Duolingo Review: A Complete Guide (for 2023)

Updated: 06. Mar, 2023

Are you interested in learning a new language in a fun and low-pressure manner? Are you confused about which language learning app to choose? Duolingo might be the right app for you to begin your language learning journey. Duolingo is an app that allows you to learn any language passively without devoting all your time to it. We have put together a complete Duolingo review to help you make the right decision about choosing a learning app.

Duolingo is a language learning app that anyone can use to grasp new languages. There are so many languages to pick from, ranging from French and Dutch to Korean and Chinese. The app learning process is very simple, straightforward, and accessible. The learning app is compatible with a lot of devices and focuses on four types of language skills. These language skills include writing, speaking, reading, and listening. So, is Duolingo the right language learning app for you? Continue reading to find out.

Duolingo Review
Overall rank
Number of languages

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is a gamified language learning app that offers a digital way to learn new languages. Adults, kids, and students of varying ages and language skills can use the app for learning. In addition, Duolingo can adapt to help specific learners in areas they lack and get them to speed up the learning process. Duolingo is designed as an app and is also available on the web. The language learning app is super accessible. You can download it onto your devices.

The easy access to the app and the ability to create game avatar characters add up to make Duolingo ideal for learning. These features make the tool more immersive and a platform that learners choose to come back to. The app also allows specific learning goals, which can focus primarily on words, skills, or grammar.

A screnshot of the Duolingo learning experience.

Duolingo learning app is the first free language learning app to rival some expensive paid learning apps. The language app offers a lot of self-paced exercises that will help you build a solid understanding of languages. You can also use the exercises to review the languages you already know and measure your skills. It is the best free language learning app that you will find on any list of top language learning apps.

Duolingo ranks among the best apps for learning languages when measured with several paid language apps. This is because Duolingo has excellent content that everyone, regardless of language skills, still finds handy. But, can you become fluent in a language when you Duolingo alone to learn? The short answer is no. Language learning apps are not meant to teach you to become fluent. Language apps only supplement your learning and give you a platform to practice daily. Practicing is merely one part of learning a language, and you’ll find Duolingo is the perfect app for that. See some of the main features here:

Free trial
Learning structure
Combination of gamification with learning science
Oral learning
Avaliable on devices
iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Android
Recommended for
People looking for a free language app to supplement other resources

Is Duolingo a Free Language App?

Duolingo started as a free language learning app and also promised to remain free. Duolingo is still a free learning app but offers a paid membership called Duolingo Plus. You do not need to pay for Duolingo Plus before you use the app. All you have to do is just sign up on the app with an active email address and password. Once you sign up, you are set and ready to begin studying as many languages as you desire.

Duolingo Plus membership costs $12.99 per month, and you can get a discount if you pay ahead for a year. The discount for a year costs about $83.88 instead of $155.88. A good family plan can take about six people and cost $9.99 per month and $119.99 per year.

Duolingo has a free version, but also an ad free paid version.

Are you wondering what Duolingo Plus gets you? Duolingo Plus removes all ads and allows you to use the mobile app as long as you want. On the other hand, free Duolingo users have to take a pause from the app when they get too many questions wrong. In addition, Duolingo Plus users can practice their mistakes because the app keeps track of them all. They also gain access to mastery quizzes and unlimited tests.

How Does Duolingo Work?

Duolingo is a free app, but you must download and sign up to start. After signing up, you begin by choosing the language you wish to learn. Then, the app gives you a choice of languages to select from, with over 36 language options. For beginners, there are basic language lessons you can start immediately. However, for others who already have a level of understanding, you will have to take a placement test. The placement test will determine your learning starting point.

The registration process is quite forward.

Learners can create their own animated avatar characters and navigate the learning games to earn rewards. Duolingo also tracks the number of days spent learning on the app. Points will be earned for the time spent on the app. The learning app is like a game and has an appealing interface. The game is designed like a tree that you must walk through slowly. So, when you reach the end, you will get an award-like trophy with a flag representing the language you are learning.

