Duolingo Test Center: Affordable and convenient language certification
Every year, over 30 million job seekers and students around the world are forced to take a test to prove that they know English in order to apply for a job or school. For some, these tests can cost their family an entire month's salary. And not only that, taking them typically requires traveling to distant examination facilities and waiting weeks for the results.
We believe there should be a better way. This is why today I'm proud to announce the beta release of the Duolingo Test Center, which was created to give everyone equal access to jobs and educational opportunities. Now anyone can conveniently certify their English skills from home, on their mobile device, and for only $20. That's 1/10th the cost of existing tests.
Here's some more info:
The reason behind the $20 charge is that each test is verified by a human proctor, hired to watch a video of test takers and make sure nobody receives outside help.
The app will be in "beta" during the month of May, and during this time all tests will be free. :)
This independent study found that scores on the new Duolingo English test are stable, reliable, and substantially correlated with the TOEFL iBT (a standard English certification test). This means that scores on our test translate directly to scores on other standardized English proficiency exams.
For now, the Test Center is only available as an Android app, but it will come to the Web and to iOS soon.
We're starting with English because it has the highest demand for proficiency evaluation. However, the test will be available for other languages in the next few months.
We expect the number of institutions recognizing Duolingo test results to grow reasonably fast, since many share our belief that everyone should have the chance to apply for positions. We're also working to get the word out!
We hope this move helps convince other proficiency exams to make their prices more reasonable.
Here's the new Test Center website: http://testcenter.duolingo.com
You can find the Test Center app on Google Play at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo.testcenter Try it to find out your score!
I didn't know that it was going to be another app! Wouldn't it be creepy someone is watching you? Duolingo is getting awesomer and awesomer (I dont think that's and English word)
A few questions:
- Can native English speakers also take the test in May for free to try it out? I'm sure many of us are curious.
- How will the results be reported? Same scoring system as TOEFL or something different with a comparison chart?
- How does the 25 lingot Duolingo certificate compare with the $20 one? So, if I scored a 5/5 on the Duolingo certificate and knew that I would be expected to score whatever on the $20 test, I might be willing to spend $20 to get that "official" certification. Obviously depending on actually having the same performance on the $20 test.
What a wonderful day for leveling the playing field. Testing institutions may seem to have test-takers for clients, because so many people are forced to take the tests.
But the reason that people are forced to take tests is that testing companies market to the real consumers -- the people who demand the tests in the first place.
By competing for those consumers, Duolingo will certainly force changes. Because once the people who demand tests like TOEFL also accept Duolingo, then the more expensive tests will find themselves at the mercy of test-takers. People who do not want to waste their money.
Good luck, Duolingo!
OMG is this for real? This test center is very potential, I expect that it will be available in other languages too, like Italian, then I do not have to fly all 1145 km up north to take a language test (its fee is just around 20 USD too but the expense to do that is at least 4 times that >.>)
It really is strange... I have checked several places in Europe and US and the price is minimum 85 USD. I assume the prices for official exams are fixed and can not vary from country to country. http://www.dantemass.org/html/plida.html
I take a look again, the price is now around 30 USD (from May 2014). This is their official fanpage here: https://www.facebook.com/dantehanoi/photos/a.222359974554170.45142.212437298879771/498957933561038/?type=1&theater
We have released a Test Center app update (version 0.5.2) that should fix the camera problems many of you have described. Please upgrade and try again!
Do we have to take a picture of the whole ID or only the part with our name, date of birth and the photo?
I'm asking because I feel uncomfortable sharing my identity card/passport number.
Also you might want to give a more detailed description of pretest procedure on the site (http://testcenter.duolingo.com). It might alleviate uneasiness associated with providing the picture of ID.
Another thing you might want to address in the app and on the site is the average amount of data transmitted during the test along with the recommendation to do the test while on wifi.
Since the beginning of my exploration of the Duolingo, I have been always amazed. Really.
It´s the first time when I am really used to learn language anywhere thanks to system of streaks. i m even repeating each lesson till i am 100 percent succesful( I love lingots :) ).
Because i am from Czech Republic, thanks to a bilingual course Spanish-English, I am learning Spanish and improving my English grammar( mainly using articles).
And now you have declared this. OMG. I hope that you will expand a range of languages. Possibility of certification my Spanish and English (and also other languages) is awesome. Do you have some donation programme? Thank you very much for your relentless effort :)
I think there's another issue with China. I can't even find the app in the Chinese Google Play Store. This is a pretty common problem in China. It's too bad though because IELTS and TOEFL just wringe money out of the Chinese students. I also teach IELTS prep classes, and I just can't believe how much they shell out for IELTS classes.
