Duolingo Spanish Review (2023)

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Duolingo Spanish Review (1)

Duolingo Spanish

  • Desktop & Mobile App
  • Free & Paid Subscriptions
  • Desktop & Mobile App
  • Free & Paid Subscriptions
Our Score


  • Duolingo Spanish Review (2)
  • Duolingo Spanish Review (3)
  • Duolingo Spanish Review (4)
  • Duolingo Spanish Review (5)
  • Duolingo Spanish Review (6)

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  • Lessons are game-like and fun, and only take a few minutes each to complete
  • One of the only major language learning companies with a totally free version
  • Wide variety of exercises and drills in lessons helps with material retention
  • Speech recognition technology provides feedback on verbal exercises
  • The free version is extremely lacking (annoying ads and daily caps on mistakes)
  • Duolingo's Spanish program feels less developed than others (not very comprehensive)
  • Grammar instruction is not a priority (focuses more on straight vocabulary)
  • No in-depth conversational practice (geared more towards beginners)
(Video) Duolingo Spanish Review (Is It Actually Effective?)

Outline: Duolingo Review Spanish

  • Duolingo Spanish App Cost
  • How The Duolingo Spanish App Works
  • Duolingo Spanish Lessons: What Are They Like?
  • What We Like About Duolingo Spanish
  • What We Dislike About Duolingo Spanish
  • Verdict: Should You Use Duolingo To Learn Spanish?

To make navigating this lengthy review a little easier, we’ve inserted jump-to links above so you can quickly get to where you want to go.

Video Review: Is Duolingo Good For Learning Spanish?

In the above video, team member John breaks down the Duolingo program in detail, covering everything you need to know. Or you can always keep reading our written review below for even more detail.

Duolingo Spanish App Cost

Let’s kick this review off by covering the cost of Duolingo’s Spanish program, as this is one of the main reasons why so many people are drawn to this app. As many of you may know, Duolingo actually offers a free version of their course. That is correct: you don’t need to pay a dime.

However, before you go running off to sign up for Duolingo as your language program of choice, know that there are definitely some limitations around the free version. The free version is ad-supported (meaning you get hit with annoying sidebar and pop-up ads), there are daily caps on your program usage, and you’re forced to follow a very rigid curriculum (as opposed to being allowed to jump ahead).

In other words, Duolingo uses your typical “freemium” software subscription model, and makes their money mainly through paid, premium subscriptions. And if you do opt for their paid subscription, Super Duolingo, it will cost you right around $84 per year (or $7 per month).

Duolingo Spanish Review (8)

By upgrading to the Plus plan, Duolingo removes those annoying ads, includes unlimited usage (no caps on “hearts”), allows you to test out of units and move ahead, and adds personalized lessons to review your mistakes, among other features.

So is it worth it to upgrade to Super Duolingo? I personally think it is worthwhile. I think the premium features make for a much better experience, but ultimately, this will likely come down your budget.

That said, if you want to try Duolingo Plus out, they do offer a 14-day free trial so that you can play around with the upgraded plan and see if you like it that much better than the free version.

Now of course, if you are willing to pay for a Spanish learning course, that begs the question, why Duolingo? A major part of Duolingo’s appeal is their lack of a price tag. So if you’re going to be paying for a course regardless, why not consider one of the more premium language learning programs out there? I think that’s a valid question, as Duolingo certainly has a few disadvantages (more on this below).

(Video) Duo Lingo Review: Learning Spanish For Almost A Year

So if you are going to pay for a course, I’d recommend doing your research and seeing how Duolingo stacks up against the competition. Feel free to check out our reviews of Pimsleur, Babbel and Rosetta Stone. We actually have all three of these Spanish courses rating out much higher than Duolingo.

How The Duolingo Spanish App Works

With all that said above, I’m not here to talk about other companies. I’m here to talk about Duolingo. So let’s jump into how their Spanish course is structured.

Essentially, within Duolingo’s Spanish learning path, there are hundreds of “units”. And within each unit, there are several stepping stones that cover skills, concepts and thematic topics (e.g. emotions, travel, and present tense). And finally, each stepping stone is made of up several lessons.

Now, that may sound like a lot, and it is, but know that each lesson is very short, taking only about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

So that’s the program from a high level. Basically, there are different units you need to complete, and each unit consists of several stepping stones and lessons thereunder.

