Duolingo Review – Learn Languages for Free
App Type: Education
Version #: 3.0.1
Date Released: 2013-10-15
Developer: Duolingo Web Site
Price: FreeUser Rating:
Hola! Couple of years back, I downloaded some podcasts from iTunes to study Spanish. Though the first ten or so episodes went very well, I had to quit as things went too hard. So when I saw Duolingo, I knew this was the time to brush up my Espanol skills. But for the purpose of this review, I also started a French course to assess how a complete newbie copes with the course. Read on to know how that went!
What is Duolingo?
Duolingo is the only one of its kind, language learning app in the AppStore. It is an innovative approach making the learning process competitive, fun and addictive. You can learn Spanish, French, German, Portugese and Italian via a game-like environment. Moreover, if you’re one of the above speakers, you can reverse the process and learn English too.
All this is available for free. And when I say free, I mean no initial price tag, ads, premium unlockable content, subscriptions or in-app purchases. As free as it gets, one could say! Wonder how that works? Duolingo actually helps translate websites, articles and e-books with the help of our translation study and hence, makes their money. A win-win scenario!
Sign up for Duolingo, choose the desired language and you’re all set to master it. Each class is a set of games where you need to choose right one from options, translate phrases to English or speak out a sentence or find the right character or so on. Don’t let it scare you, though. Things start way down from Ground zero and the first few levels seem like child’s play even to a newbie.
As you complete levels, things get harder and more complex but there is plenty of help. Whenever a new word is introduced, you can tap it to know the meaning, variations and common usage. Sometime even a picture is attached. When you get it wrong, the right answer pops up so that you donot make the same mistake twice.
In each language course, there are about 70 sets of games starting from Basics, Phrases, Food, Animals etc, travelling through Questions, Adjectives, Adverbs, Pronouns etc and finally reaching Feelings, Spirituality, Economics, Transport and more. The difficulty increases gradually and also, there are frequent tests to assess the progress. Hopefully, you’ll be a master of the language by the end.
Though it all sounds good on paper, a major drawback I found is the lack of stress on pronunciation. We are taught the speech by a robot-like voice and our responses checked by a computer program. Frequently I found that wrong inputs also returned a green light from it. The podcasts on the other hand, had major emphasis on getting you to speak!
Duolingo provides a high premium experience when compared to other language apps in the store. And one of the reasons, I think, is the gaming component integrated into it. Each level gives 4 hearts and one wrong answer breaks one of’em. Lose all to fail and you have to restart. This makes the game addictive, especially if one of your friends is studying with you too. Frenemies can compete, compare scores and get inspiration within the app.
The super clean interface and subtle animations like in LetterPress, elevates the experience. With daily reminders over mail and message, you’ll always stick to their dictum, “Learning a language needs a little practice everyday”.
As you can see, Duolingo is one of the best ways to learn a language on your iPhone and iPad. Meaning of words, common phrases, everyday speeches and even some complex conversations will surely be thorough by the end of this course. I’m sure you will be able to comprehend someone’s talk, but I doubt you’ll be speaking back! As I’ve already mentioned, it is due to the lack of emphasis on pronunciations. Podcasts in iTunes or courses on other websites would be a better choice if you have to be fluent in the language.
So this is my takeaway. If you are already exposed to the new language and have some knowledge about it, Duolingo will be the best way to absorb more complex parts or to learn to read and write it. But if you’re a complete fresher, an audio course or a combination of audio + Duolingo would be perfect!
Would I Buy Again:Yes
Who Is It For:Those looking for a great way to learn a new language
What I Like:The concept, interface
What I Don't Like:Less emphasis on speech
Final Statement:The DIY language course
PC Magazine Editors' Choice for Language Learning: "Among iPhone apps for learning or practicing a language, you can't beat Duolingo."
"Far and away the best free language-learning app." —The Wall Street Journal
"We’ve also tried a few other methods such as book learning and Rosetta Stone, both of which bombed. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try Duolingo. And believe me, it’s addictive." —FluentIn3Months.com
Duolingo is changing the way people learn languages.
With Duolingo, you learn a language completely free, without ads or hidden charges. You have fun while you learn, leveling up and competing with friends. You have the opportunity to translate real-world texts in the language you are learning, and in doing so, help us translate the Web into other languages.
Yeah, it's pretty sweet.
Article By Roshan
From the first iPod Touch till the new iPad Mini, Roshan has loved each of his iDevices and has been busy tweaking and getting the most out of them. As a Med student from India, he splits his time between studying corpse and writing about his iOS passion. When not on the web, you could find him glued to TV Shows, movies or the bed! Recently, he has taken upon the role of an appreneur and is currently working on a revolutionary new app, Cyan for Facebook.
roshan has written 177 awesome app reviews.