Duolingo Review: How Did The Little Green Owl Win Back My Heart?

Many language learners say they struggle to find dedicated time for language study. Balancing work, family, and social commitments leaves you with little room for traditional language classes or extensive study sessions.

So you decide to download an app to leverage those short periods of time you have on your commute, in queues, or on a break.

But then your next problem: which app should you use? One of the most commonly tried apps today is Duolingo.

This in-depth Duolingo review is your ultimate solution to the time constraints and truth-seeking dilemma.

We clarify the key points of using Duolingo so you quickly get a comprehensive understanding of its effectiveness and time-saving features.

Discover how Duolingo optimizes your language learning experience, providing a convenient and flexible solution that fits seamlessly into your busy schedule.

How to Choose the Best Language Learning App? featured image

Choosing the best language app shouldn’t be a challenge. Our guide to selecting language apps will set you on the right course.

With this review as your guide, you can confidently make an informed decision and embark on a language learning journey that aligns with your goals and maximizes your precious time.

I left – and returned

In 2021 Duolingo made changes to their learning pathway that drove me away.

The motivating golden trees were replaced with a crown system that required five redundant repetitions of the same lesson to achieve the gold crown.

They also removed the ‘tree’ structure that gave choices about which topic to study next, and made it a ‘path’ that had to be followed step-by-step. Each new lesson is unlocked by completing the previous step.

Instead of motivation to complete a lesson, move on, then come back to review and upgrade past lessons to make them gold again, language learners had to do the lesson five times to get the lovely golden colour on their gameboard. (I admit it – the Dopamine rush of achieving ‘gold’ in a mere five minutes just shrivelled up and died!)

However, in 2023 Duolingo has made a further upgrade, and – now I like it again!

The ‘learning path’ is still there. But instead of repeating the same content five times, the content seems to have been made richer, and then divided into several related, but not identical lessons for each step of the journey.

Also, more efforts are being made to align the content to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). As I have language requirements for my residency in France, it’s handy to know I’m working on things that will help me.

1. What is Duolingo?

Duolingo at a glance:

*Currently for French and Spanish courses only, in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States

Duolingo is a renowned language learning app that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide.

Duolingo’s secret lies in its gamified approach, transforming language learning into an addictive and rewarding experience.

With its vibrant and intuitive interface, Duolingo offers a visually appealing learning environment that keeps users engaged and motivated.

In the context of a Duolingo review, it’s worth noting that the app’s gamification elements, such as earning points, leveling up, and competing with friends, add an exciting twist to the learning process.

By making learning feel like a game, Duolingo sparks a sense of competitiveness and accomplishment, making you eager to progress and reach fluency faster.

Furthermore, Duolingo offers a variety of exercises tailored to different language skills.

From vocabulary building to grammar drills, the app covers all the essential components of language learning.

The interactive exercises, audio clips, and real-life examples are available for Android and Apple devices, as well as online, and provide a fun learning experience that uses both real-world conversations as well as fantastical ones to teach language that sticks.

Duolingo uses an ‘implicit’ method of learning, meaning that unless you go deep into their supplementary guidebooks, the grammar is not explicitly explained.

The assumption is that you will learn it through exposure.

However, if you are coming from a language like English (that no longer uses a case system for most of the language), you may encounter many grammatical features that may be confusing without explicit teaching.

2. Is Duolingo Good to Learn a Language?

Duolingo has amassed a dedicated community of language learners who rave about its effectiveness and entertainment value.

Many users have reported improved speaking, reading, and writing skills, crediting Duolingo’s bite-sized lessons and engaging content for their progress.

Duolingo’s courses, particularly it’s Spanish course, have been the subject of academic research, and it has been shown in particular to be effective in helping language learners improve reading and listening skills for a language.

Efficacy Research on Duolingo

While Duolingo courses do have an AI speech recognition facility to check your spoken language skills, and writing tasks within the units, there does not seem to be a lot of research supporting these tasks as being terribly helpful in language production skills.

It doesn’t mean that the app doesn’t teach them, simply that in order to produce a language, a great deal of practise is required; much more than producing a word or short phrase in answer to a short question.

A multitude of Duolingo meme’s do the rounds, discussing the silliness of the sentences that Duolingo has you learn.

This is done deliberately; research indicates that people remember silly and unusual sentences, and Duolingo leverages this by having users learn such nonsense as ‘I am crying and the onion is laughing.’

