Foreign Language Learning for Free
Duolingo provides structured foreign language learning from beginner to advanced levels, with vocabulary broken into lessons by topic. Each lesson presents multi-media quizzes so kids can use context clues and trial-and-error to learn new words. Duolingo focuses on making language learning habitual, with bite-size lessons, progress tracking, optional sharing, and frequent reminders.
Get Your Daily Dose of Language Learning
Duolingo has 13(!) languages available for English language speakers. Speakers of other languages have the option to practice English and some Romance languages. Kids start by creating a profile and selecting a language -- perhaps they need to practice French or Spanish, or maybe they feel inspired to take up Turkish or Ukrainian! Next, kids choose among four goal levels to decide how many lessons they would like to practice each day. Then they're ready to go!
Kids can either take a placement test or dive into the first lesson. Lessons are actually set up as un-scored quizzes, with kids learning by trial-and-error as they progress, although some new vocabulary is explained. The questions vary in format to test reading, writing, vocabulary, listening, and even speaking. Completing a lesson earns points that kids can spend on additional app features or just track their progress towards their daily goals. To help them work towards those goals, kids can view their daily points, add friends, and set cheerful reminders. Duolingo also has options to share progress with teachers or parents.
Quizzes Aren't Quite Quests, but Still Fun Free Learning
Duolingo is a great, free tool that provides accountability and structure for motivated kids who want to improve their language skills. The quizzes aren't quite fun, per se, but the frequent chimes, trumpet blasts, and awards attempt to make the activities feel rewarding and habit-forming, in a good way! The system of quizzing words in context forces kids to interact and figure out word meanings and usage, rather than just relying on rote memorization. There is a fair amount of repetition in the quizzes, but the different formats help reinforce learning. Duolingo capitalizes on the microphone to enable speaking and listening.
Troublesome Links to Social Networks
Duolingo is designed for adults, not kids, and parents should think about how to best use the features. Kids will need an email address (or Google or Facebook account) in order to create a profile. Each user will receive a welcome email, email reminders, and pop-up reminders on the device. Users can also add friends by email address or Facebook. The Duolingo website has great resources like a word bank with flashcard review, but also has un-monitored articles to read and translate. Duolingo puts many resources at kids' fingertips, but parents need to be thoughtful about exactly what kids can access. Even if kids don’t utilize all of the account features, though, Duolingo is still a great way to practice a foreign language.
Duolingo is best for kids (or adults) who talk about practicing a language but need a little structure and accountability. We highly recommend Duolingo to help kids get back into the swing of things before school starts after a break! To get the maximum benefit, parents can be friends with their children on Duolingo and all try learning together, perhaps in advance of a family trip to an exciting locale!
This Duolingo app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.