Gamification stuff we love: Duolingo

Gamification stuff we love: Duolingo

As a multi-lingual adult, I have tried quite a few language learning systems to add to the four languages I speak fluently. I have often attempted home study programs with combinations of CD’s and books, online systems and lately language learning Apps. Most of the time I have dropped out after a few lessons, because whilst I do want to learn the urgency isn’t there and the delivery is often dry and boring and in some cases the things I want to learn and what is offered is miles apart. Personally I like emersion in the country with a base grounding in a face-to-face setting for best results, so to try yet another online system was going to have to have some persuasion in it.

Because a friend of mine was commenting on his learning experience on social media where he was trying to keep the Duolingo owl happy and the mention of Duolingo on several gamification blogs and even winning an award at the recent Gamification World Congress, swayed me to have a closer look (for research purposes obviously ;-).

First of all the whole course is free and the company intends to keep it that way. They use crowd creation to help build content and language offering. The company sees games like Candy Crush as their key competitors. You are encourage to take a short lesson with about 20 or so questions, all gradually either expanding your vocabulary, comprehension, pronunciation and translation ability. If you get the questions wrong then a start is deducted, if you run out of stars before the lesson finishes then you start the lesson again. Just as if you were playing a game and ran out of lives. Each positive answer is reinforced and allows continuation.

Each day you log in and complete a lesson gives you streak rewards, when you miss a day this is deducted. Although I would say the friendly owl reminders would encourage me to log back in and the messaging is positive and encouraging. The application tells you how many words of vocabulary you have learned and it also gives you experience points. You can link up with other friends who may also be learning languages on duo lingo for a bit of peer social banter.

So what gamification mechanics are used:

  • experience points
  • lives
  • owl as a cheerleader to keep you going
  • levels
  • progress tracking in vocabulary
  • positive reinforcement of wins
  • social ranking

When you are working with online learning of other nature you can utilise similar techniques and I definitely found the bite-sized game like learning experience a positive one and after a few lessons I am still learning, which is usually the point where I drop out of language learning without  physical instructors.

What do you like about Duolingo and why?


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