Before I understood the reasoning, this sort of lesson annoyed me because I felt I was learning useless vocabulary.

But having learned the idea behind it, and particularly for those courses that have since been aligned with CEFR/ACTFL frameworks, I have more confidence that the vocabulary and grammar is helpful, and I can see the point in presenting the content in a fun manner.

Duolingo focuses on building vocabulary and grammar skills through short exercises and repetition.

While the app provides some listening and speaking practice through audio exercises, the main emphasis is on reading and writing skills.

Overall, Duolingo takes a well-rounded approach to language learning, but places more weight on vocabulary and grammar drills compared to speaking and conversation.

The app uses primarily an ‘implicit learning through exposure’ approach for grammar, and as such some language learners might feel they miss essential points.

An attempt is made to balance the gamified lessons by providing explicit grammar information in the ‘Guidebook’ for each unit.

Screenshot of Duolingo Guidebook for French Unit 1
Duolingo French Course Guidebook

Duolingo’s approach of gamifying vocabulary and grammar lessons through short interactive exercises makes it engaging and a fun way to introduce learners to a new language.

However, the lack of personalized feedback, guidance from language experts, and opportunities for spoken interaction with native speakers limits how much users can improve their listening, speaking and fluency beyond beginner levels.

Duolingo French Course Guidebook discusses gender of French nouns

Duolingo can be good for getting the basics and fundamentals of a language.

But for more advanced skills and proficiency, learners will need to supplement Duolingo with other resources that offer personalized instruction, conversation practice, and immersion opportunities.

Overall, Duolingo is most effective for initial exposure and getting started with a new language, and it is also useful for revision.

In most languages, other methods are needed for making significant progress beyond beginner levels.

It is probably possible to achieve at least a solid B1 in French, Spanish, German and English if you learn all the information presented in the extra notes and guides.

3. How Many Languages Does Duolingo Have?

At time of writing this Duolingo Review (May, 2023), Duolingo has you covered with 39 languages to learn from English, including conlangs Esperanto, High Valyrian and Klingon (yes, seriously!).

In addition, you can learn Catalan from Spanish, and English from 24 languages*.

This expansive language selection ensures that learners of a variety backgrounds and interests can find their ideal language to conquer.

*As at August, 2023, these are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.

A. What Languages Does Duolingo Have?

It is possible to learn many of the languages from a number of the other languages, but it is different for each language. For English speakers, the following languages are available:

LanguageApprox. LevelNo. WordsNo. Topic Units
Arabic (Modern Standard)A2143430
Chinese (Mandarin)HSK 3+150157
Haitian CreoleA1.164823
High ValyrianA1.180528
JapaneseJLPT N5 & N4443489
KoreanTOPIK level 2210361
Norwegian (Bokmål)B13366111
Portuguese (Brazilian)A2220074
Scottish GaelicB1293369
VietnameseLevel 6+ (ViLT)160054
Duolingo Languages by Level, Word Count & Topic Units
*Properly Assessed and Aligned with CEFR/ACTFL Frameworks. Remaining languages’ levels were estimated
with reference to Milton & Alexiou (2009), except for some Asian languages, which use different scales.

Asia-Pacific Languages

Duolingo includes six languages from the Asia-Pacific region, from a range of language families. None of them have been aligned to CEFR or ACTFL frameworks. (Information on the level of language covered is an approximation based on research into the number of words and grammatical structures tested in the various accreditation exams.)

Chinese (Mandarin)

The 1500 Chinese (Mandarin) words taught will bring you to a solid HSK 3+ for Chinese. As with other scripts, there are tutorials and practice opportunities to learn how to form the characters. Pinyin transliterations accompany the characters in exercises.


Duolingo has an interesting introduction to Hawaiian which will give you a basic exposure to 688 words of the language. I estimate it covers to around an A1.1 level. Obviously it is only just a very basic introduction to the language, but it will get you going.

Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia)

The Indonesian course is a little more in depth, with 1800 words, which will give you a starting foundation sufficient for travelling, or further study. The number of words taught approximate an A1 level.


In Japanese you will cover most of JLPT N5 and N4 grammar, and 4400 words. Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana characters are all introduced with tutorials and writing practice tasks. Romaji (transliteration in latin script) accompanies the characters throughout the course.


The Korean course teaches around 2100 words, which is around TOPIK level 2. Tutorials for practising the Korean script are available, and the letter tiles are accompanied by romaji transliterations, but these disappear as you progress through the course.


