Have you ever used the language you’re learning in real life? Using language to bridge communication gaps is one of the best feelings—and something we love at Duolingo! We know that becoming fluent isn’t the only goal, sometimes it’s just about connecting more deeply with people around you, communicating urgent information, or even taking the next step as a superfan.
We asked our fellow Duos to share some of their proudest moments in learning a language. From a breakthrough at work to, literally, saving the day, these stories remind us that you never know when your new language will come in handy!
“Once I saved the day in the Czech Republic by calling my American friend's landlord and explaining—in Czech, at 4:00 AM—that there was a gas leak in the building!” —Parker, Educational Content Developer
“Ten years ago, I was in a deadly bus crash. I survived with only minor injuries, so I stayed behind to translate for a few Chinese exchange students who needed more medical attention. I think ultimately they would've been fine even without me, but both the students and the hospital staff were grateful that someone who spoke both English and Chinese was present to make communication smoother.” —Duo (yes, we have a human named Duo!), Content Program Manager
“I was working for a company that needed to conduct user experience testing of its new German and French websites, but didn't want to hire an outside firm to do it. Since I spoke both languages, the user experience team trained me to run the studies, and I conducted 20 user interviews in person in Munich and Paris! It was hard work but also great fun, and to this day the experience is one of my highlights of my professional career!” —Lisa, Freelance Operations Manager
“My husband and I organized a trip with 20 friends to visit Peru and hike the Inca trail a few years ago. I was so proud to be able to communicate with our guides and to help our friends translate.” —Debbie, Head of Investor Relations
“In my past life as a lawyer, I exonerated a wrongfully-accused set of immigrant parents through court and helped them get their children back.” —Ed, Head of Government Relations
“A few months ago, I was in an Uber with a driver who had recently moved to the U.S. from Brazil. He didn't speak much English and I don't speak any Portuguese, but both of us were learning Spanish and we were able to have a whole conversation about our lives, how he was adjusting to the move, and the traveling that we hope to do someday. It was my first time using my Spanish in a situation where I didn't have any other way to communicate, and I think we were equally excited to put our learning to the test!” —Isabel, Software Engineer
“One time on a flight I was sitting near a group of Mandarin Chinese speakers who did not speak or understand English, and the flight attendant did not speak Mandarin. The flight attendant was struggling to communicate with them about the meal options. I was able to explain in Mandarin and helped everyone in the group order their meal and drink. Even though it was a small matter, it felt so good to be able to help someone with my language skills!” —Ramsey, Assessment Scientist
“I was able to take the GRE and the TOEFL to get into a PhD program here in the U.S.! My proudest moment was that my highest score (97% percentile!) was for verbal, aka English language. This was a big surprise—I have a Bachelor's in math and thought for sure I would do best in that. My spouse (who is American and a native speaker of English) likes to joke that I speak English better than he does.” —Elise, Learning Scientist
“I understood a Bad Bunny interview without subtitles.” —Meghan, Software Engineer