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Don’t you wish you’d had Duolingo when you were in school?

After receiving thousands of requests from teachers, we created Duolingo for Schools earlier this year. Today we're happy to share that over 100,000 classrooms are already on board.

The comments we receive from teachers have been incredibly heartwarming. Apparently, students are doing extra homework for fun and staying in during recess to pass levels!

Nadia, a French teacher from Toronto, contacted us earlier this year. Her story was so moving that we decided to share it with you.

Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TSNuKflI6o

Teachers, keep the stories coming. You inspire us every day.

August 13, 2015



Yea I do! Government education and training camps are the least efficient way to learn anything. A child could easily have the equivalent of a college education by 18 if they were taught by an entity that cares for them.


As a student heading of to university soon, I have to say that duolingo helped me trumendously in my final years of spanish class, despite having an excellent teacher. It instilled in me a passion for the language. Duolingo also serves as an incredible complement to excellent teachers.


No, I wish I had had it when I was home educating my children.


I actually had Duolingo in school, and it really helped! I ended up beating all my friends in the weekly XP contests. It provided motivation and a goal.


Duolingo is an invaluable resource, but there are certain aspects of learning the traditional way that are essential for becoming fluent in your target language (1 on 1 time with a fluent/native speaker, for example).


I don't remember any 1 on 1 time with a native speaker in my language classes. If you had that, you were very lucky.


If your teacher was a native speaker (not necessarily the case, unfortunately) then you should have had some 1 on 1 dialogues with them in class.


What should happen is not what usually happens. Also, think that through. Let's say you have a class of 20 people. For every 1 minute of 1 on 1 dialogue with the teacher, each student would also have 19 minutes of time in which the teacher completely ignores them. You are suggesting that it is good to spend a small amount of time in a one on one dialogue and a very large amount of time listening to every other student, whose knowledge/pronunciation of the language is no better than yours, have nearly the same conversation. Does that sound like a productive use of time?

No, if you don't have a private tutor, you are not going to get an significant amount of one on one time with a native speaker.


I agree you won't get a significant amount of time in a large class. The word you used however was ‘any’. Maybe I interpreted you too literally.


No, you interpreted correctly. I was just trying to point out why students don't tend to get 1 on 1 time in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, 20 people is a pretty small class at my school.


What's with the fixation some folks have with speaking to a native speaker? My Spanish teacher in high school was a Canadian of Irish descent. She instilled in me enough love of Spanish that it became my undergraduate major. My best professor was Italian. Native speakers aren't necessarily better speakers or teachers. The best teacher is fluent (not necessarily a native speaker), can motivate students, and can help students connect new knowledge to what they already know.


I do agree that a teacher being good or bad probably has little to do with them being a native speaker or not.

People sometimes claim that you can't get fluent in a language unless you've lived somewhere where that language is the majority language. I tend to disagree, as I have had excellent experiences with learning in a classroom environment (for many years, although not particularly intensively, but of course with more practice on the side) and then feeling fluent enough already when I moved to countries where those languages were spoken.

But there is something about speaking with native speakers that is very helpful in getting into the groove of a language, particularly if theirs is the only language you have in common. It's not absolutely essential for learning, but it sure roots the skills you already have deeper than just learning in the classroom or on the internet or using original resources passively.


I think you're confusing tutoring with the classroom. Tutoring is the one where you have 1-on-1 time with a fluent/native speaker.


When I was 14, I got a D in French. Duolingo may have helped me, I do not know. I was clueless about languages then. What I like about Duolingo, is that rapid progress in learning the basics of a language is possible. If I would have taken Spanish in a college, many months would have been needed. As for Spanish, I started the tree July 17, 2015 and finished just now, August 13, 2015. Experience with French and Portuguese helped a lot. I am stunned. I am 60, and did not think I could learn fast anymore. I was wrong. I learn languages much better than when I was 14.


Wow, you did a tree in under a month? That's impressive. Did you do any revisions or just run through each lesson once? How good is your comprehension of Spanish now?


If this had been the model for classroom teaching, I would never have passed my exams.


I think a combination of both, before I was finished with the tree I was able to read. I had a terrible vocabulary and poor grammar but I know exactly what to work on and how to improve. That was in a month, in a semester of French in school I could say a few things but I feel the time was wasted.

I think a model similar to duolingo where the teacher could see everything that you learned and he or she taught the skeleton of the language first then built it up would be better than what I experienced.


Duolingo's nice, but classroom teaching runs laps around it. The classroom is so much better in my experience that I'd have to answer "no." No, I wouldn't want Duolingo if I was still doing my Spanish minor. It's too superficial.


Too superficial, not remotely communicative, and prone to silly innuendo that could give rise to classroom taunting. I would be downright worried if my nieces and nephews were being offered this in place of proper child-friendly communicative course books. It's fine for topping things up at home and I have encouraged the older ones to use it for that. But by 14 they should be long past the one sentence at a time sort of audio comprehension.

