The finest free language learning program is Duolingo. Its distinct qualities and well-defined structure make it a viable resource for learning new languages or honing existing ones.
- FREE EXCELLENT SPANISH AND FRENCH PODCAST
- You can test out of lessons that are too simple because of the clear framework.
- Many languages are available.
- The amount of material available varies per language.
|Price Includes||All Languages, All Levels|
|Style of Program||Podcasts, Stories|
|No. of Languages Offered (Not Incl. English)||35|
|Average Duration of Lesson (Mins)||4|
Duolingo was the first free language-learning app to compete with pricey premium language-learning programs. It includes a variety of self-paced exercises to help you learn dozens of languages or brush up on one you already know. It’s without a doubt the best free language app available, and it’s our Editors’ Choice. Even when compared to premium programs, Duolingo’s content is so superb that it ranks among the top language learning software.
While Duolingo teaches dozens of languages, some are more difficult than others. If you’re learning Spanish as an English speaker, for example, you’ll find a podcast, interactive short tales, and even meetups with other students (which are online-only in light of COVID-19). More niche languages, on the other hand, do not have as much content. Nonetheless, Duolingo is one of the greatest language learning programs for learning a new language or enhancing existing ones. It includes fantastic activities and a user-friendly layout that works on both desktop and mobile devices.
Languages on Duolingo
Duolingo offers courses in over 34 languages, and that’s just the ones that use English as the teaching language. If you sum up all the courses that use a different foundation language, such as Catalan for Spanish speakers, there are a lot more.
Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian (in beta), Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Navajo (in beta), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Welsh are the 34 languages available to English speakers. A Finnish course is currently being developed. Klingon (in beta) and High Valyrian (in beta) materials are also available on Duolingo (we exclude languages from works of fiction in our official count). Duolingo offers programs in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese for speakers of a variety of languages.
Duolingo began as a free app with the promise of remaining free indefinitely. By becoming ad-supported and offering a paid membership dubbed Duolingo Plus, the company has honored its promise.
Plus costs $12.99 per month, with a discount if you pay for a year in advance ($79.99) or a half year in advance ($47.99). The Plus membership removes advertisements, allows you to download classes to use offline in the mobile app, and gives you unrestricted access to the mobile app. It also includes one free “streak repair” every month, which means that if you miss a day of practice, your Duolingo numbers will not be harmed.
The monthly fee of $12.99 is reasonable, however it is higher than it was previously. Yearly access to such products costs between $100 and $200, with more traditional software (the kind you keep forever) costing around the same.
Is it Worth It to Pay for Duolingo Plus?
If you enjoy Duolingo and want to help the people who make it, or if you prefer the mobile app (for Android and iOS) to the web version, you might want to consider subscribing for Duolingo Plus. Except for one major difference: hearts, the two are practically identical.
You begin with five hearts on the Duolingo mobile app. You lose a point every time you perform an exercise incorrectly. When you run out of hearts, you won’t be able to do any activities until you get some more. You can either wait (five hours per piece) or buy 350 gems to refill your hearts; gems can be obtained by just using the app. You’ll never have to worry about hearts if you have a Duolingo Plus membership.
When you use Duolingo on a desktop browser, you won’t have to bother about hearts. You can practice and learn for as long as you want because they don’t exist there. If you’re going to use Duolingo for free, I strongly advise you to utilize the online app to avoid problems with the hearts system.
However, there are occasions when using the mobile app makes sense because you’re on the go and only have a few minutes to learn.
Duolingo: Getting Started
I’ve been using Duolingo to study and review different languages since its inception. Some of them were new to me, while others I was already familiar with. I’ve been using it recently to brush up on my Spanish, which I’m also improving in a separate online school. I did the same thing with Romanian when I used it as a study help a few years back.
If you already have some understanding of the languages, there may be a placement test when you first start, depending on the language. You may be able to skip some of the more basic classes, such as learning simple terms and verb conjugations, if you take the placement test.
Of course, you may always begin over from the beginning. You can also study as many languages as you wish at the same time and switch between them at any time.
The Organization of Duolingo
Structure is typically taken for granted by students. We don’t notice it while it’s present. Learning might appear unpleasant and pointless when it’s missing. What should I do next in terms of exercises? Is it true that I’m ready to learn new words? Should I go over what I learnt the day before?
Duolingo is extremely well-structured and organized. On the app’s home screen, a list of modules is displayed in chronological order. Every module has a central theme, whether it’s grammatical (reflexives, imperfect tense) or thematic in nature (Arts, Sports). There are several lessons in each module. To unlock the next set of modules, you must pass a particular amount of lessons. Each lesson takes me three to four minutes on average to complete.
Although you can go back to a lesson you’ve already completed and re-do it at any time, you should proceed in chronological sequence. Words and concepts from past lessons reappear as you continue. Words that are newly added are highlighted. You can review what you’ve learned by taking a practice test once you’ve finished a good deal of the introductory material. Look for the icon of a dumbbell.
There are levels in each module. You can, for example, pass level one of a preterite module to see it marked as completed and unlock part of the next content. However, if that module has numerous levels, you can complete them if you want to keep learning that talent. When you complete all of the levels in a module, the icon for that module changes to a gold coin. If you don’t return to practice it after a long period, the coin breaks. Return to the module and complete various stages again to repair it.
Keep in mind that not all languages have the same amount of content as others. In some cases, each module may only have one level.
