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Duolingo Review: Is Duolingo REALLY That Great?

Chad Emery Published on October 8, 2022
Langoly reviews Duolingo

Worth a try for the free features

Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning resources in the world. Over the years, they’ve added a lot of different language courses, but they all follow the same formula. While the general structure of Duolingo is great for languages that use the Latin alphabet, like Spanish and French, it’s not as effective with languages that use other alphabets or writing systems like Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.


User Experience 8
Quality of Content 6.5
Features Available 7.5
Value for Money 7


User Experience 8.2
Quality of Content 6.6
Features Available 5.7
Value for Money 2.2


  • Free version gives you access to all languages and content
  • The courses cover speaking, listening, reading, and writing
  • Great way to learn the basics of grammar
  • A lot of additional free features


  • Repetitive lessons
  • Words and phrases aren't always useful
  • Not helpful for intermediate/advanced learners
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Languages Available on Duolingo:

As an English speaker, you can take the following Duolingo language courses:

Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, Dutch, Swedish, Latin, Greek, Irish, Polish, Norwegian, Finnish, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, High Valyrian, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, Danish, Romanian, Indonesian, Welsh, Czech, Swahili, Scottish Gaelic, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Klingon, Esperanto, Navajo, Yiddish, Zulu

Duolingo Overview

With over 500 million registered users, Duolingo is the most downloaded education app in the world. Duolingo’s mission is to make language education free and fun. Everyone has access to all the languages and content for free. There is a Super Duolingo version that offers more features and payments help support the Duolingo mission.

The Duolingo app is set up as a game, similar to Mondly and Busuu. The more you learn, the more points you earn. The lessons are quick and easy to complete. This makes Duolingo a great app to use while you’re waiting for the bus, waiting for your friends to arrive at a restaurant, or when you’re just sitting at home with nothing else to do.

The Duolingo lessons adapt to your learning needs, which is helpful. They help you learn new words and review old words at a relaxed pace. You can instantly see the progress you’re making, and you can also compare your progress with friends on the leaderboard. This is becoming more common in other apps like Clozemaster.

There are tons of incentives, such as lingots (Duolingo money) and league competitions, that help you stay motivated.

Duolingo challenges

Duolingo has also expanded their offerings during the last few years, too. Now, schools can use Duolingo to supplement language learning in the classroom. Duolingo users who wish to complete university studies in English can also take the Duolingo English Test. A lot of universities around the world accept this test, including some prestigious ones!

Duolingo Price

Duolingo offers a free version that gives you access to all of the languages and content. This makes Duolingo a great option for new learners, and learners who may not want or be able to pay for a language learning app. The Super Duolingo price is $12.99 per month. A better value is the yearly subscription for $83.99 per year (which works out to $6.99 per month). There is also a family plan available for multiple users for $199.99 per year.

Without a doubt, Duolingo is one of the best free language learning apps. Very few others offer as much content without paying. The monthly price of Super Duolingo has increased in the past year though. If it’s outside of your price range, a cheaper app to consider is Babbel or Mondly. However, if you really like Duolingo and want to help Duolingo in its mission to make language learning accessible for everyone, a Super Duolingo subscription is definitely worth it.

Duolingo Free Trial

You can try Duolingo Plus for free for 14 days, but you have to enter your credit card information. If you decide Duolingo is not right for you, you can cancel during the 14 days and will not be charged.

Duolingo Discount

Duolingo sometimes offers discount pricing around holidays like Christmas and New Years. There is also a family plan that allows six members to use a Duolingo account for $119.99/year. This makes it cheaper than the regular yearly plan if there are two or more people in your family that want to sign up.

Duolingo Free Languages

All of Duolingo’s languages are available on the free version. This includes some unique languages such as Esperanto and even Klingon. You can access the entire course, and some language also have additional free features like podcasts. Another app that offers free access to some languages (mostly endangered languages) is Glossika. Both are worth a try!

Duolingo Review: Getting Started & Features

Signing up for Duolingo courses is easy and it only takes a couple minutes. You just need to set your native language and then choose the language you want to learn.

This is a screenshot of the Duolingo app. It shows the Duolingo languages that are available for English speakers.

You can enroll in as many courses as you want, and they are all free. Duolingo courses cover over 40 different languages. After you decide which language you want to learn, you tell Duolingo why you’re learning the language.