There's a world of difference between learning as a child and as an adult with the foundations behind you.


To be perfectly honest, I think that what you said is a joke that language teachers tell themselves to make themselves feel better about their complete and total failure to educate the BROAD MAJORITY of their students in any meaningful way. In many areas of the US, for example, almost everyone who goes to public schools and college ends up having had at least six years of classroom foreign language instruction, yet the number of those students who carry any meaningful ability to use a second language (at all) on into their adult life is very small. Completing a tree in Duolingo, which could EASILY be accomplished in only one year by just sitting the kids in front of a computer for every class session and getting rid of the teacher, would provide an incomparably better springboard into real language learning and have much better results on a broad scale than that status quo.

Having a great teacher in an environment amenable to learning the language would undoubtedly be the best way, but not even the lucky 1/1000 children in the world will be lucky enough to have that experience. It is mathematically impossible to change that fact, even in most developed countries, because great teachers are rare. Having a good teacher + Duolingo would be better than Duolingo by itself, but it should go without saying that most teachers are not good teachers. Having a mediocre teacher + duolingo would probably be worse than just Duolingo, as the mediocre teacher will not have enough insight into the learning process to complement it rather than interfere with it.

Some countries, specifically in regards to teaching ENGLISH (I'm looking at you Sweden), seem to have managed to create exceptional programs of language education in their schools that result in a significant percentage of the population becoming fluent in that non-native language. But arguably this has to do as much with the way those countries consume English-language popular culture as it has to do with the language instruction in their schools. Nevertheless, even if you credit the success of those exceptional countries to language instruction, they are very much the exception to the rule. In so many countries around the world, children and teenagers are subjected to several years of mandatory English instruction in their public schools and (the broad majority) have essentially nothing to show for their hundreds of hours of labor at the end of the day. So much time and potential wasted, it's genuinely a tragedy.

To say that instead of Duolingo children should be in a classroom learning from language learning textbooks, as someone here suggested, is absurd to the point of humor -- these language textbooks have a CONSISTENT RECORD of broad failure that dates back centuries, and have easily been outpaced by Duolingo in only a few years; that is why Duolingo is being so widely and enthusiastically embraced all over the world.

Now, if you want to talk about language immersion schools, that are administered competently, they are a different and wonderful animal for those students lucky enough to attend one, and Duolingo would have no place in them (that I can imagine) -- but that would be comparing apples to oranges.


Duolingo is yet to show any impovement in educating students who actively do not want to learn a foreign language.

What I like about Duo is that it makes the boring parts of learning a language much faster and less boring. More frequent, even,—and, arguably, 10 minutes three times a day is better than 30 or 40 minutes in one chunk.

Such a friendly learning environment is why I think Duolingo CAN make a (tiny) difference for those who would otherwise just claim they are not interested in languages and forget it. However, being motivated to learn is a huge advantage, especially for older learners and adults.

Personally, I even liked the fact that my English in elementary school was a bit "boring" and "no big deal", without it being much different from any other subject. It kind of removes that fear of foreign languages some people have. A langauges is just a skill, wihich, of course, requires a big box of knowledge, too,—and lots of schoolchildren routinely study it and learn it. You will, too.


I agree! Where I come from, some languages do carry a bit of "ooh, that's hard" stigma in school. But nothing compared to the corresponding stigma maths carries!

Both mats and languages are very much learnable by almost anyone, if there is enough motivation, time, and practice. The teaching and the quality of it is only one piece of the puzzle.


Care to give sources for your invented statistics? This is utter nonsense.

Kids like mucking about on computers and beating the 'levels' in a game. But you can get to the end of the trees and rack up endless points on this site without having internalised the material and without having understood the basics. Put the right content into this format and make it suitable for the classroom and it will do very well in schools as long as it is adapted for different age ranges - because a lot of children are motivated by computers that go bing when they get something right.


Quite. Duolingo might have been ok for some of my Spanish I class. By the time I was in Spanish IV, or taking Spanish at university - no. Completely worthless, save, perhaps, for vocabulary review (but even then, we had much broader vocabulary in the classroom, and teachers adapted it for specific people and specific situations. Maybe I just had a fairly good experience, with teachers and professors who were by and large fairy good (in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s, if that matters). I do find it rather discouraging that any time anyone happens to offer an opinion that Duolingo isn't the greatest invention of all time, they seem to get shot down quickly. Duolingo's fine for what it is, but it's far from perfect, and it serves no constructive purpose to constantly go on about how it's so much better than everything else.


