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Putting your Duolingo experience on your resume can get you a job!

A friend of mine who used to study Swedish on Duo applied for a call agent job. The recruiter (who was familiar with Duolingo) told her that the company often gets calls from Swedish people, so her Duolingo experience gave her the nod over the other candidates. The recruiter also told her that they were impressed that she got to her level of Swedish solely as a hobby. Keep in mind that she learned all the Swedish she knows on Duolingo.

The lesson to take away from this is: put your Duolingo experience on your resume!

April 30, 2017



This is very interesting! I'm not sure that I would feel comfortable enough putting it on my resume though, personally. As it is, I feel hesitant to put French and Portuguese on my resume and I've been studying/speaking them conversationally for a while (a couple of years in the case of French). I would be nervous that the employer would want to test me and that I wouldn't be able to meet their expectations. However, I've been studying and speaking Spanish for years and I speak it frequently, so I'd be less nervous about putting it on my resume.

I've never learned a language from scratch using Duolingo; I've always used it as a supplement. I'm kind of curious as to how much I could learn solely using Duolingo. I was planning to challenge myself over the summer to complete a tree in a language that I do not know at all and see how much I end up learning in the end.


As it is, I feel hesitant to put French and Portuguese on my resume and I've been studying/speaking them conversationally for a while

I would definitely recommend mentioning these languages, and trying to explain (briefly, of course) what your level is. And maybe brush up on your conversation a bit before an interview... ;-)

I might say "French: proficient at reading and intermediate at speaking" and "Russian: beginner" or something. In Europe, the CEFR levels are widely understood.

The most important thing is to be honest about what your skills are! But don't be afraid to mention them, even if they aren't strictly relevant to the job you're applying for.


How wonderful for your friend!

It seems meaningless to declare one set rule for listing language learning on a resume since every job is different. Some like a lot of experience and skills while other jobs prefer the opposite (i.e, avoiding hiring over-qualified individuals for jobs they will get bored of quickly).

Personally, I would sooner write something along the lines of "Beginner/Intermediate proficiency in Spanish; actively learning" than "Completed Duolingo tree". In an interview setting, I would be clear that the learning is done through online resources such as Duolingo (and Memrise, LingQ, penpals, etc..), but that a daily commitment is made to do at least a little bit of review.


It's good this happened for your friend, but I'd be careful putting Duolingo on a resume. I hire people occasionally, and I'd be rolling on the floor laughing if I saw someone using Duolingo as the sole source of linguistic ability. Duolingo provides some familiarity, sure, and it's a good first step, but it doesn't bring one to fluency and it doesn't provide any sort of certification. If someone put on their resume that they had, say, ability in German and backed it up with a Goethe test score, I'd pay attention. I'd see Duolingo as a joke.


Agreed. Duolingo can be a very useful learning tool, but it's a terrible assessment tool. Especially now that they'e done away with hearts and massively weighted the questions towards L2→L1 translation, it's possible to complete a tree while gaining fairly minimal language skills. Personally I think a self-estimated CEFR level in one's CV would be preferable to a Duolingo level or fluency score.



Also, the CEFR levels are pretty universally used in Europe. Duolingo levels or trees only mean something to someone who uses Duolingo (if even that).


I think it would depend on the function, if the language is vital for the job you would really need to pass something akin to an IELTS or a Cambridge exam to prove your proficiency. If it's not important the CEFR estimation should suffice, it's at least a decent conversation opener.

And as a caveat to anyone reading, if you put a language on your CV at least be able to have a conversation in it, if the interviewer speaks it too and you don't you're not likely to get the job :p


Sure, a qualification is always better, and if the language is needed for the job they'll probably make it a hard requirement.

if you put a language on your CV at least be able to have a conversation in it, if the interviewer speaks it too and you don't you're not likely to get the job :p

Indeed. And even if you make it through the interview, you might find yourself in trouble the first time a [whatever]-speaking customer or collaborator visits, and you're asked to liaise with them...