This screenshot shows the different ways to use Duolingo. You can learn a language for fun, business, school, travel, or any other reason! Duolingo courses cater to your needs.

After you choose why you’re learning a language, you decide how long you’d like to practice each day:

  • Casual: 5 minutes per day
  • Regular: 10 minutes per day
  • Serious: 15 minutes per day
  • Intense: 20 minutes per day

Once you set your daily goal, you’re ready to get started!

If you’re new to the language, you can start learning directly from the beginning. If you already know some, you can take a placement test. The Duolingo test only takes about 5 minutes to complete, and the questions are pretty straightforward.

Since I already speak some Spanish, I took the placement test to see where I should start. I “tested out” of 40 skills, but that actually means I unlocked those 40 skills I already know. To unlock more advanced skills, I have to complete a certain amount of lessons.

The Duolingo Spanish course has a test you can take to gauge your level of fluency. This helps determine what lesson you will take in your Duolingo course.

I really didn’t like this aspect because I felt like I was going to have to spend time working through lessons I already knew. This is one of the reasons I think Duolingo is a great choice for absolute beginners, but not very effective if you already know some of your target language. Some better apps for more advanced learners are Yabla, Lingopie, and FluentU.

In addition to the Duolingo courses, there are other features you can use to learn your target language. The features Duolingo offers are really unique and extensive when compared to other apps.

Duolingo Lessons

The Duolingo lessons are quite detailed. They cover many topics, and they teach you different skills in your target language. All the lessons have the same structure, and they start to feel repetitive after a while. Repetition and memorization is an important aspect of learning any language, but Duolingo seemed to be a little too repetitive, at least compared to Rosetta Stone.

The activities you complete consist of listening, spelling, grammar, and translating between your original language and your target language. While the repetition may be helpful for some, I felt like I was wasting a lot of time practicing topics I already learned.

This shows how the Duolingo Japanese course teaches writing to Japanese language learners. Unfortunately, it only helps users identify characters, not actually write them.

I felt this way about the Spanish course. As I continued to use the app for this Duolingo review, I started to feel like I was wasting my time reviewing basic concepts and vocabulary. I ended up switching to different apps, like Clozemaster and MosaLingua, to help me continue with more advanced material.

Duolingo Stories

These are short stories with audio about the topics you are learning in the lessons. As you progress through the lessons, you unlock more stories, and they become increasingly difficult. I really like the stories because they’re interesting and easy to follow. It’s a good way to take a break from the lessons.

Duolingo stories help you get more out of your language courses. They have audio and help you learn words and phrases in different contexts.

Duolingo Audio Lessons and Podcasts

This is Duolingo’s answer to a hands-free mode. They are entirely audio so you can listen to them while driving your car or cleaning your house. The audio lessons focus on vocabulary and grammar topics, and the podcasts have more advanced content from native speakers. They are usually short and interesting, and a great way to squeeze in some practice when on-the-go. Right now, they are only available for Spanish and French.

Duolingo Podcasts are available on a lot of different platforms. This shows the Duolingo Spanish podcast.

Each podcast has a different story, and they have a mix of English and Spanish or French. I enjoyed them because you can learn about culture. A lot of other language learning apps miss out on the cultural aspect of language, and the Duolingo Podcasts really make Duolingo stand out in that aspect. The podcasts are one of my favorite features of Duolingo.

Duolingo ABC: A New Duolingo App To Help Children Read

Duolingo ABC is a new app from Duolingo that teaches children to read and write in English. It is meant for children ages 3-6. Students follow along with Duo as they learn letters, words, and read stories.

Duolingo Kids is an app created to help children learn to read in Spanish, French, and English. This app used to be called Duolingo ABC.

There are a lot of different activities to keep kids engaged in learning, and the animations and characters are motivating and fun. The app is still developing, and I think it’s off to a great start.

Additional Duolingo Plus Features

Now the important question. Is it worth it to pay for the Super Duolingo subscription? Here are the features that it includes:

  • Offline mode
  • An ad-free experience
  • Unlimited mistakes
  • Unlimited skill test-outs
  • Track your progress

In my opinion, the biggest benefit of Super Duolingo are the unlimited hearts. With the free version, you only have 5 hearts, and when you make a mistake you lose a heart. Once you lose all 5 hearts, you have to wait until they refill to access the content. This can slow down your learning progress.