There is no standardised Vietnamese test at this time, but the 1600 words in the Duolingo Vietnamese course should bring you to Level 6+ (roughly equivalent to CEFR A2.1) of the Practical Vietnamese Proficiency Test (ViLT) conducted by the Japan Southeast Asia Language Promotion Association (J-TAG).

Germanic languages


Duolingo’s Danish course covers 2100 words from beginner to lower intermediate levels (A2/B1.1), providing a foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. The content is solid, offering a wide range of topics including various home and professional life subjects, and exercises to practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.


Dutch on Duolingo caters to beginner and intermediate learners with just over 2600 words and 79 units. The course content is well-structured, covering essential grammar concepts, such as present and past tenses, vocabulary, and common phrases. Culturally, information about both the Netherlands and Belgium is included.


German is one of Duolingo’s most popular offerings, spanning beginner to intermediate levels. The course is aligned to CEFR/ACTFL frameworks, and covers grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills across A1-B1 levels. The content is extensive and well-developed, with 3583 words in 113 content units, allowing learners to acquire a strong foundation in the language. Users appreciate the depth and quality of the content available, making it a valuable resource for German learners.

Norwegian (Bokmål)

Duolingo’s Norwegian (Bokmål) course targets beginners and intermediate learners, offering a reasonably comprehensive curriculum of the language’s grammar, vocabulary, and basic phrases. The course has not been aligned to CEFR/ACTFL frameworks. It teaches 3366 words in 111 topic units, so around B1 level. Users appreciate the quality and depth of content available, allowing them to progress steadily and build a solid foundation.


The Swedish course delivers a comprehensive beginners curriculum. The course covers 2264 words, in just 43 units, which is possibly around an A2 level. While the course covers essential language skills, some users have expressed a desire for more advanced content to deepen their understanding.


Duolingo’s Yiddish course is relatively new, focusing on introducing learners to the basics of the language. The course covers essential vocabulary of 1994 words, grammar, and pronunciation, in 61 units. It likely covers roughly A2 level of language. It serves as a valuable starting point for those interested in learning Yiddish.

Celtic Languages


The Irish course on Duolingo teaches 1640 words over 42 units, to a solid A1 level. It will get you started learning Irish, but will need to be supplemented with other materials in order to achieve a conversational level.

Scottish Gaelic

The Duolingo Scottish Gaelic course contains 2933 words over 69 topic units, and by the end of it, you can expect to have a reasonably solid B1 level of vocabulary.


At 2139 words, 69 units, and around an A2 level, the Welsh course gives a basic foundation to the language in both grammar and vocabulary.

Uralic Languages


The Finnish course in Duolingo is unfortunately one of the shorter ones. A Uralic language, like Hungarian, Finnish can be quite tricky for English speaker to learn. At only 919 words and 23 units, it may just bring you to a A1.1 level, although the course is not aligned to the frameworks.


The Duolingo Hungarian course will take you to a solid A2, instructing you in 2559 words across 71 units.

However, according to users*, the implicit teaching method of Duolingo means that discussion of cases and other peculiarities of Hungarian are not particularly well covered.

You will probably need tutoring from a Hungarian teacher, or some other form of study, to understand the subtleties of the language.

*Conversation with Hungarian Learner, 24 August, 2023.



Despite being a constructed language (that is, not a natively evolved one), Esperanto is thought to be spoken natively by at least 1,000 people, and as a second language by as many as 100,000 more. The Duolingo Esperanto course will give you a solid start into using the language. It has 2307 words over 42 units, and can be expected to bring you to an A2 level.


The Duolingo Klingon course was added when Duolingo was mostly volunteer staffed. It is a farily basic course, teaching 1299 words over 42 units. It has no alignment to the CEFR/ACTFL frameworks, but will cover most vocabular for an A1 level.

High Valyrian

The Duolingo High Valyrian course was written by the creator of High Valyrian, David J. Petersen. It includes only 805 words in 28 units, and as such is a very brief introduction to the language. It is not aligned to the CEFR/ACTFL frameworks,. Based on number of words alone, I would say no more than A1.1.

African languages (Niger-Congo family)


You can expect to reach an A1 level with the Duolingo Swahili course. With around 1200 words and 42 units, apart from the typical greetings and introductions, you will also learn farm terms, and past, present and future verb terms.