I think "rolling on the floor laughing" and "a joke" is a bit strong, as you really can reach a decent level with Duolingo for many languages (it does depend a bit on the specific tree), but I do agree that to reach proper fluency such as one probably would require it for most professional purposes, other sources/methods of study are indeed required.


I'd be laughing because to me it would show a distinct lack of judgment on the part of the applicant. It would show me that they actually took Duolingo more seriously than they really ought, and that would affect my perception of their application.


Right, I understand and agree with that, qualitatively speaking; I just personally don't think Duolingo, even if used on its own, is bad enough to warrant that degree of amusement, quantitatively speaking.


The amusement (at least when I'm the person making the hiring decisions) would not come from someone using Duolingo, but the bad judgment would be mentioning Duolingo in the application material. Applicants should realize that that's the kind of detail that doesn't belong in a CV or a cover letter. In an interview -- possibly, if it comes up naturally in conversation, but certainly not in written communication. And even in an interview one certainly shouldn't go on about trees, levels, and XPs.

Unless you're applying to work for Duolingo.


Yes, I understand, that's what I had in mind when I made my previous comments as well. Still, it's only amusing to that extent, that the judgment is poor; and the judgment is only poor to that extent, that Duolingo by itself does not suffice/is lacking to learn a language. My argument was just that this extent wasn't that great, and so my amusement in such a scenario would not be that great, either. But I recognize that this is A) a quantitative, rather than a qualitative argument, and B) rather subjective.

I still agree that I would not be inclined to put it on my CV either, except in very specific circumstances, and further that if it is brought up at all in the interview, then the discussion (from the side of the interviewee at least, that is, unless probed specifically) should remain general, avoiding detail on trees, levels, and XPs, as you say.


From your comment below it seems we agree on the subject matter but have different senses of humour. :-)


That might well be true :P


You're wrong. Duolingo is a useful aid for beginners, but it absolutely does not give you language skills that would be useful in any workplace.

Edit: I'm not sure why people are arguing against a point they agree with, but I appreciate the feedback.


Learning to read a language can certainly be useful. And if you already speak a Romance language or three, you can certainly make a big step toward the next one here. And not actually just reading either, I can watch Catalan movies with good comprehension having done nothing save get to my comparatively lowly level 17 here. Of course the word "Duolingo" belongs nowhere on a resume unless you've worked there (or maybe taken the English test)


I think that would depend on the language requirements of the position in question, and also a little bit on the language (for example, the German tree gets you a lot further than most others). In most cases, you're probably right. I don't know that that is entirely opposite to what I was saying, however.


it doesn't provide any sort of certification

This isn't accurate, it does provide English certification that seems to be used by some universities [1] in the US and a lot of institutions in a particular country. An accurate statement might be that it doesn't provide certification in anything other than English. It seems to have given up its ambitions of providing it in other languages.

So theoretically, and practically one can gain enough English knowledge through Duolingo to get certified, use it to gain university admission, and eventually a job. In fact, at least one company uses it to evaluate its employees.



it doesn't provide any sort of certification

Not completely true though :P, Duolingo gives a certificate for finishing a tree (for as far as that holds any value).

But on the other side, I've seen many people put "Spanish" on their resume because they choose it as an extra subject in secondary school 10 years ago, having learned 1 hour / week of Spanish for one school year. Which taught them a vocabulary of <1000, if not even <500, of which they've forgotten most. Or "basic Word knowledge", while barely being able to do anything outside of typing and using the "Font"-box (Word being an extremely basic program). Thus I'm pretty sure Duolingo won't actually cause that much laughter compared to the other extremely basic or even ridiculous stuff some people put on there (or at least what young, inexperienced people often seem to put on it). You can't even blame them that much since it's difficult to estimate how your skills compare to others, hence why tons of people tend to over- or underestimate their skills.


The (or rather a) problem with the "certificate" at the end of the tree is that there is no way of proving that you are elvper and I am annika_a. So it holds no value.

