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Duolingo Review

Monday, June 17th

2024 Japanese Lesson Reviews

Duolingo Review 3.5 Star Rating


3.5 Star Rating
  • Pricing from free to $9.99 per month
  • Sentence-reading and listening approach
  • Hiragana lessons right away
  • Totally free account available
  • 14-day free trial of premium (Super Duolingo)
  • Gamified learning with points and leaderboards
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • 4.7-star average rating

If you're not familiar with Duolingo yet, you might be missing out on something big. This language-learning platform has become popular with students and teachers (and especially on social media), thanks to its adorable owl mascot that nudges you to keep learning. Duolingo is well known for its gamified method of teaching Japanese, along with over 40 other languages. It's become a top choice for many first-time language learners since it's a free option that can help you establish the basics in a flash.

Preview lesson offers detailed alphabet discussions

Starting your Japanese language journey with Duolingo couldn't be easier. It offers a 100% free sign-up, allowing you to dive into learning before you even make an account. Simply select the language you're interested in (like Japanese, in our case), and Duolingo will guide you through some initial questions about your learning goals, your current level, and how much time you can dedicate daily. Without any commitment, you'll be directed to your first lesson.

Writing system emphasized

During our trial run, we noticed that Duolingo emphasizes grasping the Hiragana writing system right away, offering detailed explanations about a symbolic alphabet rather than a phonetic one (like we use in English). Your progress is tracked with a helpful bar at the top, gradually turning green as you answer questions. Mistakes prompt quick review questions, and the lesson's key feature, especially for free members, is the heart system. Losing hearts for errors (starting with 5) can be frustrating, but it encourages focused learning from the outset.

Best Japanese Lessons

Free to learn or $6.99 per month

Duolingo provides a subscription service priced at $6.99 per month. You can use a 14-day trial to explore premium features before committing, but if you don't remember to cancel your premium membership post-trial, you'll automatically be charged. (On the bright side, you can use Duolingo totally for free if you don't want to worry about automatic renewals and premium costs.) Super Duolingo offers you access to features like unlimited replay so you won't lose progress when making mistakes, along with access to extra practice tools to master challenging aspects of Japanese. Duolingo recently introduced a Super Duolingo Family Plan, which allows you to add several learners on a single paid subscription, including friends or roommates. While the exact pricing and signup details may be hard to find, our research suggests an approximate cost of $9.99 per month for up to 5 people.

Fluency may require outside resources

One drawback of Duolingo is that achieving fluency in a language isn't as straightforward compared to other platforms. While Duolingo's gamified approach does make learning fun, language experts tend to criticize it as being overly addictive, potentially keeping students from more effective learning methods. To truly gain language skills, you need to approach learning with purpose. Taking notes, practicing outside of Duolingo, and independently focusing on grammar may be necessary to truly succeed in Japanese fluency. While Duolingo offers valuable features, relying solely on it may not suffice for mastering Japanese without outside study.

No refunds after 14-day trial

According to Duolingo, refunds are not available for any purchases. So, if you don't monitor your 14-day free trial closely, you may find yourself automatically enrolled in a somewhat pricey premium membership. Those who have been charged stated that Duolingo took payment for a full year rather than on a month-to-month basis after the free trial. So, even though the pricing is advertised as monthly on the website, you may be looking at over $60 if you miss your window to cancel.

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Students love it, but the BBB shows concerns

In terms of reputation, Duolingo receives mixed feedback. The Better Business Bureau rates Duolingo with an "F" grade, based on 254 complaints lodged within the last 3 years. However, if you look at the ratings on app stores like Google Play and the Apple Store, Duolingo presents a different picture. Currently, Duolingo holds a 4.7-star rating on both platforms and even earned the Editors Choice award on the Apple Store. Students report seeing progress in their language skills and describe the program as "fun."

Best for beginners, not for full fluency

Ultimately, Duolingo offers a fun approach to learning Japanese, but it may not be the most well-rounded choice available. Some students suggest that it's ideal for beginners or for dipping your toes into a new language rather than relying on it for full proficiency. Nevertheless, with its affordable pricing and enjoyable interface, Duolingo remains popular among students. Since it's free to use, it's worth downloading as a tool alongside other learning programs or coursework. For these reasons, Duolingo earns a respectable rating for Japanese lessons.

Where Can You Find the Best Japanese Lessons?

Learning a new language opens up a world of opportunities, and Japanese is one of the most intriguing languages you can choose. Suppose you're fascinated by Japanese culture, anime, manga, or traditional arts like tea ceremonies and calligraphy. In that case, delving into the Japanese language can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of what you love.

Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of online learning, you can easily find Japanese lessons on the internet. Whether you're a complete beginner or seeking to refine your conversational skills, online Japanese courses offer a variety of teaching styles. From immersive audio lessons and interactive quizzes to multimedia resources and virtual language exchanges, online platforms offer an engaging learning environment.

