Duolingo is a well known and popular language learning app and website which is free to use for as long as you want, but there is also a paid for option. Duolingo Plus costs $6.99 per month. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial before you commit to the $6.99 monthly fee. But is it actually worth it?
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While Duolingo is a popular option, my favourite language learning app is MosaLingua.
- Pre-made flashcards tailored to you
- Review your flashcards anywhere on your smartphone
- Learn everyday words & phrases
What Do You Get For Free?
Duolingo is popular because it uses a game style format. The idea is that you can learn a language and have that app gameplay experience at the same time. Duolingo currently offers an incredible 40 languages from the more common French, Spanish and German to the less well known languages such as Gaelic, Hawaiian and Yiddish.
The vast majority of users have the free version, and you get a lot for free with this app. Working through the skill tree for your target language, you get lessons in reading, writing, listening and some speaking practice.
There is loads of new vocabulary up for grabs, grammar concepts and the spaced repetition system helps to get these new words and phrases into your memory.
There are also the Duolingo Stories, which help improve your reading and listening skills by working through short but interesting stories and answering comprehension questions.
So far so good, that’s a lot of language learning material, all for free! But what’s the payoff? Well, there are adverts, which most people are used to in apps. Duolingo also uses a ‘lives’ or ‘hearts’ system whereby if you answer a question incorrectly, you lose a life / heart. You only have a limited number of hearts per day, which replenish at a rate of 1 heart every 5 hours. This can be frustrating when you’re trying to get through a difficult lesson.
Benefits of Duolingo Plus
So now we know how much Duolingo Plus costs, and how much they give us for free. But what are the benefits of Duolingo Plus? In addition to the lessons described previously, you also get:
- No ads
- Offline access
- Unlimited mistakes
- Ability to track your progress
Some of these features are more useful than others. Yes, ads are annoying, but they don’t really interfere with the usability of the app and most of us are used to ads on mobile apps.
Offline access is useful when you’re in an area where there is a bad internet connection. When I was using Duolingo daily and trying to maintain my streak, I had a couple of days where I almost lost my streak due to being in an area with no internet all day.
For these situations you can buy a ‘streak freeze’ for the Duolingo currency (200 Lingots / Gems). You can only earn Lingots / Gems, not buy them with real money. Of course, this is where paying for Duolingo Plus is definitely an advantage. If you live somewhere with a poor internet connection and you’re really keen to keep your streak going, I would consider paying for Duolingo Plus.
The other interesting feature of the paid version is the ability to make unlimited mistakes. This is something I found really frustrating. You are enjoying a lesson and the feeling of progress, make one too many mistakes and that’s it! No more Duolingo for the day.
Each time you answer a question wrong, you’ll lose a life or heart. With a limited number of hearts available, having to stop a lesson halfway through is common. I find it really interrupts the flow of learning. Normally I would say that this is definitely a reason to pay for Duolingo Plus, however there is a way around this.
Tips To Avoid Duolingo Plus Costs
There is an easy way to avoid the problem of having limited hearts on Duolingo. Use the desktop version. When you log in to your account online using a PC or laptop you get all the usual features of Duolingo, but there are no hearts (lives). You can sit at your PC all day playing Duolingo without ever having to worry about running out of hearts.
Unfortunately this only works for PCs and laptops. If you’re using a tablet which runs the app, you’ll still have to work with hearts. Of course, the appeal of Duolingo is that you can take it with you anywhere, so this may not be suitable for everyone. However if you’re really dedicated to using Duolingo and don’t want the Duolingo Plus costs, this is a good option to consider.
You can earn hearts on the mobile app by practicing previous lessons. Each lesson practiced will earn 1 heart.
Is Duolingo Plus Worth the Money?
In my honest opinion, it’s not worth paying $6.99 per month for Duolingo Plus. While there are some benefits, Duolingo is a totally free app that provides a huge amount of learning resources at no cost. If you are totally hooked on it, and you want to use the app without running out of hearts, or if you live in an area with poor internet connection, then maybe it would be worth it for you.
However for the vast majority of language learners, the free version of Duolingo works well, and there are few reasons to actually pay any money out to use it.