Duolingo: The Language-Learning Platform Translating the Internet

Duolingo: The Language-Learning Platform Translating the Internet
Duolingo co-founders Severin Hacker and Luis von Ahn.

 Duolingo offers online language courses in 38 languages, delivered as bite-size lessons in game formats. Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker founded Duolingo in 2011. Over the past nine years, the startup has grown to become the world’s most downloaded education app with zero advertising with over 300 million users worldwide.

Duolingo is solving two global problems. Firstly, it is addressing the lack of bilingual speakers and helping people learn another language. A less known fact about the edtech company is that it simultaneously translating the internet. People have a lack of motivation to contribute to translating content on the internet. The company uses the translation efforts of its users who are learning a new language to contribute to the translation effort for free.

Duolingo divides each language into “skills” that include topics like food, weather, nature, and health. When users complete exercises within the skills, new levels are unlocked. As a result, they earn crowns for achievements, and the program tallies how many continuous days they use the app. People get hooked to the app because lessons are short and gamified which makes the process of language-learning fun.  

Researchers at City University of New York concluded that 34 hours using Duolingo is equal to studying a language for a semester in a university. The company started off with a focus on adults, however, this year it launched an app for children. Duolingo ABC is a free English literacy app for children ages 3 to 6. Due to the pandemic, they launched the app early to help parents who found themselves homeschooling their children.

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