Duolingo app

Wondering if anyone here has used the Duolingo app? And what you think of it if you did?
I’ve been using it for a couple of months and while it teaches sounds, words, and phrases, it doesn’t teach anything about word placement or grammar. I think I might stop using it. Or maybe not use it as much.



Maybe try Human Japanese app instead if you want a casual light textbook. They have a free version you can try to see if you like it. Full price is $10 iirc

Bunpo (Ios app) is free grammar app thats pretty new. Nice minimalistic design and straight forward presentation. (Categorized into N5-N1 levels and Kana)


That’s what finally gave me the push to study Japanese. As of today 177 days w/o missing my practice! DuoLingo isn’t perfect but it’s a good tool to supplement other learning. If you use DuoLingo there is an extra button that looks like a light bulb. Some courses have this already available, but the Japanese course doesn’t seem to have this yet (android app). This doesn’t exist for every item in the course but when it is there, it usually gives you the basic vocab and is rather helpful.

I know other language courses on Duo have this in the app so it should eventually come to the Japanese one, but I looked on my phone and at the moment it still isn’t there. Doesn’t hurt to login on a computer though. Duo is not without flaws and if you get stuck or need an explanation click on the discussion button if/when you miss an answer. It will open up a page that users post questions/comments to.

Lastly, the Japanese course is one of the newer ones. Many users, including myself have found mistakes. While they aren’t deal breakers they can be annoying. Use that report button. Honestly they do actually look at it and fix them if it’s wrong. I have gotten 5 or 6 emails back saying “you suggested “xxxxx” as a translation. We now accept…thanks for the contribution” So there are folks there actively working to make it better.

My recommendation would be to use Duo with another resource or you will likely end up very confused :persevere:


I wouldn’t say it doesn’t teach grammar. It might not directly explain it directly but that’s just the Duolingo way - throw you into the language. I actually started my Japanese learning with Duolingo and came here to fulfill the Japanese-language-learning-gamification-shaped hole in my heart once I finished it.

I think it’s a good place to start (was for me, anyway). It eased me into the language as a whole so I felt like I was getting a more well-rounded experience. That said, I wouldn’t use it as your only teaching tool. I used to always keep a jisho.org tab open to learn the many kanji Duo didn’t teach. Also got in the habit of watching a lot of youtube videos (JFZ and Japanese Ammo come to mind) to supplement. if you have the discipline to learn through other sites and means then honestly that might work better, but I think it’s a solid enough starting point.

Also, Duolingo is nothing without its comments section. If you’re going to use it, definitely check it. Even for sentences you understand - you might learn something.


Please please please try LingoDeer. It’s the same sort of fun language learning app as Duolingo but it’s built from the ground up for Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Unlike Duolingo which just throws stuff at you and leaves you to make sense of it, every chapter of LingoDeer starts off with a textbook-style overview of the grammar point that’s going to be taught that chapter. The review section is excellent for solidifying everything you’ve learned, I used it constantly when I didn’t have the time to focus on a new lesson and will continue to use it until I’ve put all of those sentences into an SRS. There’s almost a thousand example sentences learned over 60 chapters (I’m putting them all into an Anki deck now).

It’s basically like Genki stuffed into an app (I’ve finished Genki too).


In my opinion, lingo deer is the superior app. I 100%'ed both of them. The lingo deer stuff actually stuck.


I still use it but only to test where I’m at every now and then.
https://www.lingodeer.com/ is so much better for a more casual comprehensive way to learn grammar in a fun way.
It used to be free, I don’t know how it works for beginners now.
They have really good short and clear explanations of grammar structures, particals usage etc.


I think there’s a monthly rate and a lifetime rate, for all languages. Speculation as to whether they’ll do cheaper single language rates or not.

In any case they recently added their Japanese 2 course bringing it up to around N4 material so I absolutely think it’s worth it.

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Lingodeer is not perfect snd sometimes multiple choices tests are too easy… But it helping me a lot with grammar as supplemental resource along with Genki.

I think both Duo and LingoDeer are good places for beginners to start self-learning process. But they definitely must be accompanied with something else (wink wink).


I’ve been using it for a year and I was able to use the first day paywall discount for loyal users, so that’s why I have no clue about beginners.
And yeah, the Japanese 2 course is pretty awesome.
No idea if it’s intentional or not but it really works well with Wanikani levels.
I’ve 100%ed Japanese 1, did a reset and now I’m on 60% again combined with the beginning of Japanese 2 wanikani level 17 and 18 were a breeze.


Agreed. For me a lot of the learning was actually in the review section. I’d do a chapter a couple times over until it stayed with me for a little while, then I’d go to the review section and set it to just show the English with no audio, and force myself to recall the whole sentence that way before checking the answer. I review a few chapters a day randomly that way now. Same as with Genki or any other tool really, being able to answer a few questions immediately after “learning” the material isn’t going to do anything for you if you don’t take it upon yourself to produce as well.