Duolingo introduces you to your first 500 words in Zulu. As you might expect, the course has not been aligned with CEFR or ACTFL, and is around an A1.1 in number of words and content. Vocabulary includes domestic and wild animals, food, greetings and other typical word groups, and past and present verb forms.

Afro-Asiatic Languages:

(Modern Standard) Arabic (MSA)

As with Hebrew, the Modern Standard Arabic course begins with an introduction to the script for those who need it. The language course itself covers material for a solid beginner level of A2, with around 1400 words, and appropriate grammar and basic conversational skills.

(Modern) Hebrew

The Hebrew course offers a specific script course, if you need to familiarise yourself with that to start. The language part of the course contains 2644 words in 54 topical units, and covers approximately a A2, perhaps B1 level of language. It covers content such as current affairs, and the conditional past.

Romance languages


Duolingo French also covers beginner to upper intermediate levels of proficiency (A1-B2). The content is well-structured and has been aligned with the ACTFL and CEFL frameworks. It teaches almost 5000 words in 201 units, and provides a solid foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, making it suitable for learners of all levels. Unfortunately, it is fairly light with regard to culture (apart from tourist and food vocabulary – it didn’t even feature ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’!!).


Duolingo Italian covers beginner to low intermediate levels, offering 51 units and just under 2000 words across a range of topics. The content is effective in teaching basic grammar and vocabulary, but it lacks depth in more advanced language skills like complex sentence structures and idiomatic expressions. The course has not yet been aligned with the various language frameworks but seems to approximate to A2.


The Duolingo Latin course is a very basic introduction to Latin for beginners, not even A1.1. It covers just 499 words, and has only 14 units, however given the relative dearth of language learning platforms that include Latin, Duolingo is a good place to start.

(Brazilian) Portuguese

Duolingo’s Brazilian Portuguese course covers beginner to lower intermediate levels. The content has not been aligned with ACTFL/CEFR but it teaches 2200 words in 74 units (approximately B1.1). It is engaging and interactive, providing learners with a good understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. However, it could benefit from more in-depth explanations and cultural context.


The Romanian course is designed for beginners, providing an introduction to the language and basic vocabulary of around 2300 words across 40 topics. However, the course is relatively limited in scope and lacks content for intermediate or advanced learners. It serves as a good starting point but will not be sufficient for developing a significant level of proficiency beyond about A2.


Duolingo’s Spanish course is one of its most popular offerings, covering beginner to upper intermediate levels ( A1-B2). The content is comprehensive, including grammar, vocabulary, and cultural insights. It provides a solid foundation in the language with 5256 words across 213 units, aligned to the CEFR/ACTFL frameworks. Additional features like 348 Stories and Spanish Podcasts round out the language learning experience.

Slavic Languages


The Czech language is a West Slavic language of the Indo-European language family. Duolingo’s Czech course teaches 1864 words across 54 topics to an A1 level, emphasizing grammatical gender, complex declension of nouns and adjectives, and inflection of verbs to convey tense and voice.


Duolingo Polish provides a strong beginner foundation with 1719 words over 41 units to give you a solid A1 level. Use it alongside other resources for a comprehensive learning experience.


The Russian course on Duolingo covers a reasonable 2241 words, and 61 units, giving you a start on a B1 language level. It includes a Cyrillic tutorial to learn the alphabet. However the implicit method of learning assumed with Duolingo makes learning the grammar a little difficult.


The Ukrainian course on Duolingo is quite limited at 1060 words and 33 units. As with other languages using a different script, there are exercises for learning Cyrillic. If you complete the whole path, you will have covered much of an A1 level.


Haitian Creole

The Duolingo Haitian Creole course is a very limited introduction of 648 words across 23 units. Despite it’s limited nature, reviews on Reddit.com are generally positive.

Worth noting is that because Haitian Creole is only recently transitioning to a written language, there are some variations with spelling choices. Duolingo relied on some newly-formed standards as much as possible when writing the course*.

*Cindy Blanco, as quoted by Charlotte Hu on Popular Science, ‘How Duolingo added Haitian Creole to its language library‘, 21 February, 2022.


The Duolingo Hindi course has apparently been prepared using the CEFR framework, but this is not apparent within Duolingo itself. As with other languages that use their own scripts, the Hindi course includes a “pre-course” on the Devanagari script. With only 633 words across 21 units, the Hindi course won’t make you fluent, but it will give you a solid start with the script and basic language skills.


