice that same language.
When I joined, I asked to be put in the Italian Speakers room. From there, I was able to chat with a few people and it was actually a really fun experience.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Duolingo Events
Although you are speaking with other beginners and not native speakers (in some cases a native speaker might be the host so there may be a native speaker there to correct you) you will definitely still get in some practice.
1. Have Google Translate Open
Make sure you have Google Translate open on your Desktop or your phone. This isn’t meant for translating full phrases, but it’s great for when you have something specific you want to say but you need a word that you don’t know.
2. You’ll Probably Never See These People Again, So Talk and Make Mistakes!
It can feel awkward at first, but just remember that making mistakes is THE BEST way to learn. Talk as much as you can and remember that they are all thinking about their own mistakes just like you’re thinking about yours. They don’t care!
3. Don’t You Dare Say a Single Word in Your Native Language
Self-explanatory, but if your brain thinks that you’ll let it get away with speaking your native language instead of your new language, then it will simply not do the work. Why would it? It doesn’t need to!
You’ve got to promise yourself to not allow any words to come out of your mouth that isn’t the language you’re trying to learn. Even if you do this for just a few minutes, you’ll learn more and progress faster than you ever thought possible.
Also, if you’re not using italki yet, you seriously need to get on that! Speaking with a native speaker for just $5 per hour is as good as it gets for language learning. Start now, you won’t regret it.
4. Write Down the Words/ Phrases You Struggle With
Since you aren’t speaking with native speakers, it is up to you to make sure that you learn something and improve from using Duolingo Events.
The best way to do this is by keeping a Google Doc or notebook nearby and jotting down the words and phrases that you struggle with. Make sure to do it as soon as it happens since you are likely to forget once the Event is over.
I tried using Zoom Chat for this but once you leave the chat, all of your notes are gone.
After the Duolingo Event, you can add those phrases and new vocab words to flashcard decks. I use the flashcard app Anki since it uses spaced repetition, which means that it shows you the flashcard right before you forget that word.
Make sure to keep your flashcards as simple as possible. It’s better to have 3 separate flashcards like the apple, two apples, the apples, instead of putting that all on one card. I make cards like that so that I’m not only learning new words, but also grammar.