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Expensive Duolingo

Hello all! My friends and I are planning to learn Dutch as a group, and as I was scouring the App Store last night for good apps to use, I came across Mondly Languages. It's essentially a very aesthetically pleasing version of Duolingo, and it costs $20. The price isn't that bad, considering that they offer 22 languages for English speakers, some of which are not on Duolingo yet. It seems like a super neat website. Here's some screenshots I took: pic It works exactly like Duolingo, and it even has the heart system (which I deeply miss)... pic ^This is something Duolingo doesn't have... pic Again, just like Duolingo... pic They've got some fancy verb charts going on... pic The lesson's finished and it looks strangely like Duolingo.

So we can conclude that it's exactly like Duolingo, but it's missing one thing: a cute little owl that keeps you motivated.

It seems like a pretty good website, and I'd totally get a subscription to it, but I'll still use and love Duolingo, even if there is no heart system.

Update (8:09 PM MST): I just checked out the app, and I actually like it more than the website. The app itself is kinda fun to play with. I messed around with the conversations feature, which is really neat. It gives you a dialogue with pre-recorded voices, and it allows you to go through sentence by sentence. You can record yourself reading the conversation, and then listen to it all the way through with your recorded voice. I think it's a really cool feature which, I think, in itself is worth $20.

June 16, 2015



The app itself seems to be free but the premium option costs. What does the premium offer?

I would also like to draw Luis' attention to the fact that Mondly has deemed Finnish to be among the 23 easiest/most profitable languages. So maybe adding Finnish (and the other three Latin alphabet languages not available here; Czech, Indonesian and Afrikaans) soon wouldn't be a bad idea. Especially since the reverse courses have either graduated or are rather unnecessary.


You can only get access to a certain point for free. When you buy premium all the lessons are unlocked.


I really wonder about the copyright o_O. It seems too similar to not be stolen o_O


The design does appear rather heavily (cough) inspired by Duolingo, but probably not to the extent that it's legally actionable...



The similarity in design and types of exercises is really starting to freak me out after having done a couple of lessons and clicked around a bit... It's like I would have met Duo's cousin or something.


haha, well I think it IS reason enough to draw the attention of the DL staff to it. It is better to say something, rather than to ignore it.


yeah, maybe not. It was a first impression comment. It will be hard to get legally actionable as long as they have implemented at least one new idea. And I did not look at it so much in detail. But the layout and basic idea is very similar that's why I am wondering how far one can copy someone.


It does indeed look like a copy of Duolingo, but lacking some awesome features, and without the high quality control.

I just quickly checked the German and Korean course out of interest, here are the things that I noticed:

  • only write exercises for single words, no freewrite exercises (this is one of the parts that takes time and many people to do).

  • no explanations?

  • the courses seem quite short compared to duolingo

  • the courses seem to have more or less the same sentences across languages. I'm not sure they checked sentences between language pairs, maybe they just translated everything once from English (or another language), then combined the translations. Too many things get lost this way.

For example, when I just tried the Korean course, they were already missing two importants concepts in the first lesson:

  1. They teach "sister" as 언니, which is only true if you are a female addressing an older sister (or older good friend)

  2. For some of the translate exercises, the audio is in informal language, while the written thing you have to click on is in formal language. In Korean this makes quite a big difference.

In short: I'd say pay attention to what you're learning there. If one can find so many problems in less than 5 minutes, it's maybe not a good idea to trust it.


In Japanese, they gave multiple translations but didn't explain those... Also, the spoken texts used some weird mix.

Another really weird thing was that they have no "kana only" option or something similar. Either you use romaji (which is the worst thing you can do when learning Japanese) or kanji+kana. Obviously, neither kanji nor kana were explained which makes it quite troublesome. Also, it turned the sentence building exercises into a farce. With kanji, every sentence was displayed as one single word (probably because Japanese doesn't use spaces) which made it VERY easy to pick the right sentence... And even the romaji had some odd clumping with three or so different words merging together.

It felt a lot like memorizing phrases. There were few words taught and no grammar taught at all. Just stubborn replication...


I did one lesson in their Turkish course. It has hearts and xp points like Duolingo.

They want $24.59 CAD to unlock it forever: 133 lessons and conversations, 5000 words, access to all languages, unique lessons every day, 5 platforms. Lifetime access.

It's got a streak and a leaderboard, like Duolingo. It has skill balloons, similar to Duolingo. It has "My Conversations" though. I don't know what that is. Maybe it's like how you can post a message on someone's activity stream on Duolingo.

It doesn't look like it has a Discussion or Moderators.

Yes, it seems to be copying Duolingo's "skills, streak, hearts", but there is no owl. And they want money.

So far I'm only doing its free lessons. I don't know what languages it offers.

It has quite a few languages.

I wonder where it got the language courses and why it's copying Duolingo. Is that legal?


It doesn't look like it has a Discussion or Moderators.

I think the discussion pages for sentences is one of the biggest strengths of Duolingo.


Actually, just clicking outside the premium popup closes that and you can proceed to the next lesson. Not sure if this is the case for all checkpoints, but I was able to complete all 8 lessons of the first Spanish module (Hello).


