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Develop an Extra-ordinary Language Learning App like Duolingo
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How to Develop an Extra-ordinary Language Learning App like Duolingo?

Sanjay Kidecha,

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Why let this quote be true when you can let your audience learn any new language with just some taps. I am sure you are a language enthusiast or an entrepreneur who wants to contribute back to society by making an app like Duolingo.

We are living in an era where globalization is at its peak. Be it corporates, schools, or colleges; they want their employees/students to learn an international language and feel comfortable conversing in it, especially when foreign language learning has become handy because of the advent of language learning app development.

You would be surprised to learn that around 80% of European citizens (age: 15-30 years) know at least one foreign language. Some people prefer to learn a foreign language because of corporate needs, while others do it out of interest.

Whatever be the reason, I would say many of them would agree with the below quote,

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things but learning another way to think about things.” —Flora Lewis

Duolingo, Babbel, Quizlet, Brainscape, and Rosetta Stone are some popular names categorized in language learning apps and the education app development category. If we were to pick up one out of them all, we would go for Duolingo.

The design and the experience are quite intriguing and have inspired millions to make language learning applications like Duolingo. In this article, we would take Duolingo as our inspiration and draw ideas from that particular app.

A brief about Duolingo:

Duolingo was launched in the year 2012 and has acquired almost 300 million users since then. It covers around 36 languages and has adopted a freemium-based model. You can access the language courses free of cost; however, there is a premium subscription available for users.

It is a fantastic application to quench your thirst for learning a foreign language. The gamification feature in the Duolingo application is like icing on the cake. It motivates its users to continue their learning via push notifications. Well, the application’s engagement stories are plenty, and I am sure you would be tempted to check out the application for yourself.

However, do it once you complete reading this blog because it will give you a clear picture of what Duolingo is and how it works. I assure you that this article will help you in making an app like Duolingo from scratch.


Why should you go for language learning application development like Duolingo?

The language learning app industry looks promising. The online language learning market is expected to grow at an 18% CAGR between the years 2019 to 2023. Additionally, it might cross USD 25.73 billion by the end of the year 2027.

People are loving the availability and convenience of language learning applications that help them in brushing their skills.

The AI-powered chatbots will take the language learning experience to a new level. The language learning applications inform users about some extinct languages like Welsh, Navajo, Gaelic, and Esperanto.

Also, social media influence and the trend of knowing at least one foreign language tempt users to resort to language learning applications.

The year 2020 was quite challenging but gave people enough time to engage themselves in language learning applications.

I guess these are enough reasons why you should develop a language learning app like Duolingo.

Next, we will learn about the available business model you can use for language learning app development.

Subscription model:

You can release monthly and yearly subscription models where a user can pay a fixed amount of money and get access to various services.

Freemium model:

In this business model, you can allow users to access the features, free of charge, and acknowledge them about some advanced features available at a certain price.

In-app advertisements:

You would be surprised to know that Duolingo mainly earns from the in-app advertisement model. You can charge a fee to the marketers who want to publish their advertisements on your platform.

One-time purchase:

There will be users who would refer to the application for just a single course. You can offer them the course by charging your fees.

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Pro tip:

It is better to provide a platform for free and then move to various premium versions giving users access to videos, books, audio recordings, etc.

How will you initiate language learning app development like Duolingo?

Your mobile app development company will follow a specific set of steps included in their mobile app design process. The experienced company will do its best in developing a feature-rich app; however, language learning app development will require you to follow the below-mentioned strategies.

Decide on content:

Content is the key, period! You may turn every page to decide what features and functionalities you can include, but you may lose the game if your content is not powerful enough.

Especially when it is about language learning applications, you need to decide on grammar exercises, language sounds, video content, audio clips, and more.

If we were to discuss Duolingo, then the app founders of Duolingo, Severin Hacker, and Luis von Ahn, invested their valuable time in reading books on language teaching. They almost googled 3000 words and translated them into English.

The team’s collected data inspired them to launch a website version of the Duolingo app, using which they increased the number of professional linguists. Slowly and gradually, language-speaking enthusiasts joined them, and they started adding new languages to the application.