Duolingo Greek is one of the longer ones, with 2964 words over 61 units. It is not yet officially aligned with. the CEFR/ACTFL frameworks, but looks to cover up to a solid B2 level. As with other languages with its own script, there is a ‘precourse’ in the Greek alphabet.


The Duolingo Navajo course was added by volunteers, and is not being updated or augmented at this stage. It is more a taster than an introduction, at only 141 words in 7 units. But if you are interested in having a look at a Native American language, check it out!


Turkish on Duolingo is a relatively small course of 1387 words and 43 units. It is not aligned to the CEFR/ACTFL frameworks, but by the end you could expect to have covered an A1 level reasonably well. It has been reasonably well received by language learners, although some Reddit.com users have commented that their native-speaker family members find some sentences a bit strange.

B. Languages Learned From Other Languages

Many of the languages on Duolingo can also be learned from other languages apart from English. In addition, as previously mentioned in this Duolingo Review, there are American English courses from many languages, and a Catalan course for Spanish speakers.

B.1 English

American English courses have been written for speakers of Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.

The quality and depth of content of the courses differ depending on the language from which you are learning.

  • From Spanish you can learn to a B2 level, 4552 words across 221 topical units.
  • From Mandarin Chinese it is aligned to the CEFR, teaches to B1 level, 2995 words in 121 units.
  • From French, the course is not yet aligned to CEFR, and teaches just 1180 words in 41 units.

Duolingo is making a significant play for the educational English market, and has supplemented their English course with an English assessment that is currently accepted by more than 4600 universities from around the world, and as support for Student Visa applications to Ireland. As a completely online assessment, it gained significant traction during Covid-19 lockdowns.

B.2 Catalan from Spanish

The Catalan course (from Spanish) on Duolingo is just an introduction. You will cover 1783 words over 41 units, which will give you a reasonable A1 level. For more, you will need to seek other resources.

4. How Does Duolingo Work?

Since our Duolingo Review in 2022, Duolingo has changed to a defined path for learning.

Previously they used a system a little like Babbel, where you can choose which themed unit you want to learn. And if you hadn’t covered particular vocabulary for a while, the app would show you by a ‘crack’ appearing in the gold crown,

Now lessons are defined, and repetition is built into the path. You can review past lessons (normal review for free to win +5 XP, Legendary review for 100 gems to win +40 XP), and do timed reviews for 100 gems to win +40 XP).

The first step of the new themed lesson is revision of previous lessons, and there are rewards along the path during the lesson.

If the content is not new for you, you can test out at any stage. The lessons seem to progress faster and are more interesting.

And if you are learning Spanish, French or some of the more popular languages, there is an extra benefit in that they have now been aligned with the CEFR/ACTFL language proficiency paradigms, which means you can get a clear idea about your language level.

A. Learning Content

A.1 Content Quality & Diversity

The content of Duolingo comes from a combination of user-generated content and expert curation.

At the time of our previous Duolingo Review, Duolingo used teams of volunteers to create some courses – hence the inclusion of the mini-course in Navajo and others.

Now they are keeping content creation in-house. The content creators are educators, linguists, curriculum experts and language learners, expert in their fields.

As with all things public, Duolingo receives its fair share of criticism, and the nonsensical type of content has been one of the things frequently criticised.

However, Duolingo has stated that it deliberately creates content that is nonsensical as a method of making it memorable.

More recently the company has been curating the various courses’ contents and aligning them with CEFR/ACTFL language proficiency frameworks.

This improves its legitimacy in the language education market, and has helped Duolingo become usable in schools and universities as a complementary tool.

User feedback and contributions are carefully reviewed by a team of language experts to maintain accuracy and relevance, ensuring that the learning materials meet the highest standards.

Duolingo has been using AI for some time in the app with its voice recognition tasks. More recently it made a statement regarding its use of AI to help generate exercises, and how they are quality checked by humans.

A.2 Types of Exercises

Translation Tasks

The Duolingo translation tasks involve translating sentences from the target language into English and vice versa.

Sometimes you will be given the words in tiles to choose from, but as you advance you will have to type the words into the answer section in full.

Accents and special characters can be selected from a special keypad if your computer or phone don’t have them.

Listening Exercises

In the listening exercises you will listen to an audio clip and select the word from a group of tiles, or transcribe or speak what you hear, rather than being asked to translate the content.

NOTE: The speaking answers rely on voice recognition for correction, and it is often quite faulty. It may absolutely not accept your answer, or may accept an incorrect answer.

