Can one learn Spanish from Duolingo?
I think this is not a yes-or-no question.
It is a “how” question.
How can you make best use of Duolingo and other tools to help you learn Spanish?
Duolingo by itself is not sufficient.
It does not teach you grammar rules (you learn by examples), it does not provide you with speaking and writing practices (but rather translation), it has some weird expressions that are only used in Spain… the list goes on.
However, despite its limitations, Duolingo is certainly very good at what it does, and Spanish is one of the best language courses it offers.
Here is how Duolingo helps me to learn Spanish:
And finally, it is satisfying to reach the last level of Duolingo…
I don’t think completing Duolingo was a waste of time for me at all.
It enabled me to start and to continue learning Spanish on my own.
I would have abandoned learning years ago without Duolingo.
So if you are like me, not in a hurry to learn Spanish but do not have much extra resources and time, Duolingo can be really helpful.
In my post-Duolingo days, I am taking conversational lessons online, having language exchange sessions, and reading up on Spanish grammar.
They complement what I learnt from Duolingo and enable me to really progress in my Spanish level.
After all, as Christopher said, Duolingo is just a (free and easy) start.
But hopefully the learning experience will be easier after building a good foundation.
Have fun learning!
Duolingo is good to learn any language, I used it to practice my italian and english some years ago, Duolingo has gotten better day by day and in fact was initially developed by native spanish speaker
I am a native spanish speaker and I can say it is a great tool for learning spanish as well.
I recommend duolingo as a side tool for practice but you might want to combine it with something else, I used to combine livemocha when it was good (before rosetta stone bought it).
There are many advantages of using Duolingo for learning Spanish and another dozen languages.
You can always benefit from using this kind of medium to learn especially when you are not part of the culture or Opportunities are very few to indulge in language learning.
But every great thing has its downside too or simply said, Misses out on something that is very crucial to learn the other language.
So I am going to enlist certain things that really works with this apps
There are downsides of using this app,
Firstly language learning depends on the Pareto principle.
e 80:20 principle.
A simple explanation would be, you yield 80% of the results doing 20% of the stuff.
That being said, if you want to go faster, you need to do things smartly.
Like if you learn 1000 most common words, you will end up understanding 85% of any spoken language.
Another drawback of using Duolingo is the dearth of speaking with a local or a Native guy.
Speaking is the biggest part that has been left out.
Everyone one likes to be fluent in another language and spit out some one-liners or badass dialogues in a totally authentic way.
But that needs the art of speaking.
Besides, it doesn't make any sense if you learn the whole language without being able to speak it well.
Just raking up vocab doesn't help.
Duolingo, like other crowdsourcing businesses, offers users free educational content in exchange for labor clocked by seconds, not hours.
A word here, a phrase there, perhaps a paragraph: translated thousands of times, they’re bound to be quite accurate.
That Duolingo is free to users means that the company has successfully monetized the translations its users produce.
Understood properly, a system of this sort can be a powerful tool for learning Spanish or any other language.
Duolingo, like so many language education tools, doesn’t teach you the language; it teaches you about the language, a necessary step to learning the language itself.
The distinction remains critical, one marked by much more than knowing that Spanish is a Romance language, since there are hundreds of startups hawking apps that claim to make you fluent—with fluency defined as producing lots of free content while shelling out for expansion packs within the app itself.
Whether you’ll learn a language with a crowdsourcing app is likely—so long as you only use it in the app.
What’s more likely is that you’ll learn lots about crowdsourcing and perhaps a bit of vocabulary, grammar, and translation theory.
Nobody can learn a language in its entirety with an app because in order to learn anything, you have to try it out repeatedly in every situation in which it will be used.
Thus Spanish, used in Duolingo, might give you a firm grounding in finer grammar points or professionalized vocabulary, depending on the batch job to be translated; it might show you that not all words translate cleanly, without subtlety, from one language into another; but it will not teach you how to speak Spanish on the street or give a presentation at a meeting.
An app can’t do those things due to the inexorable, vexing, and unfortunate fact that it’s an app.
It can, at best, lay part of a (free!) foundation of knowledge upon which you can build other skills, like listening and speaking.
With Duolingo in particular you’ll gain a bit of reading and writing ability, accompanied by some nicely-written overviews of pesky grammar points.
