Duolingo app

That article was great, I wish I had found it months ago when I first started using the app and couldn’t understand the levels concept. And you’re right about input.

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Try the web version of Duolingo, rather than the mobile app. It’s not amazing, but it’s a billion times better than the app. It actually tells you what’s going on and gives grammar points.

An example – the app version plunges you straight into learning hiragana, katakana, and a tiny bit of kanji. However, it doesn’t explain what these things are, and the difference between them. If you’re a complete beginner who has zero background in Japanese, these are the first things you should be taught, right? Especially as someone coming from a Romance/Germanic laguage background. But the app just throws them at you with zero explanation. The web version, however, takes the time to go through the writing systems and various grammar points.

I wouldn’t say I’d recommend Duolingo for Japanese, but if you were going to use it anyway, then I’d advise going with the desktop web version.


I’m level four in WK and getting lessons like this in Duolingo (see image below). If you have the time to use 2-3 different resources, your learning experience will be better. DL is free, while others programs are paid or freemium. I feel as though I am getting value for the price.

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My opinion about Duolingo as an intermediate japanese learner. Apps like duolingo have big flaws in my opinion, but have the advantage that they hold your hand even if it is a path that doesnt lead to success.

Multiple choice is horrible for learners. It allows you to guess the correct answer by parts of the given choices instead of checking whether you really know it. furthermore it does not explain everything and what it teaches is not sufficent to actually pass the lowest level JLPT test (or at least it was like that a couple years ago).

If you want my recommendation. There are two parts you can go, one includes spending a lot of monet on high quality tools and one uses free tools but is harder to get into.

Regardless, in its core learning is repeating at the right interval. And for japanese there are 8 categories in which you need to get proficient:

  • Vocab
  • Grammar
  • Kanji
  • Intonation
  • Listening skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Writing skills
  • Reading skills

Free route:

  • Vocab: Use 10k deck with anki
  • Grammar: The best two grammar resources out there that are free are imho: Tae Kim, Wasabi-Jpn
    Read those and make yourself two decks in anki. Grammarvocab <-> keyword and example sentence with a whole
  • Kanji: there are lots of anki decks. best are based on heisig. please learn meaning+reading(only one reading!) or meaning+stroke order first and not at the same time. otherwise its to much at the same time.
  • Intonation: I am not aware of any good resourse. sorry here you have to pay
  • Listening skills+Speaking skills: here i can really not recommend not spending some money. you need someone to speak to. and someone willed to do this completely in japanese for at least 1h a week. having a japanese friend would work but i am not aware of anyone ever getting this to work (so refer to paid section). as soon as you have some basic speaking and listening skills , you boost your listening further by consuming japanese tv drama series. you gonna have to watch them on repeat. anime works as well, but usually its gonna be too hard language wise.
  • Writing skills: ask people on reddit for example to correct your stuff
  • Reading skill: NHK easy news, later floflo.moe will be very helpful for easy books

Paid route:
generally, every tip from the free route apply.

  • Vocab: use kitsun.io instead of anki
  • Grammar: use bunpro.jp in addition. une kitsun.io instead of anki
  • Kanji: learn all kanji with wanikani, then learn how to write them with the android only app Kanji Study
  • Intonation: Use dogen’s intonation course: Dogen is creating Japanese pronunciation and pitch accent lessons | Patreon
  • Listening skills: use italki to get basic listening skills, then start drama like above
  • Speaking skills: use italki to get as many cheap japanese lessons as possible. use them for nothing but conversation in japanese
  • Writing skills: either try getting people to correct your work or use italki. there are some teachers that correct wirtten work
  • Reading skills: really its free. so look above

I could go further into detail about it, so if you want me to, please tell me. and i am going to elaborate on all tools and websites that i know off. but right now i do no have the time


Human Japanese is how I began my Japanese learning journey and I’m firmly convinced that it’s hands down the best place to start.

