Duolingo subscription: Learning languages via the app


  • Company name: Duolingo
  • Industry: Education, E-Learning
  • Education, E-Learning:  2011
  • Founders: Luis von Ahn, Severin Hacker
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • Number of employees: 170
  • Turnover: n/a
  • Total funding: 138.3 million euros
  • Subscription-based model since: Start
  • Offering structure: Online language learning service
  • Product costs: Freemium 0€/month or as Duolingo Subscription Plus $6.99/month
Duolingo Subscription | Logo | Languages App | Education | billwerk Wiki

Duolingo is a freemium online service for language courses. The aim of the platform is to make further education possible for everyone. The Duolingo subscription is the paid plus version.

The Project Duolingo was founded in Pittsburgh by Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, both of whom hold doctorates in computer science. Today, the company is based in Pittsburgh, not far from its founding site, Carnegie Mellon University.

Learn unlimited languages with the Duolingo subscription

In 2019, Duolingo had over 170 employees and more than 300 million users. This makes the foreign language app Duolingo the most popular app for learning languages online. The popularity of the app also makes the company interesting for investors. For example, Duolingo received around 45 million dollars from Google Capital in 2016.

Duolingo has also won numerous awards: in 2013, the Duolingo app was voted iPhone App of the Year. In addition, it won the Crunchie Award in the category “Best Education Startup”. In 2013 and 2014, the Duolingo app was the most downloaded app on Google Play in the Education category.

The unusual business model of the Duolingo learning platform

In the initial phase of the company, users playfully provided a service in return while learning a language. The trainees translate texts from one language to the other through their answers. Some of these translations were then sold to finance the project. Since 2017, advertising has been displayed after each lesson in the free Duolingo version. In addition, the optional Duolingo subscription “Duolingo Plus” can be taken out, which can then be used without advertising.

Which languages the user can learn depends on the source language. With German as the source language, English, Spanish or French can be learned. The choice increases significantly if English is selected as the source language. The user can then choose from around 30 other languages, such as Italian, Swedish or Russian.

Learn anytime and anywhere with the Duolingo app

Users can use Duolingo online in the browser or with the Duolingo app. After registering and selecting the language, a placement test is taken to select the appropriate lessons.

The learning process is very playful and encourages the user to keep at it. The individual exercises are short and can be practised every now and then, for example in the underground or while waiting for the bus.

The language students complete levels, which in turn are divided into units consisting of smaller tasks. Once you have passed all the units, you move on to the next level.

An external study has examined the effectiveness of the Duolingo method. The studio was commissioned by the company itself.  According to the study, with 34 hours of Duolingo, learners achieve a language level in reading and writing equivalent to a first semester course at a US college. However, the study did not examine speaking skills.

Anyone who learns English with Duolingo can have their language skills certified. The test, which is subject to a fee, takes about one hour and is recognised by many universities around the world.

Duolingo plus: the ad-free Duolingo subscription

The entire range of functions of Duolingo is free of charge for every user. Behind this is the company’s motto of giving as many people as possible the opportunity to learn languages. However, the paid Duolingo subscription “Duolingo Plus” is available as an option. The users of the subscription can download lessons and use them offline. Moreover, no more advertisements are displayed and the learning process is thus not interrupted. Subscribers support the Duolingo project itself and make it possible for the foreign language app to remain free of charge. The Duolingo Plus costs are currently 6.99 US dollars per month.

Duolingo thus enables everyone to learn basic skills in different languages easily and playfully. However, those who need higher language levels for their studies or more practice in speaking will use the Duolingo subscription more as a supplement to refresh knowledge and vocabulary.

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