Want to know how to build a language learning app like Duolingo? In this article, we talk about what Duolingo is, how it works, and what features are the key to building a successful language learning application.

Why should I develop a language learning app like Duolingo?

Have you ever wanted to make your own language app that will help people learn a foreign language? Well, you’re not alone. The market is full of language learning apps that open new opportunities and widens users’ horizons.
The online language learning market has been growing rapidly in the past couple of years. Here’s a projection by Statista of the size of the global language learning services market:

what is the best language learning app
Source: Statista

Language learning mobile apps and websites make the learning process easy and accessible. One of the most popular of these services is Duolingo. Let’s find out what it is and how it works.

What is Duolingo and how does it work?

Duolingo is one of the best language learning apps. It provides users with simple exercises and takes a gamified approach. These exercises concentrate on translating words, sentences, and phrases from the language users are learning into their native language, and vice versa.

How Duolingo works

After users sign in to the Duolingo app, they’re provided with a list of languages to start learning. After picking a language, the app asks them to choose their current level of knowledge. If they aren’t sure what level to pick, Duolingo users can take a test to evaluate their knowledge of the language they want to learn.
The learning process starts with the basics. Users are given simple words like home, apple, and car. As users advance, the levels get increasingly harder.

To add gamification, Duolingo gives users three tries to clear every level. If they fail on the third try, the app makes them repeat the whole level.
Duolingo is not just a mobile app; it’s a whole platform that users can access via a web browser.

Duolingo MVP features

how to make an app like duolingo

When developing an app like Duolingo, you’ll need to integrate different technologies and features. Duolingo is full of interesting and useful features, but let’s first focus on the basic (MVP) features necessary for any language learning app.

Sign-in

The sign-in process is a user’s first interaction with your app. When creating a language learning app, you should pay special attention to the authorization process.

Duolingo’s authorization system is quite simple: users answer a few questions (age, sex, email, name), choose a password, and that’s it! To simplify the process even more, you can add registration and authorization through social media accounts.

Personal profiles

Personal profiles are where users start their journeys in the app. Profiles let users save all their information and see all activities they’ve performed in the app.
For a language learning app like Duolingo, you should request the following data for user profiles:

  • Personal information such as age, gender, and a photo.
  • The language the user wants to learn. Try to offer as many languages as possible.
  • Daily goal. Let users set a goal for how many minutes a day they want to study.
  • Language level. Some users might know the basics of a language, while some might know nothing and your app is their first introduction to the language. Provide a test to show which level users should start with.

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Courses

Duolingo lists 31 language courses. The Courses feature includes the option for users to learn daily, weekly, or monthly. Don’t forget to provide your users with a wide number of courses in an app like Duolingo so they have options to choose from.

Lessons

how to build mobile app for learning language

Duolingo has different kinds of lessons, including:

  • Tap the pairs. The app shows a set of words, one in the user’s native language and one in the language the user is studying. The user needs to link the words.
  • Translate an audio phrase. The user is given an audio phrase in the foreign language, its written variant, and an image that illustrates its meaning. The task is to compose a translation of the given words by dragging them into the correct places.
  • Select the picture. The app shows the user a few pictures with short descriptions in the language being studied. The user’s task is to choose the picture that answers the question (for example, Which of these is a boy?).
  • Select the correct translation. The user is given several text translations and needs to choose the correct one.
  • How do you say? The user is provided with a few words out of which they need to compose a specified phrase.
  • Select the missing word. The app shows a phrase that’s missing a word, and the user needs to supply the word that’s omitted.
  • Translate and record. This type of lesson requires access to a microphone. The user is given a phrase in their native language and needs to translate it aloud. This type of lesson is perfect for mastering pronunciation.
  • Prompts. The user can tap any highlighted word and the app will show them hints: translation, use cases, etc.

Push notifications

how to create a language learning app

Another important feature for m-learning apps is push notifications. Notifications remind users to complete the courses they’ve started. They can also motivate users and keep them engaged with your language learning app by informing them when they need to study or if they’ve completed a goal, gotten a badge, or have a new message.

Achievements

The Duolingo app has a dashboard where users can monitor their achievements:

  • Day streaks. This shows the user’s progress during the day: completed tasks, goal achievements, etc.
  • Crowns. Duolingo presents users with crowns when they reach a certain level of knowledge.
  • Gems. The app awards users with coins called gems that they can use to buy things in the Duolingo shop.

