Duolingo: learning a language whenever, wherever, for free!
‘I wanted to create a way to learn languages for free’ – Luis von Ahn (CEO Duolingo)
Due to the Internet, people are becoming more and more self-educated. Do you want to learn how to play guitar? Or do you want to know how to repair your flat tyre? No problem, all information is available online through the use of search engines (e.g. Google, Bing). ‘With this technology, people are able to receive information and learn new things instantaneously; online learning has tremendous potential to empower all sections of society’ (Karadkar, 2015). While companies are already offering university courses online (e.g. Coursera), the popularity of learning a language online has increased as well.
Duolingo is one of the highest rated apps available when it comes to learning a foreign language (Ranosa, 2015). Duolingo offers a wide range of language-learning courses for people with different native languages and at the moment, they offer 10 fully developed languages (Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish)(Duffy, 2015). It is a great example of a straightforward language app and its use is very simple. Each course is made up of modules; these represent different groups of skills (see picture below).
Duolingo shows you the order in which you need to complete the different modules. New modules become active only after completing the previous one.
Each lesson consists of several activities, such as translating words and sentences and matching words to foreign equivalents.
New vocabulary is taught with images, and grammar is explained in speech bubbles. You also have to complete listening and speaking exercises, where you need to writedown or say what you hear. Due to the progress bar (ranging from 0-100%), you will be able to check your language improvement.
Another great feature is that Duolingo offers you the option to strengthen your weakest words. The following screen will pop up after completing a module.
According to Duolingo (2015), an average of 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. Around 70 million people have already signed up to Duolingo and this number is increasing daily.
Currently, Duolingo is partnering with Uber to certify drivers in English (i.e. UberEnglish) and they recently raised $45 million from Google Capital. In the past few years, Duolingo has tremendously grown and with their current movements, Duolingo might pose a serious threat to traditional language learning providers.
As I am fond of learning foreign languages, I downloaded the Duolingo app a while ago in order to maintain my language skills. However, I am wondering what you think about this online language-learning platform? Do you already use it? Would you use it? Do you think these online platforms pose a threat to traditional language-learning providers? What about the benefits and constraints?