Duolingo

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Duolingo Website Poster Image
Stellar game-based lessons make for solid language learning

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Speedy, straightforward lessons cover vocabulary, verb conjugation, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The self-guided, multi-stage 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 they encourage kids to reach goals. Duolingo provides excellent instruction, and it can be used by teens, adults, or younger language enthusiasts.

Positive Messages

The language program empowers kids to learn at their own pace and it rewards them both for the time they spend and the accuracy of their answers.

Violence
Sex

Some users have asked questions about sexual terms on some of the message boards; it's pretty easy to steer clear of these conversations.

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 to the FAQ about how to translate beer, wine, and similar words, but the site doesn't glorify or encourage drug or alcohol use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Duolingo is a game-based language-learning website. Kids have to register to use the site, and they can use Google, Facebook or an email address to do so. 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjhoward516 November 18, 2014

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 i... Continue reading
Adult Written byjeannez d. September 13, 2017

Duolingo Has its Pros and Cons

The age group that I would suggest for this app would be 10+. It is a little bit too difficult for younger kids to navigate. It would also be too much for them... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old October 16, 2013

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... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 1, 2014

Great

It's amazing. You can learn Portugese, French, Spanish, German and Italian as the main languages and also slightly changed versions of those languages like... Continue reading

What's it about?

Duolingo is a game-based language-learning tool. Students first choose which language they want to learn. Beginners can start with "Basics 1" or more advanced learners can take a quick "Placement Test" to determine the appropriate starting point. Instructional practice activities cover all four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and require users to go back and forth between the target language and their self-identified native language. When students make an error, they see the correct answer and can open a user discussion related to the question for further feedback on the mistake. Users see their streak count (their number of days in a row spent using the tool) and their hearts (like lives remaining in a video game). Users earn experience points (XP) for their time in the app, and their user profile (visible when signed in) displays badges with their level and XP and flag icons representing the languages they're learning. Users can also switch to Immerson Mode to enter translations of key phrases and longer passages; this crowdsourced knowledge base plus an active message board make for a lively online community of language learners. English speakers can elect to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, or Turkish; other languages have similar (if slightly more limited) options. Students can sign up on their own to use the Duolingo site or its corresponding app (which is how most users access the service); both are free. Most relevant to the classroom, students can also participate with a Duolingo for Schools account, which is also free and which lets teachers link to their students' accounts and track their progress. Teachers can sign up for a free account, add class sections, and share a link with their students to let them sign up to join a particular section. Once students enroll, teachers can monitor their progress (with an overall course view or a detailed list view) and assign homework targeted for individual students' needs.

Is it any good?

Duolingo breaks the complex details of language-learning into manageable, meaningful chunks. Users don't just read about how the language works; they're guided step by step through exercises and they get instant, detailed feedback. The lessons use several methods to help kids understand vocabulary words, usage, verb conjugation, and other elements. They view photos to learn terms, translate sentences back and forth beween languages, and type in phrases that a narrator reads aloud. If they make a mistake, they’ll see the correct answer, and their responses help the system customize future lessons. Kids can also opt out of sections if they're familiar with the material, making this an especially engaging, helpfully differentiated experience.

The site's clear, comprehensive format serves users with a range of abilities and language experiences. The game-like features -- like experience points, hearts, and streaks -- all help make the tool rewarding and addicting in equal measures. The teacher dashboard takes this progress tracking a step further and turns those scores into something meaningful and actionable for a teacher. It's easy to use this data to get a detailed, realistic sense of your students' time on task and their growing abilities across skills. Overall, this is a rigorous, appealing tool for supporting language instruction at all levels.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love learning online

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