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High School Credit Equivalencies for Duolingo?

Yesterday, I published a post on Duolingo asking users if Duolingo is being used in American high schools for official credit. The responses I received from Duolingo users, who also happen to be foreign language teachers, indicate that the answer is no.

I have been curious about credit equivalencies because I worked with the American Council on Education (ACE) to determine credit equivalencies for Berlitz and Defense Language Institute (DLI) courses. With both Berlitz and DLI, ACE is now providing credit equivalencies for colleges and universities to use.

What about Duolingo? If I were a senior official at Duolingo, I'd be pushing for credit equivalencies in U.S. high schools. And for a price for users seeking official credit. Despite my past criticism of Duolingo, I could actually support the online language provider for official high school foreign language credit--under certain conditions.

Since February 7, I have completed 5 Duolingo courses so I know the program pretty well. Each time I completed a course, I asked myself how many credits my course completion would be worth. In German, I put in about 90 hours of study during my 30-day stint. Maybe 60 hours in Portuguese over 22 days.

Duolingo offers one unique learning feature that traditional high school language programs don't offer. Its courses never end! In traditional foreign language classes, French 1, for example, ends at the end of a given school year. French 2 starts after summer ends. French 3 the year after that.

With Duolingo, there is no course completion. Once you get your announcement of course completion, Duolingo immediately pushes its learners to constantly "strengthen skills." Recently, my Duolingo French course with its 65 units went from 65 golden icons (reflecting completion) to 30 blue or red icons signifying the need for strengthening.

When I completed Duolingo German, I finished at Level 15, but I noticed Duolingo users sporting Level 25 in German. These are users who redo their German course constantly, reviewing all grammar and vocabulary. Reaching Level 25 would require over 180 hours of study. Hour-wise, Duolingo matches a normal high school foreign language course.

Here's my math: 36 weeks of study X 5 days a week = 180 hours.

Teachers I talked to as Duolingo users cited the lack of communication:

"No way Duolingo should count as a credited high school language course!"

Upon reflection I remembered that my French 1 and 2 courses at Fenwick High School in the late 1960s were grammar-translation-driven courses, similar to Duolingo's method. My German 1 course used the audolingiual method (ALM). I still remember my German dialogues and German drinking songs (Der Hut hat drei Ecken) but we never really communicated during my year with Father Ashenbrenner.

Given our need for global citizens, can we discount Duolingo, armed with 27 languages? It offers most of the less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) America needs for the middle of this century. High school students can get an introduction to Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Hindi, Vietnamese and so on with Duolingo. Most U.S. high schools are lucky to be teaching French and Spanish.

Until we find a language provider offering these critical languages, can we really dismiss Duolingo?

April 4, 2016


Sorted by top post


Sorry, but merely "completing" a tree is pretty meaningless because there are ways of cheating that an unknown number of users employ. Why should schools give academic credit for something which can be "achieved" automatically using a script or without actual effort by switching internet connections on and off?

April 4, 2016


How is the number of hours relevant? Surely it's the information conveyed and absorbed and these trees are not equivalent to a conventional course at all. It's the exam passes that count, not time served.

April 4, 2016


In uni you get credit points, 1 credit are 30 hours of workload (at least in the EU). The average studying time are 30 credit points per semester, so you can choose your classes according to the credit points. We had to reach certain numbers of credits during studying, e.g. to be allowed to write our thesis.

We had regular exams up to 12 credits or my master thesis was 20 credits (1/3 of my final grade). We also get up to 6 credits for language classes in my uni, they're additional and independent from your exam's mark, just if you fail the exam you must also repeat the class and don't get any credit point.

Even though I don't think that duolingo replaces a proper in-person language class, at least not like we had them in uni/school.

April 4, 2016


Good point, and if credit equivalences are given from Berlitz, then why not Duolingo. Of course, a lot of practical details must be sorted out, but I hope that the Duo staff is reading this and sees the business expansion opportunities.

April 4, 2016


I'd be interested to learn how credits are gained from Berlitz courses. Does the school give the student a test to evaluate their language skills or do they just take their word for it that they have completed x course?

April 4, 2016


No, it's the college or university you attend that will give you credit for having completed Berlitz courses.

April 4, 2016


Lots of interesting comments and ideas by all of you that are contributing to this question of giving a Duolingo credit for language. Language proficiency at is simplest, is that a crediting agency/school/organization certifies that you can read, write, understand and speak a language at a particular level. I do not believe that Duolingo is trying to do that or can do that, as is done with the TOFL test, or a High School or College level certified course. Duolingo is an excellent learning tool, but not as a stand alone language certification process.

April 6, 2016


Thanks for the input! But, Duolingo and HS foreign language teachers could put together an attractive package. As a former HS foreign language teacher, I've seen German programs disappear and now even French programs. Additionally, we (the military, global business, government, etc., need critical languages taught at the HS level.

April 7, 2016


I completely agree. Dualingo should count as a credit especially if we get some great education from it!

April 4, 2016
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