Author: Robyn Smith

Learners will analyze information to learn a foreign language.

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A “Duolingo” Experience



The website Duolingo was created to accomplish the lofty goal of translating the entire Internet into as many languages as possible without paying translators to achieve this. Participants who want to learn a foreign language simply register on the site and begin by learning basic words in the language of their choice. Computers will analyze the communication between the site and users to eventually translate it into the foreign language.


Duolingo is a user-friendly site that allows someone to quickly and accurately learn a foreign language. Users can choose from Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and English. The site begins with basic vocabulary, moves into common phrases and simple sentences, and even allows users to speak the language, all while giving instant feedback on user performance.

How It Works

Duolingo is easy to use and worthwhile in teaching a foreign language. The user simply selects the foreign language of choice and the process begins. As the user continues through the instruction, rewards are given and the user is able to advance through levels of use. The site begins with simple vocabulary words and allows the user to pronounce words, giving immediate feedback on pronunciation. While it would be easier and faster for someone who already has some background in the language, it does teach from such a basic level that a beginner could still easily learn.


Duolingo claims to be extremely effective. The site boasts that someone with no prior knowledge of Spanish could learn the equivalent of one semester of instruction in 34 hours. An eight-week independent study was conducted to reach these conclusions. The graphic on the left links to those report findings.


Duolingo offers users several options for usage. The toolbar at the top of the screen offers choices of languages, immersion options, discussions with other users, vocabulary, and a mobile edition. Immersion is an option that allows the user to read articles on topics of personal interest written in the foreign language. The Discussion link is similar to social media sites in that it allows users to communicate directly with each other about the site and usage. The Vocabulary link allows users to see their performance levels in the instruction section of the site. The Mobile link takes the user to a page where this feature can be utilized.


Duolingo offers apps for mobile devices so the user can utilize the site in any location at any time. This feature allows users to practice a foreign language at their leisure when there is a spare moment available. These apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, and all Android devices.


Another interesting feature of the site is that it allows the user to be immersed in an article in another language. There are some options for how to use this feature. The user can read the article in English, in the other language, or compare it in both languages side by side. There are several other options available in this feature also. The user can select a particular category and difficulty level. There is also an option for uploading one’s own document.


There is a link on the Duolingo site where users can interact with each other, share rewards with other users, and ask questions. This aspect of the site is attractive to social media users who are accustomed to interacting while using the Internet. This feature is helpful for users who like this type of interaction but need assistance with some aspect of the site. Being able to find answers in this manner is appealing to many people.


The Vocabulary link takes the user to a list of words they have been practicing on the site. It shows how well the user knows each term and gives the option to practice more on specific words to help transition those words to long-term memory.  This feature is especially helpful to those users who want to make certain they have a strong understanding of the material before moving on to higher levels.


Duolingo is a website that was created out of a passion to accomplish something positive. The creator, Luis von Ahn, began with the idea of translating the Internet into several languages while giving people the opportunity to learn a new language for free. It is a user-friendly site that makes learning a foreign language fun and easy. The user not only gets to read the language but can even speak the language and receive feedback, which is an incredibly important aspect of online learning.