It is mathematically impossible to change that fact, even in most developed countries, because great teachers are rare.

most teachers are not good teachers

I think you are extrapolating unnecessarily here. It is true that many teachers aren't great teachers, but I'm struggling to remember having had a bad language teacher during my 12 years of school, studying four foreign languages. Strange ones, sure, but no actually bad ones.

Yes, people actually learn English in many parts of the world more through TV and computer games than in class, but don't forget that many people (in Europe) learn other languages in school as well, and many get results from those hours of studying that you mention.

I think much of this is linked to the value given to education, and particularly to the learning of foreign languages, in the society by which one is surrounded -- if the expectation is that children will learn a couple of foreign languages at school, then the society, the school, the parents, and the students themselves all hold the teaching and the learning to a higher level than if a foreign language is just some stupid thing to sit through.


I don't think anyone's suggesting DuoLingo in classrooms instead of classroom teaching. The post says "tools". DL as one element of language learning in schools, as one tool the teacher in the complex process of teaching, seems to be very beneficial. The rest is up to the teacher, in how well the tool is used.


If it's taking up time at school, it's a worry because that's time that should be spent with a better resource. Take a look at the multiple choice questions here and tell me where the cognitive load is in those exercises?


I am curious about what your concern is; it is not quite clear to me. I thought the teacher in the video was a bit over the top in terms of replacing books with DL. However, having a child spend time alone or in groups with DL seems to me to be vastly better than having them spend time with a book - it definitely keeps their interest longer, and has some degree of personalization. Being able to use a tool like this in the classroom allows a teacher to spend one-on-one time with children while others are using the site.


I would expect group work in a language lesson to be about acting out conversations rather than looking at the book, activating and personalising the language they've just met in a reading or listening exercise.


In some languages, those multiple choice questions are excellent reminders of whether or not a sentence is the same for both male and female subjects or objects of the phrase.

In all languages, they serve as an low stress way of introducing new words and structures.

Just my two cents.


I disagree. I don't think there's a lot of point in my saying more than that. I can understand where you're coming from, I think, and I see validity in at least some of your points, but in the final analysis, I disagree with your conclusions.


It would have certainly been a nice alternative when I started raiding the library for those old cassette based courses for all the languages my school didn't offer!

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I feel like I've already learned as much German here on Duolingo as I did in school over the course of 11 years. And I haven't even finished the tree yet.


Yes. I don't know why some people here are suggesting that classrooms are better than Duolingo. Classrooms give you mass, forced education, that you may or may not get -- it's certainly not better when you're learning with 40 other people with 40 different concerns at the same time. I have been both student and part-time tutor myself, and I can safely say that Duolingo is the better option than classrooms.

Sure, you'd need all the extras, like the TV shows, music, radio, books. But then you'd need those things after class too. It's better to spend 2 hours at Duolingo than 2 hours in class.

Also, many schools in where I live (it's anecdotal, but it's relevant to me) teach language once per week, in a two-hour session, as if that's anything.


I'd agree that slogging through lessons with the pack is a chore. However, classes (assuming they're taught well) can provide built-in opportunities for interaction and oral/aural correction. A tutor could do that too, and potentially more efficiently, but young people attend classes at no cost to themselves.


this sounds like a political message, but what about Google Capital? how will they make their money back? I am inspired to know... Duolingo is not a charity, but in all their messages they sure act like it. Maybe I should go read a message from a Coca Cola or cigarette executive about how their programs are helping everyone around the world?

[deactivated user]

    this sounds like a political message

    Why would they launch a political campaign/message anyway? Even if they are for-profit, they have created a positive change/influence in many.

    Duolingo is not a charity, but in all their messages they sure act like it.

    No, they are not a charity, but they aim to provide free language education around the world.

    Maybe I should go read a message from a Coca Cola or cigarette executive about how their programs are helping everyone around the world?


    I think that is an outrageous comparison. Coca Cola is a company that sells glorified sugar water. Cigarettes are... well, do I need to explain. Duolingo cannot be compared to these things.


    We will all be watching to see what Duolingo sells. They will try to make a profit. Google Capital did not give the Duolingo group a gift or a grant, but a loan. Google Capital will recover on that loan with interest. Do i need to explain why the comparison is necessary?


    Duolingo's current business plan is to charge for English certification exams online. They are very open about this. Their test will also be cheaper than other certification alternatives, like the TOEFL.

    [deactivated user]

      What, what do they sell? The only thing that they plan to sell right now are the Duolingo tests,

      I do understand it is a loan, but why is the comparison necessary? Why are you comparing it to Coke or a cigarette company?


      I wish I'd had the Internet when I was at school ;)


      It would be nice but everyone would just be talking to eachother on it in my class.


      Which would certainly be good practice if it was in the target language.


      Dear Duolingo Staff and Community,

      I am currently a pupil in school studying French both as a subject and for enjoyment. I have been on Duolingo for just over two years now (I was unable to practice one day after arriving back home late at night from a trip and as a result my streak is a couple of months shorter than my time here) and have completed the French tree.

