How to Learn English on the Duolingo App?

This brief guide will learn everything you need to know about learning English using the Duolingo app. We’ll discuss the features of the free English-learning app, how the app works, and the freemium pricing model.

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo Home Page

Duolingo is a US-based online learning platform where you can learn various languages such as English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and many more. It comes in a mobile app and a language-learning website, accessible anywhere worldwide and entirely free. However, the company offers a premium version, the Duolingo Plus, for a certain service fee, which will be later discussed in this article.

Duolingo has more than 500 million users in all 194 countries combined. About 53% of them are English learners. The percentage of people learning English in each country is inarguably increasing. According to their annual Duolingo Language Learning Report, English is the most popular in 121 countries and the second most popular in eight countries.

Percentage of English Speakers Duolingo
Source: 2020 Duolingo Language Report:

The primary driver or reason why most users learn English on Duolingo is for school/educational purposes. Work and Travel remain the second and third most important reasons to learn English.

Motivations for Learning English on Duolingo
Source: 2020 Duolingo Language Report:

There are a lot of structural and societal changes that have prompted a lot of users to download Duolingo — COVID-19, globalization, remote work, remote learning, etc. Also, many Duolingo features makes the app more attractive to users. We’ll discuss more of that in the next section.

Duolingo Key Features

Every successful platform comes with useful key features. Well, Duolingo offers you some of the most significant features for online learning software. Below are four things that will help you learn English with Duolingo.

  • Freemium Service: Duolingo offers a freemium version of the website and mobile app. It is accessible to all who don’t want to spend money on learning English. Meaning, the app is forever free. Like any free online service, users are shown ads within the platform. However, if you want more features and level up your language learning, you can also pay a service fee for and ad-free experience in the Duolingo Plus version.
  • Mobile App: Mobile devices nowadays are the most portable tool for learning. Luckily for you, Duolingo comes in a mobile app compatible with iPads, iPhones, Android phones, and tablets. Imagine, learning English everywhere and anywhere holding just a smart device. Learning a language has never been this easy and ubitquitous. All you have to do is, install the Duolingo mobile app on your device, create an account with your email or Facebook, and then start your very first lesson. It is as easy as learning ABCs or counting 123.
  • User-Friendly. Duolingo offers straightforward interfaces to help all individuals, especially students, learn English in the easiest way possible.
  • Gamification. We cannot deny the fact that people today are more interested in online games than ever. Fortunately, Duolingo uses the gamification strategy to keep learners attentive within the platfom. This app gamified the learning experience (more information on the gamification featured below). Duolingo is proof that learning something could be fun.
  • Vocabulary. Duolingo is the best tool for someone who wants to be multilingual. You can use this platform to learn English from 21 different languages, which is loved by its almost 500 million users worldwide. All in all, Duolingo offers more than 100 language-learning courses and 40 languages in its freemium version. So if your interest expands beyond just learning English, then Duolingo offers you all that in one place.

Duolingo Lessons

Duolingo offers various lessons and activities in unique ways. Students will learn using different approaches like stories, audio, video, etc. Below are the types of lessons Duolingo provides, showing how it utilizes listening exercises, flashcards, and multiple-choice questions for learners.

Skill Tree of Lessons (Modules):

One of the best and most compelling features of Duolingo is the skill tree or language tree. Each language course consists of various skills that cover certain topics. Those topics teach learners English vocabulary and grammar with a broad scope of languages. Also, each skill set has five levels that help the users practice, providing various activities and exercises. Duolingo’s skill tree of lessons is more like an organized progression of a course’s skill depending on the difficulty level.

Duolingo Skill Tree

Every level unlocks new lessons regarding each module. The higher the level, the more challenging the exercises are. And as you progress, unlocking new skills will help you learn English more. Here are some topics covered in the skill tree of lessons.

