InLanguage Learning Apps

Duolingo Review [Mega Post]

Duolingo Review header image portraying Duo and the Linguas Didici review badge

Hi, linguas-didici people! With the Duolingo Review, I want to start a new exciting blog category: “App Reviews”! Get to know the (perhaps) most popular language-learning app.

And folks, it will make you study every day!

1. First Impression

Installing the app is easy. Just go to the Google PlayStore or the App Store and find the Duolingo App with the famous green owl. The last time I checked, more than 300 Mio users have already used the App Store App of the Year! But, is the app as good as its reputation?

Entering for the first time, you need to choose the language you wish to learn first. As an English-speaker you can select out of incredible 34 languages (August 2019). Do Latin, Hawaiian, or Esperanto sound exotic to you? Seems like the perfect start to get literate in a lot of different languages. Of course, you also have a lot of standard languages for non-English-speakers, like people who only speak Arabic or Russian.

Choose your goal and start

The next steps consist of selecting your motivation for learning and picking your learning goal. Here, you can choose from 4 goals from Casual to Intense. It is fine to choose Casual or Regular if this is what you want. Yet, if you are serious about a language and really want to feel your progress in its comprehension, I recommend Intense. I am absolutely convinced that you do need to invest 20 minutes a day at least if you are serious about learning a new language.

After that, you choose whether or not you are a newbie. In case you are not one, you can take a test to determine how many of the lessons you can skip. Here in the German one, I completed 58% of the skills after committing two small errors. If you do not have any knowledge, then you can jump right into the first Duolingo lesson.

  • Completion screen of Duolingo leveling task
  • Menu with selection of language goal in Duolingo
  • Menu with selection of language level in Duolingo
  • Motivation selection menu in Duolingo
  • Menu with language selection in Duolingo

2. Studying with Duolingo

Duolingo employs a simple system. First and foremost, each language presents a “language tree” consisting of a varying number of skills. You have shorter trees like the English-Russian one with ca. 90 skills, whereas the English-French one amounts to over 150. But, not all skills are immediately available. Instead, one needs to gradually unlock the language tree by completing previous skills and each skill has five levels that need to be passed to master it. Finally, skills consist of several lessons (between two-nine). One of these consists of (usually) nine-eighteen exercises, which should take around five minutes to complete.

“I am absolutely convinced that you do need to invest 20 minutes a day at least if you are serious about learning a new language.”


A very nice feature is that you can look up grammar explanations for a high number of skills. The grammar is outlined in a short, simple, and understandable manner and. Examples help to grasp how you implement each grammar rule correctly. Don’t forget that grammar builds the framework for every language. Thus, these explanations have helped me to understand when I was in doubt and allowed me to learn a language correctly. In this Duolingo Review, this feature is seen as a huge plus.

Level newbie

The lessons depend on which level you have already reached in a skill. The first level is basic. In short, you will find vocabulary exercises, where you need to match words to a picture. Basic translation tasks in which you only have to put the translated words in the right order will become your best friend. Some languages also have speaking exercises where you will have to say some phrase in a foreign language out loud. The first level is rounded up by activities where you need to match a word with its translation and fill in gaps in sentences.

Reaching higher levels

Subsequent levels often require passing a lot more lessons. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. The number often doubles after each level and exercises become more difficult. In what sense? The sentences will get more complex and you are prone to make a mistake. Level three focuses on speaking exercises and typing all of the letters of the translation by yourself. Great for you guys to get a proper orthography! On the fourth level, there no longer is the translation of the word when clicking on it. Also, you get new exercises like choosing the article and writing a word. Lastly, level five is pure typing of each and every answer. And then you are finally done with one skill! …

… now, just 70-150 more are waiting for you.

The golden Duo

When you pass all the lessons, a golden Duo is waiting for you as your reward! Depending on the language and your effort, this might take you 3-12 months, which I consider a reasonable amount of time in this Duolingo Review.

3. Incentive System

Motivation and discipline are essential when you want to learn a language. Of course, you can learn a phrase every once in a while. However, if you really want to become fluent in any language, you do need to build a personal learning routine.

Establishing a routine

The makers of Duolingo have realized just that, which is why the app employs a variety of perks to keep you learning. For starters, you can build streaks and win streak wagers as you keep accomplishing your self-set goal every single day. Yes, every single day. No holidays or weekends = No excuses.

Next to Duo giving you encouraging feedback when you do, e.g., five tasks in a row right, the achievements also provide some incentive. For example, you can earn up to three stars on challenges like earning 200 XP in a day. Of course, you do not have to earn them if you don’t care.

The mechanism of social comparison

Duolingo also makes use of the motivational potential of social comparison. Don’t know what I mean? Then, have a quick look here. How does Duolingo do so? One the one hand, you can add friends and stalk the following facts:

  • Total experience gained
  • Length of active streak
  • Languages chosen

This Duolingo Review regards it as a pity that you cannot see anymore how many experience points your friends have gained in a specific course. Another concept that was abolished are the Duolingo Language Clubs. There, you were able to compete weekly on who will earn the most experience points. Short exercises like short writing or listening tasks were enabled for all club members and small members’ posts and discussions were possible too. By doing the exercises, a small amount of experience points could be earned extra. Nevertheless, I am happy that Duolingo has abolished these clubs. From the 50 members (if I remember right), only a handful actively participated in clubs activities, making this feature redundant.

