Have you always wanted to learn French? Spanish? Portuguese? There’s an app for that.
Instead of wasting time between classes manipulating birds or jewels, people can now justify their procrastination with the very real assertion that they’re being productive.
Apple’s 2013 iPhone app of the year has captured the public eye in a way other language-learning apps haven’t been able to. It has done this by turning the process into a game. Users take lessons and gain experience based on how few mistakes they make.
The app begins with the basics before moving on to specific phrases, parts of speech, and tenses, just as any language learning course would. Users who know their chosen language a little bit don’t have to start from the very beginning, either – there are several levels the user can take a shortcut and test into.
Most importantly, Duolingo is a free app with no advertising. It generates money by piecing together high level user translations of articles from contracted clients like Buzzfeed. According to Luis von Ahn, creator of Duolinga and Captcha, business is booming.
With rave reviews and a growing base of over 20 million users, Duolingo is helping us ugly Americans learn and helping non-English speaking people get closer to better jobs and a better life.