Duolingo is a free language-learning platform that uses the crowdsourced power of its learners to translate text from around the web. A fascinatingly novel approach to solving two massive language problems, the platform and its associated apps offer an adaptive learning experience, that has netted it awards such as iPhone App of the Year, Google’s Best of the Best and TechCrunch’s Best Education Startup 2014.
Compatibility: Web / iOS / Android
Access: No signup required
A Quick Look
Duolingo’s data-driven approach to learning means that exercises and assessments presented to students are continually aligned to match their learning level and improve areas of weakness. This not only makes for efficient and targeted learning, but also ensures that students are challenged at the right level to maintain interest without being pushed beyond their limits.
1. Help struggling students
The Duolingo platform is based on an adaptive learning model similar to the likes of Khan Academy. This makes it an excellent candidate for helping students who require a little extra tutoring. As students begin using Duolingo, learning material will start identifying where they are having problems and will focus on improving those areas.
2. Further advancing students
For students who are progressing faster than the rest of the class or those who are particularly passionate about language, try pointing them towards Duolingo as an option to help them advance. Students can complete a short ‘placement test’ that will align their current knowledge with the platform, ensuring that learning material is presented at the correct level.
3. Extra credit and incentives
Duolingo, whether in the browser or on a tablet or phone is a very well put together and engaging language learning platform. A lot of effort has been put into creating a system of learning that encourages students to progress and have fun with languages. You can use this to your advantage by offering the platform as a reward for finishing class work or even as extra credit for enthusiastic learners.
4. Out of class practice
Duolingo can work as a very useful tool for students to work on languages at home or in their own time. This works particularly well as the system is self paced and is available on a number of different devices. The gamified experience of Duolingo with tallying of experience points (XP), maintaining streaks and collecting achievement badges also means that the platform may just stand a chance against the many distractions available outside of the classroom.
5. Integrated into class curriculum
While Duolingo can work very well in a number of school and classroom settings, there are certain limitations as the platform was not specifically created for classroom use. This means that there is no simple way to monitor student progress or group students into classes, as yet. But, thanks to requests from many educators, an upcoming feature called ‘Teams’ hopes to make the platform even easier to integrate into the classroom.
Links and Next Steps
- Massive-scale online collaboration -- TED Talk by Duolingo founder Luis von Ahn
- Differentiation and Personalized Learning in the Language Classroom -- Video (9 min)
- Duolingo’s Data-Driven Approach to Education
- Using Duolingo in the Classroom -- Resources and lesson plan
- Duolingo for Homework Practice -- Slides by Pilar Munday, Ph.D.
- Teachers like Duolingo? -- Comment thread from educators
- Apps in the Classroom -- Post by SchooliPads
- Duolingo Takes Online Teaching To The Next Level, By Crowd Sourcing New Languages
- Duolingo Help -- Official help and community for Duolingo
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, A&M-Commerce.