Pick up an app development platform:

You might be persuaded by the thought of developing an app for two popular platforms iOS and Android. However, it might turn out to be a costly and difficult task to manage both platforms during the initial days. Hence, if you are a startup company, low with resources and budget, it would be best to launch a single platform.

Note: Launch the application over the platform where the maximum number of your target audience is present.

Designing the UI:

Language learning applications should have a decent, pleasant yet unique design. You need to brainstorm ideas and experiment with the design to decide on the final one. For testing your design, you can go for wireframe development or prototyping.

This process will give you a rough idea of how your application will look and feel at the end of the development.

An appealing user interface design and user-friendly navigation are the keys to touching the right chord of users.

Keep it clean and classy. Use right and familiar icons, and decide their placement so that it creates a memorable browsing experience.

Decide the technology stack:

Well, the backend might not have anything to deal with the users, but it plays a vital role in deciding how the application will behave upon receiving the request. Again sticking to our primary inspirational app, Duolingo, the application’s backend comprises 47 technologies.

We wouldn’t be covering each of them but will highlight a few. Objective C, JQuery, Javascript, Nginx, Bootstrap, Amazon Cloudfront, Amazon S3, and more are a few on the long list.

However, you can combine any of the available technology and decide your project’s technology stack. The selection should be based on your project’s requirements and the platform you select.

It is better to discuss this with your language learning app development company and consider their suggestions before you make the final call.

language learning application development cta

Conclude the latest technologies you wish to include:

Many popular language learning apps, including Duolingo, are moving towards including chatbots in the apps. The chatbots will converse with the users in their preferred choice of foreign language, thereby helping them to set up a conversation in a foreign language. This is a brilliant initiative taken by the team to enhance the application’s experience.

Also, a language learning application can not get away without including technologies like AR/VR, voice recognition, Machine Learning, Cloud Natural Language Processing, etc.

Integrating these technologies into the application will reduce the application’s complexity and allow you to throw some really interesting statistics like test scores, grades, etc. to the users.

Once all these aspects are deliberated, the next step is to decide on the application’s features, followed by quality testing and release of the application.

Features to include in a Language learning application

Features to include in a Language learning application:

The whole intention behind developing a language learning application is to provide an immersive learning experience. And the features can stimulate the language learning experience for the users. Let’s look at the features required for language learning app development.


A language learning app development sign-up page should take care of the authorization system. The sign-up page should collect some mandatory user information like name, email, gender, password, etc., right at the user’s entry.

User profile set up:

If you wish to develop a language learning app like Duolingo, then the profile set-up section plays an important role. Users who have registered with the app using their respective email ids should be allowed to upload their pictures for setting up the identity.

Ask them the language they prefer learning. Let them decide how many hours they plan to study and which language level they want to go for.

Learning Dashboard:

Users will always look forward to knowing their scorecard which includes their course progress, rewards, daily target achievement, etc. Duolingo’s learning dashboard screen is categorized as follows.

— Learning process:

A user feels boosted if s/he has a target set for the day. Give them fixed reward points for completing the daily target. These reward points can be further used to make the next purchase in the Duolingo shop.

Additionally, there are some interesting lessons provided by the Duolingo application, which are described below. You can also make arrangements in your app and include these features.

– Allow users to make a set of words in two languages (one known and the other foreign);

– Allow users to listen to the audio phrases in the language preferred by them;

– Show pictures of various items and describe them in the language your user is learning. Ask them to select the right picture that describes the item.

– Let users select a missing word in a phrase/sentence written in the foreign language they are studying.

– To make the application more interactive, allow users to record and translate a phrase.

– Users should be allowed to compose their phrases in the foreign language they are learning

– Achievement card:

The dashboard screen should show the user’s progress. It should describe how many tasks they have completed and what rewards they have earned. This scoreboard will increase their eagerness to learn and earn more rewards.

An application like Duolingo offers gems and crowns to uplift the user’s enthusiasm.

Profile setting:

Users should be allowed to check all the data, including their course structure, permits, progress, reward points history, purchases made, etc.

Online community:

A language learning application provides a free platform for learners to interact with. You should create a corner for language enthusiasts where they can create a forum and interact with the community candidly.

Health (inspired by Duolingo specifically):

The saddest part for any user would be the depletion of their hard-earned reward points! For any mistakes made during the learning process, applications can take away their coins. This is one way of uplifting their learning process. However, Duolingo does this quite differently.

