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Duolingo Review

Wednesday, May 29th

2024 Korean Lesson Reviews

Duolingo Review 1.5 Star Rating


1.5 Star Rating
  • Focuses primarily on reading and understanding Korean, with limited options for speaking and writing
  • 100% free to use for all available languages
  • Can upgrade to Super Duolingo to get rid of ads, get unlimited "hearts" , and access personalized practice ($6.99/month)
  • Can pay for a family plan and invite up to 5 additional Super users, not just family members ($9.99/month)
  • Use on the app or desktop version

Anyone who has even thought for a second about learning a new language has undoubtedly toyed with the idea of using Duolingo to do it. Just one scroll through your social media feeds and you'll almost always come across someone who just hit a new high in their streak and is posting their humblebrag about it. But, is anyone actually getting any meaningful fluency from using Duolingo, particularly when it comes to learning Korean? After our own 30-day streak as a beginning learner of Korean, we would give that a resounding "no" .

Works better if you have experience with a similar language

Now, we'll give credit where it's due. Duolingo might have its moments of glory for languages where we already have some background, like brushing up on our Portuguese when we're already fluent in Spanish. But when it comes to Korean? Talk about an exercise in futility. You can't "read" Korean phonetically like you might be able to fudge with languages that use the same alphabet as English, and you're certainly not going to be able to pick out cognates (words that come from a familiar root, so your best guess is likely to be a good one). English hasn't exactly borrowed from Korean; if anything, it goes the other way around, and maybe that's why some of the earliest words you'll get on Duolingo's Korean lessons are "message" and "donut" (because the Korean spelling of those words is pretty spot-on phonetically... if you can read the Korean letters).

You'll waste time learning words you don't need

For starters, the content feels completely disconnected from reality. Do we really need to know how to say "the baby's cucumber" or "Oh, a fox" in Korean? We're all for quirky phrases, but when they take precedence over practical vocabulary and grammar, we've got a problem.

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Don't expect any overt teaching here

You should also understand that Duolingo does almost zero teaching, expecting you to learn intuitively how the letters work together to make sounds, subject-verb order, and almost every other grammatical nuance. Yes, there are "guidebooks" you can look at when you start a new unit, but they're not so helpful. For the earliest stages of Korean, they tend to be more of a phrase list, but more of the "Ah, donut" variety and not the "How are you?" and "My name is" kind you would expect as a new language learner.

Almost zero meaningful learning after 30 days

Even with the repetitive nature of the lessons, after 30 days in, we still didn't have the basic (disjointed) words memorized. Milk. Baby. Message. Fox. Chicken. Student. Newspaper. Seoul. Not a chance we'd recognize any of those words the next time we pull up our favorite K-drama of the moment. But hey, at least Duolingo has cute little animations, right? Because nothing says "effective language learning tool" like a dancing owl or a cheering duo of robots. Give us substance over style any day of the week.

Your streak will matter more than your learning

But perhaps the most infuriating aspect of Duolingo is its obsession with streaks. Yes, we get it, consistency is key when it comes to language learning. But when our main motivation for logging in every day is to maintain a streak rather than actually learning something useful, something's seriously wrong. We found ourselves "cheating" (like looking at the hint by clicking on the word) just to keep our streak, where if we hadn't been worried about running out of "hearts" (you lose a heart for every mistake you make, and when you lose 5 hearts, you're locked out for several hours until they're "full" again), we might have spent more time trying to figure it out.

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Pay for Super Duolingo for ad-free learning and extra tools

However, as you'll see after you've spent even a few seconds on Duolingo, there are paid options you can upgrade to, if you don't like the threat of "losing your hearts" . Upgrade to a Super plan (they'll repeatedly offer you a two-week trial of that for free), and your account will become ad-free with unlimited hearts. You'll also get access to personalized practice for working on your weaker areas in the language. Duolingo doesn't make it easy to find out what happens after that, but expect to pay about $6.99/month for one Super upgrade. More recently, Duolingo introduced a Family Plan that lets you invite 5 other people to join you; friends, coworkers, literally anyone can be added as one of your 5 users. We had a hard time finding anywhere in the app or desktop version what the Family plan costs, but research indicates it might be just $9.99/month.

It just doesn't work

But, even with the paid subscription, these Korean lessons just don't work. If you're thinking about using Duolingo to learn Korean, save yourself the headache and run in the opposite direction. Trust us, you'll thank us later. The only people who might get something meaningful out of the platform are those who already have a basic understanding of the language and just want to use it as something to supplement their Korean learning.

Where Can You Get the Best Korean Lessons Online?

There are many reasons why people learn the Korean language. Maybe you're a K-drama fan eager to understand your favorite binge-worthy series without relying on subtitles. Or perhaps you're eyeing a career opportunity in South Korea and want to impress your future colleagues with your language skills. And let's not forget the thrill of traveling to Korea and being able to navigate the streets and connect with locals in their own language.

