In a previous post, we made the case for encouraging employees to learn a second or third language. There are benefits to both individual employees and the organization driven by increasingly interconnected global markets, as well as a diverse population within the United States itself.
In terms of actually learning the language, in this post, we’ll discuss a relatively new application that’s available free—or for a fee for the ad-free version—that utilizes gamification techniques and artificial intelligence (AI) to help drive language development.
We’re not trying to make a plug for any particular company, and there may be a number of useful tools that use gamification and AI to help people learn languages, but DuoLingo is perhaps one of the better known and widely used.
According to DuoLingo’s website, the company has over 300 million users, which it says provides it with the world’s largest collection of language-learning data. Using these data, the company is able to build and modify its platform based on what works best. And it also utilizes technology to adapt to a learner’s proficiency.
“Duolingo’s computer adaptive placement test is a responsive exam that automatically adjusts question difficulty depending on the test taker’s response, with correct answers leading to harder questions and incorrect answers leading to easier ones,” says one expert. “One of the big perks about this style of testing is that it’s able to assess someone’s ability quickly based on a small number of questions.”
Even the most effective learning tool won’t help users who aren’t motivated to use the tool. Duolingo uses gamification to encourage users to keep coming back.
For example, it uses hearts as a form of “lives” that you lose when you get answers wrong. If you lose all your hearts, you have to redo the lesson. There are also bonuses called “lingots” that you earn for completing certain tasks, which can be used for in-app purchases.
There are a number of tools available to help people learn a new language. DuoLingo is worth mentioning not only for the large number of users but also for the way it uses AI and gamification techniques to help users learn more effectively.