Duolingo (why you hate?)

So I wanted to know what your opinions were of Duolingo and Memrise in relation to learning Japanese.
Since joining, I’ve heard quite a few mixed opinions about Duolingo and mainly negative about the latter.

Personally I have found Duolingo to have been pretty good in the way it is set out so far. But I have been wondering why there is so much being said about it negatively.

Just your thoughts,
Thanks Guys :slight_smile:


I use Duolingo, and am fairly happy with it for what it is, but there are some shortcomings.

  • A few odd mistakes, mainly pronunciations. I think the ha/wa for particle は has been cleaned up recently, but there are a couple of others still lingering.
  • Lack of explanations. They throw a lot of sentences at you, but never explain the grammar or structure at all.

I find the app useful as a supplemental method, and it does get me used to hearing the language spoken to me, but it’s not a complete solution. As long as you know this, you’re fine!


Duolingo is decent, it doesn’t really explain anything as you go though. If anything, it’s good for reinforcing/learning some vocab and getting a feel for what Japanese sentence structure is like and some mild listening practice.

There’s nothing wrong with using it as a resource, sometimes when I’m on the go and feel like doing some Japanese practice, I’ll do a couple lessons on my phone - it’s more useful as a secondary/convenient practice resource but nothing really beyond that imo (^^)


As others have said, it can be good practice for grammar reinforcement in the very beginning. I’m not a fan of their “no explanations” approach.


Like others have already explained, Duolingo is good for reviewing grammar that you have previously learned. Their lack of explanations will only make you confused if you’re seeing something for the first time.


I’ve been using Duolingo for years for other languages, so naturally I’m biased when it comes to using it for Japanese. I’d strongly agree with what other people have said though. If you already have a strong foundation for grammar, then Duolingo can be really great for reinforcing and revising that. I’ve definitely found it a huge help for going over a lot of grammar that I couldn’t remember how to use. But if you’re using it to learn Japanese unsupported (without any other resources), then you’re going to struggle. The number of times I’ve wrote paragraphs explaining to people the difference between に and で, or explaining what は actually is, is ridiculous. I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Korean, and I can tell you, without any supporting texts, it is stupidly difficult and impracticable. That being said, when it comes to learning/practicing scripts, it is actually pretty efficient (again, I can only speak for the Hangul and Cyrillic scripts, not Kana or Kanji). If you’re learning languages with similar grammar to languages you already know, then Duolingo is pretty great.

As for Memrise, I only use it for other languages so I don’t know what the Japanese courses are like. I’d imagine it’d have similar problems as Duolingo with grammar explanations, if not worse given that there aren’t even any comments. Memrise is much better for vocab anyway, being more similar to Anki. When it comes to Memrise vs Anki, that really depends on personal preference. A lot of people like the clean, easy-to-use UI of Memrise, but then a lot of people (including me) prefer the power and customization of Anki (sort of like iOS vs Android).

Duolingo - Great for sentence/grammar practice, bad for learning.
Memrise - Great for vocab learning, bad for sentences and grammar.
Anki - Great for vocab learning, bad for sentences and grammar.


I think this is the biggest part of it.

I like DL, it’s fun. However, like all resources, it is not a complete solution. And I think the biggest concern is that of all resources, it is one of the most incomplete ones. It’s a real shame too, the platform could do so much more. I think it’s less about hating the product and more about knowing that, overall, time could be better spent elsewhere.


I haven’t used it since very early beta, so I can’t speak for the state of it now, but I found that the Duolingo approach just isn’t as effective for Japanese for me. Obviously you can’t just rely on the app, you need the website and explanations (did they write those for Japanese yet?) but with Duolingo’s new freemium system it’s just not worth it.

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Thankyou :slight_smile:

Duolingo is really stiff when it comes to particle dropping and word order. It also does not go up to a very advanced level. It’s better than nothing, but it shouldn’t be anyone’s primary tool for learning Japanese. The Japanese it teaches is kind of unnatural.


