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How Duolingo Uses AI to Teach Millions Around the World

by Sabrina Chang

Oftentimes the language we speak defines who we are and who we surround ourselves with. After years of practice with one language, it becomes challenging to learn other languages and dedicate the time to do so. Duolingo, a free mobile app and website, focuses on providing users with a language-learning platform in which people can dive deeper into a language of their choice. With over thirty languages available, Duolingo has a wide variety of options and creates a fun and interactive learning environment for its users through lessons, games, and tests personalized for each person.

A major reason for Duolingo's success with over three-hundred million users is due to its ability to personalize language-learning training for each user. Generally, learning a new language is a huge time commitment and can take hours to learn, but Duolingo can break up the process to be simpler for the user to manage and is individualized to easily fit within their personal schedules.

To begin, Duolingo users take an AI-driven placement test for the platform to understand if the user has any prior knowledge in the language they hope to practice. The placement test is built in a way in which the user’s previous responses to questions affect their next question. By doing so, Duolingo is able to generate tests to receive an accurate estimation of where users should begin their training as each question adapts based on their accuracy and knowledge. This feature ensures that all users have space to learn at a comfortable level and pace and, for those who are more advanced, to be able to skip the fundamentals.

When users are in their lessons, Duolingo uses AI through a feature known as spaced repetition in which the language lessons are personalized to fit over a long period of time for optimal learning rather than attempting to learn everything at once. AI allows for Duolingo to control the gap between practice sessions, lengthening them so users can improve their skills even more. Additionally, their AI algorithms use deep learning and data collection to enhance the users' learning experience and interactions by predicting the probability of the users' recall on vocabulary and determining their areas of improvement.

Finally, to keep the lessons engaging, Duolingo uses AI-powered chatbots to communicate with the users. These chatbots help teach the language of choice by creating automated text-based conversations with the users to communicate with. Through this special feature, users can practice conversing and ultimately be able to replicate their skills into the real world. AI is improving the way users learn. As more and more data from the user is collected, the smarter AI becomes at detecting what would be best for each user to reach their goals. This immersive experience is only able to function with the tools of AI, allowing for more user engagement, and thus, helps Duolingo create a platform that connects people around the world together to learn new languages.


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