Did you use DuoLingo before discovering LingQ?

If so what do you make of it and what advice would you give to new language learners who use it?

I’ve written some thoughts based on my experiences of using it a while ago. Interested in hearing your views :slight_smile: I Completed DuoLingo Chinese. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t – I'm Learning Mandarin


Great post, as usual.
I’m not sure if I used Duoling before Lingq, I think I “discovered” it or at least tried it in earnest after starting Lingq.
I’ve found it useful for languages that I’m not seriously learning, that is for those I only dabbled in. e.g., I finished the whole Ukrainian tree before visiting Ukraine and that helped me get a feeling of the language, be able to read street signs and exchange some simple greetings, but I communicated in Russian for anything even slightly complicated, which worked very well. Of course, I could complete the tree and get some benefit from it because my Russian level was high enough at the moment. Otherwise, it wouild have been impossible.
I did something similar for Norwegian before visiting Norway (plus I read a bit on Lingq). I didn’t manage to finish the Duoling tree but I got some info and, again, it helped me get some simple polite sentences, read signs and so on. I spoke English for most things. Once more, I could achieve this becaue Norwegian is close enough to other Germanic languages that I’m fluent in (English and German).
For languages I’m actually interested in learning, Duolingo ends up being unbearably frustrating: I never went far in Russian and only a bit further in Japanese.
In general, I agree with your take on this: Duoling may be helpful to get you started in the language, if you like the approach, although there are a lot of possibilities for beginners that I personally prefer. At any rate, it is important not to become obsessed with it, not take it too far (I never review any part of the tree, e.g.) and, most important, understand that it’ll only take you to the equivalent of A2, at most, and that it doesn’t make any sense to stick to it for longer than a couple months. I cringe when I read about those super-long streaks that some users brag about. It’s a simple waste of time. The company is simply lying about this, as you mention.

It’s a good post!

I did and I still do, I think it is quite a nice way to get started fast, like sentence flashcards… only as long as you do it on the website and not the app, to force you type.

Thanks, glad you liked it! I’ve only done DuoLingo for Mandarin so I’m not sure what it’s like for other languages and interesting to hear your experience. I wonder whether it might be more effective as a vocab builder when there’s no characters involved.

Thanks! Yes I remember I much prefered using the desktop version than the app. Agree it can be useful for absolute beginners.

My experience would suggest it’s really not. I used it for nearly two years, and I have no idea what I really learned. In tandem with other resources, I guess learned of the grammatical concepts and the most common words. But I know I could have gotten to the same level so much faster (maybe even literally 100x) using other methods…

Like you suggested, were I to use Duolingo again as a beginner, I would use it for the first month tops. Get to level 5 in the intro tree areas and stop. At that point I should have enough of a toehold to move to more a engaging input based method.

There is one odd use case I did find for Duolingo and that is the testing. Instead of doing the lessons what I did to finally complete my German, Swedish and Norwegian trees on Duolingo was the test-out feature. They tend to be more challenging than the normal lessons and mix transcribing, speaking, translation into and from the TL without any assistance. They are still very punishing, and have the weird sentences, but that makes it a passable diagnostic testing tool.


I used it for a while for Spanish. I think it has some value for familiarizing oneself with a language, hence it may seem useful in the early stages of the process. But there is a point of diminishing return that is reached fairly quickly. I found that it became limiting, which makes sense since it is effectively a closed system.

1 Like

1 day

I used DuoLingo and still do. I’m studying Spanish and I think it’s great for grammar, gender, and spelling repetition. I can write something in Spanish and get the sense that “it feels wrong” mostly due to DuoLingo hammering certain points over and over again. I do think it’s a mistake that people use the free app though and don’t pay to test out of all the lessons. It’s a huge time suck if you don’t. Also getting obsessed with streaks and stuff in DuoLingo does more damage than good. Either way, you have to be doing other stuff in addition to DuoLingo. I view it less as a teaching tool and more as a testing tool.


I did use Duolingo before using Lingq (Mandarin) and later used used both at the same time.

At the very start of a language, I think it’s great. It’s easy to use and gives you a feeling of progression and achievement which motivates you to keep learning. For as awesome as Lingq is, it can be very daunting and overwhelming to a complete newbie. However, like many have said in this thread, Duolingo’s usefulness and effectiveness quickly deteriorates. I actually kept using it long after I became tired of it and completed the whole mandarin tree, going as far to get each lesson to at least level 3 or higher (not sure if that’s how it works nowadays) and I really can’t be sure if that was a good investment of my time as it became very, very, VERY repetitive. I was kinda just scratching that ‘keep the streak alive’ itch to be honest. I must have learned something, but I could have learned it more easily elsewhere I’m sure. That said, if you enjoy using it, then use it. Just remember it is not a multi/all purpose tool. You will need to mix in other study methods alongside if you genuinely want to learn.

I have also used for Japanese and Welsh. With Japanese I just used it to begin getting my head around the hiragana etc, and slowly expose myself to the complicated writing system, and then starting using Lingq as soon as a full page of text didn’t make me feel nauseous. With Welsh I was just curious to see how much I remembered from school (I’m welsh but don’t speak welsh, and we have to learn it from 3 to 16 in school) I did not remember much haha.

Whenever people ask me about duo-lingo nowadays I say, yeah it’s great, use it - BUT - only as much as you need to feel comfortable using lingq, or some other method that is actually going to be able to get you past the very early beginner stages.

Duolingo is a bit boring and gives only a very limited knowledge of the language.
But you have to write a lot there, so it can help you with your writing skills.


I think it’s probably more common to comment on people’s known words, but wow your “like” count is impressive!

1 Like

Well, for his hard work and time it is truly deserving.

1 Like

Agreed :).

I used it for Polish and I feel like it’s a good intro. I used it exclusively, with the exception of going to look up some grammar explanations when I noticed something was going on, but I couldn’t figure out the pattern.

I did the entire Polish tree in about 9 months and had everything at least Level 2, with most lessons at Level 3, and a few at 4 or 5. But I recognized that it was not doing me a lot of good at that point. The later lessons introduced a lot of vocabulary, but it didn’t repeat it outside of that lesson, so I felt like I wasn’t getting enough exposure to words I wanted to learn. Also, after Level 3, you had to do writing practice and I didn’t feel ready to tackle that with Polish. I wanted to spend more time practicing the vocabulary than trying to learn how to spell words.

So I moved on to Anki flashcards. I did them for some months before the card count became overwhelming and I got really bored with them. (Also, I think I was just memorizing the sentences, not truly learning the words because I didn’t see them in a lot of different sentences the way you do when you’re reading.) Then I got all the graded readers I could find in Polish (which was 5) and read 4 of them and part of the 5th one. Finally, I bit the bullet and got a LingQ subscription. I am on day 103 of using it (this is also my streak) with a daily goal of 25 LingQs. I just hit 5,000 known words last night and I will hit Level B1 before the end of the year (current completion date is estimated to be sometime in October). As of July 1, I have been learning Polish for 2 years.

So I do feel Duolingo is a good introduction to a language. (I used it once before to refresh my high school Spanish, although when I take up Spanish again, I’ll go straight to LingQ because I already can read enough and known enough grammar to start with the mini stories.) But it will maybe get you to Level A1 and that’s as far as you can possibly go because it just doesn’t have enough content to go farther. (When I came onto LingQ, I very quickly hit A1, but slowed down considerably about 1,000 words after that, so A1 is about what my level was just from Duolingo.) So I think that the idea that it will teach you a language is misleading; no one learned to speak just from that. It just gets your feet wet and then you will know if you want to continue (including spending money on things like LingQ, books, and/or a tutor).

1 Like