Health

The Health feature is one of the things that makes Duolingo stand out from the crowd.
When studying something new, mistakes are inevitable. Duolingo not only awards users when they succeed but punishes them for failure to inspire them to try harder.
For each mistake the user makes, the app takes away virtual health. When the Health level drops to zero, users cannot continue without working on their mistakes. Health regenerates over time.

Clubs

Clubs is a Duolingo feature that helps users interact with each other. Users can create their own clubs or join existing ones. To do so, all they need to do is tap on Find me a club.
This feature makes Duolingo not only a language learning app but a platform for communicating with people around the world.

Shop

Duolingo has a Shop feature that lets users turn gems they’ve collected during training into actual purchases. If users don’t have enough gems to buy what they want, they can buy gems for real-world money. This feature is one of the ways Duolingo makes money. If you’re going to monetize your language learning app, consider adding in-app purchases.

Tips for making a successful language learning app

#1 Make your app simple and engaging

When building a language learning app like Duolingo, make sure it isn’t frustrating for your users. Learning a language is hard as it is, so you should make the learning journey easy.

Duolingo provides users with a simple and engaging UI/UX. This language learning app focuses on making the user experience fun and engaging. Exercises include speaking, listening, and communication tasks.
To make learning simple, try to create a clean UI.

#2 Make sure learning and gamification go hand in hand

We’ve already mentioned a few times that apps like Duolingo take full advantage of gamification. Gamification means building the learning process around solving puzzles and quests and getting rewards.
People choose mobile apps to learn new languages for their simple and fun interactions. If users want to engage in a more standard way of learning, they’ll opt for books and tutors.
So when building a language learning app like Duolingo, try to include gamification at every step of the user journey.

#3 Add a chatbot

Chatbots are transforming mobile technology. The Duolingo app has its own chatbot that helps users easily speak foreign languages.
AI-powered chatbot learning technology is on its way to replacing human tutors. Try to incorporate this technology into your language learning app.

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Key steps to build app like Duolingo

  1. Focus on developing a strong educational component and present it in a simple and gamified manner.
  2. Create onboarding procedures that are understandable and intuitive.
  3. Research the market and analyze the competition. Discover what your target audience likes in existing apps and what they would want to change.
  4. Create user learning journeys and user flows.
  5. Include layouts and transitions when working on the UX design and wireframes.
  6. Hire a professional mobile app development company to help you build your language learning app. The first phase of development will include business analysis, developing a technical specification, estimating the development cost, and planning the project. Before diving into the actual development, you and your team will need to create an app development workflow, choose the main features for the app, and design the app concept.
  7. Create a minimum viable product (MVP) of your language learning app. By first launching an MVP and testing its technical and business performance, you’ll be able to find out what users like and don’t like in your app. Then you’ll be able to consider their feedback and improve your app.

Duolingo monetization model

So, how does Duolingo make money? It has two main monetization models: in-app advertisements and subscriptions.

Note that in-app advertisements in Duolingo aren’t annoying and don’t distract users from the learning process. The interface itself is clean and has no ads.

Ads are only shown after every lesson for a few seconds.
Duolingo has a subscription plan that costs $6.99 per month and provides users with offline mobile courses and monthly streak repair, minimizes the number of ads, and offers other benefits. If you choose a subscription monetization model for your app, make sure to include valuable features.
If you’re still deciding on a monetization model, here are three options to choose from:

  • Paid. Users pay once to access your app.
  • Freemium. Users can download your app for free. They can then pay to upgrade their accounts or use premium features.
  • In-app purchases. Users can pay for different items, features, or content inside the app.
  • Advertising. You can choose one of the following ad options: cost per click, cost per mille, or cost per action.

Quick summary of developing a language learning app

Developing language apps like Duolingo is a hard and time-consuming process. But if done correctly, your app can become successful and bring a lot of value to users.
Key takeaways:

  • When building a language learning app, make sure it’s simple and engaging for users.
  • Remember that people choose apps for learning new languages because of their simple and fun interactions. So include gamification at most steps.
  • Technologies like chatbots can attract users’ attention to your app, provide a rich UX, and distinguish your app from the crowd.
  • Check out the competition and see what they do right and wrong to make your app even better.
  • Hire a professional mobile app development company to help you bring your ideas to life.

If you want to make a create a language app like Duolingo but don’t know where to start, contact Mobindustry for a free consultation.

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