While these features would be nice to have, I don’t think they’re that valuable. Duolingo doesn’t have too many ads, so the ad-free feature isn’t a big selling point. However, many people subscribe to Super Duolingo to help support Duolingo’s mission of free education.

Duolingo Review: Overall Learning Experience

Overall, I think everybody should give Duolingo a try. It’s free and it has a lot of content. For people who want a very structured course, Duolingo is a great option. If you’re looking for a more self-directed approach, the Duolingo app may not be the best for you.

The lessons are high quality, but they are a little too repetitive. Most people don’t have a lot of study time, and I found some of the lessons to be a waste of my time because they repeated too much content.

Duolingo’s additional features, like the stories and podcasts, are great because they help you practice your language skills in more natural situations. These are all free, too! Duolingo has so many features that some are only available online, not on the app. These include the Duolingo dictionary, forum, events, Spanish podcasts, and French podcasts.

Duolingo Review: Areas of Improvement

While it’s hard to complain about a free app, there are some things that Duolingo can work on. All of the courses use automated voices. Other apps, such as Pimsleur and Glossika, use real speakers so you can hear an authentic accent. There is also a lot of focus on direct translation, which is not always the most effective way to learn a language, and leads to some strange phrasing.

Duolingo is constantly improving, but some of the courses are not as developed as others. Each language has a different amount of lessons you can complete. Spanish and French are the most extensive, and have 10 different units, but Vietnamese only has four. Apps like LingoDeer offer more complete courses for less-spoken languages. There are also only certain features such as stories and podcasts for a few languages.

Similarly, because some of the languages have fewer levels, you might not benefit from Duolingo if you already have an intermediate or advanced level. If you already speak your target language comfortably, it’d be worth finding a tutor on italki or Preply to continue practicing.

Duolingo Languages

For English speakers, there are 39 different languages to choose from. There are also options for speakers of other languages to learn. Surprisingly, Duolingo’s most popular language is English, and has almost 3 times as many users as its second-most popular language, Spanish. You can access all languages in the free version and Super Duolingo.

Duolingo Japanese Review

I hoped that Duolingo would help me learn how to write in Japanese, but I was disappointed as I worked through the lessons. There is no writing practice, even for languages that use different writing systems, like Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic.

The Duolingo Japanese course describes different Japanese writing systems, but doesn't show users how to actually write. This screenshot shows the writing system descriptions.

There is a great introduction to the different writing systems that Japanese uses, but you don’t learn how to use them. You only learn how to identify the different characters. This makes the Duolingo Japanese course a good option for people traveling to Japan or curious to learn some basic Japanese. It’s not a good option for serious Japanese learners though (there are better Japanese apps for that).

Duolingo Spanish Review

Spanish is Duolingo’s most popular language that English speakers are learning. Because of this, the course is very developed with tons of content that is not available for other languages. The lessons start from the most basic (¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?) to advanced concepts like home repair and giving opinions.

Since it does start with the basics, it gives you a good foundation and is really great for beginners and low-intermediate. But the direct translation method doesn’t quite work for the more advanced concepts. You can check out some more Spanish apps that don’t take this approach.

Duolingo French Review

Similar to Spanish, French is another very popular language with lots of developed content, including audio lessons and podcasts. French pronunciation can be complicated, so I enjoyed listening to the podcasts, and the ability to click on each word and hear how to say it really helped.

Duolingo lesson

Also similar to Spanish, it is a really good course for starting at a lower level, but could get boring once you are more advanced. There are a lot of French apps available to help you once you reach a higher level.

Duolingo Alternatives and Competitors

Duolingo offers a lot of interesting features that make it hard to find true Duolingo alternatives. From stories and podcasts to accredited language tests and Duolingo for Schools, Duolingo provides language learners a lot of value for free. However, the actual Duolingo lessons aren’t that unique. There are quite a few alternatives to Duolingo courses. The most similar are Babbel and Mondly.

Duolingo vs MosaLingua

MosaLingua App Homepage

At its core, MosaLingua is a flashcard app, but if you subscribe to MosaLingua Web, you gain access to a lot of extra features such as videos, music, and books. I really liked using MosaLingua because the flashcards teach relevant phrases, and you can hear audio from native speakers. Duolingo doesn’t use native speakers for its audio. Mosalingua is the cheaper option, but you have to pay for each language separately. Duolingo has a very structured way of learning a language, and MosaLingua is more self-directed. You can learn more about the app in this MosaLingua review.