  1. Basics 1. It is one of the most important skills in the tree, especially if you are just starting to learn the language. It teaches the basics of English and provides lessons consisting of simple words such as man, woman, boy, and girl. In addition, Basics 1 serves as a primary lesson to introduce English before taking up the language tree.
  2. Phrases. If you master Basics 1, you will progress to the next skill in the language tree, which is the Phrases. This skill contains sentences and their translations. It will help you learn some full phrases in a certain language. Phrases also help you practice your pronunciation and skills in putting words into a sentence.
  3. Animals. One of the most fun skills in the language tree is the Animals. This skill teaches you the translation of an animal’s name into different languages. What’s more entertaining than knowing animal names in English, French, Romanian, and many more? Plus, Animals skill comes with audio pronunciations and related words.
  4. Food. This skill is probably the best one on the language tree for food lovers. Imagine going to an American, Japanese, French, or Italian restaurant, knowing the food you want to order. The Food skill contains lessons to help you translate the name of the food to whatever language you want with audio pronunciations.
  5. Family. If Duolingo can help you learn the names of animals and food, it also offers Family skills. You can learn to call your parents, grandparents, siblings, and even relatives, in different languages. Plus, this skill contains lessons and challenges with audio guidance.
  6. Transport. Duolingo also has a thing for people who love to travel. Transport is a perfect skill in the language tree if you want to learn words, phrases, and sentences about modes of transportation like cars, boats, and airplanes. Plus, it consists of lessons that will help you a lot when traveling to different countries.
  7. Shopping. After you master the language tree, you can purchase certain items to add new skills. You can shop for anything that can enhance your English. If you are really motivated in learning languages, a few bucks will surely not bother you.
  8. School. The Duolingo school is an excellent feature that allows teachers to view their students’ skill trees easily. Teachers need them to keep track of how well their students are doing and their progress.

Stories

Duolingo Stories

Duolingo Stories is one of the platform’s best features. This section focuses on developing the users’ English reading and listening skills. It provides fun dialogues and conversations that are fitted to your level. In other words, it contains short stories with an audio presentation that you can listen to while reading.

This feature also aims to develop the learners’ vocabulary with lessons like filling in the blanks in conversations. However, Duolingo Stories are only available for Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese speakers who want to learn English. But, the company is constantly updating to add more languages.

If you are interested in Duolingo stories, you have to unlock them first. You have to earn ten crowns or reach Checkpoint 1 on your Duolingo tree to unlock this section. Each set of stories are locked, except the first one. So, you need to complete all the stories inside that set before jumping into the next one. In addition, stories also get more difficult as you go further, resulting in more learning.

Audio Lessons

Duolingo Audio Lessons

After you learn some English words, phrases, and sentences, you want to improve your vocabulary and enhance your listening and speaking skills. Well, Duolingo offers their Audio Lessons feature that aims to strengthen your English conversation skills.

Duolingo’s Audio Lessons consist of realistic scenarios and conversations. Plus, you will meet two hosts who will guide you throughout your journey in listening, pronouncing, and speaking English independently. In addition, the topics will give you some important phrases on how to be polite and proper usage of the words “um” and “so.” The goal is to make learners independent in listening and speaking and use it in a normal conversation.

Gamification on Duolingo

A prime reason why Duolingo is attracting more users is the gamification. It’s a system where game-based elements are added to be more engaging to the learners.

If you are a competitive learner, Duolingo must be the best platform for you. It features Crown levels, rankings, and achievements. In each level you finish, you are given a set of crowns. The more difficult your level is, the more crowns you get. The Crown level feature ranks your development with Duolingo on how good you are doing and how well you are now.

Gamification on Duolingo

The Pros of Using the Duolingo 

Duolingo comes with a lot of advantages. There are too many to mention. Well, there is no wonder why it is the world’s number one language-learning platform. So, below are just some of the most recognized pros of Duolingo.

a.   The Cost

Duolingo is the world’s most downloaded educational app and one of the best language learning platforms. And the main reason why is because it is free. It is entirely and utterly free of charge, so you don’t have to worry about paying anything so you can learn English.