By virtue of being an app, it’s highly mobile and therefore increases the likelihood that you’ll gain about as much reading and writing skills as would a student at the end of a year or two of Spanish.
Listening and speaking you’ll need to learn elsewhere.
I'm a native English speaker.
I completed the whole Spanish tree almost exclusively using the iPhone and iPad.
My level of Spanish proficiency went from 0 to 0.
I would not have been able to pass an A1 language test in Spanish after completing the language tree.
Living in a Spanish speaking world, Duolingo doesn't prepare you for even the most simple interactions that you're likely to have on a daily basis with people.
These include ordering food, dealing with some one at the cash register, or questions from people on the street.
Watching the local Spanish news, by the time you finish, you'll be lucky to understand every fifth word.
And this isn't an issue of lack of motivation to learn the language.
I was highly motivated for all the right reasons.
I was also supplementing this later in the tree with intensive language classes for three hours a day.
I'd covered all the advanced concepts on Duolingo including the subjunctive verb tense, future verb tense and conditional verb tense.
When we got to these in class, I had no idea what they were, and had only learned to translate sentences without any context for what I was doing with the language.
The Spanish you're going to learn via Duolingo is good for vocabulary learning and building.
It's probably up there with Memrise and Lingopedia.
I would personally take Busuu ahead of Duolingo for usefulness.
If I wanted to maximize the most of my usage of apps to learn in dead time, I'd have about 5 apps I'd use.
These would then be supplemented by other language learning activities outside the apps.
Because Duolingo alone is not going to get you to be able to order at McDonalds or Starbucks in a Spanish speaking country.
They don't care enough of the right types of words for normal interactions.
Overall, I believe that applications like Duolingo can be a useful addition when you're learning a language – but not a substitute.
It can help you learn some basic words and constructions, but will not allow you to have a complex conversation in a new language.
It's better than nothing, but there are plenty of more effective options available.
Like this one:
Here are some tips to help you:
15 minutes a day, every day is more than sufficient.
Think about it: if you do two hours of tuition per week (remembering that the hour-lesson lasts 50 minutes), you study 100 minutes against 105, diary method.
Discover languages and cultures that are interesting.
Whether for a travel plan for music, film, literature, affinity or love, have a goal to learn a language greatly facilitates the process.
Studies have proven to be possible to teach up to five languages for children up to 7 years old.
Train with your children, practice, do not be shy! His son, the future will thank you.
There is no hard language
There are more distant languages.
It is estimated that a C-class Brazilian knows about 200 words in English, even without having attended classes, thanks to daily exposure to the language.
Everything depends on your dedication.
Write, speak and listen
When learning a new language, you work four skills – two active (speaking and writing) and two passive (read and understand).
Balance your studies between each of the skills.
In some languages, you talk faster than others, due to peculiarities and similarities with the Portuguese.
Do not despair, one hour the language will flow.
Do not be afraid to make a mistake
Imagine that even in our native language, we make small "barbarities" every day.
How imagine that, in a new language, you have to be perfect?
Duolingo is only really good for developing a basic foundation in a language.
Think of it as the “fast food” of the language industry.
It fills you up for a little while, but to get true “nourishment” you need real substance.
Successful Language Learning depends upon 3 factors:
Discipline: Your ability to set a plan and consistently take action.
Sharpness: Your brain’s ability to pick up and learn new information.
Immersion: How aligned your life is in relation to the language.
If you can master these 3 things, you can master anything in about 3–4 months.
If you struggle with any of them, expect at least 6 months to a year of effort before mastery.
How can you master these 3 key ingredients to language learning?
If you’re interested in mastering your target language in HALF the time you thought it was going to take then you can get a FREE video blueprint on how to do this at
Take it from our student Justin himself:
While it has helped me learn a few words, it hasn’t really helped me with sentence structure/conjugation/anything like that.
I don’t learn that kind of stuff very well online, but to each their own.
Almost everything I know in Spanish is from what I’ve learned at school, so while Duolingo hasn’t helped me learn much lately it has helped refresh my memory.
Of course, that’s not so for everything.
I’m studying Swedish on Duolingo too, and I’ve learned quite a bit from there.
Maybe it’s because I learn Spanish at school that I don’’t feel Duolingo helps me much.
