Duolingo: Game Based Learning of Languages

Duolingo: Game Based Learning of Languages


Imagine learning in 34 hours what would traditionally take an entire semester. Duolingo, a game based language-learning program, provides a platform for doing just that.

The service is a great example of games being used to provide a more expansive educational experience. A free service, it comprises an immense online collaboration between a language-learning website and a crowd-sourced text translation platform. Students work toward learning a language while translating websites and documents: authentic assignments all the more engaging for their real-world application.

Students progress naturally through Duolingo’s learning system, with novices starting with basic text from the web, and more advanced users working on more difficult translations.

With Duolingo, students log on to lessons in reading, listening, speaking, and translation challenges. Each lesson receives an immediate grade, so learners can see quickly how they can improve. Students vote on other learners’ translations, so they receive instant feedback for improved comprehension. The service presents the best translations for each sentence publicly, for continued learning opportunities.

The program’s monitoring of progress through a “streak count” encourages learners to stay on track. As they progress through the program, students earn skill points for lesson completion or translating web content. There are time-based features, such as extra skill points and time bonuses when success comes within a given time restraint. Further impetus comes in the form of “hearts,” which keep the learner alive. The student loses a heart with incorrect answers, and can start over for another attempt when she is out of them altogether.

Duolingo is an adaptive service that educators will appreciate for its individualized, differentiated instruction that is accessible to all learners at all levels. It tracks completed lessons, translations, and tests, provides essential feedback to encourage progress, and offers new lessons and assignments based entirely on the student’s progress.

It is also completely free, with no annoying ads or app purchases to make, and is available in both web and mobile applications. Languages currently available for instruction are virtually unlimited, and include French, German, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Image credits: Wikimedia


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.