I think that's just for the "Hello"-bit (I tried out Russian), the other ones have pictures of locks on them.

I wasn't terribly impressed by how the material was presented -- there were different construction used for the same English meaning in a single lesson, without any explanation (that I could find) of how these constructions work -- but I'll certainly give it a try for a few days at least. It would have to really impress me for me to shell out any money or even spend any significant amount of time on it.

Edit: The "Family" lesson also doesn't have a lock on it.


You are right, only Hello and Family were available. But it seems you can redeem the voucher MONDLY and get full access to the content for free.


This is exactly the problem I had with the Russian - where are the lesson notes? Where is the explanation for the grammar? They have one short lesson introducing a new concept + new vocabulary without any explanations whatsoever. This is severely lacking from the point of view of someone just starting from scratch.


They want $24.59 CAD to unlock it forever

It's only €9.99 here... They must be taking pity on us here in the languishing Eurozone :-)

It's funny how there are also smaller bundles on offer including some of the categories (for €3.99 each), but there doesn't seem to be a mention of the fact that paying the full price unlocks all the languages, just that you get all the 133 lessons.

Like Duolingo, I suspect they have not really prepared for the rampant polyglotism spreading among users here! :-)

[deactivated user]

    I decided to go ahead and purchase it as well but I went thorough the app and only paid $9.99. I'm doing the Romanian course on there and I feel I like it thus far. Ten bucks is more what I would pay for this site, not 20.

    I do understand what other people are saying though about no explanations being a downfall. For example the course teachers "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" as both iubit/iubita and prieten/prietena. I can only assume that the first pair is for romantically involved people and the second for a platonic relationship.


    I think you might be right in your assumption. At least I once got a mug with the text "Pentru cea mai bună prietenã" from my Romanian friend, and it would be weird otherwise...

    By the way, did you see that the team behind this seems all Romanian (based on their names)?

    • 2654

    No, and there is zero information about the company ATi Studios (the link redirects to mondlylanguages.com), neither on their own website, nor on LinkedIn or anywhere else. Despite their names, this 'article' says Romania and reads like an advertisement (and the press kit is a link to dropbox).


    It can mean both actually. If you say "Pentru cea mai bună prietenă" it obviously just means (female) friend, but if you say something like "A venit cu prietena lui" it's safe to assume it means girlfriend/significant other.

    • 2654

    It's only €9.99 here... They must be taking pity on us here in the languishing Eurozone :-)

    Hmm, it says 19.99 EUR...


    It says €9.99 (-40%) on the Android app for me. I just checked the website, and there it says €19.99 (-40%)! :-D

    So now I'm starting to wonder whether they are just slapping some random numbers on there, and adding a tempting "-40%" sign...

    • 2654

    Ok, thanks. I just played with the website and didn't take the 40% off into account. ;)


    This is a tad suspicious - as if someone decided to copy Duolingo then slap a price tag onto it. I wont be paying for this since I get largely the same thing for free here. Maybe I will just start learning Russian on it in preparation for the Duolingo course.


    Romanian for Spanish, you are my new best friend! Until I run out of free lessons and drop you.

    Can't say much for it yet, but I do like that it has multiple voices.


    It is really very similar. The type of exercise you have mentioned not available on Duolingo is already there on the app, I think.


    Yep, and here's a screenshot for those who haven't seen it:


    The thing is, the captions are below the pictures. Rhythmixed was saying that the "Swipe up/down" exercise is something Duolingo doesn't have.


    Duolingo HAS what is in the 3rd picture, but only on its apps. It looks like an exact replica of Duolingo, but costs MONEY.


    If you want to learn more languages, just do the reverse courses! They have more "English for X speakers" than "X for English speakers". Czech, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and so much more. And this seems like a ripoff. They didn't even try to make it different from Duolingo.


    It looks like the same Duolingo. It does not seem to be needed when there is free Duolingo, but i have wanted to use it because of its set of languages. It is hard to learn foreign language from another foreign language. By the way, i can advice you to try Memrise, it is also free.


    Although it is a form of competition, it seems that they took the easy approach most language courses take and only have exercises with specific answers. I'm not sure if it changes at some point, but I would say that if it doesn't it is severely limited. One thing that sets Duolingo apart from most language courses is that the majority of exercises is typed (except for mobile) and have a lot of possible answers, making it easier to try out different ways of saying things.

    Much like Duolingo they seem to lack creative production exercises.

    They may have certainly been inspired by Duolingo, but gamification has existed for a long time, so I don't think Duolingo would be concerned about it. But the interface is very slick, maybe Duolingo could learn a thing or two from them too.

    In particular, one thing I liked about their site, and that Duolingo is currently A/B testing, is that in each exercise the male/female voices seem to alternate if one attempts to hear the sentence again.


    It looks pleasing but has primarily the feel of a mobile friendly page. The course structure also maybe difficult for a person starting from scratch. I just tried the first module and was there were some subjunctives thrown in as well.

    [deactivated user]

      Can you do more than one language on if for the 20 or is that cost per course? I'm downloading the app right now and I plan on trying out either the Hungarian or Finnish course.

