Life feels very different now than it did just a few weeks ago, but as many countries enter their fourth week isolating at home, we are adjusting to our new normal. Duolingo employees are now all working remotely, from our homes across the U.S. and around the world, with the exception of our Beijing office — in China, things are slowly, hesitantly, returning to normal.
Our learners, too, are adhering to shelter-in-place orders and developing new strategies to fill the days. For many around the world, Duolingo has become a part of their new at-home routine: from learning a language to feel connected to people a world away, to using Duolingo while schools and educators scramble to transition to online teaching, to building healthy new habits that create a sense of normalcy in our new routines. One of our key initiatives was creating a guide for parents and educators (athome.duolingo.com) with ideas for language-learning games and lessons that you can use at home.
In this post, we’ll be sharing some of the ways in which Duolingo learners and learning behaviors have changed due to coronavirus. Learning a new language isn’t just a fun, productive habit to pass the time; for our learners, language is a bridge between people enduring the same uncertainty, all around the world.
Changes in learning with Duolingo during the global pandemic
- Learning on Duolingo is at an all-time high. New users on Duolingo doubled over the month of March, with the biggest surge coming the week of March 16, after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.
- Learners respond swiftly to government-ordered isolation. The U.S., France, and Spain began implementing stay-at-home guidelines earlier than the U.K. New Duolingo users spiked the week of March 16 in the U.S. (66% more new users than at the end of February), France (107% more new users), and Spain (109% more new users). The U.K. spike came the following week, on March 23, with 296% more new users compared to the end of February.
- Duolingo steps in to support online classrooms at home. Worldwide, we’ve seen an increase in the proportion of users studying with us for school: in March 2020, over 30% of new learners were using Duolingo for school, and travel had dropped to the third most common reason for study, with less than 13% of new learners.
- Learners choose languages they can apply. Learners in English-speaking countries are largely focused on Spanish and French, and learners in non-English-speaking countries are using time at home to study English.
- Learners spend more time studying and don’t take weekends. New learners spend 13% more time on Duolingo than was typical for new users in the past, and they study as much during the week as they do on weekends. We also see an increase of as much as 2.5 as many lessons completed midday, especially just before and after lunchtime.
Duolingo is the world’s most-downloaded and top-grossing education app, valued at $1.5 billion. It’s interesting to see the app’s recent success as education has started to shift to online learning. Duolingo stood out to me as a successful business model because of its ability to shift to prioritize where the market demands it most. Before, it was mostly used to learn the language of a country you were about to travel to. Recently, the company launched Duolingo ABC, a free English literacy app for children ages 3-6, with a goal of helping parents homeschool their children during the pandemic. This decision was clearly fruitful and successful for the company.