Duolingo Business Model – How does Duolingo make money

Learning a new language is always fun. But if you want to excel in learning then you must have a competent companion. Yup, having help will make it easier for you to learn quicker. It is even better if the learning is made fun. But the problem is that not everyone is financially sound. But with Duolingo people don’t have to worry about it, because it is a free language learning platform.

The reason why most people love this platform is that they make learning fun and easy. The courses in this platform are gamified so that users will stay interested in learning the new language. This app has grown exceptionally and has more than 300 Millions users across the globe. Sounds cool, right? 

Duolingo has been in the market for a long time. It was founded by Luis Von Ahn along with his student Severin Hacker in 2009. Luis Von Ahn has previously worked on CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA. The intention behind the creation of this platform is that Luis Von Ahn has seen how expensive it is to study English for people. So with Duolingo, anybody can now learn a new language without worrying about the cost. 

Want to know more about Duolingo and its business model? Let’s dive in right now.

Duolingo Business Model 

As you know Duolingo was started back in 2009. And it has come a long way since its inception and has increased its user base too. The best thing about this platform is that the courses are gamified. This is why more and more users are highly interested in learning a new language. Duolingo is available on both browsers and mobile. It is available in all major platforms Windows, Android and IOS. Currently, this platform is offering around 98 languages. It is offering these language courses in 38 languages. 

The business model that Duolingo uses is a freemium model. Users use this platform to learn 8000 sentences and 2000 words in 30 different languages for free. Also another interesting this is that they have also been adding additional features such as Klingon and High Valyrian. 

This platform offers flashcards for that particular language making it easy for people to understand and learn it. Also, they have Duolingo Proficiency test. Simply put, you can get a certification in English proficiency by paying a minimal fee.

Since now that you have to understand the basics around this platform aren’t you curious about the concept behind it? If yes, then let’s dive in.

The concept behind Duolingo is quite similar to that of CAPTCHA and Re-CAPTCHA. As you already know Re-CAPTCHA crowdsources the words that machine cannot read. Whereas, Duolingo takes the human help to translate the particular document. Although there are translation tools, and with each passing year the better tools are coming to the market but the problem is that they dont translate the message with precision. SO they still need human intervention to make the successful meaning. The translation tools, translate from word to word but sometimes they miss out on conveying the message with exact meaning. 

This is the reason why Duolingo came into existence. Their business model was to make learning a new language fun by making the course into a game. Also, another best thing is that this app is completely free. But what users dont realize that during learning, as a part of the course they translate texts from that language which will become some other website. Wondering how will they know whether the translation is precise or not? The thing that if most people gave the same translation then it is considered as the most appropriate translation for that sentence and they will save and use it as the translated text. 

Since now that you have understood about the business model of Duolingo. Aren’t you curious to know how does this company actually make money or does it make any money? If you’re then let’s jump right into the topic without any further ado.

How does Duolingo make money?

As you see Duolingo is also based on the freemium business model. So it has ways to make revenue. But initially, Duolingo is an ad-free application and it was free. This brings us to the question, how does Duolingo make money then? 


One of the revenue sources for this platform is they translate the content. Yup, with Crowdsourced translation this platform translates the text for other websites or companies. This is one of the major sources of income for this platform. You see the companies can get their text translated at a cheaper rate when compared to a professional whilst getting an adequate translation. It is a win-win situation for users, companies and the platform.

This app has major clients such as BuzzFeed, CNN, etc. These websites approach Duolingo to get their text translated. As you see there are many businesses that need translations, because if they provide services in more than one country where their primary language is not English. It is better to offer a translation. So using apps like Duolingo will help them in translating with a human perspective. They dont have to worry about missing the context, etc.

Advertisements & Paid Version 

But in recent years Duolingo has started posting small, little intrusive ads in the platform. So now they are making revenue from ads too. This new addition is also chipping in to bring more revenues for the company. Also apart from advertisements it also now has a paid version. In the paid version the users will not have to worry about ads. Not only that the users can also play the games and win in-game currency so that they can unlock the courses/content beforehand. This keeps them interested and they can finish their courses faster than ever. 

English Test

Apart from all the other sources to income. This platform also offers its users an English certification test too. Yup, you heard it right. This certification test will give users with a certificate that will provide their proficiency in English. The test costs $49. The user can prove their proficiency in English with this certificate. Quite a cool idea, right? With more and more platforms like Duolingo coming into the market. One can say that it is the pioneer for such platforms. It has made learning a new language fun activity. 

Wrapping up

Duolingo has one of the best business models. It is truly the first time that someone has come up with a platform that makes learning a new language fun whilst earning good revenue from translating for other websites. Truly an ingenious idea. Dont you agree? Although it has drifted from its initial ad-free model. It is still one of the best platforms to learn new languages. Also, the users can take their English proficiency test to get a valid certificate that will prove your proficiency in the language.

Also, it is not an exaggeration to say that this business model has paved way for many other crowdsourcing information models. Cool, right? Are you interest in this business model and want to learn more about other such business models? Then check out other business model articles in Zeen. You will be able to learn about business models of many businesses and how they make money. 

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