How does Duolingo make Money?

How does Duolingo make Money?

Duolingo is a digital language learning platform that allows users to learn over 40 different languages. The languages range from English to Russian. It comes in the form of a smartphone module that contains the application. It is the world’s most popular and widely used language learning tool. Let’s know How does Duolingo make Money?


Duolingo was launched in 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The application was founded by Luis Von Ahn and co-founded by Severin Hacker.

There are over 300 million users who have been registered to the platform.

How does Duolingo operate?

The language programs in Duolingo are classified into different sections. The application operates in modules, also known as Crown Levels. Each module contains a certain collection of topics as the course moves from basics to the more advanced levels.

New modules become active only if the previous ones have been completed.

Elon Musk's Career Advice

There are different levels of tasks in each section-

  1. To translate a sentence from one language to another.
  2. To write a sentence on your own.
  3. Find matching words in the corresponding foreign language.
  4. The application uses a gamification system to engage and motivate the students to learn easily in a fun way.
  5. Small virtual awards are achieved after the completion of a module.

With the aid of Machine Learning Technology, the application analyses the words and phrases users struggle with the most. Thus, repetition of the same phrase and words after completion of each lesson strengthens the ability to learn difficult words or phrases.

Where to get the Application?

  1. Duolingo’s official website.
  2. Mobile and Tablet application. They are available on Android and IOS Devices.

Special Features

  1. Chatbots for interactions and conversations.
  1. A shared learning experience amongst users learns the same language via the language clubs.
  1. Third-party applications such as Tiny cards, which was introduced in 2016 but closed in 2020. 

Duolingo’s popularity and access will accelerate in 2020. Today more than 1000 people work for Duolingo, spreading in 7 locations worldwide. 

What is the strategy of Duolingo to make money?

  1. Premium subscription
  2. Displaying ads
  3. Language Proficiency Tests- It is a paid certified English language test

Duolingo is a freemium model. Users have free access to its core products and services. If users want more advanced features and ad-free services, they have to go for subscription plans or buy the features.

Language Proficiency Test

Duolingo introduced its language proficiency test in 2014 that allows users to take it from their smartphones instead of traveling to different institutions to pass the test and take a certificate.

The organizations that provide the tests like TOEFL had a quasi-monopoly for the language testing market. It accounts for a large amount for the candidate to take the test. Candidates had to pay $200 and more for the test, study materials, and driving and accommodation expenses to take the test and gain the certificate. 

Duolingo took on these institutions and launched an online test for accessing candidate’s language proficiency levels.  

Candidates have to pay a one-time fee of $49 to take the Duolingo English test. The test is highly professional and is monitored by certified professionals in the field. They check student’s cameras to detect any irregular movements to prevent cheating.

The test lasts for 60 minutes. Candidates will receive a Certificate of accomplishment after successful completion of the test.

Some of the features of the Premium subscription of Duolingo Plus are-

  1. Ad-free services
  2. Access to progress quizzes
  3. Unlimited access to skill tests
  4. Unlimited access to hearts
  5. Users can download the lessons and study them offline

Duolingo Plus charges 12.99 USD per month. There are discounts available for those users who want to go with a half-or full-year subscription plan. One can cancel the subscription anytime like any modern-day subscription.


Duolingo’s Business Model makes use of crowd-sourcing. Duolingo’s founder Von Ahn’s goal is to make the app accessible worldwide, irrespective of the different languages people speak or read or understand. The motto is to crowdsource people from across the globe to translate the web for him. The users get free access to learn a new language in return. 

Duolingo sells users’ data to companies like CNN and Buzzfeed. This isn’t any secret or private data of users, but one that users provide there in the form of translated words. The text is then sold as translated articles to the companies who want global accessibility. 

In this way, Duolingo generates extra money from crowdsourcing mass translations and selling them to companies. 

Top competitors of Duolingo 

The most notable competitor of Duolingo is Rosetta Stone. 

