First, there are few things that I am dogmatic about. As far as language instruction goes, these are the few things I will fight you in the octagon about (no,not literally...my OG status is for my gift with words, not for physical prowess).
- Grades should be based on student performance towards the relevant state/local/national standards.
- In the State of Ohio, discrete grammar points are NOT part of those standards.
- Therefore, student grades should not be based on assessment of discrete grammar points.
Now, obviously learners need to learn to use the appropriate language structures - grammar - in order to communicate. While there are many camps who feel adamantly that their method is the best (or only) way to help students effectively learn a language, I am not a dogmatic adherent to any particular camp. My classroom is proficiency-based. We use many, many authentic documents/audiovisual resources for learning, and I rely on resources entirely in the TL (such as CLE's Français progressif series) to flood input. I assess students using the ACTFL-based rubrics provided by ODE. I am not teaching or measuring for grammatical accuracy, per se. However, I am constantly searching for ways to model and provide input to help students learn the structures that they need to advance their proficiency in the language.
Enter Duolingo. (Note: If you have never actually used Duolingo, get off my blog, go sign up, do some lessons. You have no business chiming in on the tool if you haven't used it!) It's gamified and fun - my phone-addicted, Fortnite-fool students love that. It's adaptive - I don't have to do a thing to differentiate its use for my IEP/504/behavior plan students. It requires NOTICING of structures without being explicit!!! This is the big thing - students are learning to recognize the difference between indefinite/definite article use, verb conjugation, adjectival agreement, WITHOUT BEING EXPLICITLY TAUGHT. It works on iOS, Android, and web - all my students can access it either at school or on their phones if they have it. There's a teacher end where I can track and monitor progress. It's free. And I don't have to create any activities myself, which is important as a single mother, shared staff with 3-5 preps a year, and the sufferer of autoimmune disease.
Does Duolingo replace CI in my classroom? NO. Does it replace me? NO. Does it stand alone as curriculum? NO. Is it just a way to occupy my students (busy work)? NO. Does it produce fluent speakers/writers of the TL? NO. Does it help students think about the language, notice patterns, gain exposure to additional vocabulary AND do it in a way that most find engaging? YES. Can I track progress and use it as an additional practice tool without spending hours developing my own stories/forms/PBL/videos/etc? YES. Does this make my instructional practice any less about about proficiency? I don't think so.
You do you. If Duolingo doesn't fit for your practices, so be it. But before categorically dismissing a too and those who use it in the classroom (again, if you haven't even used it, you should before you cast judgement...Green Eggs and Ham principle), consider that for some practitioners, this IS a useful and helpful tool. Pragmatic >dogmatic.