      Since starting Duolingo, I have received top marks in every major test I have sat for French in school and recently, I received my marks for my first set of external exams. I was delighted to discover that I had received full marks for French on all four sections - speaking, reading, writing and listening - and so had achieved 100%. I can attribute much of my success in my French exam to Duolingo and all of the help it has given me. I started learning French for the first time four years ago and am by no means fluent yet (this is one of my life goals), but Duolingo has given me the opportunity to improve my French far more than if I had solely been learning through school (however, I do believe that the teaching methods used in schools have also helped me a lot).

      Thank you to all of the Duolingo staff who created this incredible tool, the moderators and contributors to the courses (especially the French course) and the moderators and ordinary users in the forums who are so helpful, insightful and often already an explanation for difficult grammar concepts and idioms in the sentence discussions. I believe that, while it will not allow you to become entirely fluent, Duolingo is an invaluable resource for learning a language, as I have found from my own experiences. And so, to everyone who makes this website such a wonderful place on the Internet to come and learn languages (and for free!),

      Thank you!


      I definitely wish I had Duolingo back in high school Spanish! Whilst my basic knowledge of certain areas of the Spanish language does come from my high school lessons, I lost an awful lot of interest in that class after tons and tons of essays and homework which didn't contribute to my knowledge at all or teach me anything remotely useful! Duolingo is fun, easy and doesn't put too much pressure on you to learn everything at once- you can take a slow, methodical approach without throwing yourself in at the deep end.


      To be honest, I feel like when learning in a group teachers, textbooks and active communication (between students as well as teacher and student) are doing a better job than Duolingo with it's limited vocabulary repeating the same sentences over and over, only demanding direct translations. While Duolingo might be fun to use, it will never bring you to fluency and by all means doesn't make up for receiving real input and producing your own output, as well as Duolingo can't be customised to your own needs as a good teacher can. And lessons with a good teacher given the right equipment can just be as much fun as Duolingo while being way more productive.

      However, good lessons do not only require a good teacher but also there is a need for certain equipment, which gives the teacher the chance to create lessons that are fun. If this equipment is scrappy, Duolingo certainly is a good way to still make the lessons be fun, even if it should only be used partly in my opinion, considering its flaws (mentioned above).

      For self study though, I find that Duolingo is a (nearly) perfect implement. Not when it's the only tool used, of course (again, see the flaws above), but since we're studying for ourselves, our motivation might be slightly higher than the one of some school kids, so we also take our time for not that much fun things in order to achieve fluency (or whatever your personal language goal is).

      So although I love Duolingo for studying on my own, (I don't even know how to get along without it....) I prefer my language lessons with creative content, (sometimes ridiculous) textbooks and good teachers teaching us languages as what they're really for: communication.


      I don't even know how to get along without it.

      = A silent, very subtle cry for Finnish. (just to be clear)


      Yep, another one here who can't get along on their own without Duolingo. My poor Finnish textbook is dusty and neglected. :(

      Have some lingots for your silent cry.

      [deactivated user]


        If Duolingo was around back when I was in high school (which was not too long ago), I would have been more motivated to learn Spanish and maybe some other language.


        God yes. I still remember sitting in a language lab, listening to bad recordings of an overly-masculine Spaniard on headphones the size of softballs.


        I just finished my GCSE German and I started using Duolingo privately just before my exams, and it really helped! Previously I had had trouble learning languages, and this would have really helped if I'd had it from the beginning. It's good that other people will get better head starts now. Well done Duolingo!

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        Absolutely.As well as the grammar practice with the exercises on the trees, immersion is a fantastic resource that allows any learner to choose their own interests and pursue the languages they are learning, in the subject areas they are interested in. Also the community that has evolved around Duolingo is amazing and supportive to learners at every level. As well as a great place to come for people learning languages there are plenty of pointers and "signposts" available here to wherever you want to go with your language studies. Hopefully the teaching community can provide ideas and feedback for future improvements !!


        I'm having trouble getting the continued button to change to the next screen . It keeps asking me to hit the enter button(continue) but nothing happens!! I've not been able to fulfill my daily lessons!! There's no help button for assistance!! Any suggestions!! I've googled Duolingo with results!! Thanks, Donna


        Hi Donna, the only time I have experienced this is when I had limited mobile internet connection. As soon as I reconnected all was fine.


        Thank you for responding!! As far as I know my internet connection is fine!!! I'm on a different page then before ( not sure how I got to it). I've lost days of advancements and therefore I just give up


        I so wished I had Duolingo and Memrise when I was attending school! I would have been so much better at this damned Latin translations. I am sure of it. Great new learning tools and I assume it will keep getting better and better!

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