Learning Italian for Spanish Speakers on Duolingo

This phallic reference on the left is not from the “flirting” bonus add-on that you buy with lingots on Duolingo. But it could have been. The “flirting” app did have “I want to try something sweet, can I taste your lips? / ¿Quiero probar algo dulce, podría saborear tus labios?” and it was worth the lingots or gems or whatever.

I have to thank my ex-coworker at The Echo, Vickki Acuna, who criticized my tattoos as being “mismatched”, but recommended me this cool language learning app called Duolingo. Duolingo teaches you a very basic list of words that are commonly used in the language of your choice. For every language, you begin at the first levels with very simple words and, in the case of Spanish, learn how to use subjunctive past. I played Duolingo every day for a year until I mastered all of the levels of Spanish back in 2017. Eventually, Duolingo introduced group speaking events. There was a friendly guy named Danny Sims who likes the Spanish language as second language but doesn’t do Duolingo himself that began hosting group events in Los Angeles. After trying to order drinks on the Duolingo tab, which was actually his tab, I learned he was just a language geek and does this stuff for free. I eventually learned Duolingo runs mostly everything on a volunteer basis.

Christian Pelleschi and Chris Girard (top left) attend the first Duolingo event in Downtown Los Angeles at Casey's Irish Pub in August 2017.

My spouse and I (second to top left) attended the first ever Duolingo event at Casey’s Irish Pub in August 2017. At these events, you get to practice speaking the language, rather than listening to and filling in blanks of sentences delivered by cartoon people. It was a lot of fun, and I have gone to quite a few more “intercambios” since 2017. Most of the time, the people who come to the Duolingo events are at a very beginning conversational level like I was in 2017 before I moved to Spain. Now I am usually the more advanced speaker, not because of Duolingo events, but because I have taken Spanish 4, 5, a conversation course and an immersion course since then. And I am conversationally still like gelatin next to a native Spanish speaker.

After using Duolingo for a few years, it will prepare you well for Spanish 1 through 4 at an American college. Duolingo will not prepare you for using the language in casual conversations with native speakers, classes conducted in other languages, writing assignments, bureaucratic things like getting citizenship in another country, cursing at people, hooking up or understanding cinema and tv shows. This, you have to rely on actually practicing. When confronted with not understanding someone, I usually rely on the person’s body language conveying more than what I grasped at what they’ve said.

It is easy not to practice speaking or listening on the app since you can always disable it. I usually disabled speaking and listening on Duolingo because I practiced almost exclusively not at home. Over the years, I have practiced at a job, waiting in line, on the metro or otherwise waiting for something or someone. After you learn the basic verbs and context, it becomes very predictable and an almost lazy activity. So I stepped it up.

Learning Two Languages at Once on Duolingo

When I taught English at a private cooperative bilingual school in Madrid, I was inspired by a teacher named Juanan who taught his kids Chinese through English. He would show funny videos from a YouTube channel called ChineseBuddy. The songs would be sung in Chinese and have English subtitles. It was impressive how Spanish kids learned how to speak Chinese through a trilingual approach from English.

I felt inspired to learn another language as practicing on Duolingo became too easy, so I began learning Italian from Spanish for Spanish speakers on the app. Both languages use the same bank of words, which helped me remember common words in English that I wasn’t too familiar with.

Both Spanish and Italian are romance languages with sentence structures that are mostly the same. The difference is mostly in the treatment of articles and plural words. But! There are certain common words that you realize you didn’t know one language, that are really common in English and another language.

To become, for example, is the simple diventare in Italian but there is no simple way to easily become something in Spanish. Convertirse en, ugh…

You have one word in English:

I become a man.

You have one word in Italian (hai una parola in italiano):

Io divento un uomo.

But, you have three words in Spanish (tienes tres palabras en español):

Yo me convierto en un hombre.

You have to do the reflexive romantic word, plus add to.

The direct translation to English is like saying I get converted to a man.

