|Slogan||Free language education for the world|
|Type of site||Online education, Translation, Crowdsourcing|
|Launched||30 November 2011|
Duolingo is a free language-learning website and crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that, as users progress through the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and other documents. As of July 2013[update], the site offers Latin American Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, and Italian courses for English speakers, as well as American English for Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian speakers.
Duolingo started its private beta[clarification needed] on 30 November 2011 and accumulated a waiting list of more than 300,000 users. Duolingo launched for the general public on 19 June 2012 and as of September 2013 has 10 million users.
Duolingo offers extensive written lessons and dictation, with less practice speaking. It has a gamified skill tree which users can progress through, and a vocabulary section where learned words can be practiced.
Users gain "skill points" as they learn a language, such as when they complete a lesson. Skills are considered "learned" when users complete all the lessons associated with the skill. Up to 13 points are awarded per lesson, with three points deductible for mistakes. Users start with four "lives" on early lessons, and three on later lessons, a "life" being lost with each mistake. A user must retry the lesson if they make a mistake after all lives have been lost. Duolingo also includes a timed practice feature, where users are given 30 seconds and twenty questions and awarded a skill point and seven or ten additional seconds for each correct answer. The whole course teaches more than 2,000 words.
Duolingo uses a heavily data-driven approach to education. At each step along the way, the system measures which questions the users struggle with, and what sorts of mistakes they make. It then aggregates that data and learns from the patterns it sees.
The efficacy of Duolingo's data-driven approach has been reviewed by an external study commissioned by the company. Conducted by professors at City University of New York and the University of South Carolina, the study estimated that 34 hours on Duolingo may yield reading and writing ability of a first-year college semester, which takes in the order of 130+ hours. The research did not measure speaking ability. It found that a majority of students dropped out after less than 2 hours of study. The same study found that Rosetta Stone users took between 55 and 60 hours to learn a similar amount. It did not compare to other free or inexpensive courses, such as BBC, Book2, or Before You Know It (software).
Instead of slowly adding additional languages, CEO Luis von Ahn says they plan to create tools necessary for the community to build them, with the hope that they can introduce more languages and "empower other experts and people passionate about a specific language to lead the way". The Language Incubator was released on 9 October 2013.
Duolingo does not charge students to learn a language. Instead, it employs a crowd sourced business model, where members of the public are invited to translate content and vote on translations. The content comes from organizations that pay Duolingo to translate it. Documents can be added to Duolingo for translation with an upload account which must be applied for.
The project was started in Pittsburgh by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn (creator of reCAPTCHA) and his graduate student Severin Hacker, and then developed also with Antonio Navas, Vicki Cheung, Marcel Uekermann, Brendan Meeder, Hector Villafuerte, and Jose Fuentes. The project was originally sponsored by Luis von Ahn's MacArthur fellowship and a National Science Foundation grant and is mainly written in the programming language Python. Additional funding was later received in the form of an investment from Union Square Ventures and actor Ashton Kutcher's firm A-Grade Investments.
On 13 November 2012 Duolingo released their iOS app through the iTunes App Store. The app can be downloaded for free and is compatible with most iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. On 29 May 2013, Duolingo released their Android app, which was downloaded over a million times in the first three weeks and quickly became the #1 education app in the Google Play store. On 14 October 2013, Duolingo announced it had entered into agreements with CNN and BuzzFeed to translate articles for the companies' international sites.
- "Meet Duolingo, Google's Next Acquisition Target; Learn A Language, Help The Web". TechCrunch.
- "Translating the Web While You Learn". Technology Review.
- "We have a blog!". Duolingo Blog.
- "reCaptcha Founder's Language Learning Site Duolingo To Open To The Public On June 19". TechCrunch.
- Duolingo Comes To The iPad, Now Has More Than 5M Active Users
- "Ready, Set, Practice!". Duolingo Blog. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- My Three Months of Duolingo: "There are 2014 words listed in my Duolingo vocabulary". (http://olimo.livejournal.com/, 2012-09-19)
- Duolingo's Data-Driven Approach to Education
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- Say what? Duolingo points to data's important role in online education
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- "book2 - Learn languages online for free with 100 audio (mp3) files". Goethe-Verlag. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- von Ahn, Luis. "Reddit IAmA". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Olson, Parmy. "Duolingo Takes Online Teaching To The Next Level, By Crowd Sourcing New Languages".
- "Discussion". Duolingo. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- The Cleverest Business Model in Online Education
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- "Online Education as a Vehicle for Human Computation". National Science Foundation.
- "Learn a language, translate the web". NewScientist.
- What language is Duolingo written in? - Quora
- Todd, Deborah M. (3 July 2012). "Ashton Kutcher backs CMU duo's startup Duolingo". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "The Daily Start-Up: Kutcher-Backed Language Site Duolingo Finds Its Voice". Wall Street Journal. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Duolingo launching on Android; plans move to bigger office
- "Duolingo on the go. Our iPhone App is here!". Duolingo. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Duolingo - Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian for free". iTunes App Store. Apple. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Duolingo brings free language courses to the iPad
- "Duolingo now translating BuzzFeed and CNN". Duolingo. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 07 November 2013.
- "BuzzFeed Expands Internationally In Partnership With Duolingo". BuzzFeed. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 07 November 2013.
- Official website
- Official blog
- Duolingo Intro on YouTube
- Luis von Ahn: Massive-scale online collaboration on YouTube — by "TEDtalksDirector" channel, uploaded 2011-12-06.
- Duolingo on Twitter
- Duolingo on Facebook