During the course of writing this Duolingo Revew, I have tested it to see if it will accept a wrong word, word in a different language, and a really poorly spoken correct answer, and I was able to make it accept all three.

To increase the challenge and engagement, I recommend attempting to mentally translate the sentence before typing your response.

Once you submit your answer, you will find the translation at the bottom of the screen to check your accuracy.

Multiple Choice Questions

As you would expect, with multiple choice questions you are given a sentence in English and asked to select the correct meaning in your target language (or vice-versa) from a list of options.

Cloze Questions

Cloze tasks are those where a word is missing from a sentence and you must select the word that makes the most sense to complete it from a list of options.

The cloze tasks in Duolingo begin with as many answers as there are blank spaces. As the level of language increases, more answers than questions are given, so you need to have a better understanding of the options.

Pairing Tasks

You are given up to ten words and must match the target language with the English translation.

A.3 Proficiency Levels Covered

Duolingo courses teach to varying levels of language proficiency, depending on the language. Spanish, French and German (taught from English) are taught and aligned to CEFR/ACTFL frameworks.

There are a few other courses that teach to a B1 or B2 level, but the majority of languages are really only introducing you to a beginner level of language skills. Of those, many are somewhat haphazard in the content included. It has been difficult to find Duolingo Reviews of specific languages that I haven’t yet tested to know more precisely.

B. Features

B.1 Key Features of Duolingo

Duolingo is a widely used language learning application that has gained immense popularity worldwide. It is known for its effectiveness in making language learning an enjoyable experience, which has been supported by research findings.

The app offers a wide range of language courses, encompassing popular languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, and several more obscure languages, including some conlangs.

Each language course is divided into skills, with each skill comprising five levels of lessons.

Duolingo employs various teaching methods, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing exercises, catering to different learning styles.

The app provides a diverse set of exercises, such as translation, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank, to reinforce language skills.

Additionally, Duolingo offers helpful features like chatbots, stories, and podcasts to further assist users in their language learning journey.

While a free version of the app is available, Duolingo also offers a premium option called Super Duolingo, which grants users additional benefits like an ad-free experience, offline access, and unlimited ‘hearts’ (lives).

B.2 Gamification & Engagement

To enhance user engagement, Duolingo incorporates gamification elements like streaks, badges, and leaderboards called ‘Leagues’.


Streaks are one of the gamification features of Duolingo.

A ‘streak’ in Duolingo refers to the consecutive days a user engages with the app by completing lessons or activities.

Maintaining a streak encourages consistent learning and is visually represented by the number of days in a row a user has actively participated in the platform.


Badges in Duolingo are earned as a recognition of your achievements and milestones in language learning.

By completing various lessons, exercises, and challenges, you unlock different badges that signify your progress, dedication, and accomplishments on the platform.

These badges are displayed on your profile, allowing you to showcase your language learning journey and accomplishments to others.


Duolingo leagues make learning a group activity.

Duolingo Leagues are competitive ranking systems that allow users to compare their progress with other learners around the world.

Users are grouped into leagues based on their skill level and learning activity.

As you complete lessons and challenges, you earn points that contribute to your league ranking, promoting a sense of friendly competition and motivation to consistently engage with the app.

At the end of each week, learners may be promoted to higher leagues or receive rewards based on their performance, encouraging continued language learning efforts.


One unique aspect of Duolingo’s structure is the concept of “gems.”

At the time of my previous Duolingo Review, there was very little that gems could be used for.

Gems can be earned by completing lessons, achieving daily goals, or maintaining streaks of consecutive days of learning.

With the updates, these gems now truly serve as a virtual currency within the app, and can be used to unlock various features, such as additional lessons, practice exercises, legendary practices, and even time extensions for certain activities.

B.3 Personalization & Adaptiveness

The Duolingo app ensures personalized learning by tailoring lessons to the user’s individual strengths and weaknesses as they progress through the course. According to a whitepaper Duolingo published in January 2023,

“Duolingo meets learners where they are and leverages their own responses and in-app behaviors to help them improve. From providing more practice where learners need it, to adjusting exercise order and difficulty, to providing feedback based on learner responses, we personalize the learning environment to boost learners’ growth and long-term knowledge.”

C. Freeman, A. Kittredge, H. Wilson & B. Pajak, ‘The Duolingo Method for App-based Teaching and Learning Duolingo Research Report‘, January 11, 2023,
(https://bit.ly/duolingo-method-whitepaper-pdf last accessed 29 August, 2023).

