Duolingo brings free language courses to the iPad

The service has 5 million users across its Web, iOS and Android smartphone versions, said CEO Luis von Ahn, and is among the most popular education apps.

Dan Farber
2 min read
Duolingo for iPad takes advantage of the extra screen real estate for the language learning experience. Duolingo

Duolingo, a free language-learning service that doubles as a crowdsourced text translation platform, is now available for the iPad.

The service, which launched about a year ago, now has 5 million users across its Web, iOS and Android smartphone versions, said CEO Luis von Ahn, and is the fourth most popular iOS free education app and the No. 1 free Google Play education app. Duolingo offers language courses in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian.

The new iPad version includes a panel that lets users see their most important Duolingo stats, such as the number of words learned and skill points, and also displays a leaderboard of friends using the app.

The iPad provides a more engaging environment than a smartphone for acquiring new languages. Duolingo

Duolingo's iPad version will support Duolingo's business model, which has so far only been available for the Web version. Students translate words, geared to their learning level, from documents on the Web. Duolingo makes money from organizations that pay for the translations generated by the students using the courseware.

When Duolingo was first introduced, von Ahn said his goal was to get 100 million people to translate the Web into every language. While he is far short of his goal, he is tapping into a market of more than a billion people who are learning foreign languages, and who often pay several hundred dollars for software.

In addition, the iPad is a better target than a phone for language learners. "About half of Duolingo's traffic comes from iOS devices, and about 20 percent of iOS users use the iPhone app on their iPad," von Ahn said. "Because of this and because iPads are heavily used in educational settings, we expect major adoption of our new app."

He hopes that Duolingo can get to 10 million users by the end of the year. The company has raised more than $18 million in venture funding, led by NEA and Union Square Ventures.