The Web 2.0 apps have brought an explosion of new users to language-learning platforms. Their broad customer base can also help attract instructors. Although some instructors have used the Web 2.0 apps to replace their professional teaching careers, most of the instructors who have used the apps are new to the field. The Web 2.
Web 2.0 applications like Duolingo and Memrise have a different customer profile than the language-learning platforms that emerged in the late 1990s. They have grown to serve a broader audience of motivated, technically literate learners who want to expand their languages for personal use. Duolingo’s and Memrise’s learning platforms can also be used in different ways. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary, while Memrise focuses on building familiarity with grammar.
Learning platforms are not all language exchange or tutor-led programs. Two of the most popular are Duolingo and Memrise. Duolingo offers completely free language-building lessons, and users build language vocabulary through a combination of repetition, flashcards, and original text.
The rise of the Web 2.0 applications marks the point at which language learning platforms crossed a cultural boundary, and became accessible on the Web. With the rise of social media, the Web 2.0 apps have found their audience amongst a new clientele of language learners: it’s an audience that is more educated, technologically literate, and demanding of more than just simple repetition.
As of 2019, Duolingo has over 20 million users (and over four billion lessons completed), while Memrise has over 11 million users (and over 7 billion lessons). Duolingo is available for more than 80 languages in 30 languages.
One of the limitations of this type of platform is that a professional teacher has to be found to provide the service. If someone is not able to find a proficient tutor, then they are left with a self-taught approach. Tutoring also requires the student to learn at their own pace. If they are learning two or more languages simultaneously, they risk falling behind in one of the languages if they are not paying close attention to their schedule.
Duolingo is the most popular language learning app, with a reported global userbase of 55 million people, of which over 20 million are in the United States. Duolingo is an “online language course” that creates a personalized vocabulary based on a student’s responses. Many language learners first use a less intensive version of Duolingo, called “ DUO ,” before graduating to the more comprehensive Duolingo Language Pro.
Mobile apps have also become a popular way for language learners to practice their language skills. There are different types of apps: offline apps, like Duolingo, which only take in audio of the language; online, like Memrise, which provide audio and translation in real time; and apps that provide real-time translations, like Google Translate.
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