Duolingo uses well-established research into memorisation, in combination with assessments of each learner’s progress, to tweak what reviews you are given and at what timing. This results in Duolingo users retaining what they have learned more effectively.

B.4 Language Testing

Duolingo offers you a placement test at the start of every new language course.

Duolingo offers every user a free placement test for every language as you start the course. Alternatively, you can just choose to start at the beginning.

If at any time you feel the course is too easy, or is covering knowledge you already have, by clicking on “Jump Here” you can test ahead.

The tests are reasonably rigorous, and in any case the content will be reviewed in future steps.

Official English Certification

In addition, since our last Duoingo Review, the company has introduced an official ‘English Certification’ test, which is of sufficient rigour that it is being accepted by several thousand universities and places of higher education.

It is also accepted for student visa applications for USA and Ireland. The test is completely online, making it very convenient for students outside of traditional TOEFL/TEFL testing areas.

The cost of the English certification is US$59 per test. It is possible to complete practice tests before attempting the real thing.

B.5 Extra Material

Free Podcasts:

Podcasts (with transcripts) are available on Apple Music, Google and Spotify, for French and Spanish from English, and English from Spanish and Portuguese.


Stories had their own tab, and were easily accessed when we published our last Duolingo Review. Now they are interspersed through the learning path.

However, if you have Super Duolingo, it is available as a feature under an extra ‘Practice’ tab.

5. How Long Does It Take To Learn A New Language On Duolingo?

If you spend 1 hour and 50 minutes a day, seven days a week learning languages on Duolingo, the length of time it will take you to learn a new language is around twelve months.

How do I figure that?

Most language schools say it will take 600-650 hours of study to achieve an B2 level of language.

B2 is the level of language I have found gives me the amount of vocabulary, grammar and conversational practise to feel like I am able to communicate relatively fluently. And to a place where I will not forget it.

Divide 650 hours by 365 days, and you have 1:50 hours of Duolingo lessons to achieve a conversational fluency.

If you were to do one hour per day, which seems a little more do-able, it would likely take you two years to achieve a B2 level.

And that is assuming that Duolingo teaches your language to a B2 level – remember, it only teaches French and Spanish to that level.

It should also be said that Duolingo is a great vocab learning app – but you will learn faster, and have a more rounded experience if you use other resources in your language learning journey.

So let’s be clear… if all you do is five minutes a day of Duolingo, you are not going to be speaking ANY new language, anytime soon!

6. Does Duolingo Have A Community?

There is no longer an official Duolingo forum or community, but there is the ability to follow and connect with friends on Duolingo, and the Duolingo Leagues also create the potential to build community. Interaction is only on a one-to-one basis of course.

However, in the course of researching this Duolingo Review, I discovered there are a number of unofficial Duolingo communities where learners can connect and share their language learning journey, which adds an extra layer of motivation and encouragement.

7. Can I Use Duolingo Offline?

All progress is synchronized across devices, allowing users to seamlessly switch between platforms. This is also the case for progress made offline. The next time you are online, everything will sync up.

Unfortunately, Duolingo is available offline only if you have started a lesson before going offline. In addition, only that lesson will be available offline.

For users in areas with reliable internet connections or 4G+ mobile (cell) phone networks, this is rarely a concern.

However, if you want to use Duolingo in an area where there are intermittant connections or a lack of mobile access, it can be quite frustrating when the app stops working.

8. How Much Does Duolingo Cost?

Duolingo is a ‘Freemium’ product, with free access to the ad-supported courses, and in-app purchases available to eliminate advertisements (‘Super Duolingo’), upgrade to family packs, and purchase ‘Duolingo Max’.

A. Is Duolingo Free?

All languages are available to learn free, with

  • no time limit,
  • no limit to the number of languages you can learn at the same time, and
  • no usage limit, apart from the ‘hearts’ system (which operate like ‘lives’ in a game), in which every mistake will cost you a heart.

B. How Much is Super Duolingo (known as Duolingo Plus*)?

Paying for the Super Duolingo subscription means you have no ads, unlimited hearts/lives, mistakes reviews, unlimited legendary challenges, access to extra practice exercises like stories.

Super Duolingo Package:
1 Month: US$12.99/month
12 Months: US$83.99 (US$6.99/month, billed annually)

*At the time of our previous Duolingo Review, this was known as ‘Duolingo Plus’, and I still see many people asking about it under that name. I hope this review clarifies the issue.