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Yeah! I had been away from Duolingo for awhile and then came back and I noticed things were different, but I couldn’t figure out why, so I googled and found that article. They also have one on how best to learn with Duolingo, which I liked. Glad you found it useful! :smiley:

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It actually did teach you some grammar, but that’s gone now for some reason. Instead of going lessons for lesson per chapter, you could actually go to a set of 5-10 sublessons for every chapter. Under every lesson, there was some small summary about the new grammar in that chapter, but since you don’t really go the sublesson page anymore, I gather it is no longer there. The grammar lessons weren’t very good though, but did teach you some basics like particles, word endings like -nai and -te and basic counters. The Kanji approach in Duolingo was a bit crap, where they would just jump with some random kanji you never heard of, making it almost impossible to get your lessons right the first time.


I agree that the Kanji approach in Duolingo isn’t great, and though I’m not a fan of grammar explanations for language acquisition, you can still access these explanations on the web app version by clicking on a level and then clicking on the little “Lightbulb” icon. Example page: Duolingo

Just thought I’d mention, in case any one else was wondering!

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Oh thanks! I was looking for those but couldn’t find them.

EDIT: I see they have the kanji in there as well, that’s a big improvement. I started with Duolingo when Japanese was just out of beta I think, so it might have significantly improved from what I was used to.


I’ve used Duolingo for years to study Norwegian, and it was perfectly fine for that. However, for a language as dissimilar to English as Japanese is, Duolingo’s setup is kinda garbage.

If you’re into app-based language learning, 100% use Lingodeer for Japanese. It’s miles beyond what Duolingo offers. Lingodeer begins every lesson with detailed grammar notes that explain exactly what is happening in any given lesson. It lets you choose how every lesson is displayed (for instance, kanji only, kanji with furigana, romaji only, etc). It has a real, living human speaking every example word and sentence (female only right now, male option in the works). Every lesson ends with a short story with questions and answers in Japanese, which sort of forces you to stop thinking in English. It has a kanji writing practice section. It also has achievements, daily progress tracking, leaderboards, all the the stuff you’d expect from an app like this.

tl;dr: Don’t use Duolingo for Japanese. Use Lingodeer instead.

But also definitely make use of other resources. Wanikani, genki, tae kim, classes if you have that option. There are lots crazy people like us out there, which means that there’s a correspondingly large number of resources at our disposal. Spend some time and find the ones that work for you.


Thank you again, everyone! I’ve already started using the LingoDeer app and I like it a lot better than duolingo. I’m also gonna look at the other options mentioned as well.


Hi there! I think duolingo is fine, it teach you vocabularies and pronunciation but I think it doesn’t teach grammar.

As of yesterday, an updated course is rolling out for beta testing. Full release expected to be this summer.https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30544388

  • Total Skills: 70 , up from 40
  • Total Kanji: ~800 , up from ~100
  • Target JLPT level: N4 , up from N5
  • Total Vocabulary Words: ~1,800 , up from ~1,000

Oooo new version of the Duolingo course?! Yes please!

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Hello! I just started wanikani, duolingo is free, I use it inbetween waiting for reviews. A good supplement, but doesn’t cover everything. If I have time, I think I’ll study Genki by Banno for more structure!

Not sure if I’ll subscribe to wanikani, so far a yes? And duolingo on computer seems to be better (for me at least).

It has been awhile since I used it but was free then. Curious how much they are asking for now. I liked it when it was free but unsure if I would be willing to pay for it. I like studying Japanese on my computer and lingo deer is app only, at least it was then.

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I have that issue with memrise. Too often I did not really know or could recall a word but if multiple choice its easy to make a educated guess and your often correct.

There’s a number of things about the Duolingo app, especially for Japanese, that I dislike. On the app, it will often give you word cards that you need to put in order to make a sentence. Out of all of the languages I’ve tried, Japanese is the only one that randomly splits words across multiple cards, and has cards with multiple (or maybe 1.5 words) on the same card. This is ridiculous. Also, Duolingo’s kanji stuff is… mediocre at best. I get so frustrated every time I try to use it, that I do a lesson, throw my hands up in the air, and quit for months until somehow I get in the back of my mind that maybe they’ve improved, and try again, and then give up again.

When they first launched the Japanese course they had a blog post that explained why Japanese was hard to make for Duolingo, and how they overcame those issues. And then I saw all of those issues in the course.

If you still have your old login, LingoDeer remains free for early adopters.

I like Duolingo. I don’t use the English—>Japanese, though; I use the opposite. Does anyone use that, and if so, what is your take on it? Apologies if this was asked, and I glossed over it! :sweat_smile: