How does Duolingo work

What can Duolingo do: The truth about the well-known language learning app in our test!

Can you learn a new language with Duolingo like English, Spanish, French or German learn? A question that probably not only you ask yourself, but also a number of other potential language learners.

In this post you get based on my personal experience the answer to your question. That's what I have Duolingo for first subjected to an extensive test, to subsequently an informed assessment submit.The result of my Duolingo test can be found here.

Find out here: The Best Language Tools - Which Online Dictionary is the Best Digital Translator?

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction - what is Duolingo?
  2. How does Duolingo work?
  3. What does Duolingo cost and how is Duolingo financed?
  4. Which languages ​​does Duolingo offer? Can you learn 2 or more languages ​​at the same time with Duolingo?
  5. The Duolingo test - what are the benefits of Duolingo?
  6. Conclusion - my personal Duolingo rating.
  7. Babbel vs Duolingo - which is better?

Introduction - what is Duolingo?

At the beginning I want to be brief the history of Duolingo and the concept the Language learning app dedicate. Founded or it was inventedin 2012around 8 years ago, of twoSizes of the digital world. Namely Luis von Ahn (native Guatemalan) and Severin Hacker (native Swiss) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Because of the simplicityof the principle -immediately started the app for a steep flight. So will Duolingo's worth today is $ 700 million. The User numbers should around 200 million worldwide move.

The Duolingo start interface. All important information about your account and your current learning progress are displayed here.

But 200 million people now speak worldwide due to the online language course a new language? Or even several, since there are quite a few users who have advanced to the highest level 25 in several or many foreign languages? Or how is the enormous success explained the application?

To clarify this question let's see each other best first, how Duolingo works at. This brings us closer to the answer to the question what Duolingo really brings, a first piece.

How does Duolingo work?

At the beginning you have to create a Duolingo profile, because without this it is not possible to use the online language courses. The creation of your profile is included free and done in a few moments. You can then get started right away.

The online language coursesby Duolingo are constructed according to the same knitting pattern. Starting with level 1 you have to yourself through different lessons (Called skills) work to Ascend step-by-step and to reach the highest level 25 at some point. These levels do not correspond to any language level, rather Jobn only Your progress within the course represent.

Here you can see the basic structure of Duolingo using the example of Spanish. A so-called tree of “skills” that you have to climb up, lesson by lesson and skill by skill.

A learning unit or skill is always dedicated to a specific topic. On the one hand, these can be general topics such as food, clothing or questions. But just as special as certain groups of verbs, tenses, pronouns, conjunctives or adjectives.

Within a unit there are then again several lessons (usually between 2 and 5), all of which you have to complete in order to complete the skill and move on to the next.

Within each lesson you practice a certain number of words, phrases and expressions with the help of different types of exercises. You must

  • hear (and partly repeat),
  • write,
  • read
  • and answer multiple choice questions.

In total, the Duolingo vocabulary is around 2000 words per languager. All of these activities always work in both directions, i.e. both from your source language into your target language (e.g. from German to English) and vice versa (from English to German).

And of course you can too turn off the microphone and the sound during the exercises. If, for example, you are currently sitting in the subway or in the waiting room of the dentist and you do not want your entire environment to notice that you have just completed level 12 in Italian. Perhaps you should even turn off the sound in such a situation so as not to appear overly rude.

You will receive a certain number of experience points for completed lessons and skills (so-called "experience point" or XP). The number of XP received and the number of errors allowed per lesson differ on the one hand between the various forms of exercise (normal, strength, temporary, free play) and on the other hand between the various platforms.

  • Duolingo desktop: 10 XP per lesson (normal) and unlimited possibilities for mistakes. If you make a mistake, only the progress bar goes back a little.
  • Duolingo app for iOS or Android: Also 10 XP (normal), but only 5 allowed errors.
  • Duolingo app for Windows Mobile: 3 lives per lesson, if you make the fourth mistake you have to repeat the lesson. This variant also exists in the desktop version for the variant "free spins" as I noticed during my test. Instead of all the lessons in a unit, you can simply complete this “challenge” to complete the unit.

Depending on how motivated you are, you can Set a daily limit on experience points earned. The minimum is an XP, the maximum is 30. If you consider that you need about 5 minutes to complete a lesson at Duolingo, then in my opinion a good setting is 30 XP. In purely arithmetic terms, this would mean 15 minutes a day.

If you reach this self-determined "limit", then a so-called "streak" begins to build up. After the first day, this has a duration of 1. With each additional day on which you reach your daily goal (without taking a day off), it is extended by 1. This means that after 30 days of uninterrupted practice your streak would be 30 days.

Lingots are the virtual Duolingo currency that you can earn through diligent and regular practice. You can then spend them on small additional games or for interactions in the community.

By expanding your streak, as well as by completing skills and reaching a new level, you also earn so-called lingots. Lingots are the virtual Duolingo currency with which you can subsequently purchase certain extras or value comments in the forum. The more lingots receive a comment, the more likely it is that it will attract the attention of Duolingo employees and be taken into account.

