Duolingo launches partnership with National Centre for Learning Welsh
Duolingo has launched a partnership with the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
From October 2021, the National Centre’s team will take responsibility for the Welsh language course on the app from a group of enthusiastic volunteers.
The volunteers were led by Welsh tutor Richard Morse, who have been running the Duolingo course since its launch in January 2016.
The development is the first of its kind, and part of a wider initiative within Duolingo to move from a volunteer-based model to having some courses managed ‘in-house’, with others developed in partnership with external bodies such as the National Centre.
In the 2020 Duolingo Language Report Welsh was found to be the fastest growing language in the UK, up 44% on 2019 – ahead of Hindi, Japanese and French.
Welsh learners were also found to be some of the hardest working and most committed in the world, ranking third for the longest average daily streaks, and third for the most number of lessons completed.
Welsh’ success continued in 2021 with the language overtaking Russian, Chinese and Portuguese to become the UK’s 6th most learned language behind Spanish, French, German, English, Italian and Japanese.
There are currently 476,000 active learners of Welsh. Over 58% of recent learners are in the UK, while 15% are in the US, and 2% are in Australia and Canada. The rest are split between pretty much every country on earth with a single learner as far afield as the Cook Islands, Greenland and Burkina Faso.
The course – available for free on Duolingo’s app of the year winning iOS and Android apps, and at duolingo.com – uses game-like experiences to help learners practise and improve their language skills.
The National Centre has already worked with the Duolingo volunteers to align the course to its curriculum. It also signposts its learners to Duolingo so they can revise what they have learned in class.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, said: “The success of the Welsh course on Duolingo shows there’s a real demand to learn the language – this is excellent news as we work towards achieving the Welsh Government’s ambition of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
“Duolingo – along with the dedicated team of volunteers who’ve worked so hard in developing and maintaining the Welsh course – have given so many people across the world the chance to learn Welsh and I’d like to thank them very much – diolch yn fawr i chi.
“As Duolingo moves forward, I’m delighted they’re joining forces with the National Centre for Learning Welsh, which was praised in a recent independent review for its clear vision to support learners to become users of the Welsh language. This new partnership will create even more opportunities for people to enjoy learning and using the language.”
Colin Watkins, UK Country Manager Duolingo, said: “Welsh has been hugely successful on Duolingo which is thanks to the stellar work from Richard and the team.
“Volunteers, including our co-founder, Luis von Ahn, wrote many of the early courses but as our popularity has grown, along with the number of language courses, now over 100 and counting, we wanted to formalise the way courses are created.
“It’s important for us to find the right partners and the fit with the National Centre for Learning Welsh is perfect. We’re confident their team will be able to continue the fantastic work started by Richard and the team.”
Dona Lewis, the National Centre’s Deputy Chief Executive, who has led the discussions with Duolingo, adds: “The Duolingo Welsh course is a brilliant learning resource and our learners love using it to practise and improve their Welsh.
“This new partnership will enable us to further align the Duolingo course to our courses, which are available at five different learning levels.
“We’ll also be able to promote further learning opportunities to the Duolingo Welsh community, including virtual courses, online self-study modules and social events for Welsh learners.
“The National Centre would also like to pay tribute to the volunteers who’ve worked on the Duolingo Welsh course – we’re looking forward to continuing their good work and to welcoming and supporting even more Welsh learners.”