Babbel, a Berlin-based company, is also a mobile linguistic tool, another competitor of Duolingo.

The subscription plan of Rosetta Stone is $120 per year, while Babbel charges $85 per year. Duolingo’s subscription plan is $84/year with discounts. 

Duolingo has way more active subscribers and users as compared to Rosetta Stone and Babbel. 

Duolingo stands apart from the other language learning platforms due to its user-friendly mode, free accessibility, and offering more languages. Rosetta Stone and Babbel offer 25 and 14 languages, respectively. Duolingo offers about 40 different languages. 

Duolingo’s funding and revenue

Notable investors in Duolingo includes-

  1. General Atlantic
  2. New enterprise associates
  3. Durable Capital Partners
  4. Arctic Ventures
  5. Kleiner Perkins
  6. Ashton Kutcher and many more.

The company generated a revenue of $161.7 million for the fiscal year 2020. 

Duolingo had garnered a valuation of $2.4 billion as per the latest funding round announced in November 2020. 

Duolingo Mascot

The Duo is the name of the Duolingo Owl. The company has worked on the owl for several years to make it more expressive and let the users attach to the mascot. The mascot cries animated tears in the inbox. The chief motive behind changing the owl is like opening up a pandora box which can change the rest of the app’s functioning by creating a more catchy, cartoony design. 

The company’s head of design, Taylor Murphy wants the app to be more user-friendly and animated. Gamification is an integral part of the app which includes hearts for correct answers and “streak counts” to allow users to visit the app each day. The duo has come up as a gaming mascot just like Mario. 

Games have the power to let users be attached to the characters. That’s why the users come back to the new game when that same character appears.  

Murphy contrasts Mario with the Twitter bird icon which is always the same. People usually like games and apps with the characters in them with different expressions according to the users’ experiences. Inspired by Super Mario’s various action positions and expressions, he made the Duo’s owl with so many sides.

The company’s strategy to show the owl in multiple facets paid them off well. They find more and more users attached to the owl. The company is planning for the redesign further.  

The duo is an owl and an owl represents knowledge and its color is green. The company’s co-founder Severin Hacker hated the color green and he told designers in advance about his abhor. The company decided to go with the color green just to make a mess with the co-founder Severin. 

Social media with a lot of distractions sometimes compel people to leave the learning apps. That’s the problem the Duolingo app faced in the initial years. To make the app more interesting and engaging, they had to come up with a strategy. That’s how the owl with new features and more expressions come into being. Redesigning attracts more users and more subscriptions to the app. They constantly work to make the app more and more captivating and game-like. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is the Duolingo English test accepted worldwide?

Duolingo has a partnership with various universities and secondary schools. They accept the Duolingo English Test as a part of their admission process. 

Visit the link to find the institutions that accept Duolingo English Test-

  1. How long is the Duolingo English Tests’ result valid?

They are valid for two years.

  1. How to practice for the Duolingo English Test?

Visit the link to take free practice tests and to download the official guide for the candidates taking this test. This guide gives information regarding the questions being asked and some tips and tricks to prepare and qualify for the test.

  1. What sort of questions are being asked in the Duolingo English Test?

The test contains a graded portion and an ungraded portion. The graded portion includes a series of reading, speaking, writing, and listening exercises.

The ungraded portion includes a video interview and a writing sample.

For more detail, visit the readiness page of the Duolingo website.


  1. Can I work with Duolingo?

Yes. If you are passionate about working with Duolingo, visit the job page of their website and find out the current job listings there.

Visit the link

  1. What are Crown levels in Duolingo?

Each skill has a crown level associated with it which is a feature added to teach better. After completion of each level, the candidate earns a crown. One can earn up to 5 crowns or 5 levels per skill. By going deeper into the skill, one can level themselves up, this way earns more crowns by leveling the skill.

How does Duolingo make Money?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top
Land your Dream Job
Get actional first hand insights from people who share their job search stories.