How good is Duolingo?


Negative Aspects

Positive Aspects

Conclusion and Recommendations

Today I am going to try to answer a very important question: How good is Duolingo? We can also rephrase the question and make it more personal: Is Duolingo worth my time?

First let me explain why this question is relevant. Millions of people around the world are using this program to learn and improve their language skills. It is a fact, and we must admit that the company has been extremely successful. Many students who use my podcast to learn Spanish tell me that they also work with Duolingo.


Why is the owner of Duolingo so interested in our learning the word “apple”? Does he own a fruit processing factory?  So, the first negative point is that some words are used too frequently while we hardly see other words that belong to the same category.

A second problem is that the students advance too slowly. Some repetition is good, but if you have mastered a grammatical structure, there is no need to keep practicing it again and again.

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The third disadvantage, and that is Duolingo´s biggest problem, is that the students do not learn the grammar. Consequently, when they want to use new structures, they make a lot of mistakes.

The last negative point is that the students lose sometimes sight of the real goal: to learn and to use the new language. The point system is motivating, but it cannot become the main objective.


And now we come to the good aspects of this wonderful program.

The free version offers a lot of sentences to practise and improve your Spanish. It is a real present:

How good is Duolingo? It is a present, for free.

However, the most important question is this: Can Duolingo help me learn a language? And the answer is yes. The program teaches you how to say thousands of sentences in the new language. You have the chance to hear and to write sentences, to increase your vocabulary, and to interact.

Besides, Duolingo helps you learn in a practical and motivating way. It teaches you how to correct a mistake, how to use a word or a structure again and again until you have mastered it.


My conclusion is that Duolingo is really an extraordinary instrument, but we must learn how to use it to our advantage. My recommendations are the following:

a) Do not pay much attention to the points you are earning.

b) Have always a pen and a piece of paper next to you and write down the words that you keep forgetting. Review this list before the next lesson.

c) Try to listen without reading the text when the program says a sentence in the target language. In this way you would be improving your listening skills.

d) Use other materials to understand the grammar, to see different types of sentences and structures.

e) Say the sentences without reading them, especially after the program has corrected your mistakes. Write them down if that helps you.

Post written by Pedro Fernández Fanjul