The internet branches millions of people, and their ideas, across the convenience of whatever technology one designs. The full scope of what one can learn proves to be intimidating: someone gauging a new interest might not know where to start, given that – regardless of topic – there are so many platforms available that are, often, difficult to differentiate from one another. Learning a new language, for one – a popular hobby in the modern age – can be a trial and a half, even without the struggle of settling on a reliable, effective resource to study on. Of these near countless platforms – Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Lingoda, to name only a few — one has proved to be above the rest. In regards to popularity and versatility, Duolingo is the best option when learning a new language. Admittedly, only studying on Duolingo will not get you fluent – this takes interpersonal practice, amongst other factors – but this platform is still a must-use resource. Upon reading this list, you will understand why, exactly, it reigns so supreme.
The very purpose of Duolingo, in the words of its co-creator, Cindy Blanco, is to provide the “best” education that is universally available. When contemplating where to begin any service, this is by far a user’s first thought: “Do I have to pay for it?” Bridging this gap, Duolingo offers an effective platform, as will be explained, that does not stand upon the basis of its learners paying for their education. Even the fact that a premium service is available does not dilute its mission: “Duolingo Super,” offered at $80 a year – that’s $6.99 per month – provides the exact same material as its free alternative, with subtle perks such as no ads (see a full review of Duo Super here). A majority of other, effective language platforms – the aforementioned Rosetta Stone and Babbel included – do not offer these same adaptable plans– and, in fact, Duolingo’s premium is still cheaper (compare its $6.99 to Rosetta’s $11.99). Already, this places Duolingo’s learners at a considerable advantage.
2. Expand your learning
For those more committed or adamant about learning a language, or even someone curious to see how far they can take their studying, Duolingo offers perhaps one of its most important features: its “school” program. What this provides, really, is a more driven and focalized experience. You – anonymously, regardless of what school you may or may not be attending in current time – complete lessons offered by a teacher for your level, and compete in a smaller leaderboard of only those in your class. In addition to this succinct, organized alternative – comparing it to the individual-paced, unrestrained basis of the average user – the School enrollment also provides several perks: unlimited hearts – i.e. number of mistakes you can make in a row – in lessons, no ads guaranteed, and the ability to communicate with the aforementioned teacher. (A run-down of the feature can be found here.) While this might not be a joy for everyone, it is definitely a resourceful option available.
Language, in order to properly adapt to it, requires daily, sufficient practice – 15 minutes, ideally. Regardless of whether you’re studying Spanish for that upcoming test, however, or challenging yourself with Norwegian on your own time, it can be difficult to maintain the routine. Duolingo incentivizes this much-needed consistency with a number of features: the platform employs a “streak” system, and builds upon it with leaderboards. The simple mechanisms are this: complete a lesson each day, build on your streak, and earn XP for your efforts. Scaling the leaderboards – as one might suspect, this feature involves a showcase of users and ranking their XP for that week – is a casual, simply-executed way of engaging in learning material – and ensuring that you continue to learn.
Language is expansive. It is one of the main factors that can unite people in any given room. It can also be tradition, possibility, new horizons. Just as language can mean something else to each person, there are countless reasons one might begin studying – as such, it is imperative for platforms offering this experience to match these expansive backgrounds and motives. Duolingo offers just that: at the starting range of 40 languages (including those such as Klingon!), this platform offers 50% more than the average language service on the market (for reference, Rosetta Stone offers 25, and Babbel procures 14). Not only this but – at any time going forward in your experience with Duolingo – there is the possibility to “test into” whichever foundation – i.e. unit – best fits your proficiency or lack thereof.
5. Makes learning fun
Now, for perhaps my favorite thing about Duolingo… it’s fun! Regardless of how you might feel about learning a new language – judging by reading this article, I’m sure you’re at least somewhat interested – it can be a daunting task, first challenging yourself with the experience. Duolingo’s systems, however, dissipate a majority of the uncertainty and hesitation a user might feel. The main system is the use of gems – as mentioned before, completing lessons can earn you XP, but also “gems,” that are, essentially, like in-game currency. They can earn you lessons for niche, fun topics (how to flirt in German, for one), as well as simply give you a low-stakes goal to strive towards. Even if this doesn’t sound particularly appealing, there are plenty of smaller, niche pros: cute, personal cast of characters, visible on both the homepage and during lessons; a “friends” feature, and missions – i.e. lessons – you can complete with them; as well as badges and special icons to earn the further you progress. Regardless of what, specifically, might stand out to you, the bottom line is that Duolingo is efficient when learning, but also provides a comfortable, engaging environment to do so in.
Language, inconsequential of origin or popularity, is all-encompassing. It is forever changing, and a perpetual link across people, cultures, and our own individual selves. Regardless of one’s personal ties to it, or the lack thereof, exploring new languages has become an incomparable element of the modern lifestyle. With regards to the internet, it is now something relatively easy and accessible to pursue. Duolingo is the top contender for bringing this goal to fruition – and, hopefully, you are tempted to explore its full potential.