Duolingo encourages users to make fewer mistakes by dropping down their virtual health meter. Surprised right?

Well, Duolingo assigns a virtual health level for every course a user takes. Further, to ensure that they make fewer mistakes, they take down a level from the virtual health level. Thus when the level gradually runs down to zero, the user is no longer allowed to learn the course.

Live streaming of lectures:

Live streaming features puts users in connection with real teachers. The foreign language teacher can organize a learning session, where students can join them using the video-conferencing feature.


Well, a great way to make money building a language learning app like Duolingo is to allow the users to shop from the app using the rewards. They can collect all the rewards and reclaim them by purchasing a course or an item from the store.


You can make a session within the application where you can have a list of exercises for the users to perform. Exercises can be of any form, which may include:

  • Grammatically correct arrangements of a sentence;
  • Match a picture with the word;
  • Find a missing word in the sentence;
  • Rearrange the words;
  • Speak or translate the word in a foreign language;
  • Type according to the audio;

Push notifications:

Users might have set a schedule for course learning, but there are chances of forgetting about the course on a busy day. On such occasions, remind the user about their ongoing course progress every day.

Competition and gamification:

Learning is never fun without competition. You should facilitate your users to compete with other users taking the same course. If they win the competition, give them fixed reward points in return.

This fun element will reinforce the excitement of learning a new foreign language.


Users visit the application to learn a new language. However, they should not resort to other search engines to know the meaning of a word. You should facilitate a dictionary of words that the users can refer to at any point in time. It should come in handy so that the learning experience is not disturbed or interrupted.

Further, you can introduce short video courses and pronunciation classes for the users. This will help the students improve their accents while speaking a foreign language.

All these features are a must to make a language learning app like Duolingo. Also, integrating more features may affect the language learning app development cost, but we will discuss that later.

We hope we have given a satisfactory answer to your question, about how to create a language learning app. If you still have any points to discuss, feel free to visit our website. You can also hire our mobile app developers to make your dream language learning application.

We have an ultimate educational app development guide for you!

How does the Duolingo application work?

By now, you would have understood how amazing it is to build a feature-rich language learning app like Duolingo. So, now let’s look at the various stages of its working in the next section.

– Users who are registered with the application are required to pick up a target language they wish to study. They are also required to evaluate their skills with the language. If the users do not know the language, they can skip this part and start from the basics.

– Next, the application teaches them basic words like boy, car, girl, etc. The course gradually moves ahead towards an advanced level.

– The entire progress of the user is tracked and displayed to them over the dashboard.

– Further, based on whatever learning schedule a user has set for foreign language learning, the application allows them to move forward with the course. With the completion of every task, a user is given a reward coin (lingots) for the Duolingo app.

So, yeah, that’s it about developing a language learning app like Duolingo. You might be wondering that this might turn out to be a costly affair to develop a language learning application, isn’t it? But it is not. Let me answer this question,

What is the cost to develop a language learning app like Duolingo?

If we were to give you an estimated cost of app development, we would say it would fall somewhere between $25K to $35K. However, this cost will vary depending on various other factors that affect the cost variation.

  • Features you include;
  • The platform you select;
  • Application’s design;
  • Application’s complexity;
  • App development team size;
  • Total number of hours;
  • The hourly cost of development;
  • Location of the app development company;
  • Application maintenance.

It would be good if you discuss your project’s idea with your prospective mobile app development company. They will analyze your app requirements and will give you an accurate estimate for app development.



“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.”

–Roger Bacon

Duolingo app has set benchmarks for you to develop your language learning application. However, analyze the already existing apps, and find out where the gaps are. You can set a new benchmark and give a tough competition by developing a language learning app of your choice.

You can also utilize our skills and expertise to design your dream app. We hope you have found this article valuable and useful. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any doubts. Thank you and all the very best for your app development.

Sanjay Kidecha

Sanjay Kidecha is the Chief Finance Officer at Kody Technolab and a Fintech geek. With one foot in finance and the other in tech, Sanjay likes to write on emerging Fintech trends, ideas, and how-to guides to keep industry leaders updated with the ever-changing world of fintech!

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