      You know its hard to try justify using a pay site for languages since Duo covers the same languages for the most part the others have but for free. I would probably pay for Czech, Finnish, and Korean but not Hungarian since it will be free on here soon. And even then, the others will probably be added to the Incubator in the near future too. Its hard to think about what language you want to pay to learn.


      Each language seems to be charged separately.

      I tried out the Finnish version. I found that it would teach you one word, then in the next sentence it would expect an entirely different word, which it hadn't taught you. I met this at least twice. They tended to throw whole sentences at you, and not introduce the grammar gradually as Duolingo does.

      I didn't like that (when I tried it a few months ago) you couldn't listen to the sentence again after you got it right, to hear how it sounded.

      From memory you get one 'skill' (or whatever they call it over there) for free, and you can also get the daily lesson for free. I did the daily lesson (which expires after 24 hours) every day for a couple of weeks. It started to repeat things, which wasn't bad, but I suspect it would get very repetitive after a while.

      I honestly didn't like it enough to pay for it, even though I am desperate for a Finnish course on Duolingo.


      I paid the $20 and I have everything unlocked for every language.

      [deactivated user]

        Thanks for letting me know. I just need to see if its really worth my while. I do like that it has Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced "trees" (paths?) that alone makes it stand out to me more.


        I tried to switch between Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced on Turkish but nothing changed. At least the early and daily lessons are the same. Tree outline did not change either.


        Same here for French.

        [deactivated user]

          The path doesn't change but the content does. I did the Intermediate lesson for Romanian accidentally thinking there was no change but it was more difficult and had words I didn't remember going over. I realized my mistake and switched back to the Beginner one and had the easy words again.


          I switched between Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced on Dutch and it seemed like the type of exercises changed. They were just a little bit more challenging.


          > I have everything unlocked for every language.

          How do you switch between ALL the languages on the Web application? For both "Choose your language" or "More languages" there are only seven selections, which don't include what is of interest. For that matter, how do you log out and log back in?


          I've bought the premium version and it unlocks everything and all the languages and they say it's a one time payment.
          So far I've done Vietnamese, Turkish, and a little bit of Dutch on Mundly. When I clicked on one of the words in Vietnamese, it gave a big table of verb conjugations: all the tenses and all the conjugations for all the persons.


          Hungarian soon on Duolingo? I remember telling to an American woman in September 2014 that "soon Duo will offer Hungarian teaching" :)). Maybe one day, but surely not soon.


          Well, the Hungarian team reported 8 months ago that they were 55% complete in terms of getting ready for beta (there would still then be more to build later), and their latest similar figure, from 1 month ago, is 80%: http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/hu/en/status. So they are making progress.

          But it is also clear from those earlier posts that they were expecting things to move quicker than they have. I think there was a technical issue along the way that needed a lot of work from the Duolingo staff, and that meant some teams (this and Turkish, another team working on an agglutinative language) had to wait.


          I tried the first few lessons on this, and I thought it was OK. Did I hear someone say that you have to pay after the first "Hello" lesson? I didn't get all the way through so I was wondering. This doesn't seem worth it. Its a lot like Duolingo but with a price tag. The lesson type that Duolingo doesn't have gets old after a while and it doesn't count towards your "score" during the lesson so you can do several of those and not get any closer to finishing the lesson. I did like the aesthetic part of the website, but I'll sacrifice that to keep my $20. Although one payment of $20 isn't as bad as my original thought of $20 a month. :) But really, someone should look into this. Its looks just a little too much like Duolingo.


          I tried out the Korean course and also took a peek at the Chinese and Japanese courses; found it very off putting that they're teaching those languages in romanized form. Not very helpful for a person who's trying to learn how to read Hangul characters (like me).

          The similarities to Duolingo are a bit suspicious.


          Really? No Hanzi/Kana/Kanji/Hangul at all?


          Actually I just noticed the option to switch to Hangul. >_< A small button in the upper corner.


          Same thing with the Russian, it starts out all in the Latin alphabet, and it took me a while to find the button to change it to Cyrillic. The next time I went back it was Latin again.


          At least in Japanese, you can switch. Either it's fully romaji or just normal Japanese with all the kanji... They don't teach kana or kanji at all though. Just like there is no grammar in the free lessons. You just get some sentences and have to figure them out without any aid.... And at least in Japanese, the translations are very contextual. I strongly prefer translations that actually reflect what's said rather than the meaning (of course, a combination of both would be best).


          I tried it. But the grammar is steep. The introduction of grammar is not gradual. I tried the Korean, and in the first lessons sentences were very complex-like. I think it will be good for them who had known something before.


          Gave it a quick go; although Duo is far from perfect, it beats mondly in my opinion. To name just one way, but one of the most important: Duo is much more flexible in terms of interpretation, and flexibility is king.


          The lessons are so much shorter and the senteces they give there are with no more thanh 4 to 5 words but one thing that is good is that (in German) they show verb charts which are really helpful.. but because it has those bad things and another big one (NOT FOE FREE) I wouldn't use it...


          I wonder if there is a specific software developed for language learning sitebuilders. And certain webpage templates for such as well. That being the case, we could start seeing lots of similarities among many language websites.

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