There’s a kid on my bus that’s in junior high and not allowed to take Spanish classes yet- you have to be in high school- and early in the year he was learning Spanish through Duolingo on the bus and seemed to be doing fairly well for his level.
All in all, it probably just depends most on your learning style and if you don’t solely rely on one site to learn.
Trying other sites like Memrise or off-line sources like children’s books may prove to be beneficial as well.
I hope this helps! Good luck on your language journey.
You can certainly study Spanish using Duolingo on your phone, but you will want to include other learning materials and methods if you are serious.
This is especially so if you want to speak.
This is probably Duolingo's weakest point.
There is a listening/speaking component, but unless you find other ways of practicing speaking you'll find that that dimension of the language lags for you.
I've mainly used Duolingo on a computer with the web interface.
The app may not be as effective, as it does not include as many features and concentrates more on multiple choice questions.
Also the discussion forum is not accessible through the app, though you could get to it using a mobile browser.
I've also heard it commented that the predictive keyboard on a smartphone eventually learns all the correct responses and fills them in with only a small amount of input from you, which is definitely not optimal for learning.
Duolingo is convenient, fun, free, and easy to fit into a spare moment here and there, so there is certainly no reason not to give it a try and see what you think.
I think the best way to really learn a language is in country, after a good crash course in pronunciation and the grammar.
I've known a few people who managed to learn a language otherwise – but they are pretty few and far between.
If you've learned more than a few languages, you could pick up Spanish that way.
For me the gist of learning Spanish was learning all the irregular verbs in Spanish, in all the tenses, until I knew them backwards and forwards.
I practiced them using the question answer method.
You can easily google these:
Personally the best way to learn out of country is to get a one on one tutor and get to it.
You can also do well by exchanging classes.
Find someone who speaks Spanish, little English and exchange conversation classes with them.
IMHO this works best in person, not on a computer.
Just as people really didn't learn languages from Berlitz cassette tapes in the 1980s, they don't really learn languages from Duolingo and other such gadgetry nowadays.
Language learning was perfected a long time ago, and requires no gadgets or apps.
All you need do is immerse (not study) yourself in the language and you will eventually learn it.
By immersion I mean immerse your SENSES in the language; listen to it, watch it, smell it, touch it and taste it.
I went from zero Spanish to Spanish-English translator for multi-national companies in around two years.
I did not take a single Spanish class, or use any apps.
Like most people here seem to be saying, whilst it may help you learn basic words like “manzana” for apple or “elefante” to mean elephant, it doesn't actually help for day-to-day conversational skills in Spanish.
Spoken language is arguably the most important part of any language because if you can't speak it, how are you going to actually communicate to people face to face which is the whole premise of language in the first place – a form of communication!
Duolingo may be a place to start but in order to fully learn you need to find other resources, learn to speak the language and try to fully immerse yourself as much in the linguistic culture by reading Spanish books, watching Spanish films or TV, or listening to Shakira! Don't give up either it's not a quick process!
It depends on what level of Spanish you aspire to reach.
I generally speak wonders of Duolingo but I don't think it's enough to build a strong foundation in the language – they don't teach enough grammar.
I have a background in syntax and linguistics so I can generally deduce information from what I'm given, but most people will need to be walked through these concepts.
And you always need a teacher for pronunciation.
What Duolingo is good for is:
Helping you decide what language to study
See if you like the sound of a particular language and suss out the kind of particular skills needed to learn it
Build enough of a foundation to Travel, ask for food and directions, talking about simple topics etc.
On the go
I might be a bit biased.
I tried using Duolingo for Korean and didn’t make much progress in the beginning.
Mainly because I didn’t feel there was much structure.
Once I learned the alphabet, and some basic greetings (thanks youtube) etc, it was a lot easier.
So my advice to anyone using Duolingo is to supplement whatever lessons you’re doing on their app with maybe some language channels on youtube.
There are quite a few Spanish channels on youtube which help with the alphabet, basic greetings, and basic sentences.
One thing to keep in mind is that as Native Spanish Speakers come from so many varied countries grammar rules and even words don’t necessarily mean the same in different Spanish Speaking countries.
So if you want to learn about the differences between Latin American Spanish and Castilian Spanish, you can check this out:
The following is a translation of an answer I wrote for a Question on Quora-Español.