Duolingo vs Mondly

Mondly App Homepage

Mondly is another popular alternative to Duolingo. It’s useful for learning important vocabulary and phrases. It also uses interesting technology that incorporates augmented reality and virtual reality. Mondly is a good option if you want to track your statistics and progress, but it doesn’t really teach grammar as well as Duolingo does. Although Mondly is the cheaper option, there are free lessons available every day so you can try it before buying. Learn more about this app in this Mondly review.

Duolingo vs Babbel

Babbel App homepage

Duolingo and Babbel both use quick, flashcard-style lessons that focus on vocabulary and grammar topics. However, Babbel’s lesson structure changes in the intermediate and advanced levels, focusing more on phrases and situations, rather than direct translations. The prices of the two apps are similar. If you are starting a language, the free version of Duolingo might be enough, but for higher levels, Babbel is the clear winner. Learn more about it in this comparison guide or learn more in this Babbel review.

Duolingo vs Pimsleur

Pimsleur app homepage

Pimsleur has a different lesson style than Duolingo. With Pimsleur, you first listen to an audio lesson and then practice what you learned with different activities. This method emphasizes speaking and pronunciation much more than Duolingo. Pimsleur is more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it in this respect. If having good pronunciation is important to you, Pimsleur is by far the best choice. But if you are a casual learner, or want to learn multiple languages, Duolingo is a decent place to start. you can learn more about it in this Pimsleur review or see how the two apps compare in this comprehensive guide.

Duolingo vs Rocket Languages

Rocket Languages App Homepage

Rocket Languages is another app that uses audio lessons. These lessons are much longer and more detailed than Duolingo lessons and talk about cultural elements that are important to the language. Rocket Languages is more expensive, but offers much more detailed explanations. The better choice depends on how much time you have. If you can only spend a few minutes on-the-go, Duolingo is better. But if you have more time and want to understand the language, Rocket Languages is a better choice. Read more about it in this Rocket Languages vs Duolingo comparison.

Duolingo Review FAQ

Is Duolingo entirely free?

You can use Duolingo for free in a limited capacity. With the free version, you have access to all the languages and course material. The biggest difference are the ads in the free version. Also with the free version, you only have 5 hearts. When you make a mistake, you lose 1 heart. When all hearts are gone, you have to wait until they refill to continue practicing.

Can you become fluent with Duolingo?

As with any language app, you probably wont become fluent just by using Duolingo. However, Duolingo is a great way to start learning a new language. The courses start from the basics of a language and continually add new vocabulary and grammar topics to what you have learned. But if you are an advanced learner, you may find that the lessons are too easy.

What are the disadvantages of Duolingo?

The biggest disadvantage of Duolingo are the repetitive lessons that focus on translation. Because they use direct translations, some of the words and phrases don’t feel very natural. It’s content is focused on beginners, so it might not be that helpful for intermediate or advanced learners.

Is Babbel better than Duolingo?

Duolingo is the more fun and interactive app of the two. It is set up to feel like a game, and has many motivating factors, such as earning gems that can be spent in the Duolingo store or competing with friends. But for a more serious learner, Babbel is the better choice because it has higher-quality content.

About This Duolingo Review

This is an independent Duolingo review. Langoly is not affiliated with Duolingo, and this review is not sponsored by Duolingo. I am a long-time user of Duolingo, and I used the app for more than 40 hours before writing this review. In this review, I tried to write about all of Duolingo’s features, and the information is accurate as of the date I published this review.

Chad Emery

Chad is the founder and editor of Langoly. He was a TEFL-certified English teacher for many years and has been an active language learner for many more. His articles have been featured around the web by organizations like the Government of Canada's Translation Bureau and Simon & Schuster. In his free time, Chad is an avid traveler and loves running in new places. Connect with Chad on LinkedIn.

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Have you tried this product? How would you rate it?


  • Duolingo is very helpful

  • Although the publisher of this article says the repetition is annoying, most people find it helpful for completing the classes. And since the new updates the competition between people doing lessons has been helping people get through the repetition, if for any reason they think it’s boring. Although the phrases aren’t used much in fluent spanish, they are very helpful in allowing the users to be able to create their own phrases along the way that they can use in real life.

