Duolingo Review – Learn a New Language Online FREE!

Duolingo – A Traveler’s Dream Come True

Duolingo Review Featured ImageI’m going to be upfront with you — I’m not getting anything for this Duolingo review except the satisfaction of sharing something INCREDIBLY AWESOME with you, our dear reader. Seriously. All photos here are the sole copyright of Duolingo, and let’s hope they don’t mind my putting this together to inform our flock of travel fans.

Now real quick-like, before I get to all the awesome I promised, here’s a tiny backstory for context: I started out learning languages in class in a SCHOOL. Then later from real BOOKS. With pages that you TURNED. With your HAND. Point is that I have more than a casual appreciation for the modern version of language-learning using the internet, the cloud, and all the goodies the magic technology elves have brought us. So first things first…

Duolingo Review – What is Duolingo?

Duolingo Home Screen

Dashboard snapshot of your progress.

Quite simply, Duolingo is a free online program allowing you to learn a new language online using all the advantages of interactive technology.

Using the concept of incremental but regular practice, it’s like taking your own self-paced immersion course and using different learning tools to help you learn more, faster.

There are other language learning programs that have been around for a long time, like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.  What Duolingo seems to be doing differently is taking advantage of all the new technology tricks and – oh yeah – not charging any money for it.

This program is clearly going to give you what you put into it, but the fact that it’s intuitive, fun, and rewarding makes it easy to commit to practice.

Now Here’s That List of AWESOME:

Duolingo Fluency

  • Browser and Mobile App Versions
  • Totally FREE
  • Clean, intuitive user interface
  • Comprehensive – From basics to advanced vocabulary and conjugation
  • Test out of components you’ve already mastered so you can start at the level that’s right for you.
  • Multimedia – Pictures, written phrases, and sound file analysis for pronunciation checks; caters to all learning types to reinforce the language (seen, heard, spoken)
  • Community – Connect and compete with your friends
  • Bragging Rights – Post fluency to your LinkedIn profile

And what they’ve done with motivation: Mind. Blown.

Have you ever decided you’re going to do a new thing and then you totally do it for, like three whole days before forgetting about it forever? Yeah, me too. So the topic of motivation deserves more than a bullet point in the list above because it’s where Duolingo brings out the big guns.

Duolingo Daily Goals

Slacked one day but I blame it on houseguests!

The program uses a combination of the following factors to help you stay engaged:

  1. Set attainable goals right from the get-go – from as little as 5 to as any as 50 XP or “experience points” per day. (Funny, in today’s short-attention-span world, the 50 XP/day level is called “Insane,” even though in most cases it’ll take under an hour. LOL.)
  2. Reminder e-mails – Daily e-mail encouraging you to stick to the commitment goal you set.
  3. Gamification – When you complete a module, not only do you hear a trumpet which sounds like Her Royal Highness the Queen has arrived for tea, but at certain accomplishment intervals you even earn “lingots.” Lingots are units of currency which you can use to “buy” items like quizzes in their online store. Neither of the other two big competitors appear to have this feature and it’s a true differentiator because it makes the experience more fun and engaging.
  4. Accountability – By connecting with people you know on Duolingo, the more competitive among you can have an ongoing incentive to keep up and save face among your friends.
  5. Supplemental Practice – Your dashboard has a “Strengthen Skills” option for additional practice beyond the daily lessons, and features “strength bars” to clearly indicate whether you need to a little extra practice or not.

What Languages Can You Learn?

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Swedish
  • Irish
  • Turkish
  • Russian
  • Danish
  • Norwiegian
  • Esperanto (Yes my excited little obscure language nerds…Esperanto)
  • And more: Here’s the full list of language courses both active and in development

To sum up: for the low, low price of an e-mail and password, you can learn a new language online at your own pace. (You can even take on more than one if you’re feeling ambitious.) And with how thoughtfully the modules, levels, and learning techniques are presented you’re bound to have a good time doing it! So for your upcoming trip to Berlin, or San Juan, or Moscow you’d best get started!

I hope this Duolingo Review has been helpful and motivating — with so little to lose and so much to gain, I highly recommend taking it for a test drive today. On a personal note, maybe I’ll write a follow-up in French next year. À bientôt! 😉


Lisa ThumbnailWhile Darren captures the eye candy, Lisa’s in charge of the words around here. She thinks travel makes for better human beings. Have you signed up on the sidebar for e-alerts for our new articles? You totally should.
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