Duolingo Spanish Review (9)

And to be clear, Duolingo dictates the order in which you complete units. New units only become active once you’ve completed the previous one, and the same is true for the individual lessons within each stepping stone.

However, under the paid Duolingo subscription, you are allowed to test out of individual units by passing a short quiz. This allows you to jump ahead as you see fit.

In addition, as you complete each lesson, you earn experience points (XP points for short), as well as Duolingo currency known as “lingots.” The XP points relate to your daily goals and allow you to track your progress, while the lingots can be used to purchase additional features within the Duolingo store.

The whole idea here is that Duolingo is trying to gamify your language learning journey. They believe that by making their program like a questing game, you’ll stay engaged and commit over the long haul.

Duolingo Spanish Lessons: What Are They Like?

So now that you know how the Duolingo program is structured, let’s dive into what the lessons themselves are actually like. And the major takeaway is this: they’re very short.

As I just referenced above, each one only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete, and they go by super fast. This is in large part due to the fact that each lesson is made up of a dozen or so quick-hit, interactive drills and exercises. Some examples of these exercises include:

  • Listening Drills. You might listen to a native speaker say a word or phrase, after which you select it from a list, or you may even listen to a full sentence and be asked to type it in.
  • Fill-In-The-Blanks. You might be shown a cartoon graphic of a man alongside a sentence with a blank to fill in, and you click the word “hombre” to complete the sentence.
Duolingo Spanish Review (10)
  • Matching Pairs. You might be shown 10 different words, 5 in English and 5 in Spanish, and be asked to match them up correctly.
  • Verbal Practice. You might listen to a native speaker say a phrase or sentence, and then be asked to repeat it (during which Duolingo’s voice recognition technology is there to judge your pronunciation).
  • Writing Full Sentences. You might be tasked with typing full sentence translations from English to Spanish, and vice versa.
  • Mock Conversations. You might need to complete mock conversations by selecting the correct response from a list of phrases.

These are the primary exercises you’ll be asked to complete in a nutshell, albeit in different variations and difficulty levels. To reiterate, they’re very short and go by quick.

What We Like About Duolingo Spanish

Now that I’ve covered the different subscription options and you know what the lessons are all about, let’s get into the nitty gritty of this review. That is, what I like and what I don’t like about Duolingo after thoroughly testing the program. And let’s start with the good news.

The Price Tag (Or Lack Thereof)

One of the clear highlights for me is the fact that Duolingo offers a free version. That’s pretty rare in today’s day and age, and who doesn’t like free? I mean, you don’t even have to enter your credit card number and you get full access to their program (albeit somewhat throttled). This is great for students who are studying for the AP Spanish exam too (extra practice).

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there are some downsides with the free version, but still, if you’re on a tight budget or you’re just looking to learn the basics for an upcoming trip to Mexico, then it’s hard to argue with free.

Nice Variety Of Drills

I like that Duolingo offers a pretty wide variation of drills and exercises which span listening, speaking, reading and writing. For learning purposes, it’s great that you get practice work across several different mediums.

(Video) Duolingo for Spanish 🤔 Duolingo review Spanish

In addition, the variety makes the program more engaging and enjoyable. I never really felt bored within individual lessons.

Quick-Hit Lesson Work

Not only do I like the nature of the Duolingo Spanish lessons, but I also like that the lessons are short and engaging. They just go by super quick.

This is great for busy professionals and students. Not everyone out there has a spare hour everyday to dedicate to their language learning. Sometimes 15 to 20 minutes is all you have, so it’s nice that you can knock out a couple quick lessons a day and still feel productive.

English Translations

I like that the Duolingo lessons include English directions, hints and translations, as not all all language learning language programs do this.

For example, Rosetta Stone is a big believer in 100% immersion. In other words, they use very little (if any) English. And although I think there is some merit to this strategy, I also think that can lead users to frustration.

Ultimately, I just appreciate that Duolingo incorporates lots of English into their lesson work to ensure you always understand what’s going on, what’s being asked of you, and to help keep the lessons moving in a timely manner.

Sleek Digital Platform

I’m a big fan of Duolingo’s digital platform, and all the visuals and reminders they provide. Their dashboard is super clean and easy to navigate, and includes a daily goal tracker, as well as a scoreboard where you can compete against other users, invite friends, and keep track of your streaks.

Duolingo Spanish Review (11)

Together, this all creates a fun, collaborative environment to keep you motivated and on-track. So I give Duolingo two thumbs up from that perspective.

