Duolingo

Common Sense Media says

Stellar language lessons; skip the iffy translation work.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The language program empowers kids to learn at their own pace and gives them a chance to prove their skills with real translation projects; however, the translation editing process relies heavily on user input, so accuracy isn't necessarily guaranteed. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

According to forum posts, a few users have been asked to translate documents that contained "Not Safe for Work (NSFW) words and topics," including penis and masturbation. However, kids using the site to learn a language shouldn't have that issue.

Language

Users can post swear words on the message board, but references primarily involve discussions about finding words like "f--k" in translation projects users worked on.

Consumerism

Duolingo is ad free.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few users have posted questions about how to translate beer, wine, and similar words, but the site doesn't glorify or encourage drug or alcohol use.

Privacy & safety

Kids can add their full name, location, a photo, and a brief bio to their site profile. Though users can "friend" each other, they can't send private messages through the site itself.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that registration is required to access Duolingo's language instruction. Kids can sign up with Facebook or request an email verification. They can also friend other users by clicking on any posts they've made to the site forum to access their profile. Users sometimes also post requests for other users to friend them. You can't directly email other users through the site, but some exchange email information on the forum.
 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • speaking
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • achieving goals
  • personal growth

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • speaking

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Interactive questions walk kids through lessons and reinforce concepts in various ways, like writing a phrase they hear or identifying words from photos. Users get immediate feedback and points to advance and can discuss questions.

Learning Approach

Kids get points for their progress; they can see how far they've come, which is encouragement to work toward higher levels. Ideas are drilled in via repetition: You need to get most questions right to advance, and practice words you missed.

Support

Users can pose questions on a board, and Duolingo staffers often respond. Kids can also translate documents on the site and can learn English if they speak Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, or French. A Duolingo blog also offers some usage tips.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • speaking
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • achieving goals
  • personal growth

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • speaking

Kids can learn to speak Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, or English. Lessons cover vocabulary, verb conjugation, sentence structure, and pronunciation. Users can discuss answers, adding a social element, and edit articles for practice; advanced learners can skip sections. The self-guided, tiered program continuously challenges kids with interactive lessons and tracks their progress. Skill points, which help users advance levels, are awarded for tasks like finishing a lesson and encourage kids to reach goals. Duolingo provides excellent instruction, and it can be used by teens, adults, or younger language enthusiasts.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

DUOLINGO users can access free language lessons; for practice, they can translate documents organizations submitted. (Duolingo charges for the work to fund operations.) Document editing doesn't always provide solid feedback; users check the edits, so errors may occur. Duolingo's lessons, however, are top-notch. Launched publically in 2012, the site has 125,000 active users and offers Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, and Italian instruction. English instruction is also available for users who speak Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, or French.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Users can learn a new language on Duolingo. They can also volunteer to translate documents; the site charges clients for the translation work, which, according to Duolingo, is how it can offer free instruction.

Don't expect significant (or necessarily correct) feedback on translation assignments; users, who are also language students, review the work. But the interactive language lessons are top notch: They guide kids step-by-step through new words, sentence structure, and other communication elements. The format clearly illustrates what lessons kids have completed and which are ahead. Vocabulary words are paired with photos; kids are also asked to translate sentences in both English and the language they're learning. Mistakes are identified, and users can test out of sections if they're already familiar with the material, making the site a solid resource for both beginners and speakers with some language knowledge.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about interacting online with strangers. Should you ever accept or send a friend request from someone you don't know?

  • Duolingo helps people learn a new language. What are the advantages of being able to speak more than one language? How can your kid use any new language skills?

  • Learning another language can help strengthen understanding of your primary language. Talk about what English grammar, sentence structure, and other elements your child has learned recently in school. Are there any similarities between English and what your kid is learning on Duolingo?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Duolingo was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old October 16, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Great!

I love Duolingo. It's fun, you learn how to speak languages, and you feel like your actually helping because you ARE. The users now translate Buzzfeed and CNN articles, in a matter of hours. Also, now, if you're bilingual, you can contribute to courses. I wish there was a ten-star.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old December 27, 2013
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Best app ever!

This is one of the best apps i have ever got! why i think it is 9+ is because it is hard to learn a language when you are so little but if you parent or someone else help you can easily learn a language
Parent Written byjhoward516 November 18, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Could be better

It has great learning, in general, but we do not use it much for class because it cannot be specific on exactly with what you are learning in class. I suggest it for ages 12+ because you can comment on it & profile photos.
What other families should know
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns

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