Duolingo English, Japanese, Spanish… The Free Language Learning App

Duolingo app is by far the most effective way to learn a language online. Evident in the 200 million users around the world who trust the app. The program offers a detailed and innovative language learning approach in over 30 languages. As such it ranks as one of the most downloaded apps on both iOS and Android.

Duolingo App

Download the Duolingo app iOS and Android

Why Duolingo?

Duolingo’s courses are a free app in the growing market for language learning programs. Duolingo’s design is simple and engaging. Of all the available language learning apps, it’s hard to find a cleaner, more intuitive user interface than Duolingo.

Duolingo is by far the most effective and comprehensive language learning platform in terms of size, variety, and accessibility of its course content.
Nonetheless, every language learner is different, and online courses aren’t one-size-fits-all. Below, we break down Duolingo basics as well as pros and cons to help you determine if it’s the right language learning app for you!

What Languages Can You Learn on Duolingo?

Duolingo has well over 30 online courses targeted for English speakers. Other languages include:

Latin American Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
Other languages offered include Russian, Japanese, Dutch, Turkish, Korean, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, and even a few fantasy languages.

Duolingo also has quite a number of non-English courses. Users can suggest new language courses they want to develop.

How Does Duolingo Work?

Duolingo uses machine learning technology effectively with a psychological and innovative educational approach to ensure users learn quickly.

After creating a user account, you will be prompted to choose a language you want to learn as well as indicate your skill level. For our purposes, let’s say that you want to learn French and have zero previous experience. You will be shown the course curriculum.

Duolingo courses are divided into lessons your goal is to complete each lesson in the skill tree until you reach the end. As users progress, they unlock advanced lessons.

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Types of questions

Lessons structured along with questions to let you improve a specific language skill:

  • Fill-in-the-blank multiple choice
  • Translation (in either direction)
  • Write what you hear

Duolingo is created to allow you the learn-as-you-go app. Vocab lessons prompt you to match words with images, and built-in tools like hover text and optional word banks serve as helpful reminders (Duolingo’s algorithms determine which words you need to practice, and when). Incorrect answers in any lesson prompt an explanation as well as a crowdsourced discussion thread for every question on the app.

If you prefer an organized “textbook” approach, each unit also includes a cheat sheet that features that will help you.

But lessons aren’t the only way to learn on Duolingo. The app has a resource library where users can test what they have learned in a variety of settings:

  • Practice: Designed to let you practice with multiple choice answer
  • Stories: Short dialogues to help learners improve reading and listening comprehension skills
  • Podcasts: Get to listen to short stories from real-life speakers
  • Events: Attend local meet-ups with fellow Duolingo students to develop conversational skills

These are continuously updated, taking user suggestions into account, and provide a nice sandbox environment to test your skills and monitor progress and areas with room to improve.

What’s the Best Way to Use Duolingo?

The fact is, language learning apps aren’t a quicksilver solution to fluency. If you’re serious about learning a new language, you need a multi-pronged approach: read newspapers and blogs in your target language, watch foreign TV series and YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, music and ensure you complete the curriculum on the app.

Most important, speak your target language as much as possible.  Duolingo helps you reach a certain level of competence. According to their scoring system, Duolingo can take you up to 50-60% fluency.

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So how do you get the most out of Duolingo?

Don’t try to cheat the system: Let the app’s algorithms do their job, and don’t allow the instant gratification of badges and achievement bonuses to be a distraction. For the most part, Duolingo has enough variables to prevent rote memorization, and the app is designed to recognize areas you need to improve. But if you’re not actively engaging in the course content, if you’re missing questions and not attempting to learn why you’re not using Duolingo the right way.

  • Take your time: You can practice language skills at a natural pace.
  • Set goals and keep a schedule: Duolingo makes it easy to track your daily learning routine. The app has five daily learning goals you could choose from. A widget on the home screen shows your progress. You can also set daily email reminders, and earn rewards for streaks. While other gamification elements carry a distraction risk, this is a useful, motivating feature. Consistency to routine is the best way to get the best out of the Duolingo app courses.
  • Take Full advantage of Duolingo resources: Go beyond the lessons. There are lots of learning resource available but I would recommend the Duolingo Stories combined with engaging content reading, listening, and conversation comprehension. The design is similar to lessons.


The ability of users to learn in steps is what makes the app very effective. The built-in exercises make Duolingo such a popular language learning app. Remember practice makes perfect.