The tree has nodes that consist of several language lessons. You must beat every lesson by answering questions until the bar fills up. Correct answers bring the bar up, while wrong answers make it go down. The questions include putting together a translation with given words, free translation, listening transcription, picture matching, and speaking exercises. When you finish completing a node, it turns golden, and you receive a reward in the form of the game’s currency. This currency can purchase bonuses such as bonus lessons, costumes for the Duo, and other fun things. Then, the next row opens up for further lessons.


It’s free

Wide variety of languages

Interesting podcasts


The quality of content depends on the language

Not ideal for intermediate and advanced learners

What languages Can You Learn on Duolingo?

For English native speakers, Duolingo has several courses in about 36 languages. In addition, there are many other courses when you add those that use different languages of instruction. For example, there are French for Arabic speakers and Catalan for Spanish speakers courses. However, for learners interested in languages from works of fiction, the app includes High Valyrian and Klingon. Therefore, for anyone looking forward to learning English, the app has courses for speakers of different languages.

Although 36 languages are a lot for English speakers to learn, it is not comprehensive. There are other language learning apps that offer languages not included in the Duolingo catalog. The app provides a series of lessons that use flashcards, practice questions, and listening exercises to drill you on new words and phrases. The app also has a strong community that allows you to connect with fellow learners who are learning the same language.

On the other hand, for languages with a different writing system, like Russian, Korean, or Japanese, Duolingo is an excellent way to learn. This is because it uses a combination of simple matching exercises and flashcards to teach you how to recognize language symbols in different writing systems.

Duolingo’s Learning Structure

Many people seem to take app structure for granted. When an app lacks structure, learning can be really aimless and challenging. Without structure, you will wonder what exercises to do next. Or if you are ready to learn new words or phrases or review what you learned earlier? 

Duolingo is a highly structured and organized language learning app. The app’s home screen displays a detailed list of ordered modules. So, every module, whether grammatical or thematic, has a topic attached to it. Therefore, you will have to pass specific lessons to unlock the next set of modules.

A screnshot of the Duolingo learning experience.

As you use the learning app, you will also have to work in chronological order. However, you can always go back to a completed lesson and re-take it anytime you want. As you progress with your language learning, the words you learned earlier reappear, and new words get highlighted. When you finish with a certain amount of introductory material, you can then take a practice exercise.

Every module has levels. You must finish these levels to unlock the next content successfully. However, if there are multiple levels in one module, you have the option of completing them by practicing that skill. Now, once you are through with all the levels within a module, the module’s icon turns into a gold coin as a form of reward. Some languages usually don’t have content like others, so you might have a single level in a module.

Duolingo’s Learning Experience

Duolingo is designed to help you develop a solid knowledge level of different languages. However, the app is quite limited in what it can teach and challenge you to do. Depending on your language level, you might want to strengthen your writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. You may also like to learn to come up with creative ideas to express yourself on the spot without having to pause too much to translate from English. Here are the learning experiences in the Duolingo app in terms of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Reading and Writing

In this app, you are reading and writing words and phrases, which is basically translating. Typically, what you do is translate a word, phrase, or sentence from the language you are learning into the language you speak and vice versa. Sometimes, you might want to use the keyboard to select the correct words from the word bank. You can also select the word bank or type out the words yourself, depending on your choice of challenge.

These exercises help you learn new vocabulary, get used to sentence structures in new languages, and see verbs in different forms. Translation also enables you to practice grammatical skills and agreement. Duolingo’s purpose is to help focus on some language concepts deliberately and build your reading skills.

A screnshot of the Duolingo learning experience.

Reading and Listening Skills

The reading and listening skills on Duolingo have significantly improved so much since it launched its podcast series. However, these podcasts are only available for French and Spanish languages and available in English for Portuguese and Spanish speakers. These exercises are phenomenal; you can either play the episodes on Duolingo’s website or download them.

For the 20-to-25-minute episode, native speakers of different languages tell true stories. In addition to the stories, an English-speaking host periodically breaks in to provide a detailed summary in English. This is stellar content for intermediate-level speakers.