It's relevant regardless of the language you learn but does refer to Spanish which is one of the best developed language trees.
I have used Duolingo.
I recommend it if someone wants to improve quickly and begin using their target language as soon as possible.
I studied Spanish for ten years or more and I still couldn't speak Spanish well before using Duolingo.
However, Duolingo has its limits.
Duolingo doesn't teach grammar rules well.
I completed the Spanish tree two years ago but I still have to study Spanish.
I still make many mistakes.
I think Duolingo is a very good tool but is not sufficient to learn everything.
Duolingo is a good resource for self-study, and can be a good complement to a structured learning plan, but one cannot become conversational, let alone fluent, only by using it.
Only a teacher can correct your grammar mistakes and teach you proper pronunciation.
If your goal is to become conversational within a reasonable amount of time, I would recommend getting an online private teacher.
Our experienced native Spanish teachers can customize a lesson plan for you and help you achieve you learning objectives rapidly.
You can today, to see if this learning method is a good fit for you.
Best of luck in your learning and I hope to see you soon on !
To me, and this is a very personal point of view, any method that puts me at a level that allows me to read, even with difficulty, a daily newspaper of not a very high level is sufficient.
After that, reading a lot and progressively accessing higher levels is a matter of work.
Duolingo is more than enough to get to that level.
I did it in German.
Spanish should be easier, and it is easier to obtain graded lectures.
As always, progress in learning languages depends solely on the effort of the student.
The efficacy of a given method depends on many factors associated to the character of the student.
Duolingo was what started my journey in learning Spanish, I had always wanted to learn a language but always lacked the motivation to start.
Duolingo is great for getting started, and it got me to the level where I could read and understand news articles, and form my own basic conversations, but from there you will require your own drive to seek out learning opportunities.
By this point I had developed a love for learning the language so I easily continued to further my learning.
The only thing that discouraged me is I always did awfully on their tests.
That depends on the level of fluency you are looking for.
The website states “you can achieve a fluency as high as 50-60%, which is equivalent to advanced proficiency.
According to Duolingo’s definition, advanced proficiency basically means you can get the gist of and participate in most every day conversations.
In reality, though, I haven’t met anyone that learned Spanish exclusively with Duolingo that was able to hold a real conversation.
They would usually stumble and quickly give up and revert to English.
So will you reach expert, native-like fluency using just Duolingo? No.
However, Duolingo does deliver what it promises.
With dedication and consistent practice, you can definitely get a solid foundation in your language of choice.
Overall, Duolingo is a great free resource to get you started learning a new language, but it can only take you so far on its own.
Coupled with some quality conversation practice and exposure to Spanish with more realistic daily language, it’s a nice way to get started and stay motivated to make language learning part of your daily routine.
Detailed Review of Duolingo:
I’ve address this question in another answer.
Be careful when using any web apps to learn a foreign language
They are not always accurate in translation
The best way is to have a reliable correspondence in the country of the language you wish to learn together with a beginner ‘a book of that language
By all mean consult a good web app whenever necessary
By corresponding you will learn exactly how certain expressions are said and used in that country
I hope that helps
Sorry — I never use those Websites to learn kanguages.
I always use books, CD’s and listening to Internet radio broadcasts.
I think no matter which course you take, or how much you study, you have to supplement your vocabulary with some real world practice, A friend of mine recommended reading material to be studied every night, until you had to look up 5 new words.
Spanish is pretty nice for things being spelled mostly as they are said, but listening practice would still be important.
People will have different accents, that you have to get used to.
Only if your definition of “fluent” is very limited, basically “really good at regurgitating canned phrases from one platform”.
Those little “93% Fluent!!!” messages that DuoLingo gives you are embarrassing.
DuoLingo has its place, though.
It’s kinda fun, and OK for beginners to build some vocabulary and familiarity.
Just don’t take it too seriously.
I’ve used it for German and it’s ok.
It’s good for practicing but it’s very monotonous.
The exercises are always the same format and it gets pretty boring after a while.
Also, I’d say it’s better for consolidating what you’ve already learned, as the vocab tends to jump around a bit, assuming prior knowledge.
As a supplement, it’s ok, but can get tedious.