Learning Korean does come with its unique challenges compared to languages like Spanish or French. For starters, there's Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which is surprisingly easy to pick up - but still requires some practice. Then there's the grammar, with its subject-object-verb word order and intricate honorifics system that adds layers of nuance to your speech.

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

Korean Lesson FAQ

Over 75 million people speak Korean across the globe. That includes nearly 50 million in South Korea and 25 million in North Korea, plus significant Korean-speaking communities in China, the US, and Japan.
Yes. The dialect used in Seoul is the one you'll hear and read most commonly. North Korea has its own dialect, which is heavily influenced by the Russian language.
Korean is ranked as one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn, according to the Foreign Service Institute within the State Department. (Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese are the only other languages with that level of difficulty!) Of course, any language is within reach if you put in the work!
Begin with studying the Hangul alphabet: just 14 consonants and 10 vowels, many of which have similar sounds in English. Next, get a feel for basic grammar and some commonly-used phrases - and be aware that basic word order in Korean sentences follows a subject-object-verb pattern (unlike English's subject-verb-object structure). And, of course, feel free to enjoy K-pop, K-dramas and any other entertainment that will help you pick up on the language naturally!
You may have a hard time finding any other way to study Korean! Unless you live near a large university, you probably won't have the option of attending in-person classes. That's okay: studying online gives you access to lessons that fit your schedule and for much less than you'd spend for a semester or two at a college. There's no need to ask a teacher to repeat a phrase so you can catch the pronunciation: just hit "replay" and listen as many times as you want!
There are a couple ways you can use your computer to write in Hangul (the Korean alphabet). The easiest is probably to enable a Korean keyboard; the steps differ by operating system, so search based on whether you're using a Mac or PC. Otherwise, there are online Korean keyboards that don't require you to change your computer settings.
Not at all. You can choose among many different language programs, some of which offer monthly subscriptions and others that give you an entire course as a one-time purchase. You could pay as little as $17/month for a membership or $150 for a complete Level 1 package.
Sometimes. Depending on which language platform you choose, you might get a satisfaction guarantee of up to 60 days or the ability to cancel your subscription without penalty. Many Korean language lessons have a free trial or sample lessons, and we encourage you to make full use of those before committing to a program. That's the easiest way to determine if the Korean lessons are presented in a manner that will be a good fit for your preferences and learning style.
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Continued from above...

But don't let that intimidate you. With dedication and the right resources, you'll find yourself making steady progress in no time. You'll be opening doors to a whole new world of culture, entertainment, and connections that come with being able to speak Korean fluently.

Learning Korean online gives you plenty of options to choose from, each tailored to suit different learning styles and preferences. You can dive into listening-only programs, where you focus on authentic conversations to sharpen your ear for the language. If you're into games, you might enjoy gamified platforms that turn learning Korean into a fun challenge, with points and rewards (and streaks) to keep you motivated.

Interactive courses are another great choice, offering a mix of videos, quizzes, and exercises that give you instant feedback and guidance. They're perfect if you like a structured approach to Korean that covers all the bases, from reading and writing to speaking and listening.

Or maybe you're more of a people person and thrive on interaction. In that case, tutoring platforms would be your go-to. You can connect with native speakers for real conversations and cultural exchange, making learning Korean a social experience.

Ready to get started? There are so many Korean lessons to choose from, it could feel a bit overwhelming to know which one to use. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get excited about learning and want to pick the right platform:

  • Current fluency level. Do you already speak (or read) some Korean? Or are you a newbie? No shame in that game. Make sure you choose the Korean lessons that match where you're at.
  • Method of language instruction. How are the Korean lessons delivered? Is it through an app, audio files, an internet browser on your laptop, or something else? What do you think will work best for your learning style?
  • Listening, speaking, reading, writing. Do the language lessons teach you Korean mostly through listening and speaking, through reading and writing, or a mix of all four modalities? We're all for being well-rounded language learners, and because Korean uses a different alphabet than the one you're reading right now, you can't fake your way into reading it unless you know how the letters are pronounced and combined to make syllables and words. Keep that in mind if you're using Korean lessons that are primarily audio-based.
  • Cost. What will you pay for your Korean language lessons? Is it a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription? If there's a free option, what do you get at no cost and is it worth it to upgrade?
  • Learner reviews. Pay close attention to what other Korean students say about their experience with the lesson platform. Did they experience a meaningful improvement in their fluency by using it? How long did it take to see improvements?

To help you find the right Korean lessons for your language goals and favorite way of learning, the experts at Top Consumer Reviews have tried some of today's most popular options and given you an honest take on what you can expect from each one. So what are you waiting for? Dive in and start your Korean learning journey today!

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