So, doing the trilingual approach makes me learn words that I didn’t realize I didn’t know and then it helps strengthen everything else.

The New Duolingo: Error-Shaming You to Use Premium!

The green Duolingo owl has become quite the Starbucks siren. Ever since a Duolingo update in December 2019, Duolingo has radically changed the way in which the game is played. You are very limited to taking on new levels now. You don’t have unlimited play anymore. You have ‘hearts’ to lose and ‘gems’ to earn. You will not be able to test out of levels without paying in ‘gems’. You will be restricted game play to levels that you already completed if you lose all of your ‘hearts’.

So, in the meantime, some people are switching over to the Duolingo website now since it doesn’t have ‘hearts’ and ‘gems’ to lose. The website still lives in the past with ‘lingots’. Considering that the app is volunteer-run and people are actively improving the app without being compensated, where is all the money for buying premium membership going?

These Duolingo feedback emails used to list the volunteers like “SaraGalesa” and “sanio” who helped add and correct errors to the translation bank. Eventually sometime after 2017, Duolingo made these countless number of volunteers anonymous to the public.

Money is being made from Duolingo incentivizing people into buying premium memberships by error-shaming and restricting them from learning. Some of these tireless unpaid volunteers like “SaraGalesa” and “sanio” who help approved a few of my many translation suggestions on Spanish Duolingo over the years should be getting paid and not in lingots (or gems).

So if anyone should be getting that Premium Membership money being raked in, please give it to the many volunteers who have vastly improved the translations on Duolingo and then the global ambassadors like Danny Sims from Los Angeles who have been bringing us together.

Posted by Chris Girard in Apps, Personal

Thousands of Years on Bitlife…

Sad hipster on Bitlife

You can edit your sad hipster ex-boyfriend’s appearance with Free God Mode on Bitlife.

I used Bitlife for 10,000 years in bitizen years and one year in human years and after playing many generations worth of people, I discovered many different things about the game. I began using Bitlife last year, because I was looking for something like Real Lives which was a PC-only RPG in the 2000s.

Real Lives was more educational than entertainment. You don’t have the power to control your destiny and wealth really, especially if you’re born from a poor family in Africa. If your parents die, you will die too in childhood. Sometimes the corrupt government would implode and you lose all of your wealth. And being homeless takes a toll on your mental and physical well-being. (Not on bitlife.) I remember playing a woman with a middle class job, an office worker, in India and when she retired, she couldn’t afford her house anymore and became homeless and died soon after.

You used to get a promotion from Porn Star to Porn Director on Bitlife but no promotion from Lead Actor to Director. But if you are a Lead Actor, you will eventually make $4,000,000 a year, guaranteed. If you are very beautiful and smart – but not too smart – you will be popular enough to join the Student Council as a freshman in high school and college. If you choose a sexuality that does not align with your sexual preferences, your character becomes slightly – like 8% – less happy because of that choice. Oh and if you want to be a transexual and get a male to female sex change operation, the Bitlife world found the technology to recreate a uterus and ovaries as you can get pregnant as an MTF.

Bitlife has real life events like wars that happen between two different countries. They seemed to import this from Real Lives. But these global events are inconsequential and almost silly events on that ticker tape that I hardly ever read. Both Real Lives and Bitlife are very addictive games. But the developers made Bitlife a bit stupid and added too many jokes and unrealistic scenarios. But with the lack of realism, they should push it even farther. Add “immortality” to the characters.

Even the leprechaun eventually died.


Deaths are usually more ridiculous than tragic on Bitlife. You can die from being in the tanning bed too many times. You can die from the witch doctor’s medicine. You can die by suicide a la “surrendering” which is actually suicide and used to be called suicide. You can die by getting too old. This 129 year old dead woman was a strange fluke because parents of your character usually die around 80 years old. If you are married, the spouse lives to 110. When I became my kid from Bitlife’s legacy option, my spouse Isabelle King didn’t die until 129. (See photo.)