On the other hand, even a little bit of language knowledge can be useful: I got my very first real job partly because of my (at the time very bad, maybe A0 active and A2 passive) French knowledge. It was enough, together with my other skills, to function in that job. Had I not known a word of French (and been worse at guessing stuff based on the context), I wouldn't have been able to perform at that job.

But it's important to be honest about your skills when you're applying for a job.


no way of proving

Said much, there's an option to publish it on your Linkedin profile and you can always login to your profile to show it :P. In extremis any certificate can be falsified. There has been a case of a "surgeon" who had falsified documents to get a job and wasn't exposed for over a decade xD.

a little bit of language knowledge can be useful

Absolutely true.


Said much, there's an option to publish it on your Linkedin profile and you can always login to your profile to show it :P.

How do you know it's not my native speaker friend who's let me use their Duolingo account for this? ;-)


You can also bribe somebody to get a CEFR certificate or let a friend take the test in your name. There's always ways to cheat any system :P.


Nope, for a proper certificate test you have to show your photo ID, so unless you have a twin who is good in that language...


Well, I wanted to upvote you because you're right, but I also wanted to downvote you becuase you're wrong.

DuoLingo can give you a decent level at any language. Of course, if a company require that you be fluent in a language and you come up with only DL, I'd be laughing too. However, if you put it on your resume (just say that you have an elementary level thanks to DL), it really can help you. And if you really need someone fluent in a company, you should test his level during the interview, that's what always happens with me.

And, FYI, there is no Goethe test score, there are Gothe's diploma A1 to C2. And the A1 & A2 diploma is (easily) reachable only with DL.


100% agree. I cannot even tell you how many people have offered me work etc solely because of my language skills and I only study them as a hobby (currently).


So, I should put my A1 German knowledge on my résumé/CV and I can get a job speaking German to natives?

You should only put your language skills on a résumé, CV, etc. if you can actually have a conversation, a job interview, etc. without struggling, and if you have a CEFR B2 certification.

I don't see putting "I've completed a Duolingo language tree." as a measure of fluency.


It really depends on your work. Personally, I put my A1 knowledge of any language on my resume. Of course, it won't be a real asset for your company, but you never know. Having a lot of language in your resume (with at least three with a B2 level and more) shows that you have an affinity with languages. It helped me got a job abroad because they thought "you like languages, you'll learn Dutch quickly".


I wouldn't say that CEFR / other certification is an absolute necessity. It might be important in some countries though, probably mainly the ones where relatively few people speak multiple languages: i.e. the UK and the US (despite it's immigration history). While it's, for example, very uncommon for people to get certified (i.e. CEFR) where I live and also uncommon to be asked to take one when applying for a job (probably with an exception for jobs where certain language skills are of the utmost importance). Your language skills will either be "tested" by a brief conversation or they'll just take your word for it xD.

But it's probably still a bonus though and it allows the HR manager to more accurately estimate your language skills.


It's not necessarily needed, but a CEFR holds more water than a completed "Duolingo Tree" and "45% fluency in X language."


Yes obviously.

But many people also have a wrong view of certificates like CEFR. They over-estimate their difficulty and meaning. To pass a C2 you roughly just need a complete and perfect understanding of the material from a C1 since you only have to score 50%. C2 also doesn't mean you're fluent. Source: I've passed C2 for French, no I'm not fluent in French (certainly not anymore xD).

"I worked in Italy for a month" is almost guaranteed to win from "I've got a C1 in Italian".

P.S. a little trick to bring people back down to reality when it comes to CEFR. Get a vocabulary list of C2 words, you need to score 50% thus divide the the C2 word list by 2. Now compare the length of it with amount of words a Duolingo tree contains ;). (In practice it isn't this simple, but you know, it should bring people a bit closer to reality again).

Another reality is that most "papers" have been slowly losing some of their value (mainly within modern companies and tech startups). Even university degrees. More and more you hear companies complain about university students lacking practical skills and also lacking the will to get them (many students think that once they've got a university degree they're done learning and apply to jobs with a "I've-got-nothing-more-to-learn" attitude).

