Learn Chinese Online Language Course Reviews

Duolingo Chinese Review

Duolingo Chinese Review

Duolingo is currently one of the most popular language-learning apps, so it only makes sense that they would finally start instructing the most widely-spoken language in the world with Duolingo Chinese.
However, is Duolingo Chinese the best way to get you fluently conversing with any of the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese speakers in the world? Check out our Duolingo Chinese Review in detail below.


Duolingo Chinese Review: Overview

Duolingo Chinese promises to get you speaking fluently in Mandarin Chinese—tones included—while learning over 600 essential characters. It has a game-like set up which makes you want to keep learning to speak Chinese. You collect lingots that can be spent in the Duolingo store on items like extra lives for your game.

Most of the beginning of Duolingo Chinese teaches you to match pinyin to Chinese characters while introducing vocabulary. Unless you already have some Chinese background, knowing what the Chinese characters actually mean is pretty much a guessing game.Duolingo Chinese Lesson Screenshot

Each lesson has a combination of guessing the missing word, matching words and symbols, or matching sounds and symbols. Eventually, you will move on to building your own sentences by listening to the words spoken. A few other features you will find with Duolingo Chinese include:

  • Compete against other learners with leaderboards
  • Daily progress goals
  • Discussion board with other Duolingo users
  • Schedule of Chinese events
  • Online dictionary


Duolingo Chinese: PROS

Pro #1: Fun and Motivating
Duolingo Chinese is one of the most fun and motivating language-learning program out there. As you complete each level you win lingots to use in the store for extra lives, more points, and other game-related items. You are awarded for completed levels and for completing your daily set time limit.
Pro #2: Chinese Characters are Introduced Early
You will find yourself learning the Chinese characters early on, which is different from programs that begin solely with pinyin. It is helpful to learn characters early, so you are prepared when they are used in more advanced levels.
Pro #3: Extensive Vocabulary
Duolingo Chinese has you learning vocabulary from the very beginning. At times, you will probably be guessing at what some of the words mean until you memorize them. However, we think that the sheer amount of vocabulary taught is definitely a pro.


Duolingo Chinese: CONS

Con #1: Little to no Emphasis on Tone or Pronunciation
The two most important keys of learning to speak Chinese are the pronunciation and tones. Unfortunately, you will find little information on tones and even less on pronunciation, and the information on tones is foggy at best. Students may assume pinyin is pronounced the same as English, but this is not the case. However, there is no way to know this if you’re brand new to Chinese.
Con #2: Lack of Variety
When constructing your own sentences, Duolingo only offers one correct response. For example, you may translate a sentence to say Please, speak slower and the correct answer for Duolingo is Please, speak more slowly. Though both are correct, your answer is still considered wrong and can prohibit your advancement.
Con #3: No Grammar Lessons
There is very little in the way of grammar. For the most part, you are filling in blanks, matching words to characters, and translating what you hear to English. Though this can provide you with some useful phrases, it will not help you to become fluent.


Duolingo Chinese Features


The Duolingo Chinese interface is simple and easy to use. You can easily find your way around Duolingo and back to your lessons. We like that it has a colorful and fun background with the owl character, too. It is a far cry from other, drier language-learning platforms.

Chinese Events

Under the More tab you will find a variety of extra learning tools. We particularly like the section on Chinese events. This will give you a calendar of upcoming or recurring events where Chinese is spoken like with a news program. This offers additional ways to hear and practice speaking Chinese outside of Duolingo’s game.

Community Discussion

The discussion board is an excellent resource to connect with others learning to speak Chinese like you. Advanced learners can share information with those just starting out, or students can share information on upcoming events that would benefit learning Chinese.

Rewards System

As mentioned, Duolingo’s rewards are available once you’ve completed lessons, logged on for multiple days in a row or leveled up. Though these rewards can enhance the fun of learning to speak Chinese, we don’t find them to be an exceptional way to motivate learners.


Who Would Benefit from Using Duolingo Chinese?

We feel that most people would enjoy using Duolingo Chinese as a game, but those who would most benefit from it include those who:

  • are supplementing another course with Duolingo
  • want to learn some quick vocabulary words or phrases for travel
  • enjoy the game aspect of Duolingo


Who Would Not Benefit from Using Duolingo Chinese?

Language-learning programs are definitely not one-size-fits-all, so those who may not benefit from Duolingo Chinese include those who:

  • want to become fluent in Chinese
  • have little extra time
  • prefer in-depth study into Chinese values and culture


Duolingo Chinese vs Competition

Duolingo Chinese vs. ChineseClass101

ChineseClass101 by Innovative Languages has a free lifetime subscription option that gives you the first three video or podcast lessons in each learning pathway. This equals well over 50 Chinese lessons. It offers four expertise levels from absolute beginner to advanced speaker.

You can upgrade to a monthly subscription plan from $4 to $43 a month. These plans offer additional features like access to the entire lesson library, one-on-one instruction, and personalized learning plans. You will find both grammatical and cultural lessons included with speaking and pronunciation.

Duolingo Chinese vs. italki

italki is a platform where you can choose who teaches you to speak Chinese. You simply look through teachers and their reviews and schedule an appointment for your video chat. You only pay for the lessons you take and you can schedule the lessons for a time that suits you.

This offers a unique way to have one-on-one instruction in Chinese. Your teacher can give you assignments like reading or translation practice and you get real-time correction. You can also make connections in chat groups for further practice.

Duolingo Chinese vs Rocket Chinese

Rocket Chinese claims to offer the most extensive Chinese-learning program. You can try it out with some free lessons which will cover simple travel information, describing your clothes, and counting to 100. If you choose to stick with Rocket Chinese, you pay a one-time fee for one, two or all three lessons.

The first and second lessons are designed to take you from beginner to intermediate speaker, and the third lesson will take you all the way to advanced speaker. We like that this course offers a one-time fee and no monthly subscription prices to worry about.


Duolingo Chinese Cost

The best part about Duolingo Chinese is that it is free to use all of its features. Additionally, you can sign up for Duolingo Plus for $9.95 per month to eliminate advertisements, have a free “streak repair” each month, and to help support Duolingo’s mission of free education. They claim that users of Duolingo Plus are also four times more likely to complete the entire course.


Duolingo Chinese Review: Summary

Duolingo Chinese has language-learning programs cornered when it comes to the motivation factor. It offers a fun and simple way to get your lessons in each day. Having said that, we do not feel like Duolingo Chinese is the best resource for those who are aiming to speak fluently. It is best used as an introductory or as a supplemental resource paired with a more in-depth program covering Chinese grammar, culture and tones.

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