Level Tests and Intermediate Challenges can be skipped.
Placement examinations, as previously stated, allow you to skip modules that you do not need to master. You can even take a test to get exempt from the current module if you find it too easy (again, depending on the language and where you are with it).
Starting over isn’t always a bad idea, in my experience. It challenges you to study vocabulary and basic ideas while also allowing you to familiarize yourself with Duolingo’s interface. Some of the introductory modules can also be completed in a matter of minutes. Duolingo’s core activities, on the other hand, may not be tough enough for you, depending on your previous experience. In that scenario, read through all of the content in the app’s Stories section and see if your language has a Duolingo podcast. Stick with the stories until all the English has vanished. They begin simple and progress to an intermediate level. The podcasts are intended for people who are able to communicate at a basic level. They employ a mix of English and the language you’re studying, spoken by native speakers. The transcripts are also available on Duolingo’s website.
Try Yabla, an online learning software containing videos of native speakers utilizing various accents and common language, if Duolingo isn’t tough enough. There’s a lot more difficult material there.
The Learning Process
Duolingo can help you build a foundation in a variety of languages, but it’s limited in terms of what it teaches and how challenging it is. You’ll probably want to improve your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, depending on your goals and prior experience. You’ll also want to know if there’s any real language generation, which is when you have an idea that you want to communicate right away without having to wait too long for a translation from English.
Reading, writing, and translating are all important skills to have.
You’re primarily translating in Duolingo, which is a sort of reading and writing. In most cases, you’ll translate a word, a phrase, or a sentence from the language you’re studying into the language of teaching, or vice versa. You might use the keyboard to type the answer, or you could use a word bank to piece together a statement. Depending on the level of challenge you want, you can either use the word bank or type out the words. You may be asked to choose the proper translation from a list of possibilities as part of an activity.
You will learn vocabulary, observe verbs in various forms, and become more familiar with the structure of sentences in the new language as a result of these exercises. You can also practice agreement and other grammatical abilities while translating.
Duolingo might improve by requiring you to concentrate more intently on some ideas. When utilizing a word bank to translate a sentence, you can usually filter out numerous words that are utterly unrelated to the others. If the statement appears to be about grandparents cooking, words like architecture and swimming can be ruled out. Filling the word bank with similar terms or even variations on the same word, such as “hear, hears, heard,” would be a more difficult endeavor. Duolingo has one exercise in which you must choose the right form of a word, although it only appears on rare occasions and does not combine the words with those from the phrase.
Reading and listening
Since Duolingo started its podcast series, listening and reading exercises have increased tenfold. They’re now only accessible in Spanish and French, but they’re fantastic. The episodes can be listened to on Duolingo’s website or downloaded to a podcasting program like Apple Podcast. The advantage of listening on Duolingo’s website is that the transcripts are also available.
Native speakers share actual stories in each 20-minute episode, with an English-speaking presenter interjecting on a frequent basis to provide context in English. It has excellent information and is hard for those who are not yet conversant in English.
Stories, in addition to the podcasts, put your listening and comprehension skills to the test a little more than the core activities. You listen to and read a short narrative while answering questions about what you heard and read in these interactive stories. Only a few languages are available, including Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese. The characters’ voices feel natural, which adds to the enjoyment of the story. The questions appear to be like any other exercise, but in order to answer them, you must have paid attention to the story’s content as well as any new vocabulary that arose, necessitating active listening and comprehension. The stories become increasingly difficult as you progress through this part, with more terminology, more complicated sentence structures, and a variety of verb tenses.
Reading can also be found anyplace there is a light bulb icon. When you click on a new module, one will occasionally appear. These reading sections are usually in English (or your teaching language) and explain a grammatical topic. These sections are sometimes critical to your learning, and I wish they were more prominent in the course material in those cases. They appear to be secondary in their current state.
Generating and Speaking
Speaking and listening aren’t given much focus in the core program. It’s up to you whether or not you want to do the speaking exercises. In the options, you may activate or disable them, as well as temporarily disable them if you’re in an area where you can’t perform them.
You often repeat or read aloud something on-screen for these types of exercises, and the app assesses whether you said it correctly.
Clubs was a feature of Duolingo that was designed to help you generate more language, but it has now been retired.
However, events continue to take place. These are get-togethers of people who are learning the same language as you and wish to practice together. There are lots of virtual meet-ups even with COVID-19.
I really prefer Pimsleur or Michel Thomas if you need to focus more on speaking and creating. Both are old-school audio-guided programs that you can now get as digital downloads instead of cassettes or CDs, and both are named after the academics who created them. Their strength lies in persuading you to consider how you would pronounce a particular phrase or sentence before speaking. Instead of completing straight translations all the time, you gradually go to reacting to prompts.
The Best Language-Learning App for Free
Duolingo is the finest free language-learning program available, based on what you can get out of it. It won’t take you from beginner to fluent, or even conversationally proficient, but it will provide you with tasks that will help you learn a lot about a new language and practice it on a daily basis. Using Duolingo to enhance other learning, whether classroom-based or self-taught, is a great idea.
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Arden Mitchell, a writer who is always looking for new ways to push the limits of what's possible with my words. I believe that writing is not just about expressing oneself, but about pushing the boundaries of what's possible and exploring uncharted territories. I strive to create work that is both ambitious and thought-provoking, that challenges readers to think differently and to question their assumptions. I believe that writing has the power to change the world, and I am honored to be a part of that tradition.