Getting old gets boring, partly because it’s easy to stay healthy and stay 100% attractive, even when you’re 120 years old by getting botox or liposuction. If you work out every year, you probably will live until you are 120. You can die by drugs. You can die by being a hero by attempting to rescue someone from a robbery or a fire. Once I died trying to rescue someone who was choking, I got AIDS from trying to resuscitate someone and I died immediately. (See screenshot.) It was really offensive and written like 1980s misinformation.

You contracted AIDS and died after performing CPR on a person with AIDS.

Bitlife Threesomes

Bitlife Exes

You usually can have threesomes with nearly anyone after being married for 20 or 30 years, but you don’t have to wait so long if you are married to a partner who ranks high in “craziness”. “Craziness” is an amount given to your character. It is similar to “petulance” on a sibling and “strictness” on a teacher.

If you have threesomes each year with the gender of the person that your partner is attracted to, the likelihood of them leaving you for your threesome partner becomes likely after five tries. However, if you have threesomes with the person whose gender they’re not attracted to, they will not leave you but their “satisfaction” with the threesome will be low, which will also affect the relationship. It’s because of them having sex with someone else that you initiated that it somehow becomes your fault if they don’t enjoy it. You also cannot have threesomes with the same person, it’s always someone new.

I personally like highly crazy people on Bitlife because if they leave you, you can always hook up with them until you two can get back together in a relationship, more or less. And they don’t care if you hook up with other people, unlike the uncrazy people who will absolutely freak out and result in a drop in the relationship by 50% or more.

Threesomes also result in pregnancies if it’s a MFM, MMF, FMF or FFM and only by the threesome fling to you or your female partner. In other words, you will never make your partner pregnant (or your partner will never make you pregnant) in a threesome, the threesome partner can only impregnate or be impregnated.

Threesomes also make your partner crazier and crazier, by adding crazy to their craziness until it is 100% red.


Owning pets kind of sucks on Bitlife. But it’s great for kids. There’s no way to increase health levels under the age of 12 except by the kid having a pet that he or she can walk. So always keep asking parents for pets each year, even if they’re dicks and refuse to give you one. Of course “spending time” with a pet gives you the same level of happiness like a family member, partner, classmate, coworker or friend would.

Pets are like cars on Bitlife. They die really fast.

Prison Escape

Depending on the severity of the crime, and the level of security of the prison you’re in, it gets more and more difficult to escape from prison. Most (if not all) of the escape scenarios are possible to escape from. You can only attempt an escape once a year. For every one move you make, the guard makes two moves. The guard can be stopped by being blocked by the walls. So you have to maneuver him to get stuck.

It’s impossible to make friends in prison unless you join a gang. I recommend joining a gang that other the inmates are actually in. It makes no sense to be in the hardest, toughest gang if you’re the only member in it.

It’s Easy to Be Rich on Bitlife

You get a job and unlike getting a job, you really don’t suffer or feel the consequences of it. So on top of your 40 hour a week job that allows you to take an infinite amount of vacations and go on endless social outings (but you need your work’s permission to go to rehab), you also get a first world salary wherever you live. Unlike Real Lives from the 2000s, you can afford anything that you could in first world country. You inherit all of your money in some countries (like Israel or Columbia). If you give money to your children after you die, in a couple of generations, you will become a billionaire.

Being a billionaire doesn’t really do much and besides owning a couple of mansions, castles, chateaus or a Bugatti Chiron, the quality of life doesn’t change. But everyone wants to marry you.

Gay or straight, you need to adopt a kid to keep the lineage going. There’s a faulty thing about this averaging on Bitlife between the looks and smarts of the parents that sounds pro eugenics. It goes without saying that a kid’s physical features will be averaged depending on the parents’ race. But the kid’s health is kind of random. Having a smart and attractive kid with poor health sucks. And having no kids but only nieces and nephews sucks too. In conclusion, Bitlife, please disable nieces and nephews.

Posted by Chris Girard in Apps, Personal