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Free Online Language Learning

Published 03/13/2014 and rated Ratingstars4 4 out of 5 stars
by Shel Gatto
What can you use the app for?

Duolingo is an online language learning application that provides free tools to all users. The application currently offers courses in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese. The “incubator” provides a list of other courses that are in the works but not yet ready for the site. Users can explore the incubator to see where each course is currently at in the completion process. Users can also contribute to a course to expand the site’s offerings so more users can benefit. Rather than present boring worksheets and instruction, Duolingo makes language learning fun with a game like environment. Users lose a life when they make a mistake and earn points when they are successful.

Duolingo screenshot
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What is the history and popularity of the app?

Duolingo has received significant praise from reviewers and users. PC Magazine gave the application an excellent rating. There are many reasons users love the site. On top of being free, the application takes a fun, playful approach to learning. The exercises are engaging and help users learn individual words and phrases. The only downside is that some users have found that the application isn't as effective later on. Some bugs were present and it becomes harder to put what is learned into a usable context.

What are the differences to other apps?

Duolingo is unlike other language learning tools for a few reasons. One of the biggest difference is the fact that the application is completely free. There’s no subscription or purchase needed. The site also takes language learning and makes it more interesting and fun with a colorful interface and game-like environment. The site also goes beyond speaking to include written exercises so users can learn to communicate both ways.

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How does the web app look and feel to use?

Duolingo looks very attractive to users. The application applies a vibrant cartoon-like style to every page, with rolling hills, starry skies and an adorable owl mascot. The site still looks professional with well-organized menus so the user never feels distracted or lost. Duolingo makes language learning easier with a convenient interface and unique design that makes users want to come back.

How does the registration process work?

New users can create a Duolingo account by clicking one of the three buttons found near the center of the homepage. The options include signing in with Google, Facebook or email. Those who choose email are asked to provide an email address, username and password. A full name can be provided but is optional. The user is automatically signed in and can begin a tour of the site or skip the tour and get right to work learning a language.

What does it cost to use the application?

Duolingo is available to all users at no cost. There are no subscription fees or purchases required to maintain an account. All users receive access to the same features and exercises. The site offers a database of articles that can be translated by the user community. This is how Duolingo generates revenue. Users are not required to translate whole articles but can do so to practice their new skills and help support the site. The site only gives users sentences that their skill level can handle.

Who would you recommend the application to?

Anyone who wants to begin learning a new language will benefit from a Duolingo account. The site is somewhat limited right now as far as which languages are offered, but that is to be expected. The incubator lets users see what’s coming soon and provides a way to make requests or share their personal knowledge with the community. The free price is as good as it gets, especially compared to the price of other language learning tools. Serious learners should consider using Duolingo as a supplemental resource because it is imperfect at more advanced levels.

  • Start learning a language for free with no limitations
  • Choose beginner or take the placement test
  • Game-like environment makes language learning fun
  • New languages are added to grow the site's offerings
  • Translate articles to support Duolingo and practice a language

Duolingo video

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