Super Duolingo is a new addition since our last Duolingo Review.

C. How Much is the Family Duolingo Package?

The Family Duolingo Package costs US$199.99 billed annually (from US$2.38/month/user) and is a great way to give the whole family access to an ad-free Duolingo experience. It allows Super Duolingo accounts for up to 7 users.

Family Duolingo Package:
12 months: US$199.99 billed annually

D. How Much is the Duolingo Max Package?

The Duolingo Max Package costs US$29.99/month, or US$167.99/year, and is currently available for French and Spanish courses only, and only in the Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States markets.

Duolingo Max consists of Super Duolingo + AI Roleplay + AI Explain my Answer.

Duolingo Max:
1 Month: US$29.99/month
12 Months: US$167.99 (US$14/month, billed annually)

B. Is Super Duolingo (formerly Duolingo Plus) Worth It?

Yes, Super Duolingo is worth the cost, not only to save having to see repetitive ads of the Evil Green Owl telling you to buy Super Duolingo!

I recommended paying for the app in my previous Duolingo Review, and nothing has changed with the updates. In fact, I think it is even more useful now.

The Super Duolingo subscription offers unlimited hearts/lives, mistakes reviews, and access to extra practice exercises, including stories.

Legendary challenges are also available without limitations. The subscription comes in two options: a 1-month plan for $12.99 and a 12-month plan at $83.99 ($6.99/month when billed annually).

Limitations for Free Users: While free users can access a range of features, they may encounter ads and have limited hearts/lives, which can affect the learning flow.

Additionally, access to legendary challenges and certain extra practice exercises are restricted for free users, requiring payment with ‘Gems’.

Value for Money: The Super Duolingo subscription offers a comprehensive package for learners seeking an uninterrupted and enriched experience.

With an array of benefits, including no ads, unlimited resources, and expanded practice exercises, the pricing model provides considerable value for learners committed to consistent and immersive language learning.

The choice between the monthly and annual plans allows users to select the option that aligns with their learning goals and budget, making the Super Duolingo subscription an appealing investment for those dedicated to maximizing their language acquisition journey.

9. Customer Support & Updates

A. Availability & Responsiveness of Customer Support

No Duolingo Review would be complete without addressing the customer support situation.

As with most apps and online programs, Duolingo’s Customer Support is entirely online.

In the first instance, there is a Help page where you can check out the FAQ pages and other common issues.

If your issue is not addressed there, you can submit a support request, although the alternatives to categorise your issue may not fit. There is no ‘other’ … only ‘other bug’. (I would NOT suggest you use this one, or any other bug reports, as the automated response includes the statement ‘Please note that you are not likely to get a personal reply to this message.’)

You should receive an automated response immediately in your email inbox. If you don’t … go searching in Spam, so that when they DO respond, you get the email.

In addition to adding your own Duolingo Review in either of the app store platforms, it is also possible to report an issue in the iPhone App Store, or Google Play Store for Android.

Nevertheless, it is rare to need to contact Duolingo. Their app is very stable, and updates occur regularly every week with bug fixes.

B. Content Updates, Features, & Bug Fixes

The content itself, and in fact the whole duolingo experience, is constantly being A/B tested, so it is not uncommon for two people to have slightly different experiences.

In addition, big updates are usually rolled out progressively across different countries, and in different languages.

10. User Reviews & Ratings

The Duolingo review in the iPhone App Store has a very high 4.7 star rating , and has been voted the No. 1 app in the Education section of App Store. It has 4.6 stars in Android’s Google Play Store, where it has been downloaded over 100 million times.

As with many apps, Duolingo has it’s share of detractors, but the majority of the MILLIONS of reviews it has are positive.

The most common complaints are people getting sick of seeing the ads (to which I say “buy the upgrade”!), and people not liking the major update that happened a year or so ago.

11. Conclusion

All in all, Duolingo has done something right to achieve their No. 1 place in language learning apps – and that something is probably choosing to be FREE! The fact that they also have such a wide array of languages helps too.

The clean, fun interface, and even the obnoxious Green Owl, have all resulted in an app with a personality. The team has done well to create an identity, and consequent Cult-type following, that has millions of people learning languages.

So, because of the research I had to do for this Duolingo Review post, I am back to using Duolingo. Not compulsively, and certainly not in isolation. But it is aiding in my pursuit of languages.

Try it! See if you get addicted to the little Green Owl too!