That is the whole point of the test, of course it will take time before other scientists/linguists verify the results through a peer review process, and recognise Duolingo's certification. I presume Duolingo can probably also apply with international institutions to have it certified and approved by them.
So for now, I'd say it is not yet really "legally" valid. It will take time until others can recognise it.
The correlation with existing accepted tests looks good so far. My guess would be that, if it continues looking promising, these'll first make a really excellent 'practice test' before someone puts down a lot more money to take the exams that are already widely accepted. Then when there's a more substantial volume of data, the Duolingo test will be accepted directly.
Interesting, I wonder why it is being offered as a separate app though. Perhaps in the future it may all be merged. Also with 97 institutions using Duolingo to teach/support in their schools I presume that at least that government will do their best to evaluate and provide some some of certification to Duolingo Test Center.
This is wonderful, education has become how much money they can make off people who want to learn anything for any reason. Be prepared for a fight, they will not want to recognize or put up with anyone taking their money away. Keep up the good work, I will spread the word, but may wait till after May so that it helps the cause.
I am continually amazed by the true dedication of the Duolingo staff to breaking down language barriers all across the world and helping millions of people, not only improving their lives, but improving their lives in the most effective and easy to use way possible. Thanks for your wonderful commitment!
OK, it looks like your phone is so awesome and the camera is so high quality that the required space might actually be more than 1GB. But we never expected the tests to take up more than 100MB, so that's what our error message says right now...
The good news is we're working on a fix! It should be ready for a new release in a couple of days. Thanks for your patience...
Duolingo already had that. You could buy it for 25 lingots in the lingot store. You can see an example of what the certificate looks like here: https://www.duolingo.com/certs/pZ4l6O
Without supervision, they cannot guarantee that you are not cheating, and the validity of the measure would be called into question by anybody who wanted to see proof of language proficiency.
So when you add Swedish I will be able to get a certificate in Swedish? Also when I complete French I can get one in French? All for $20? (Well 40 as it's two)
Sign me up
I think the idea is that, if they can establish that Duolingo's test is reliable, institutions will start accepting it as equivalent. That will put a lot of pressure on the other testing services to try to find ways to reduce costs, so that test takers who are told they can pick their test don't just automatically go with Duolingo to save a lot of money.
It's a great idea and I really want to see how it will turn out :)
I just looked at the German version of the website and was a bit disappointed though: A lot of the texts sound very, very weird to any German reader.
As "incorrect grammar" is one of my personal indicators for a phising/spam/generally untrustworthy website, I would definitly not trust this website if it wasn't linked here. (Truth be told: I even now am a bit suspicious)
we don't have the Phrase "einen Test nehmen" (take a test") in German. You could say "einen Test absolvieren" which is a bit heavy or "einen Test machen" which is a bit too simple. As an invitation it would be okay to say "Mach den Test zu Hause!"
"Mit der Kamera und dem Mikrofon, wird Dein Test von einer echten Person betreut." There shouldn't be a komma in that sentence
"aus aller Welt ein Exam ablegen" - Exam is not really a German word
"Jetzt kann jeder einfach von zu Hause über mobiles Gerät, englische Sprachfähigkeiten zertifizieren lassen." - it should be "über ein mobiles Gerät" and again: no komma needed.
All in all the texts seem weird because in German you would connect a lot of them to longer sentences and part others into more than one.
Is there a way to help with this?
Yes, I fully agree with your suggestions. The texts sound to me as if an English native with a high level of German has translated them a bit too literally. Here are some more improvements I'd suggest for the texts in the app:
"Per Deiner Kamera und Deinem Mikrofon, wird eine echte Person Deinen Test betreuen." - If "per" is used, articles like "Deiner" are left out. => "Per Kamera und Mikrofon wird eine echte Person Deinen Test betreuen." or as MirjamCK has suggested above.
"Jede Frage ist zeitlich anders festgelegt" - It sounds weird to me to use "zeitlich festgelegt" for this situation. I'd suggest: "Für jede Frage hast Du unterschiedlich viel Zeit."
"Es gibt eine Kameravorschau, die während des Tests aufgenommen wird." - Not sure what is meant by "Kameravorschau" (camera preview) in this situation. It says that a camera preview is recorded during the test. It's kind of weird to record a preview, I think you want to say that you record a video? -> "Während des Tests wird ein Video aufgenommen, du siehst eine Vorschau davon." (= "During the test a video is recorded, you will see a preview of this.")
"Aufnahme wiederspielen". I never heard the word "wiederspielen" before. -> "Aufnahme nochmals abspielen."