However, if you do not mind paying for a few bucks to experience more in your English learning journey, then the Duolingo Plus suits you. It only costs about $9.99 a month, and you can enjoy offline access and ad-free lessons.

b.   Convenience

Besides having a free version and a cheap premium version, one of the best things about Duolingo is its convenience. It is highly convenient in a way where it is accessible anywhere and anytime. Plus, it comes with a user-friendly interface with straightforward buttons and controls. You can also access all your Duolingo lessons online without losing any of your already-made progress.

c.    Excellent for Beginners

The company decided has make its interface as friendly and as easy as possible. Duolingo is one of the most efficient and straightforward platforms for learning English, especially for newbies.

d.   Spaced Repetition Learning System 

It is a learning approach or method where lessons can be retaken, and certain materials can be reviewed at systematic intervals. These intervals may be increasing until the knowledge and information are embedded in the learners’ minds.

e.   Personalized Learning System

  •  Adaptive learning.

This system consists of adaptive lessons that will measure your score or performance from the previous lesson, then adopt the next one from it.

  • Self-paced learning.

It is one of the best platforms for people who want to learn English on their schedule and not be pressured to complete assignments at a specific time.

f.   Fun Lessons

Duolingo is making sure that learning will never feel boring while learning. This platform offers fun lessons, exciting activities, and satisfying exercises to make learners engage more in studying English.

The Cons of Learning English on Duolingo

Despite having many benefits, advantages, and pros, Duolingo also comes with some disadvantages. 

  • There is no outline information of how a language course really works.
  • If you are an advanced learner and want to learn certain topics, you cannot access them unless you finish all the previous lessons or tasks.
  • There are some times that the example words, phrases, and sentences are a little bit unusual and not really being used in reality.
  • The speech recognition is a little outdated, needs some improvements, and has a long way to go.
  • Some of the word translations in some languages are a little bit unsure and doubtful.

Duolingo Plus

Duolingo Plus

Duolingo Plus is the premium version of Duolingo with specific benefits and advantages. One of its best features is the ad-free interface, where you get to learn English without any interruption. It costs an affordable rate of $9.99; you get to enjoy learning English words, phrases, and sentences. Other elements such as unlimited mistakes, etc., provide a more self-paced learning experience.

Duolingo Free VersionDuolingo Plus
Contains advertisements.Completely ad-free.
Lessons can only be accessed online.It enables you to download the lessons and access them offline.
You get penalized if you make mistakes by losing hearts (maximum of 3) and redirecting you to easier lessons. Unlimited mistakes. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes or losing hearts.
You don’t have any idea about the progress you’re making.You can track the progress of your chosen language course and see how much you have mastered it.
You have to complete the previous levels before jumping to the next one.Unlimited skill test-outs. You can skip the basics and jump to any level you like.
No feedback on your mistakes.It gives you personalized lessons to practice more and learn from your mistakes.

How Long Does it Take to Learn English on Duolingo?

Well, learning English was never quick. You have to go through a process to achieve your goal. However, if you are dedicated, you can finish a language tree in Duolingo in six months. But, you will have to spend at least two hours and ten minutes a day for a full 180 days. If you are more than eager to learn, you will need to use Duolingo for about 10,000 hours to become fluent in English.

Final Thoughts on Duolingo for Learning English

Duolingo is available on all platforms (mobile and desktop), making it accessible to most users. The courses’ structure and gamification make learning English sustainable and fun on the app. The Stories section that has real-life conversational scenarios helps you put all your practice into action. Most importantly, it’s free, which is a huge driver for its massive downloads.

Perhaps, the major drawback could be that the quality of your experience depends on how good your internet or mobile connections are. The Duolingo Plus users have the advantage of being able to download the lessons for offline access.

One of the most widely discussed drawbacks is their three-hearts system that forces students to retake the lesson if three mistakes are made. If you scour through online conversations on Reddit of Facebook Groups — this is the most widely heard negative feedback.

However, for a free app with immersive and extensive features — the positives far outweigh the drawbacks. We strongly encourage Duolingo as an app that you can start using today to learn and improve your English.

So, what are you waiting for? Use Duolingo now and have fun while learning English. You can download Duolingo on either the Google Play Store or Apple Store.

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