The Best Japanese Lessons Compare Japanese Lessons Compare Japanese Lesson Reviews What are the best Japanese Lessons Best Japanese Lesson Reviews

Japanese Lesson FAQ

Japanese is in the top 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with over 130 million people who use it. 99% of those speakers live in Japan, but there are over a million people in the US, Brazil and Guam who also speak fluent Japanese.
Yes, but you probably won't encounter anything beyond Standard Japanese unless you travel throughout Japan itself. The Japanese you learn will be understood throughout the country, and differences are mostly related to accents and some vocabulary. It's not unlike what you find between speakers from different regions of the US, or between people from England and Australia.
If we're being completely honest, we'd say that Japanese is one of the hardest languages you could attempt to master: even the US State Department ranks it with Arabic, Korean and Chinese as one of the four most difficult! Part of that stems from the fact that Japanese has three separate writing systems (Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji). However, if you've got the grit to work hard and be patient with your studies, Japanese shouldn't be out of reach for you to learn.
You're going to need to wrap your head around the three Japanese alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. You'll find all of them as you learn the language! As you learn the alphabets, start memorizing basic vocabulary for how you intend to use Japanese, whether that's for business use or just to understand your favorite anime! Speaking of TV, it's a great way to pick up the accent and pronunciation naturally, especially if you don't have the chance to talk with native speakers on a regular basis.
There's no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a one-semester Japanese class at a university when you can get on-demand instruction for much less. You may not even be able to find in-person classes near you, but there are always options online that let you learn Japanese as quickly (or as slowly!) as you desire.
You need to take a few extra steps to enable the Japanese language on your computer. The steps differ if you're using a Mac or Windows-based PC, and you'll have to search for the instructions based on your operating system. There are also online Japanese keyboards that let you click on characters without modifying your settings.
They're very affordable. You can get month-to-month subscription plans for less than $25/month, or make a one-time purchase of a Japanese lessons package for under $500. Either way, you'll get much more for your money than if you were paying for a semester or two of college courses.
You'll want to read the terms and conditions of any language platform you're considering. The subscription plans typically allow customers to cancel at any time but don't offer a refund of previous payments. The Japanese lesson packages that are one-off purchases may have a 30- or 60-day money-back guarantee. We suggest that you use all of the free resources that the language program has to offer - such as a sample lesson, or a trial period - so that you will already know how it approaches instruction and if it's a good fit for your preferences.
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Continued from above...

Whether you dream of exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, immersing yourself in the serene landscapes of Kyoto, or simply connecting with Japanese speakers, learning the language can be a rewarding experience.

Japan has a rich cultural heritage, steeped in centuries-old traditions and modern innovations. From the graceful movements of traditional dance forms like Noh and Kabuki to the intricate artistry of sushi-making and bonsai cultivation, Japanese culture offers art, history, and innovation. By learning Japanese, you gain access to a vibrant cultural world that spans ancient history and contemporary pop culture phenomena like J-pop music. From the elegance of Japanese architecture to the dynamic energy of modern city life, learning Japanese allows you to delve deeper into the heart and soul of Japan.

In today's interconnected world, proficiency in Japanese can open doors to many personal and professional opportunities. Japan is a global economic powerhouse, home to leading technology companies, automotive giants, and influential cultural exports. Whether you aspire to work for a Japanese corporation, pursue academic research in collaboration with Japanese institutions, or engage in cross-cultural exchange programs, fluency in Japanese can significantly broaden your horizons.

As you embark on your journey to learn Japanese, it can be hard to narrow down the options. Here are some key factors to consider to help you find the best resource for your Japanese lessons:

  • Teaching methodology. Identify your preferred learning style - whether auditory, visual, or kinesthetic - and select a Japanese course that works best with how you learn. Whether you thrive on interactive exercises, audiovisual content, or structured grammar discussions, make sure you prioritize platforms that offer methods that support how you learn best.
  • Free trial option. Look for Japanese language platforms that offer free trials or sample lessons. This allows you to check out the program before committing to a subscription. Some platforms offer course previews or multi-day trials. These will give you the best chance at trying a language program before you have to pay.
  • Cost. Evaluate the cost of Japanese language courses with respect to the value they offer in terms of educational content and language proficiency outcomes. Many Japanese language lessons are free, but you may not get full proficiency from those sources. On the other hand, some programs are very expensive, but you still might miss some key features. Balance the cost and value of the language instruction to find your best fit.
  • Reputation. Research the reputation and credibility of Japanese language platforms through customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials. Explore third-party review sites, language learning forums, and social media channels to see if your favorite Japanese lesson provider offers the results you want. Look for platforms with positive feedback regarding instructional effectiveness, customer support, and learning outcomes for a rewarding and fulfilling learning experience.

To help you get the most out of your language studies, Top Consumer Reviews has tested, evaluated and ranked the best options for online Japanese lessons today. We know this information will give you all the info you need to choose the best program for your learning style and schedule.

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