The forum is accessible to all users and serves not only for the exchange between them, but also with the development team. As you can see, the language learning app has a lot to offer and you may be asking yourself:

What does Duolingo cost and how is Duolingo financed?

In principle, the Duolingo language courses are free. Of course, the development of such a program is anything but free, which is why the question naturally arises how Duolingo now makes money?

Well, as already mentioned at the beginning, one of the founders was Luis from Ahn, already working very successfully as a developer and programmer as a very young student and sold no less than two complete companies to the Google Group. But instead of resting on his laurels (or rather bank notes), he preferred to invest part of his fortune in the next project - Duolingo.

In addition, trust in the young man was so great from the start that Duolingo received not insignificant sums of money from investors, including from Timothy Ferris and Ashton Kutcher or Google again. And finally, more or less inconspicuous advertisements appear in the application itself, which, given the sheer number of users, certainly wash not insignificant sums into the company's coffers.

For some time now, Duolingo has been showing advertisements tailored to the target group at various points in the user interface. As with me, for example, as a Spanish-speaking major investor.

You can easily buy yourself away from this advertising with a monthly fee, which varies between 10 (1 month contract period) and 7 dollars (12 months) depending on the term. Not exactly cheap, for what is ultimately offered, I would at least think.

Because in the end you only buy yourself free of advertising, you can download lessons to your mobile phone (use Duolingo offline) and support the project. After all, the company is honest here, that cannot be denied.

Use Duolingo offline is otherwise only possible to a limited extent and only via the app, but not via the desktop version. Ultimately, it's a buffer in case you lose your internet connection while using it.

This ensures that you at least get the skills that have already been unlocked but not yet completed can continue practicing. Repeating skills that have already been completed is just as impossible as unlocking new skills.

Here you can see the currently valid Duolingo prices (January 2018) for the various forms of monthly subscription.

And last but not least, a number of volunteers around the world work on Duolingo. These translate words, sentences and phrases specified by the company for the various language courses.

In doing so, you not only drive forward the expansion of the offer free of charge, but also generate a profit, as these translations consistently from paying customers such as CNN and Buzzfeed. A fact that may not be aware of all volunteers.

What languages ​​can you learn with Duolingo?

That depends primarily on your source or mother tonguebecause, as mentioned earlier, creating new courses is essentially the responsibility of volunteer teams made up of users from all over the world.

These must on the one hand fluent in both languages of the course that you want to help shape, on the other hand you are usually allowed to only translate into your mother tongue. That means, if you are a German native speaker and you also speak fluent Russian, then you can translate from Russian into German for Duolingo.

As a result, there is already a very broad combination of languages ​​for English - not because the British or Americans are so gifted with languages, but simply because people all over the world speak English. Whereas the options for languages ​​such as Hungarian or Hindu are much smaller. For German speakers (or in German), Spanish, English and French are currently available.

Duolingo currently has the following three languages ​​for German: English, Spanish and French.

Of course, if you should already speak English, you can also learn across the street. That means choosing a combination of English and a language that you would like to practice, but which is not available in combination with German.

You can also learn two (or more) languages ​​at the same time with Duolingo. You only have to change the target language in the menu and the tree with the units and progress changes to them. What you should keep in mind is that you then have to calculate twice as much time. So instead of, for example, 15 then 30 minutes a day.

The Duolingo test - what are the benefits of Duolingo?

I personally tried Duolingo to learn Spanish and based on my experience I would now like to answer the following question for you: Is Duolingo too easy or can you seriously learn languages ​​with the app?

In principle, Duolingo is very entertaining and the great success of its language courses is easy to explain due to the following factors.

  • Free to use.
  • Playful way of learning with constant progress and small success stories. You collect experience points, level up, collect Lingots and can risk them again in small additional games, your streak is getting longer and you want to be maintained. All of these factors ensure that you stay on the ball.
  • Community: Every user can actively participate in the community through to participating in new courses. The forum is very active, there is a lively exchange not only between the learners, but also with the development team. You can also see on social media such as Facebook which of your friends are also practicing languages ​​with Duolingo and competing with them. Another important factor so that you don't lose motivation.
  • Continuous development: The range of courses is constantly being expanded and updated, as is the program itself. Through the constant exchange with the team, users can, to a certain extent, determine in which direction the development is to be advanced.

So far, so good - but are these factors really enough to learn to speak a language fluently? Based on my experience with Duolingo, I can only say - no, of course not. After all, it is not enough to do a few minutes a day, in the end, very monotonous exercises on the computer or smartphone, which only differ in the vocabulary and phrases to be practiced. In addition, the exercises are thrown together quite randomly and in no way build on one another or in any other way linked.

In this way you will a certain basic vocabulary (in the best case up to a maximum of 2000 words, which every language course contains) and thus also build a certain basic understanding of the language. This will be enough to to understand the meaning of simple texts, conversations and even songs. However, this is not enough to learn the language and especially to speak fluently.

