Monetization through integrations
In the spirit of bouncing monetization ideas around to make Duolingo sustainable, here's my braindump after 3 months in Latin America whilst trying to learn some Spanish on the side (I still have a full-time job and other commitments) using Duolingo and other tools. I’ll be pointing almost exclusively to resources for Spanish-learning, but these ideas are of course applicable to any language.
First and foremost, I'd like to see Duolingo provide a bunch of paid integrations. These are all integrations I’d be happy to pay good $$$ for.
I'm constantly using Google Translate for things:
- New word in a restaurant
- Texting with a local
- Preparing a sentence before going into an interaction
I'd like an add-on that keeps track of my GT activity, and generates lessons based on the words I've been translating. Doesn't need to be anything fancy; just reuse the lessons you have, but make sure you're pulling together exercises with words that I've been using in real life recently.
I don't know to what extent GT provides an API for this sort of thing. If they don't, they should! Maybe it'd be possible to make a deal with Google.
This is probably my all-time favorite Spanish-learning resource alongside Duolingo. It does require an intermediate level of Spanish, i.e. you’ve almost finished with Duolingo’s free courses. I’m happily paying $14/month for this service.
All their lessons come with static flashcards (PDFs). To work with these words I have to manually write them down and structure my own learning plan. While this is probably a great way to learn, it is tedious and it detracts from my motivation, so it just never ends up happening. I’d much rather have Duolingo lessons that correspond with each Slow Spanish episode.
There would be a bit of overlap in their value proposition and yours, but with the right partnership agreement I imagine they’d be on board. Or just have them become a part of Duolingo! Theirs is a very easy concept to apply to any language. They just need help scaling.
There’s a bunch of “Spanish for Beginners” books out there. Duolingo could create lessons for these. It’s a win-win: The premium “Book Exercises” available in Duolingo would be great advertisement for any books that come on board. Some possible partner content:
You could even go so far as to make some understanding tests, e.g. “Why did the witch poison the apple? Answer: (a/b/c)”
Pretty much the same as all of the above. Collaborate with premium podcast producers:
There are some great, free grammar resources out there:
Whether there’s any point to collaborating with these I don’t really know. All I know is I always sorely missed some rudimentary grammar lessons in duolingo. When I do “Verbs: Past Imperfect”, why can’t you have a plain-text grammar blurb handy, or at the very least provide me with a link to some recommended further reading?
The Lingvist app has a pretty good inbuilt grammar reference:
- Partner up with a grammar site for Spanish
- Work with them to build their grammar resources into Duolingo
- As an official Duolingo partner, all of their website’s resources will advertise for Duolingo, making it a valuable marketing resource.
Many amazing grammar resources are volunteer run. Making them more sustainable through partnerships with Duolingo could be another win-win.
I also wouldn't mind if a whole host of grammar-specialised resources were available only in Duolingo Plus. E.g. improved versions of the exercises on Conjuguemos. And having a Duolingo-style skill-tree overview of the grammar I've yet to complete would be an amazing motivational tool.
Bonus: Improved ads
So far all of the ads I've seen have been for random apps and games that I have no interest in. Why not stick with the theme of Language Learning? Your ads team could go out and make partnerships with local language schools & tutoring programs. When I'm in Columbia, Medellin, show an ad for http://www.toucanspanish.com/!
You could also collaborate with all the language services that don't compete with you, many of which are already listed among the integrations above.