Duolingo takes a fun approach to language learning. It gamifies the process by breaking down lessons into digestible chunks and rewarding you for your progress. Starting today, you can enjoy the app on your iPad as well as your iPhone.
Duolingo requires an account to keep track of your achievements and progress. You can log in with a unique username / password combination or choose to sign in with Facebook. Once you log in, you can choose the language or languages that you wish to learn. The app ships with learning modules for Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and English.
The app starts off with the basics, mainly simple words and sentences. It then gradually moves into more difficult content like phrases, plurals and vocabulary. It's designed to be used in small bursts so you can take as little as 15 minutes each day to start learning a new language.
Duolingo launched as a web app and then added an iPhone app. This latest version adds the iPad to the mix, allowing you to spread your learning across your devices. Your progress across all three platforms is synced so you can complete a lesson on your iPad and start in on the next lesson on your Mac.
Duolingo is for the person who wants to learn a language, but struggles to sit through long, dry courses. Duolingo is quite the opposite of your typical language course -- it's interactive, enjoyable and doesn't require a big block of time. It'll teach you the basics of a language, which you then can use as a springboard for more immersive studies.
Best of all, Duolingo is available for free because it has a unique business model. As you progress through a course, you can start practicing your skills by translating documents. These documents are uploaded by companies and people who pay Duolingo for the translation. You get free instruction, companies get an affordable translation service and Duolingo makes enough money to keep innovating. You can check out the Duolingo app for free from the iOS App Store.