‘Gracias, mi amor’ is a phrase attached to Anisha Premawardhana as she walks through the crime series Colombian Netflix Narcos. He likes the way ‘thank you, my love’ sounds in Spanish.
As a child growing up on Castle Hill, Sydney, Anisha always learned languages.
“I have a Sri Lankan background so my family speaks the lion language and my grandmother will sort of teach me every time I visit,” he told SBS News.
But he never had the chance to learn Spanish and his love for languages took a back seat as he progressed to adult life.
When the coronavirus crisis hit Australia earlier this year, the 21-year-old lost his job as an e-commerce assistant and his communications degree at Sydney University of Technology was postponed.
That’s when he downloaded the Duolingo application.
“This is something that must be done when I am bored or worried about what is happening in the world,” he said.
“This really brought me back to earth and gave me the choice to go, ‘Here, there is something to be done, there is one thing that has not changed’.”
Anisha is not alone in using language learning services to avoid the chaos of COVID-19. Duolingo’s senior public relations manager, Michaela Kron, said global application traffic has reached its highest point since March, including in Australia.
“In Australia, we saw a surge of new users nearly 156 percent from March 10 to April 10,” he said.
It was at this time that the World Health Organization declared coronavirus as a global pandemic and the rules of the Australian meeting changed from 500 people to 100 to only two.
Ms Kron said growth was very high in countries which were strict about locking measures.
“In Spain, we reached our highest number of new users on April 6, up 250 percent from March 6. In France, it was up 223 percent.”
Duolingo, the American language learning platform, is the most downloaded educational application in the world, boasting more than 300 million users.
Rosetta Stone and Babbel language learning services also told SBS News that their use in all platforms and applications is worldwide.
CEO Babbel Arne Schepker said, “Because people are globally bound to their homes, we see a sharp absorption in learning activities.”
“If our work helps make your day a little better, I think this is more than we ever asked for.”
Depending on the country, in January or February Babbel usually produces three times the average monthly sales because people want to learn a new language in the new year, but a Babbel spokesman said “in most markets we see COVID-19 pick-overtaking, Very large “.
Users of Duolingo and Babbel also now report their motivation to learn a new language as an ‘interest,’ learning ‘and’ school ‘destination, rather than the previous popular reason,’ traveling ‘.
More than 300 languages are spoken in Australian homes, with the most common English being Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese.
The latest census found 21 percent of Australians speak languages other than English at home, with 49 percent of Australians born abroad or with parents born abroad.
And with the lockdown at least four weeks, far according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s address This week, Anisha said she was relieved to have found something stimulating to do.
“Instead of, you know, calling my friends and being like, ‘oh, have you heard the last thing that ScoMo said?’,” He said.
He and his girlfriend now have the same application and compete with each other to see who can learn languages faster.
His new favorite phrase is, “Yo tengo un pasaporte,” he said, which means ‘I have a passport’.
“It only took 15 minutes of my day when I was completely in my own world and didn’t have to think about what was happening outside my home.”
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters from the other and meetings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.
If you believe you have contracted this virus, contact your doctor (do not visit) or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline at 1800 020 080. If you have difficulty breathing or experience a medical emergency, call 000.
SBS is committed to informing the diverse Australian community about the latest development of COVID-19. News and information are available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus
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