How does this improve your learning experience? These stories help improve your listening and comprehension skills more than the core exercises. The stories are interactive as you have to listen and read a short story while answering the questions about what you just heard or read. However, these are only available in selected languages such as French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The voices used to tell the stories are natural, making them pleasant and enjoyable. The questions look similar to other exercises on the app, but you must pay attention to the story’s content to answer them. Answering the practice exercises requires active listening and comprehension of new words.

As you progress through this level, the stories get more difficult. You begin to notice more complex sentence structures, a mix of verb tenses, and new vocabulary. In addition, the reading sections are in your language of instruction and explain some key grammatical points.

A screnshot of the Duolingo learning experience.

Speaking Skills

In Duolingo’s core program, the speaking exercises are optional. This is because the language learning app does not give so much importance to speaking and listening skills. Therefore, you can choose to enable or disable the options in the settings. Speaking exercises are not the focus on Duolingo because the app focuses on learners understanding essential words and phrases of any language.

For speaking exercises, you can basically read aloud or repeat something you see on the screen. The app then assesses if you have said the word correctly. Another method to practice speaking is through the app’s online events, which are basically meet-ups with fellow language learners. So, if your aim is to focus on speaking the new language, do well to check out other language apps as Duolingo is a language app for learning all the basics of any language. 

Duolingo Compared to Other Language Apps

Duolingo is just one of many language apps.

Duolingo Mondly Pimsleur LinguaLift Lingopie
Price Free $9.99 $19.95 – $20.95 $19.99 $12.00
Free trial Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Learning structure Combination of gamification with learning science Short and simple lessons with a focus on specific topics Short audio lessons and reading exercises Lessons are based on specially designed hybrid innovative language learning Learning through experience – Lessons are taught through video watching for context and reading along with native speakers.
Languages 35 41 50 5 6
Oral learning Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Avaliable on devices iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Android iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows Android, iOS, Windows, Mac iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Android iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Android
Ranking #1 #11 #19 #16 #17
Recommended for People looking for a free language app to supplement other resources Beginners wanting to achieve low intermediate People who prefer audio-based content People looking for a personalized language learning but looking for the freedom to study independently Intermediate and advanced learners who want to improve their language skills by watching TV and movies

Duolingo uses a game-like interface that makes language learning feel more like a fun and engaging activity. It incorporates appealing graphics, vivid colors, emojis, and other visuals into the lessons and dashboard.

The app uses a point system and rewards users with virtual currency and badges for completing lessons, which can motivate them to keep learning.

Duolingo’s lessons are designed to be short and easy to digest, making it easier for users to fit language learning into their busy schedules.

Also, Duolingo is free to use, with no hidden fees or subscriptions required. While a premium app version is available, the free version is robust. Its free version offers plenty of content compared to other apps’ free versions.

Duolingo provides an excellent user experience across its mobile app and desktop version. Its dashboard is intuitively designed and easy to navigate, with everything neatly organized. 

Final Thought

Considering all the benefits you can get from the Duolingo app, it is the best free app to learn new languages. It might not necessarily teach you how to become fluent in any language, but it is the right option for beginners. Duolingo has unique features and a clear structure. Hence, it is a reliable platform to sharpen your language skills. Using this language learning app is the best way to supplement another learning method.

Duolingo Review – FAQ

Is Duolingo a Free App?

Duolingo is a free app, but you can use the free version in a limited capacity. You have access to all the languages and course materials with the free version. The only difference between the free and paid version is that there are no ads in the paid version, which also gives you unlimited access to learning.

Can I Become Fluent with the App?

Just like every other language app, you might not become fluent just by using the app alone. However, the app is an excellent way to learn a new language. Duolingo starts from the basics and also teaches vocabulary and grammar topics.

Is Busuu better than Duolingo?

Duolingo is a more interactive and fun language learning app compared to Busuu. The app is set up to feel like a game with a lot of motivating factors such as gems and currency that you can use in the app’s store. However, Busuu is a language app for advanced learners.

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