What We Dislike About Duolingo Spanish

Now that I’ve run down all the reasons why I like Duolingo, let’s switch sides to the things I don’t care for in regarding to language learning.

Lack of Focus on Speaking

The first downside I would note is that the Duolingo lessons don’t develop your speaking skills very well. True, there are speaking exercises integrated into their lessons, but they’re just not very good.

Essentially, you’re just asked to repeat words and phrases in a vacuum. You listen to a phrase, and then you’re immediately asked to repeat it. There’s just no real memory aids or contextual setting to help you make sense of the words and boost retention.

Plus, their voice recognition technology is far from perfect. There were multiple instances where I knew I was mispronouncing a word or phrase and the program would accept it, telling me that I got it correct. It’s just very limited.

Honestly, when it comes to verbal practice, I think Pimsleur, a Duolingo competitor, is much better. The Pimsleur audio lessons ask you to say words or phrases and respond to a native speaker in the context of an actual conversation.

With Pimsleur, you’re actively involved in tracking a conversation, and the moderator of the audio lessons keeps you on your toes by asking you to recall and use language under pressure, just as you would in real life situations.

In my opinion, this ultimately creates a much better environment for learning a new language. Again, here’s a link to our Pimsleur review if you want to check that out, as well as a comparison.

Unnatural Usage of Language

It is odd, but some of the sentences that Duolingo uses within their lessons are unnatural. I’ve read a lot of complaints about this issue online and I’d have to agree. Some of their vocabulary choices and sentence structures are just plain weird.

(Video) FULL REVIEW OF DUOLINGO FOR SPANISH! The Good and the Bad / Does it Work? And What I Recommend!

To be fair, it seems like Duolingo has improved in this area as of late, but you still occasionally come across an awkward sentence or phrase that sort of turns your head, whether from a grammatical perspective or a pure, “what the heck did did I just hear?” type of moment.

A couple of the examples I saw were “my horses collect teeth” and “I like that beer since yesterday.” I mean, it’s not the end of the world, but it can disrupt you and distract your learning process from time to time. Other companies like Rocket Spanish are much better in this respect.

Related: Memrise vs Rosetta Stone Comparison

Grammar Instruction A Low Priority

This one is pretty simple. Within the Duolingo lessons, grammar instruction doesn’t seem to be a priority. To be clear, I’m not saying they should bog you down with dense, boring grammatical principles, because I actually think that can do more harm than good, especially when you’re first learning a new language.

However, I do wish they included a little more instruction or explanation around grammar rules. It would be nice if Duolingo approached grammar sort of like how Babbel does it. Babbel integrates grammar instruction into their lessons in a very subtle and efficient way.

Duolingo, on other hand, only includes grammar tips through separate “guidebooks”. Either way, I think the way Babbel does it is great. Again, here’s a link to our Babbel review if you want to check that out, as well as a comparison.

Duolingo Free Ads Are Annoying

As mentioned above, the free version of Duolingo contains ads. There’s nothing terribly uncommon about that with free software, but there’s no denying that they are distracting and take away from your main purpose (you know, actually learning Spanish).

It’s not too bad at first, but it definitely starts to wear on you. If you’ve ever played the free versions of Candy Crush, Angry Birds or another silly game on your iPhone, you know what I mean. The ads just get old. Honestly, I’m here to learn and practice Spanish, not get bombarded by advertisements.

The Free Version Heart System

The free version of Duolingo limits your daily usage. Here’s how they do it: everyday you get a limited amount of “hearts.” You start with 5 per day, and if you answer a question incorrectly, you lose a heart.

So essentially, you’re only allowed 5 misses per day, unless you go back and practice old lessons to restore your heart count.

If that sounds annoying, that’s because it is. But it’s more than just slightly annoying, it can also be discouraging. When faced with the choice of either reviewing old lessons in order to earn more hearts, or just giving up for the day, I tended to just give up.

And reading the forums, it sounds like that’s what a lot of folks end up doing, especially when many of the mistakes come from typos and not actually entering incorrect answers. I guess it’s just another annoying aspect of the free version of the course.

Verdict: Should You Use Duolingo To Learn Spanish?

All in all, there’s a lot to like about Duolingo. This Spanish learning app is free, there’s a decent variety of drills and exercises, and the digital platform is top-notch.

