Should I abandon Duolingo?

I know most people on here don’t like Duolingo but I still think of it fondly because it helped me establish a habit of studying Japanese every day. I got roughly to the middle of the tree (getting everything to the gold state) and it became a bit of a chore because 1. I have WaniKani / Kamusame / Kitsun / Julap to take care of as well as JapanesePod to listen to 2. The drilling is pretty repetitive and sentences are generally very boring. Plus, the audio is pretty bad and Duo asks for a very specific sentence structure or else shows an error. I also find its constant League badgering quite annoying recently.

On the plus side, it does help me practice grammar (or at least a subset of it) and drills vocab into my brain. My question is, if you finished the entire tree while doing something else, was it beneficial? Is it worth pressing on with it until the end of the tree or would I be better off spending time doing something else?


I’m legit interested in other people’s response to this as well. I personally don’t like it but I don’t think it’s …like…evil or detrimental… If you’re worried about practicing grammar I think most would point to bunpro for srs style repetition


I am a fan of Duolingo. Had the entire tree on gold level before they added new content (which basically reset everything, but I’m not complaining). It has its share of issues, like word separation and them often using the wrong reading for standalone kanji. But overall it is a great resource.
It does quickly get repetitive if you don’t alternate the lessons well. I always have some parts of the tree at different levels and switch between them. If you level up the same “skill” all at once it will ask you the same thing 100 times (and you will still forget, because no SRS)


I recently abandoned DL with a 220 day streak.
It got boring for me at the time. While it has its faults, I do think of you have the time and it isn’t a burden to continue, you should continue. The improvements seemed to be moving in the right direction and it’s free. It was great for vocabulary building in context. The repetition was as effective as an SRS for me in terms of pattern recognition
Right now I am using Mango for conversational practice and various grammar sources. DL’s immersion method for grammar did not work for me. To be fair, I have yet to find the right fit for me and grammar.


I have definitely not finished the entire tree so take my point of view with a grain of salt. I actually like using duolingo as well…but sort of as a supplement. It kind of introduces me to new things that I don’t find in other places, which is why I use it as a daily part of my studying schedule.

I try and do one of the levels every 5-8 days or so, basically my own sort of SRS system. I try and not worry about the gamification aspect of it like the leagues because I don’t want to be pressured into using it . Minimum I do maybe 4 a day, which is the highest tier of point goals at 50 pts. Then maximum, if I have extra time in my day or just want to do a little more I go ahead and do that, but I don’t make myself.

I like using a lot of different things when I study. So far it has introduced me to a few words/phrases here and there that I have not been presented with yet in my other studies. The other things I do being wanikani, I make myself a sentence of the day and get it corrected on hellotalk, I have an N5 vocabulary book I study, Try N5 and Nihongo So Matome N5 workbooks, I also do Kanji Kentei practice workbooks and kanji writing practice, I usually do a Pimsleur lesson on the treadmill, and then I listen to a podcast on Japanese Pod 101…I know that sounds like a ton but I spread it out through the day so I don’t notice it. A lot of multi-tasking…haha!

With me specifically, it helps to use a lot of different learning applications, because if I learn something in one and I am confused, a week or two later it will pop up in a different one, explained or presented differently and it clicks in my head!

TL:DR I would use Duolingo, just not put too much pressure on it, just use it as a way to do a minimal amount of study with those random moments in your day when you have a minute or two, that way you can still be working toward your goal of Japanese without sitting down for huge lessons, plus now that they have the mini lessons (lightbulbs) in there they are great little reads for the sections on how to use grammar properly in small easily understandable sizes instead of a huge textbook explanation! Hope that helped a little =D がんばってね!




In general I really don’t like to impose my views about Japanese learning on people but Duolingo is one area where I will. Mainly because I’m furious about the amount of time i wasted on it to no good effect.

Duolingo is next to useless for learning Japanese* (I have the whole tree on gold as well). There is no attempt to teach anything about the mechanics of the language just merely parroting back stuff. With a limited amount of time in your life why would you waste your time on something like that? Japanese is complex and nuanced and doesn’t map onto European languages at all. Learning patterns like that is simply not effective.

Some app based things you could try which are actually useful

Human Japanese

*I hear DL is split testing a new tree with some actual explanations about what is going’s on; but I haven’t seen it.


Try LingoDeer if you want something similar but actually effective. A quick search on the forums will bring up lots of other mostly positive discussions about it. I think it’s pretty great in a lot of ways, a few shortcomings for sure.

I gave up duo after a few days because it was so obvious it wasn’t going to be a good resource and I really want to learn the language. I feel like most of the people who say it’s good always follow that with a huge BUT.

“Duo was great for learning grammar, I finished it and jumped into Genki and felt like my feet were already wet.” That sort of thing. Like, what? Shouldn’t you have fairly complete comprehension of Genki if you spent months and months on Duo?

edit: I personally went through LingoDeer Japanese 1 first before going through all of Genki I as a sort of review, and I knew maybe 95% of the grammar stuff in Genki I, fwiw.

