How Duolingo keeps learning fun

Duolingo’s creative director James Kuczynski speaks to CR about how the app keeps users engaged, but also how it translates a sense of fun into its communications

Duolingo was launched in 2011 by co-founders Luis von Ahn (CEO) and Severin Hacker (CTO) with a mission to develop the best education app in the world and make it universally available. With 500 million total downloads worldwide, it seems that the language learning app is well on its way to meeting that goal.

“What makes Duolingo stand out is that we focus on making learning free, fun and effective,” says James Kuczynski, Duolingo’s creative director. “Duolingo is free, because we want anyone in the world to be able to learn, without having to pay for it.” Right now, you can learn 40 different languages with Duolingo through bite-sized lessons that can be taken “on the go” and at your own pace. 

All images and video: Courtesy of Duolingo

One of its key selling points is the fact it’s remained free since launch. While there are ads, they aim to be short and non-intrusive, and only appear at the end of each lesson. But if the ads bother you that much, there’s also a subscription option with Duolingo Plus which removes them and allows users to download lessons for offline use.