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.
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
Duolingo Chinese: CONS
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.
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.
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.
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.