Specialist Language Courses

Review of the Language Learning App “Duolingo”

Review of Duolingo

In our most recent blog post, we presented the advantages and disadvantages of learning a new language via mobile apps and kicked off with a review of Babbel. This time we are taking a look at the incredibly popular Duolingo.

Duolingo has about 120 million users across the world – a large number which made me even more excited to try it and find out what their recipe for success might be.

Their strapline is “Learn a language for free. Forever.” Duolingo and all their courses are free of charge – definitely a huge bonus.

How does Duolingo work?

1.You can choose between 21 different languages: Besides the common languages like English, French, German, Italian and Spanish you can also learn Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Esperanto, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Welsh, Hebrew, Vietnamese and Hungarian.

2.It’s really simple to use:

  1. You choose between “beginner” (starts with basics) and “Not a beginner “(Placement test which evaluates your language level)
  2. Create a profile to save the progress you made
  3. Set your weekly goals: choose between casual, regular, serious, insane à 5/10/15/20 minutes per day
  4. Passing the “Checkpoint”: You can activate more lessons by finishing all the modules of one lesson or taking a test if you are already familiar with the topics.
  5. Shop: You can earn so called “lingos” and with those you can buy “powerups” e.g. Attempt to double your 5 lingots wager by maintaining a seven-day streak
Pros Cons
  • Visualization: Duolingo doesn`t work with pictures but with a lot of images and symbols which actually have the same effect and help to remember what you have learned.
  • Information: There is no information in the beginning about how the whole course works.


  • Clarity: The operation of Duolingo is very easy and you have a clear overview about the content and different options.
  • Topics: If you want to learn a certain topic, you haven`t got any access to it unless you go through all the previous tasks.
  •  Audio: Phrases or vocabulary you learn are always spoken out loudly. There are also recording exercises to improve your speaking skills.
  •  Context: Sometimes the language and the example sentences are unusual and would not be the kind of language you use in reality.
  • Learning: If you are unsure about a word in a translation task you can retrieve their meaning/translation.  Grammar rules are explained in mostly every task.
  • Effectiveness: You are able to redo certain exercises or to strengthen the skills you already learned -> this helps to reinforce what you have learned
  • Cost: Whole app is free of charge
  • Motivation: Duolingo is set up like a game (as described above). If you have reached your daily goal trumpets sound.                               You receive a reminder via email to complete your lessons.



If you are a person who loses motivation very quickly, Duolingo is definitely the right choice for you. This game-like app teaches languages in a very playful and challenging way and is based on many visual as well as audio effects which are helpful to remember what you have learned. Another plus is that Duolingo varies the types of tasks and builds up every lesson in other ways which means more variety for the student. However, Duolingo can`t replace a “real” language school and especially for beginners I would recommend using Duolingo in combination with a teacher-led language course.

Let me know if you have experiences to share about Duolingo or other language learning apps – we’d love to hear your success stories.

About the author: Jule Kirchner is a 19 year-old German high school graduate. She is currently working as an intern at SLC for three months. Jule loves learning languages and likes to test the various ways how to do so.