I don’t dislike Duolingo, it’s just way too beginner leveled for me.

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I hate Duolingo because they moved their headquarters to my city then painted over a culturally important mural to the outrage of the neighborhood. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


I’m definitely pro-Duolingo biased. However, it’s helped me tremendously. I did a lot of independent study but couldn’t string sentences together before. I have a much better grasp of sentence structure, now. And that’s where their strength lies.

They’ve recently added the lesson notes to mobile (it should be there for everyone, now, I think), so that’s extremely useful. It’s not a textbook, but it’s a general overview. They used to only be on the website. The sentence discussions are invaluable, because smart people like Wantitled explain things very well.

The main weakness, IMHO, is the lack of kanji. Test out of the levels you don’t need

The curse as it is now is designed to get you to JLPT5, which also has very limited kanji. However, they are currently working on version 2 of the tree, with more advanced levels and a ton more kanji. I have no idea how long it will take, but they were looking for contributors a couple of months ago, and their desired qualifications were ridiculously high.

I also have found the Korean course to be too difficult, so I’m coming back to it after I study more. But I personally love the Japanese course, and I love Duolingo. I’m quite involved with them (I’m a Global Ambassador trifecta - event host, forum mod, and teacher).

A point of clarification. Duolingo is not “freemium”. You can access all of the content for free. That’s part of their mission, and they’ve turned down load of money from investors who wanted to change that. Duolingo Plus is ONLY to remove ads and allow you to download lessons to work offline (it comes with a couple of other perks, like a free monthly streak freeze). But all of the core content is, and always will be, free.


Hello, first time to chat. Just wanted to say hello.

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Heya :slight_smile: Welcome Friend

The reason I didn’t like Duolingo when I started learning Japanese was that it doesn’t teach kana well or require you to type it, you just put it in blocks.

As people before have said, there were also no explanations, which made it even more difficult.

It never helped me much.

I really liked Duolingo when I started out, but a few things happened all at once:

-They introduced the crown levels that made it hard to review things you hadn’t seen in a while
-I deleted all my progress when trying to remove another language from my profile
-The club that kept me motivated kicked me when I lost my streak
-I found Wanikani
-I finally nabbed a spot in the Japanese class at my University

I don’t really know how to get back in. Restarting and testing out of stuff doesn’t get you very many crowns, and some of those crown levels are just so darn tedious.


I use Duolingo and Memrise.
I feel that Duolingo is fine. I’ve been using it since the Japanese course’s mobile release and I’ve almost maxed out each lesson.
It still could do with more content to bring it up to the same levels as the other courses but it’s fine. Duolingo Japanese had a lot of issues when it first started out and hopefully it grows more.
I would prefer if Duolingo had some explanations other than hovering over the text but I’m not fussed, it’s free and good for sentence structure practice.

I prefer Memrise to Duolingo as there are user submitted courses as well as their own courses.

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Duolingo is just not that good to learn a language as different to english as asian ones. I tried the japanese version when it came out, and was a bit dissappointed, not that I hate it as you imply in your title, i just think there are better options.
I had a great time using duolingo for french, though

Memrise is good, i’ve been using it since 2011 when it was not that popular and completely free. I used to compete with this guy called Dirck that was a legend back then, so it was a tiny happy community. It grew fast and it has become one of the most known sites now. If you know how to use it properly and commit yourself (because it doesn’t have SRS) you could improve a lot. It’s also cheap to buy a pro membership, i bought mine Dec last year in about 15 usd


I think Duolingo is more of an enforcer, not an explainer. Sure, if you click on the lightbulb button (on some lessons) you get a little explanation, but I still had to look at some resources just to figure out basic grammar (which is still hard).

I’ve been using Memrise mainly to study other languages (Korean, Russian, etc.) and it seems to be working well. So far I can understand some basic grammar. Japanese is still pretty good with that, although I’m not in very far (I mainly use WaniKani and Duolingo for Japanese).

I definitely recommend both sources, although Memrise I recommend more than Duolingo if you actually want to learn another language.