The Duolingo leagues

The new feature much nicer: the Duolingo leagues. You can move up the leagues in the following order: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Sapphire, Ruby. If you manage to stay amongst the most studious participants, you will advance to a higher league. Being downgraded will be the penalty for being lazy. You will find more information here.

Money, money, money …

Last and foremost, a crucial element of the Duolingo app are the so-called “lingots” (desktop & Android) or “gems” (iOS). They represent the virtual money you can spend within Duolingo. You receive them when finishing a lesson, a skill, when you win a wager, or you finish in the top three of your league. They can be spent on items from the shop or on tests to skip skill levels.

My experience has shown that only regular practice will enable you to avoid paying for the pro version. Only if you dutifully watch all of the ads, keep your streak alive and win all of the wagers you will get far in a reasonable amount of time. Why? Because after having passed the first level in a skill, you can pay (with lingots or gems) for doing a test in order to skip the following level. Now, if you do not skip them, you will need an eternity to finish a language tree. Let alone if you decide to learn several languages at the same time!


The shop offers some dope items that you pay with the earned Duolingo money. The following power-ups can be purchased: Double or Nothing, Streak Freeze, Unlimited hearts, and Heart Refill. But the real nerdy offering are the three outfits you can buy for Duo. You can let Duo appear dressed formally, in a sportive outfit, or as a superhero. For some languages, you can also enable special skills like “flirting.” Tu veux être ma petite amie?

4. Freemium Model

Duolingo meanwhile costs $6.99 a month (with the annual contract) after a seven-days gratis period. $9.99 if you take the monthly option. Its users have mainly expressed their unhappiness with the price level (see here). Even though 10 dollars might sound a lot at first, it is cheaper than paying a language course. In my opinion, using the free version is sufficient. But, if you are really determined to enjoy and complete your language learning journey, then paying for the Pro version should be worth a thought.

The advantages of the Duolingo Pro version are:

  • Unlimited hearts
  • No ads
  • Save lessons for offline
  • Monthly streak repair
  • Progress quizzes
  • Test out of levels
  • You support free education

5. Reachable Language Level

Of course, a Duolingo Review would not be complete without discussing the language level you might reach. How proficient you become will heavily depend on whether you also use other study material. If you only use Duolingo, the chances are good that you attain something between A2 and B1. However, this is up to discussion. My personal experience has shown that when I accompany Duolingo with other forms of language learning, the B1-level is possible!

Or is it not? Let’s not forget that to master a language, you need to be able to read, understand, write, and speak it. Latter is the crucial aspect. At the same time, it is the aspect you train the least with Duolingo. Nevertheless, you will actively improve your reading, comprehension, and writing skills! Additionally, your vocabulary will expand considerably.

6. Weak Points

For me, the biggest disadvantage is the monotony of the exercise tasks. Interestingly, a lot of people I have spoken to and who stopped using the app criticized Duolingo for becoming boring fast. Mostly, you will be translating similar phrases, time and time again.

Moreover, I need to criticize the Duolingo heart system. Namely, when you make a mistake, you lose one of you five hearts. With 0 hearts, you cannot continue studying for some hours. Instead of forcing you to concentrate well before answering a task, in my case, the heart system always produces a contrary effect. It limits me in studying as much as I want and forces me to wait. You might get the feeling that the heart system only exists to make you buy the Pro version. In my opinion, this is contrary to Duolingo’s motto “Learn anytime, anywhere” and should definitely be revised.

The list goes on …

A big step back, in my opinion as a heavy user, was that the system of leveling up in a language was abandoned. One was able to gain experience point and steadily level up until level 25. This number was, thus, a reliable indicator for your progress in a tongue and could also be compared with other users’ level.

Finally, of course one needs to appreciate the incredible number of languages for English speakers. Spanish-speakers have the next best selection with nine. For many countries, you can only choose English. But, the good news is: Duolingo keeps on adding new courses.

7. Conclusion of the Duolingo Review

I will keep it short. Duolingo is an excellent basis for learning a language. Although it also makes you learn a lot of less important words, it imparts you nearly all of the essential words. If you know to use them, you can hold already 90% of the conversations in a language. Thus, use its strengths! You will get a stable level in reading, comprehension, and writing. Make the most of Duolingo by accompanying with activities such as watching foreign youtube videos, speaking to a friend, listen to music. Most importantly, get to feel why languages are beauties of perfection!

Never forget what I told you in the beginning: It will make you study every day! Accept the great tool Duolingo offers you for free and keep the streaks rolling.

Score of the app in the Duolingo Review

For all that has been said, my Duolingo Review awards the app from Pittsburgh with 8 out of 10 stars.

Duolingo Review (Mega Post) – The Coming of a Captivating Blog

In this blog, you will discover a bunch of proven tips on how to crack the language-learning game! Just give me a bit of time. I got this! Anyway, I hope you liked the Duolingo Review as my first blog entry in the section “App Reviews.” The Duolingo Review was also my first Mega Post!

There will be a loooooot more articles coming! 

Are you asking yourself: “Who is this guy whose words I am reading right now?” You will find some information about me here.

#2 QuickTip: Write down the reasons with a pencil why you want to learn language.

1 Comment

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    February 17, 2022 at 15:54
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