However, there are certainly some disadvantages with Duolingo Spanish as well. Most notably, in my opinion, it’s just not ideal for developing your Spanish speaking skills, and there are some serious annoyances around the free version.

Bottom line, I think Duolingo should be used more as a supplemental study resource than as a full-fledged language learning course. In my eyes, you’re just better off treating it like an educational game than a serious study tool.

If that’s all you want – perhaps because you just want to brush up on some Spanish for fun from time to time – then I think Duolingo is an excellent resource.

(Video) Should You REALLY Use Duolingo To Learn Spanish?

But if you’re serious about learning Spanish, and you really plan on dedicating a good chunk of your time to achieving some level of fluency, then I think Babbel, Pimsleur and Rocket Spanish are likely a better bet.

➡ READ NEXT: Pimsleur vs Rocket Languages Comparison


Is Duolingo enough to learn Spanish? ›

Verdict: Should You Use Duolingo To Learn Spanish? All in all, there's a lot to like about Duolingo. This Spanish learning app is free, there's a decent variety of drills and exercises, and the digital platform is top-notch. However, there are certainly some disadvantages with Duolingo Spanish as well.

How fluent can Duolingo make you at Spanish? ›

What the research suggests is that, using Duolingo and nothing else, you can get to as high as B2 in your target language. It's not just their stated objective; the research and the French success stories suggest that Duolingo can carry you to a conversational level, period.

What percentage of people finish a course on Duolingo? ›

An informal study estimates that course completion rates fall as low as 0.01% for Spanish learners (second most popular language on Duolingo), and peak at 0.24% for Ukrainian learners.

What to do if Duolingo placement test is too easy? ›

If you have previous experience with a language and feel that lessons are too easy, you can scroll to the next locked unit and tap the circle that says “Jump here?”. If you pass the test, you'll unlock that unit! NOTE: This will complete all levels up to that point.

How long should I use Duolingo per day? ›

To optimize your learning, aim to spend between 15 and 30 minutes on the app each day. If you're struggling to commit a decent amount of time to your learning, try breaking the time up throughout your day.

What happens when you complete Spanish Duolingo? ›

The guidebook can be accessed any time, even when you complete the unit. NOTE: Guidebooks are not available for all languages. Once you complete all the levels in a unit, you'll complete a challenge to earn your unit trophy. You'll also have the option to earn the Legendary trophy for each unit.

How long does it take to become fluent with Duolingo? ›

Putting in ten hours of study and practice per day, this equates to two months for “easy” languages and four months for “difficult” languages. How do you get started? Web sites such as DuoLingo can teach you 27 languages for free.

Which is better Babbel or Duolingo? ›

The biggest difference between Babbel and Duolingo is the approach to language learning. Babbel is a better option if you want traditional language instructions through modules and lessons. By contrast, Duolingo works great if you need a playful, gamified experience.

Has anyone ever finished a language on Duolingo? ›

There is no such thing as a “finished” language course. So at Duolingo, we're always working to make our courses better! If you've gotten an update, it's because we're excited to share the latest changes to the existing course.

How many Duolingo levels should I do a day? ›

Casual is one lesson per day, Regular is two, Serious is three, and Insane is five lessons in a day. I have my daily goal set to Serious, which requires completing three lessons daily, but I'll often do more lessons if I have the time, typically around five or six.

Why am I not progressing on Duolingo? ›

Try restarting the application or browser (or use a different browser), also try removing all the cache, history and log-on again. If that fails contact support.

Is it hard to get 115 in Duolingo? ›

Getting this score, while not impossible, is really difficult and requires you to have great command over the language, phrases, figures of speech, grammar, pronunciation, spelling and listening and picking up accents. The other high score bands include 145-150, 135-140 and 125-130.

How do people get such high scores on Duolingo? ›

Top tips for passing for the Duolingo exam
  1. Tip 1: Learn and practise new vocabulary. ...
  2. Tip 2: Focus on your listening skills. ...
  3. Tip 3: Get reading and notice those grammar structures. ...
  4. Tip 4: Tune in your ear to american accents. ...
  5. Tip 5: Practise your sentence intonation. ...
  6. Tip 6: Test yourself on vocabulary pronunciation.

How many hours does it take to complete Duolingo Spanish? ›

To finish a language tree on Duolingo in 6 months, you will need to spend a minimum of 130 minutes per day on Duolingo, for a full 180 days. That's 2 hours and ten minutes.

What level is Duolingo Spanish? ›

At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.