Great to see that the mistakes have already been addressed! A few more:
„Wir finden es müsste auch anders gehen“ takes a comma after „finden“
„Duolingo Noten“, „Test Einrichtungen“ and "standard Test" take a hyphen or should be one word
„Eine Studie fand“ (a study had the opinion that) should be „hat gezeigt“
„Zugriff auf Arbeitsplätze“ (as in access to a computer or file) should be „Zugang zu Arbeitsplätzen“
One could critize other choices, e.g. „Zertifizierung für englische Sprachkenntnisse“ should be „Zertifizierung englischer Sprachkenntnisse“ or „von englischen Sprachkenntnissen“ (denn sie ist „... für Nutzer aus aller Welt“), and „dass ... Noten … anderen Tests entsprechen“ should be „ … denen anderer Tests entsprechen“, but that would be a copy-editor's job. The ones above were errors I immediately noticed.
So here are some more (in addition to the ones OlderThanRome and sommerlied posted):
"Jetzt kann jeder einfach von zu Hause über ein mobiles Gerät englische Sprachfähigkeiten zertifizieren lassen." - I think you would rather use "Jetzt kann jeder sich einfach...". The original sounds a bit as if everyone could build his own test center at home, while you probably want to say that I can get my own language abilities certified. (See below regarding "zertifzieren")
"Und das für nur $20. Das ist 1/10 der Kosten der jetzigen Tests." - First: In German we write "20 $" instead of $20. I would not write "1/10" but rather "ein Zehntel". And "jetzige Tests" is a strange choice of words. I think you could say "der bisherigen Tests" or even besser "der bisher üblichen Tests" Altogether: "Und das für nur 20 $ - Das ist ein Zehntel der Kosten der bisher üblichen Tests!"
As OlderThanRome said "Eine Studie fand" (I think it was "A study found that") does not work in German. So you should say "Eine Studie hat gezeigt, dass" or "In einer unabhängigen Studie wurd gezeigt, dass...".
And one major point: "zertifizieren". This is something you would use for machines, a test itself, something the bank offers you... For people and tests we usually use "bescheinigen". The noun "Zertifikat" is okay, but the verb is unusual. And there are some fine differences in the usages of this word:
"Jemand zertifiziert etwas" - Someone tests something and writes a certificate for it. So: Die duolingo-App zertifiziert Sprachkenntnisse
"Jemand lässt etwas zertifizieren" - Someone orders a test and the result is a certificate for something. So: Ich lasse das Testverfahren zertifizieren.
"Jemand lässt sich etwas zertifizieren" - Someone takes a test and gets a certificate for something (himself!) So: "Ich lasse mir meine Sprachkenntnisse zertifizieren" (so that I can take the certificate and show it around)
There are even more combinations like "etwas zertifiziert bekommen" and so on, because "zertifizieren" is a very unusual German verb. You could say:
Duolingo stellt dir ein Zertifikat über deine Sprachkenntnisse aus.
Du bekommst/erhälst ein Zertifikat über deine Sprachkentnisse.
Du kannst dir deine Sprachkenntnisse von duolingo zertifizieren lassen.
Der Test bescheinigt deine Sprachkentnisse. / Du kannst dir deine Sprachkenntnisse bescheinigen lassen.
Das Ergebnis ist ein Zertifikat über deine Sprachkentnisse.
(I have now typed different versions of zertifizieren and Sprachkenntnisse so often that i am not sure anymore if there are spelling mistakes in there)
Does this test have a spoken component? I know to receive my bilingual teaching certification, part of the language test involves speaking at length about a given topic for two minutes. If this test contains a component that does that, perhaps I'll petition my state board of education to accept it as a substitute when it becomes available in languages besides English.
As I understand, people in the sample did not use (at least primarily) Duolingo to study English, did they? Actually, we talked with a friend of mine about such test a few months ago, and then wondered how Duolingo's method fits in this. Obviously, Duolingo focuses on comprehension, recognizing a word's meaning in different contexts and composing your own sentences in written form — both about mundane things and on more advanced topics ("Our one wish was to change the government").
A traditional language course always includes at least some speaking pratice (even if it is preparing and reading imagined dialogues or just reading a dialogue with a partner, taking different parts). However, Duolingo does not have anything close. Even imaginary, like "And now say something about objects lying on your desk (if you want)". Thus, maybe for these learners a different set of multipliers for DuoTest marks will show better correlation to popular tests that DO include speaking (which always have you use some learning method that involves talking to some extent).
You're not the first to report this problem. We think this is because you phone's camera only wants to take video of a quality so high that you don't have space for it on your device for the whole test. The error message says 100mb because we never imagined it would require more than that, but in fact it could be more than 600mb.
We are working hard on a fix for this that should be ready in a few days...