Because in order to learn to speak a language, you have to speak for yourself first and foremost. And for this it is not enough to repeat short sentences or phrases, but you really have to produce language yourself. Remember vocabulary, link them to sentences and apply the appropriate grammatical rules.

In the future, the bots should do what Duolingo has been doing the most - speech training.

In the meantime, so-called Duolingo bots have been introduced by the developers, which are supposed to take over this function. These bots are currently available for three language combinations: English - German, English - French and English - Spanish.

If you the normal Duolingo app on the iPhone(not for Android!) then the bots can already be used. All you have to do is change the source language to English and then choose one of the three target languages ​​mentioned.

Personally, I'm still a bit reluctant to use these bots, because on the one hand these of course only have a limited repertoire of answer and question options. And on the other hand, I am not only of the opinion that a computer (yet) does not real tandem partner can replace. What the future will bring in this regard - let's be curious.

In the same way, you will always have an understanding of the grammatical rules of the foreign language absence. Because you apply them (to a limited extent), but you never learn the underlying rules. Not that I do the stubborn memorization of grammar want to give too much weight now, but at least you should have heard it once.

With Duolingo you will make quick progress at the beginning, but just as quickly you will reach your limits.

A higher language level like A2 you will find it difficult to achieve with the sole help of Duolingo. And of course the company likes to adorn itself with the fact that its method has been scientifically proven to be effective.

But first of all it must be said that this Study commissioned by Duolingo itself and paid accordingly. And secondly, it was only examined how quickly the imparted learning material was absorbed by the users.

It was a Comparison with introductory courses at US universities employed (correspond to language levels A1 and A2), in which listening and writing skills were tested. For example, don't speak.

Conclusion - my personal Duolingo rating.

As already mentioned, in my opinion, Duolingo alone is not enough to learn a new language. Why do I say alone? Because it can still be a good addition (or a good start, as described in the previous chapter).

If you already have a command of a foreign language and this one want to keep active, then dealing with this on a daily basis can be consistently beneficial, even if the exercises and games are simple. Nevertheless, you should still rely on other things, such as books, audio books, films, videos, podcasts and music.

It can do the same a good addition to be on a serious language course or your own learning routine outside of one. Sometimes there is not much time left or your motivation is not particularly high at the moment. In this case, a language learning app like Duolingo can be a great way not to completely suspend and with it the routine of learning languagesto lose.

The Tinycards flashcard application is quite suitable for practicing all kinds of learning content (such as vocabulary) in between and on the go. I particularly like the fact that images are provided free of charge on a large number of terms.

Another quite new application from Duolingo, which you can use well for this, is the company's own flashcard application Tinycards. With this you can practice card sets created by other users or create your own sets.

The advantage of the Duolingo "vocabulary trainer" is included that you can always choose a suitable picture for each newly created map. And in combination with a suitable picture, you will remember new words much faster. I put vocabulary trainer in quotation marks because you are with Tinycards be able to repeat not only vocabulary, but any learning material.

Babbel vs Duolingo - which is better?

A question I've heard before is "Which is better - Babbel or Duolingo?". In my opinion, however, there is no general answer to this. Depending on your personal requirements, one or the other language learning app of the two may be better suited for you.

In my opinion, neither of the two alone is sufficient to learn a new language, but they are very suitable as a supplement or an extension. That's why I have you the most important characteristics of the two providers briefly compared in the following table.

 BabbelDuolingo
costsAround 5 euros per monthFree
Duration per lesson10 mins5 minutes
Difficulty of the exercisesSimple - mediumEasy
Quality of the exercisesMedium highLow
VarietymediumLow
Grammar explanationsYesNo
Own vocabulary trainerYes (fills itself)Yes (must be filled)
Achievable language level (alone with the respective program).B1A2

As you can see, Duolingo will be especially suitable for you if you are looking for one a free and easy method to practice existing language skills. Or you are looking for a supplement to a higher quality language learning program for days with little time and / or motivation that does not cost you anything either, although your requirements are generally rather low. The time required for Duolingo is just as small.

As entertaining as they may be - the Duolingo exercises are not particularly demanding or high-quality. Therefore, the app is not one of our recommendations for alternatives to Babbel.

Babbel (by the way, here you can find ours read the detailed Babbel test) is chargeable, but offers you a lot more and not so little. Babbel alone will not be enough to learn your desired language either - But thanks to the more extensive and high-quality offer, you can create a certain basis for yourself with a Babbel language course. If you supplement these with the right things, then the Duolingo competitor can consistently lead you to your goal. Of course, with a little more effort (especially in terms of time) like Duolingo.

Personally, I would sum up at Duolingo 3.5 out of 5 stars forgive (especially with regard to the fact that the app is completely free):

Read here: Duolingo in comparison with other well-known language apps.

That brings me to the end of my Duolingo test. What do you think about it? Do you think my Duolingo rating is justified or do you disagree? As always, I am very happy to receive your opinion, suggestions and comments!

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