But there's little point in trying to explain any such things, as in general people don't believe in reality, people mainly believe in what they want to believe. "Whaaaat some people don't value my master? ❤❤❤❤ you!". People like to believe in these "magical levels" that once you reach them you're "it" and have nothing more to improve / gain and no more effort is needed. Which obviously is BS.


Living in the U.S., I doubt CEFR or whatever other certification is important here. B/c nobody's heard of them.


Sure, you just have to make do with plain old words, like "fluent", "working knowledge", "beginner", etc. Just like we did before they came up with the CEFR categories. :-)

One of cool things about the CEFR scale is that it's not an EU thing, but something used across the continent.

Of course, if one has completed about official exam, like the TOEFL test in English or the DSH in Germany, one would mention that, and normally people familiar with that language will know what it means.


I would assume displaying a TOEFL score on a resume for a job in the U.S. would yield a heavy whiff of "thou dost protest too much." I'd say it's often known here as that test that lets people who obviously can't speak English very well be our college T.A.'s anyway.


Re: TOEFL: Sure, but it's one of the more common ways of proving (rather than just professing) one's skills in English.

I remember my UK university having problems with foreign undergraduates who clearly didn't know enough English to make it through their three year course, and there being discussion about potentially raising the required TOEFL (etc.) scores. It probably didn't happen in the end, as most universities seemed to have the same requirements, and competition for these students (who were from outside the EU, and therefore paid a lot more for their studies than others) was and remains fierce.

Which makes me wonder how on Earth Duolingo is getting its own English test accepted for this: How can a short test, if it has anything to do with what Duolingo is teaching, possibly give as a result that you are capable of studying at university level in English?


It is a wonderful question you pose. I have assumed the Duolingo test must have very little to do with what would be taught in a tree. This, abstracting from the very low usage levels, was actually a reason I was surprised they didn't try a lot harder to keep Immersion around. They don't seem to offer any way to improve performance beyond a presumably very low level on their own test, that they could make money on by administering more than once as someone improved.!


It seems odd to me to do such a thing if you are seeking a speaking language job. I would consider it if Duolingo had a way of having conversation with natives in my target language. Maybe if I was apply for a transcription job I would note work I did in Immersion in my cover letter. I would say in general non-professional independent work might be more suitable in a cover letter. I would also bring it up in an interview.


Maybe I should have been a bit more specific in my opening post. I don't think it's a good idea to mention Duo when you apply as a translator or a grammarian, but I do think it's a huge plus for any job that doesn't require you to be at a near-native level.


I stand by my advice that it's a good idea to mention any language skills you have, and possibly the fact that you study languages as a hobby, but that mentioning Duolingo in your application material is way too much detail and makes you seem out of touch. Unless you're applying to work for Duolingo.


are you sure?! I can accept this about the English language but about another language, I am not sure


In my (limited) experience "anything" you have as an extra skill beyond what "the average person" has, gives your resume / chances when applying for a job a big boost.

Companies don't care about the 10th "average Joe" applying with roughly the same abilities (and lack thereof) as the previous 9. The best way to het hired is to not be / not come across as the "average Joe". Every 'extra' skill you have, anything that shows dedication and the willingness to improve yourself boost how attractive you are to companies and also draws more attention to you.

As a side-note: don't take this as a justification for overestimating the value of Duolingo alone as support for claiming you speak a certain language on your resume!

I once applied late (beyond the deadline) for a job and still knew in the first minute of the first call I received that I'd be the one to get chosen out of all the candidates, based on a resume with 0 experience (and didn't even have a degree yet) but with some skills relatively few people have. Based on the conversation, I even was the first one they called xD.


In my (limited) experience "anything" you have as an extra skill beyond what "the average person" has, gives your resume / chances when applying for a job a big boost.

My experience is quite different. I've seen several CV:s listing marathon finishing times and bench press records. For office jobs. That's just ridiculous -- it makes you stand out, but more as someone who tries to be interesting than someone who is actually accomplished and ambitious.

It's good to show some personality, but also important to not sound naïve or unaware of social convention.

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