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What is Duolingo? Everything You Need to Know

Duolingo is a language learning website and app. In fact, it’s the top language learning app in the world. The platform is notable for its bite-sized lessons and its visually appealing style. It makes learning a language into a simple game that requires daily practice. 

The company’s mission is to make language learning free and accessible, and the website is free to use. There is a premium option called Duolingo Plus that comes with upgrades and ad-free learning at a monthly cost. More on that below. 

The Duolingo app makes learning a language easy while on-the-go. The app and website provide over 94 courses to over 500 million users around the world. English speakers can choose from 38 languages, and the company is always updating, with more on the way.

How are Duolingo classes designed?

Duolingo courses are designed using AI and principles of language science. The website makes learning a language into a game that users complete in their free time. Each language is illustrated as a “tree with nodes,” and each node has several lessons. To complete the lessons and advance to the next nodes, users answer game-like vocabulary questions. The questions are designed as activities such as translation, assembling a sentence with given words, speaking, listening, and photo matching. 

Duolingo lessons are designed to be quick and get users in the habit of practicing their language daily. Because of this, they do not have grammar lessons. Rather, they use implicit learning. This is when language learners discover grammatical patterns on their own. According to the company, this learning style helps build foundational language-learning skills. Don’t worry – they also offer separate explanations and tips on grammatical structures.

How effective is Duolingo?

The website shares research on Duolingo’s efficacy. There were two studies on a variety of Duolingo users measuring their listening and reading skills in Spanish and French. All people used only Duolingo to learn the language and had little or no prior knowledge on the subject. The results showed that those who completed up to Unit 5–the beginner section of the course– did as well on reading and listening tests as students who had completed 4 semesters of university-level instruction in the language. Another study examined users who completed up to Unit 7, which is halfway through intermediate material. They did as well on listening and reading tests as students who had 5 semesters of university-level classes.

However, there is some criticism of Duolingo. Used on its own, the app will likely not make you fluent in your target language. It also doesn’t teach the cultural and conversational nuances associated with a language. Rather, the app focuses more on vocabulary and sentence structures. 

Many recommend using Duolingo along with other language-learning education such as taking classes, reading, speaking, or watching TV in your target language. Duolingo is useful to get daily practice on your language skills.

Are certificates available?

Duolingo does not offer official professional certificates. Proficiency in your language must be shown by your use of it!

However, there is a Duolingo English Test, which certifies a student’s proficiency in English language. More on that below.

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What kinds of classes are available?

For English speakers, the website offers courses on 38 languages. The most popular languages are Spanish, French, and Japanese.

The platform also has other services such as Duolingo for Schools, Duolingo English Test, and Duolingo ABC. Duolingo for Schools is a free tool that can be adapted to teachers’ curriculum for teaching languages in school. Duolingo English Test is an hour-long exam that shows a student’s proficiency in English. Over 3,000 institutions recognize the results of this exam. The test is $49, but students can practice for free. Duolingo ABC is designed for children. Subjects include the alphabet, handwriting, and vocabulary in simple and engaging lessons. Duolingo ABC is free to use. 

How much does Duolingo cost?

Duolingo aims to create a learning platform that is free and accessible. The site is completely free to use, with ads and some limitations. 

If you want an ad-free experience with some additional perks, there is Duolingo Plus. For $6.99 per month, Duolingo Plus removes ads and allows you access to more learning content, unlimited hearts, reviewing mistakes, and a mastery quiz.

Alternatives to Duolingo

Rosetta Stone

The main difference between Duolingo and Rosetta Stone is that Rosetta Stone is not free. 12 months of Rosetta Stone costs $7.99 per month. Rosetta Stone also offers fewer languages. Rosetta Stone boasts over 25 years of success, so they are doing something right for sure.

Like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone uses implicit learning and relies heavily on context. Unlike Duolingo, Rosetta Stone’s software has an array of tools for learners to use such as live practice with native speakers, a phrasebook, and stories to read in your language.


Like Duolingo, Babbel uses short, engaging lessons. Activities on Babbel include live online classes, original podcasts, games, and videos. Babbel focuses on conversational skills and encourages speaking right away. Unlike Duolingo, Babbel has a monthly cost to use. A 12-month subscription to Babbel costs $6.95 per month. 


Like Duolingo, Lingvist uses daily lessons to retain language skills. However, Lingvist’s lessons are at least 30 minutes a day, while Duolingo’s are 5-10. Lingivist claims to teach users a language faster with longer lessons. Lingvist has features that help you learn vocabulary with personalizable flashcard decks and other resources. Lingvist costs $9.99 per month to use.

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Duolingo summary

In summary, Duolingo is a game-like language learning website and app. It is free to use and can help learners gain proficiency in a language. The bite-sized, daily lessons help you stay on track and keep your skills sharp. When used at the same time as other learning resources, the platform can help you become fluent in a language. Give it a try when you want to learn a new language!

Frequently asked questions about Duolingo

Can I put Duolingo courses on my resume?

No, unless it is a Duolingo English Test certification. Duolingo does not offer certificates in languages.

What other resources does Duolingo offer?

In addition to the game-style courses to learn a language , Duolingo has online events. These events include conversations with fellow users, conversations with tutors, and cultural education.