Yeah I really hope they keep adding more lessons. I’d love for a Japanese 3 course to be ready by the time I finish Japanese 2 ^_^.

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I felt that way too about multiple choice and the illusion (delusion?) of knowledge it seems to create, but lately I started seeing it in a new way.
Are you familiar with the game toddlers play learning about shapes? It’s this hollow box with holes shaped like a circle, triangle, square and sometimes a star. The idea is for them to push the corresponding 3D shaped element through it’s hole.
They can do that without knowing they’re holding an object called a cube or a cylinder and yet there’s a learning process that eventually leads to the ability to comprehend geometry.

When I started with Duolingo and then Lingodeer that was mostly what I’ve been doing, putting a word or a particle I didn’t really understand in a specific place in a sentence I couldn’t really read. I was just moving fixed amount of shapes into their respective slots. It was so easy to remember. Most of the times I didn’t even read the grammar rules behind what I was doing.
I kept on doubting whether any real learning was going on, or am I being led on by the immediate Cha Ching feedback.

The thing is, doing so over and over again tought mii not only about those particles but also to recognize while reading native material that an unfamiliar hiragana might be a particle and look for it in A dictionary of basic Japanese Grammar.
So putting bombastic selling claims aside (learn to speak in five days and such), this kind of multiple choice/fill in the blank deconstruction is a really effective tool to familiarize oneself with foreign concepts.


That would be awesome!

I started Duolingo on the web then moved to the app then back to the web, The platforms and interface are different especially since the recent app update. On the web, the early levels actually do have modest grammar and vocabulary lessons. Many of the sentences do not make sense but are grammatically correct e.g. I will go to parties for 24 hours. This may be a strategy to cement sentence structure in our minds through absurdity…not unlike some mnemonics I have read here.

I found the comment section to be most helpful with explanations even if I got the answer right. The app has been “gamified” and made into a point and click exercise rather than a learning experience for me. It may be useful as a refresher during breaks from WK. It’s pick your poison I guess. If you join the club on the app, you get daily exercises unrelated to what you are learning. This was a fun way to learn “in the wild” and make connections with other people in the club.

BTW, DL did not used to use a lot of kanji. That has changed recently due to user requests. Now, in a strange case of synchronicity, I am seeing kanji I know from here show up in DL. I am also getting the vocabulary there that within a day or two shows up here.

At the same time, I am using the Mango app available free from my library. It’s good for survival phrases and cultural references. e,g, I know where to find a police station and say things like: my wallet was stolen on the subway.


Personally I didn’t find the Duolingo App that helpful, and I no longer use it. As many people have said, Lingodeer does a much better job of explaining and has less unnecessary repetition. I never quite worked out how the Duolingo levels worked, each time I leveled up a lesson and would do the next difficulty level it seemed exactly the same as the one before.


I do agree that Duolingo is repetitive as far as the activities go, and each topic’s levels seem rather similar to each other. This could be due to the Japanese course not being updated after Duolingo changed how levels work. That being said, a lot of language learning apps are repetitive and have the same activities by design (look at WaniKani, for example).

As far as Duolingo being less effective as a language learning tool, I’ll have to disagree with some of that statement. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: to acquire another language, your brain needs lots and lots AND LOTS of comprehensible input (i.e. it needs to see and hear language where it can understand the meaning of what’s being read/listened to). Some apps / programs will make language understandable through visuals / images while others will use translation, and others will use a combination of the two (+ others I might not be thinking of). So, as a provider of comprehensible input (CI), Duolingo does a pretty good job. And since it’s providing your brain with that much needed CI, your brain is actually acquiring Japanese.

For a self-learner, the approach I would use would be to use whatever apps you like, but just ensure that you’re paying most attention to what you’re hearing and reading, and actually paying attention to the meaning of the phrase / sentence / word. Don’t worry so much about learning and practicing grammar rules explicitly. Instead, work on flooding your brain with as much comprehensible input as possible. The easiest way to do this for a new Japanese language learner is through reading.

I’ve personally been working through these graded readers and can’t recommend them enough. There are also free resources like PIBO (on iOS) and others. The Reading section of this community can be really helpful.

If you’re interested in learning more about Second Language Acquisition (i.e. the science and research behind how we actually acquire language), I can recommend a number of things:

Anyway, hopefully some of this is helpful! :heart:


Human Japanese and LingoDeer rock.


Thank you, everyone, for your replies!! I have taken note of all of your suggestions. What an awesome community! :grin:

I’ve used duolingo fairly extensively, but primarily to consolidate languages rather than learn them from scratch.

It teaches word placement and grammar implicitly: get them wrong, and you’ll get the answer wrong. It’s not like it accepts “watashi wa desu smith” as correct! Many of the courses also have short notes on key grammar points, though you need to do some extra clicking to see them.

Having used Duolingo for many languages, I have to say that their Japanese course is probably their worst complete one. It can be a useful tool for several languages, but I wouldn’t recommend making it a core tool for working on your Japanese.