  • Pros:
    – Daily repetition can help build up memory and a bit of confidence in learning a language. However, the progress is like the walking speed of ants.
    – There are people who are fluent in the language to answer your question and doubt (Only IF you are not banned from speaking on the discussion forum in the first place).
    – Practice questions are plentiful and in various forms which helps in learning the language in depth.
    – It’s free but you actually end up spending more time watching ads and playing games than learning the language.

    – Duolingo actively sensors personal opinions. If you made any comment against their belief, you will be banned from posting any question/answer in learning the language without any prior warning or explanation of the reason why you were banned. So to speak, you will lose your right to speak in the “language discussion” forum indefinitely and you can’t find anybody or anywhere to straighten things out. They act exactly like a dictator in a communist country.
    – A word of caution to people who prefer traditional mentality, Duolingo is promoting the LGBT mentality to its core.
    – Duolingo is for beginners in learning a language. It helps you get an idea of a language but you need to move on to more effective language teaching classes/books/websites… if you really want to be fluent in the language you are learning.

  • I have been doing Duolingo primarily for American English speakers consistently for over two years having learned about it in the Mexico News Daily and use it as an adjunct to my private learning.

  • PUSHING LBGTQ+ agenda! Why is there so much gayness in this? Do they really need to shove gay relationships in all the practice phrases!? Why does every other guy need a husband and every other girl need a wife in their examples? Very offensive and distracting. Lots of ads until you pay for the super version.

  • I am fluent in Irish, living in Ireland and I received a diploma in Irish 20 years previously. I wanted to refresh my Irish as i needed it again. I tried and completed duo lingo and used the paid service. Found online tutor with fellow Irish speaker from Gaelteacht area more helpful – and i live only 20 km away from Gaelteacht areas (Irish speaking)

    I studied French to university level (B1 level achieved at one stage), keeping my french alive 10 years after graduation and completed all lessons in french and got to maybe 30 in the legendary levels

    I had 3 years Spanish learning in school – just did a few lessons on Duolingo Spanish and no German and did a few lessons on Duolingo.
    Just stuck to the basic lessons and didnt try anything else

    I think you need to be in front of a computer for this one. Mobile phone and self spelling you get with texting are ok, but only in the early stages of the language learning. After a certain point you need to sit in front of a computer with pen and paper. And that is pretty intense – i remember being in front of the computer for a full week with pen and paper as i had a head cold in bed and decided to concentrate on duolingo – it was intense.

    Also – and only because i am intermediate/fluent in Irish/ French (able to look at and understand tv programmes in both) I noticed that there is a very narrow acceptability for what constitutes a correct and incorrect phrase. there is a few ways of saying something and all of them are correct but only one (sometimes very narrow) phrase is accepted. I thought it only occured with Irish ( we dont really use the word ‘uaim’ at all that much) but saw it occur in french too. Kind of reached a peak with one fairly simple french phrase where , if i remember correctly a more obscure word for hat – bonnet was accepted over the more general term of chapeau. Decided to pack it in after that.

    Quality of content depends on language popularity. Irish had no spoken exercises – mostly written. That said, i have reccomended Duolingo Irish to some parents whose kids struggle with Irish at school. It will teach them a bit but course completion is unlikely as the game and variety element drops off the more advanced you get. Of course it is maybe to do with its popularity.
    And of course the lessons do go on forever. pretty serious, intense effort needed to see an end to them. The end of them will bring you to an intermediate level. The scoring below is for someone in my shoes – ie intermediate learner who wants to keep learning alive and then interested in advancing spanish and learning german from scratch.
    Quality of content depends on language – starts off ok with Irish but then goes down hill. Probably stays pretty good for the more popular languages

  • For six months I have reported the same broken speaking exercise, “ells cuisinent, ils cuisinaient”. I have flagged it, I have reported the bug, I have reported feedback and I have posted it to the Duolingo Facebook page. No one at Duolingo fixes the broken speaking exercise. I even recorded the Duolingo computer saying the exercise and played it, Duolingo recognized something was being said but still said it was incorrect. I have not been able to progress for six months. I used to rave to people about Duolingo but now I have to warn them that they would probably be better off using another program to learn a language since Duolingo refuses to fix an exercise that does not work. No one should ever be prevented from moving on to the next level due to a speaking exercise because the Duolingo computer that ‘recognizes’ a correct response is unreliable at best.