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Teaching Phonics and Reading with Duolingo

I am an English teacher in Japan at an elementary school. I am thinking of implementing Duolingo to help the students get more practice at their own pace with learning how to read. I know the Japanese and Korean Duolingo lessons start learners with learning the basic sounds of the language first, and then build upon that with simple words.

Does anyone know if there is already a Duolingo course for teaching the phonetic sounds of letters individually and then building upon the knowledge of those letters to create simple words and build literacy?

April 1, 2019



I don't think so; all DL courses that use the Roman script assume prior knowledge of it (and one picks up pronunciation rules from the audio). I don't think DL is a particularly good way to learn scripts, anyway; I have always had to resort to other resources when learning new writing systems as DL's methods for this are woefully inadequate.


@ MaureenPav2 Phonetics are sounds with the International Phonetic Alpabet? If yes look for memrise.com


No, I'm not looking to teach my students the International Phonetic Alphabet. I'm trying to teach my elementary school EFL students how to read English using a phonics based method since they have had limited and often confusing exposure to the roman script. I want to teach them the most common pronunciations for the letters in the English script so when they see a word, they can try to sound it out using the sound those letters actually make, rather than only knowing the names of the letters which does not help them at all.


Oh dear, I don't envy you. If I had to chose which aspect of English was the most difficult I'd say it's the pronunciation which not only has no rules you can count on but which changes from area to area even person to person. I teach Eng to Greeks and Greek has lovely enviable one pronunciation for each letter with only a few tiny exceptions so I get a lot of questions on pronunciation especially for the vowels.

My policy has always been not to let the first time youngsters read anything themselves for the first few months...usually not till after Christmas. Until then they have to hear everything three times before they are allowed to repeat it. Yes, it's tedious but if they get into bad habits they are soooo hard to correct. I do not teach the alphabet at all during that time so they learn to recognize the words.

For those who have had previous exposure to English the task is harder. I have a story of a youngster whose mother taught him the Eng. alphabet before he started school. You can't imagine the errors he made... Once he saw the word "Wow" and pronounced it dude. Why? Well, the first letter is 'double U' so "da" and the second letter is "o" so "ou" and the third letter is double U again...so "Dude". Funny yes, tragic yes.

English is one of the few languages with over 100,000 pronunciations.

Students need to be encouraged to listen to as much English as possible. Try this link where they can listen to native English speakers pronouncing words and phrases...


Best wishes for a successful and fulfilling undertaking.


Would love this. In Duolingo's Japanese learning, there is a chart with the basic charts. Would love something like this for English learning--it'd be really helpful if I could use that for my English lessons!

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