How long does it take to become fluent in Spanish? ›

How Many Hours Does it Take to Be Fluent in Spanish? If you start out as a beginner and manage to spend an average of 1 hour per day working on your Spanish, you should be able to reach conversational fluency within 8 – 12 months. That translates to about 250 – 350 hours spent.

What is the best way to progress through Duolingo? ›

When you start a new skill, work your way through all the lessons to get to Level 1. Those lessons work together as a group to get you familiar with the crucial features of the new material. This will help you start committing the new words and structures to memory right away!

What happens when you reach 100 days on Duolingo? ›

Reaching certain milestones (such as 100 day streak) can earn the user 3 days of free of SUPER Duolingo.

What happens after 365 days of Duolingo? ›

You reach the first tier once you hit a 365-day streak. After that, it goes up every year, and this will be reflected on your weekly leaderboards and profile page. So if you keep the flame burning for 3 years, you'll have a little 3-year badge underneath your username.

Which is better Duolingo or Rosetta Stone? ›

Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone, which is better for travel? If you are going to be travelling and want to learn a language at a beginner to intermediate level, we believe Rosetta Stone is a better option than Duolingo. Their lessons are more comprehensive and you will learn more quickly.

How many Duolingo lessons to learn Spanish? ›

Massive course

With a whopping 216 units of Spanish levels and lessons, the Spanish path is comfortably one of Duolingo's biggest. This will take you A LONG TIME to work through.

Can you learn Spanish in 3 months? ›

It is possible to learn Spanish in 3 months, but it is true that to fully master the language to a native level, you will need more time. An intensive Spanish course covering all levels (from A1 to C2) consists of 62 weeks (about 15 months in total).

Can you become fluent in Spanish using Babbel? ›

You will most likely not become fluent with Babbel. It's a solid language app and can give you a strong foundation in your target language, but to achieve fluency, you'll need to use other resources. While it won't help you become fluent, Babbel can help you improve your language skills.

How long does it take to finish Duolingo Spanish? ›

Following the established goals, it will take you an average of 3 to 5 months. This is because the Duolingo platform establishes a tree of Spanish language learning objectives. Once completed, you will have good conversational fluency.

Is there anything better than Duolingo? ›

We have compiled a list of solutions that reviewers voted as the best overall alternatives and competitors to Duolingo, including Rosetta Stone, Busuu, Lingvist, and Mango Languages.

How long does it take to be fluent on Duolingo? ›

A note from the Fluent in 3 Months team before we get started: You can chat away with a native speaker for at least 15 minutes with the "Fluent in 3 Months" method. All it takes is 90 days.

Who uses Duolingo the most? ›

Duolingo users by age
Age GroupPercentage
18 -2430.95%
25 - 3430.50%
35 - 4416.43%
45 - 5410.39%
2 more rows
Jan 18, 2023

What sort of Spanish does Duolingo teach? ›

Finally, for those students learning Spanish in Europe, be aware that the Spanish in Duolingo uses South American Spanish, which is almost – but not quite – the same. Some words are different, and on the Duolingo podcasts the Spanish accents are from a variety of South American native speakers.

How long does it take to learn Spanish fluently? ›

How Many Hours Does it Take to Be Fluent in Spanish? If you start out as a beginner and manage to spend an average of 1 hour per day working on your Spanish, you should be able to reach conversational fluency within 8 – 12 months. That translates to about 250 – 350 hours spent.

How many times should you do a Duolingo lesson? ›

Casual is one lesson per day, Regular is two, Serious is three, and Insane is five lessons in a day. I have my daily goal set to Serious, which requires completing three lessons daily, but I'll often do more lessons if I have the time, typically around five or six.

Is 30 too old to learn Spanish? ›

No matter how old you are, you're never too old to learn a new language. However, because your brain's ability to adapt and change decreases over time, you'll probably have to practice more.

Is it too late to learn Spanish at 25? ›

Many people believe that you lose the ability to learn new languages as you get older. Language experts, however, will tell you that you're never too old to learn a new language. As you get older, it can be more difficult to learn a new language, though. Children and adults learn new languages in different ways.

How long does it take a smart person to learn Spanish? ›

According to an FSI study, i.e. the Foreign Service Institute, it should take a new learner approximately 600 classroom hours to achieve conversational fluency in Spanish. They also suggest an approximate 1:1 ratio between the time spent independently studying Spanish and the time spent in a classroom.


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