Language Advantage
February 2, 2020

Are Language Learning Apps like Duolingo Effective?


A recent educational trend is learning a second language through applications on mobile devices, such as smartphones. But do language learning apps like Duolingo and busuu work or are they simply a fad?

The answer, as with most things, isn’t a simple yes or no. Instead, it depends. Specifically, whether language learning apps like Duolingo are useful or not rests largely on whether you use it as your sole learning tool or as extra practice to separate lessons. Using an app becomes more useful in tandem with live conversations whereby you can learn and practice the language; it makes the learning process feel complete.

That’s as opposed to reading and writing language through digital lessons on your tablet or another mobile device. However, the informal nature of applications such as busuu and Duolingo do have many advantages for those who want to improve their skills in a second language.

How Language Learning Apps like Duolingo Fit into Today’s World
The busy lifestyle of most people today leaves little spare time, if any. Between parenting, work, and other responsibilities, many adults feel their days fly by.

However, Duolingo and other apps are made to provide bite-sized lessons that fit within train rides, while waiting for a client, or before bedtime. A recent study discussed by The Conversation found those who used busuu, for example, averaged 15 minutes per lesson, with several lessons per week.

The informal nature of the process fits with an on-the-go lifestyle as the learning can happen anywhere at any time of the day or night. Furthermore, that same study showed that most busuu users (82%) reported that using the app helped them improve their knowledge of the new language.

This perception of usefulness speaks highly for language learning apps like Duolingo and busuu. As The Conversation notes too, users may like that they can make mistakes in private with an app, versus the embarrassment of mistakes in front of peers in a classroom when learning to write and speak a foreign vernacular.

Final Words on Language Learning Apps like Duolingo
Whether you choose the virtual flashcard structure of Duolingo or another language learning app, the goal is the same: to pick up another language. It’s a big, exciting, and useful goal to be fluent or even carry on a conversation in a second tongue.

Ultimately, using language learning apps like Duolingo are a great starting point; they can help you become more familiar with phrases, both written and spoken. But we still see it as most useful in combination with face-to-face lessons for an immersive practice.

Source: The Conversation, Medium