If learning a new language has ever been on your bucket list, the Duolingo app is making it harder to come up with excuses to get started. Offering a fun, free, and engaging service to anyone with access to WiFi, it is taking the world by storm. Lessons can be broken up in to 3 minute chunks and are age-appropriate for all sorts of users. And, did we mention it’s free?

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Unlike sitting in a classroom, Duolingo takes learning a foreign language and transforms it into a game of strategy, equipped with rewards (called “Lingots”) and bonus rounds. In fact, the app is better than classroom learnin’ in a lot of ways: research over time has shown that 34 hours of gameplay is equivalent to taking an 11 week language course. All for FREE! The sessions include both visual and auditory learning techniques, as well as users getting to practice verbalizing and writing their skills. This approach ensures a well-rounded understanding of written and spoken word. Progress is scored and push notifications are helpful in reminding players to stay consistent with their lessons.

Creator Luis von Ahn has ensured that the success of Duolingo continues to grow, reporting “We are slowly figuring out the best way to teach a language, and we’re doing it scientifically.” In short, the app developers can record experimental data from users to see what teaching techniques result in faster learning and retention. Another impressive feature is how Duolingo uses its pool of eager students to translate previously untouched portions of the internet: an example is giving a user an untranslated section of French Wikipedia, which is translated and then saved on the web for all to see.

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If you haven’t downloaded this (free) app yet, now is the time. With 21 different languages to choose from or currently in development – including Klingon! – what more do you need to get started? Perhaps knowing that Duolingo has won the title iPhone App of the Year, TechCrunch’s Best Education Startup, Google’s Best of the Best for two years, and – most recently – the 2015 INDEX Award in the Play & Learning Category is what it would take to start getting your learn on. Andiamo!


via 2015 INDEX Awards

Images via Shutterstock, Duolingo