And that 5% that was missing ended up being the first lesson or two of LingoDeer Japanese 2.


Try LingoDeer

Thanks everyone. I did try LingoDeer before but it doesn’t offer much without a subscription and reviews don’t seem to be that comprehensive (or maybe I just haven’t looked too deep into it). My concern is primarily about using my time in the best way as I don’t have that much of it and I’d hate to realise afterwards that I wasted too much time while there is something out there more effective and more enjoyable!


They did an update recently where there are lightbulbs to click on to get a grammar lesson/explanation on each of the lessons, so it isn’t totally useless in that aspect anymore at least.


Happy to admit that that would be a big improvement.

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Duolingo is OK.
I went through all of Duolingo about a year or two ago and it was a great grammar starter (as in, taught me basic grammar like particles and verb modifiers). It’s mainly N5 grammar.

I wasn’t a fan of the way of teaching (as in, hover over the word), but it was really useful when I was at the beginner level as I really, really struggled with particles and when to use which one.

It depends on what level your Japanese is, if I were to have started Duolingo where I am now, it would be just a waste of time as it doesn’t teach me the grammar points I need to know at an N3 level.

If you want another suggestion, Memrise and LingoDeer are both better, Memrise has user made courses too and Lingodeer goes a little further than Duolingo.

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This really speaks to me as someone in Japan desperately flailing around trying to cram language into my brain so I can have a daily life here that doesn’t involve so many moments of blind panic and complete lack of understanding.

I tried Duolingo again last month. Looked up what was the most effective way to use it, spent about half an hour on it a day for a run of a couple of weeks.
Compared with Lingodeer, it was useless. It’s really worth paying the £20 for Lingodeer because it introduces grammar points so well, you can review them based on how well you know them or by category, and there’s just so much content. The Japanese 2 course really gets stuck in with great stuff.

The repetition on Duolingo is maddening. They say when you level up a skill that you’ll get harder content on that skill, but it’s the same stuff over and over and over. I don’t think I actually learnt a single new phrase or sentence structure from all the time I spent on it.


So I just uninstalled the Owl last night after getting a 40 day streak going. I thought it was alright at first even though I wasn’t learning anything but my head was in the game every day, even if I didn’t touch WaniKani right? Well the more I thought about the last couple weeks of it, it was just me grinding XP to get into higher leagues, then get smokes by other people on the last day (got stuck in Sapphire for the last 3 weeks). I noticed the “harder” content was just doing the same 5 lessons 50 more times to get Gold. When I got reminders for it at night I began to think “Aww crap I need to keep my streak” rather than “Hmm what can I learn?” My reasoning for deleting it was that if it’s not fun and just a burden, my brain is going to shut off to the idea of learning anything. I know WaniKani gets difficult but people to it because of whatever motivates them and they can enjoy learning something. I look back on my last month and a half of Duolingo and don’t feel like I learned a thing and I was tricking myself into thinking I was.


I would say stick it out and finish duo lingo, but if it’s giving you problems don’t make it your priority. It’s definitely a good resource for beginners, but it’s far from essential.


I am pretty competitive and I guess I got lucky - so I progressed into a new league each week until I reached the highest (Ruby) and now I just get notifications about having to do more or I’ll get downgraded to the previous league. The league stuff is meaningless even if you do progress up the chain.

There is plenty of new vocabulary that I’m learning through Duolingo but I’m not sure if it’s going to stick despite typing “I will have a party for 24 hours” 50 times or so :slight_smile:


I love this topic.


I use Duolingo. It’s not bad, per se, but it is seriously dialectic. I use German, which is skewed to Berlin instead of my hometown of Düsseldorf, Ukrainian, which is polluted with Russian, and Japanese, which I am assuming is heavy on 東京弁.

This causes all sorts of fails. What Berliners find normal, a Düsseldorfer would never say and vice versa.

So I am a bit skeptical, but consider it a decent grammar/vocab tool for practicing things I might one day say. Like „I do not wash my winter clothes“.

Anyway, that is my take. そうですね


I like it, but mostly as a tool to reinforce what I’ve learned elsewhere. It is not super effective at teaching, but reasonable for reviewing. I used test out quite a bit to Gold level about half the tree before some of the sentences were a bit linguistically interesting.


Pros: -The words and sentence structures it teaches you are really drilled into you
- I actually like the idea of teaching you the grammar with only telling you the cliffnotes and then
just showing you different sentences using it and having you figure it out yourself

Cons: -There’s not much vocab and that makes it very repetitive as you said because at level 4 you
have to do the lesson with its 10 new words like 30 times to get it to 5
- Some sentences are just plain weird and no one would say them
- some of the audio is using the wrong reading of kanji and other Kanji don’t have any audio at
all meaning you can’t take all of it at face value and have to research whether what the lesson
tells you is actually correct

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