I had sent a problem report to the mail provided at the google play page, but got an automated response telling me how to solve problems with flash at the desktop site (I used the word "flashing" in my mail, it might have confused duo a little bit :P). Is there a dedicated mail for reporting bugs in the app?
Anyhow, my problem: The app loads without a problem, I click on the "sample test", see the instructions, get to the first question - that I only see for a fraction of second it takes for the camera to turn on, then the screen goes berserk, flashing uncontrolably. Happens in the same way every time. I can hear the sound fine. Default video camcorder (I don't know if the app is affected by these settings?) saves to sd card, that has several GBs of memory free. I also tried changing the storage location and reducing the video quality, with no results. Nothing changes if I close all other apps first, either. I have an Acer A100 tablet, running Android 4.03
I just tried the test for a third time, and twenty minutes in somebody sent me a message which interrupted the test. I really don't see how I can control that. Can you please deactivate the 48 hour period for once. I tried it three times and not even finished it once, I see no reason to wait 48 hours.
This is fantastic news! Hey I run a language school in Southern France, what would we need to do to become a testing centre, or helping to mark tests? I tell all my students to use Duolingo and if that's all they feel they need then I tell them not to worry about courses. We do offer a social club so they get to practise talking though.
Either way let me know how a school could be of help to you!
I added the Duolingo English Test to this page of Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages Anyone can help me with the conversion of the grades?
OK, we looked into this. It looks like you finished the test, but never pressed the "Start Uploading" button (to send your test data to our servers) before pressing the "home" or "back" button. This cancelled the test. :(
Normally, a warning would pop up to confirm that you wanted to cancel (if you did this in the middle of the test, you would have gotten the warning). But that didn't happen due to a bug on the upload screen.
We're so sorry, and we'll fix this ASAP!
Thanks for the device information. We're looking into it.
I wonder if you also just accidentally hit the return button at the end of the test. If that's the case, the additional popup should fix this. Again, we're sorry about this and will have it fixed for our nest release very soon.
Oh it happened again. I did the test after waiting for 48 hours and it was aborted at the end. There was no prompt or warning. It froze for a moment and then returned to the abort page. I did not push any button just to be on the safe side. Now I have to wait for another 48 hours but I am not sure if this makes any sense anymore. It would be nice if you could look into this recurring problem. Thanks.
EDIT: I was not able to finish typing two of the sentences because the time was to short or my phone was to slow. Well the sentences were pretty long so I think the length of the sentences should be taken into account when defining the allowed time.
Yuck! we're so sorry about that.
It is possible that your phone has problems preparing the video files for upload, and that it why it is kicking you back to the home screen (your test history, which right now only shows your "canceled" test). Other users are having camera issues on various devices. This might be related.
We are working on a new release that fixes some of the camera issues; it will be available early next week. Hopefully you would be willing to try again once it is ready? :) You must be frustrated, so thanks for your patience...
Clarification: did you ever click the "Start Uploading" button at the end of the test, or were you sent back to the home screen before you had a chance to do that?
Also: did the app freeze/crash first, and then you re-opened the app? It looks like there were about 20 seconds between the end of your test and when you viewed the home screen.
I didn't re-open the app. It froze and then returned to the abort screen/test history. I will obviously try it again, but maybe not in 48 hours. I am not so easily frustrated, I know it's beta and free. But I may wait for an update. By the way I read the test will be available for browser, that would solve the problem entirely.
We are working on a new version of the app that should be out very soon. We hope the update will fix this problem. We apologize for the bugs in the first version, and thank you for your patience while we fix it.
It seems that your test is ending properly (after about 20 minutes), but something is crashing when your phone/tablet is preparing files for upload. Does that sound correct?
Tried the test on Thursday, it got interrupted after approx. 10 minutes. It just made a click, showed a black screen and then returned to the app start screen by itself. Then I got the email.
I tried it today again and the same thing happened - after approx. 10 minutes it made a click and showed a black screen, with the email.
I am getting frustrated. :)
So sorry! I looked at the server logs, and it seems like your test successfully finished, but perhaps there was a problem trying to prepare the data for upload to our servers. We are working on a new version that should be ready in a day or two that we hope fixes this.
In the meantime, can you share what device model and Android version you are using?
I've gotta say this is really helpful and amazing though. I has helped me a lot, I'm still waiting for the Russian and Hungarian course, I'm a Spanish native speaker, I speak English as well, I've learned a lot of French, German and Ukrainian. And I'm looking towards to starting to learn Russian in here! Thanks people of Duolingo for helping like this!
I'm a teacher and I'm doing my thesis project on Duolingo's effectiveness on high school student's English learning process. Is there a test ( built or advised by Duolingo ) to assess the student's level before and after finishing the units? So that ı can get a real result of the process achieved.