App of the Week – Duolingo

Published on December 23, 2015

Joining a gym. Learning a language. Finally asking her out.

These are three of the most common New Year’s Resolutions on everybody’s list. And while Duolingo may not help you lose those extra LBs, it can help you take the plunge of learning a new language at the low cost of, well, free. And think how much easier it will be to ask her out in French, the language of love!

You can choose one of ten languages - including Italian, French, German, and Spanish - and then use Duolingo's fun, game-based platform to help you learn it over time. Here’s how it works:

After setting up a profile on your device, choose the language you wish to learn, and set daily goals to help you stay motivated. You can choose anything from a “casual” learning goal, requiring 10XP (experience points) per day (which equates to, more or less, 5 minutes or learning), to “insane,” requiring 50XP per day (approximately 25 minutes of learning) to keep your virtual language coach - who just so happens to be an adorable green owl - satisfied.

Each stage of Duolingo consists of lessons that start you off with the basics (such as “Hello” and “My name is…”) and gradually increase in difficulty (like ordering at a restaurant or booking a hotel room). Lessons consist of listening, speaking, translating, and word-matching questions, fueled by playful pictures and an incredibly smart algorithm geared towards vocabulary retention.

Every question that you answer correctly progresses you in the lesson. Enough correct answers allows you to complete the lesson, then awarding you 10XP points towards your daily goal. Occasionally, you're awarded "Lingots" for your efforts - Duolingo's in-game form of currency which can be used to unlock fun secret lessons, compete in learning challenges, or buy fun outfits for your virtual coach.

As an added bonus, Duolingo also lets you track your progress against your friends via social media, to encourage each other's progress. Who doesn't like a little friendly competition?

We’ve tried Duolingo and love it. It’s a fun and addictive approach to learning. But you don’t have to take our word for it - Apple chose Duolingo as it’s 2013 App of the Year. Trés bien! (Translation: Not too shabby.)

Duolingo is available on Android, IOS, and PC.