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Duolingo reveals St. Dwynwen’s Day plan to reach 1m Welsh speaker target

25 Jan 2021 4 minute read
Dydd Santes Dwynwen Duolingo

Duolingo has used St. Dwynwen’s Day to reveal a plan to help the Welsh Government reach its target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Duolingo said it would align course content and share knowledge with the National Centre for Learning Welsh, and use its global reach to attract new learners.

The day of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, marks the 5th anniversary of the Welsh course on Duolingo.

To date over 1.62 million people worldwide have started learning Welsh on Duolingo – up 100k since October 2020 – with 474k active learners today. At the 2011 census the number of Welsh speakers stood at 562,000.

The 2020 Duolingo Language Report has revealed Welsh was the fastest growing language in the U.K. (up 44% in 2020) beating Hindi, Japanese, French and Turkish.

The report also found Welsh learners were some of the most committed and most dedicated in the world, ranking third for the longest average daily streaks, and third for the most number of lessons completed in 2020.

Colin Watkins, Duolingo’s Manager in the UK said by aligning with Cymraeg 2050 and working with the National Centre for Learning Welsh they hoped to reach the goal of having 1 million Welsh speakers much sooner than 2050.

“We want everyone in Wales, the U.K. and Welsh diaspora worldwide to see the benefits of learning a language, and have fun doing it,” he said.

“Duolingo is the gateway. Because our courses are free there is no barrier, you can learn on your own at your own pace. The fear many people have when starting, being embarrassed, not having the time, the cost is removed.

“Our data shows if you have a positive experience you stay motivated and go on to consume media, music, literature, or join in person events like those run by the National Centre.”

Welsh on Duolingo

  • Launched on 25 January 2016
  • 40% of Welsh learners are in the U.K., 21% are in the US, 3% in Canada, 2% in Australia, India and Germany, with 1% in France, Netherlands and Brazil.
  • The remaining 17% are split between every country on earth and as far afield as Nauru and Antarctica with one learner each.
  • 22% of new learners in 2020 chose School as their primary motivation to learn followed by Family 17%, Culture 15%, Brain 15%, Work 9% and Travel 8%.

The Minister for Mental Health, Well-being and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, said said they had seen a surge in demand for Welsh in early years and school-age learning over recent years.

“To reach our target, it’s important to also grow the language among adults and apps such as Duolingo are a great way to get a taste for learning Welsh in a fun way which fits around people’s busy lives,” she said.

“I’m really pleased the National Centre for Learning Welsh has developed a partnership with Duolingo and it’s inspiring to hear of people around the world who’ve learned Welsh through the app.

“So on St Dwynwen’s Day, our national day of love, it’s a perfect time to fall in love with learning Welsh!”.


Efa Gruffudd Jones, Chief Executive at the National Centre for Learning Welsh, said that creating and promoting opportunities for learners to practise and enjoy their Welsh was an important part their work and that they were delighted to be working in partnership with Duolingo.

“We encourage our learners to use Duolingo’s language learning app, to practise their new skills and reinforce their classroom learning, and I would like to thank Duolingo’s team of enthusiastic volunteers in Wales for their work,” she said.

“We would like to congratulate Duolingo on reaching this important milestone – llongyfarchiadau!”

Welsh language tutor, Richard Morse, who helped create the Welsh course for Duolingo, said it was “amazing to have brought a Welsh course to so many people in five years”.

“Thanks to everyone who has helped on the way,” he said. “Ymlaen i’r miliwn o siaradwyr!”

Filip Radu, a Romanian student who recently moved to Cardiff University said that Duolingo had been a great help in expanding his knowledge of the language.

“Duolingo has been key in helping me practice outside of my course and it provided aid in expanding my vocabulary, particularly as quarantine has prevented me from interacting with other Welsh speakers in the university and the city,” he said.

“I am happy I can contribute to the number of Welsh speakers and keep the Welsh language alive and contribute to the goal of getting 1 million speakers.

“Duolingo helped me expand my vocabulary in Welsh. Particularly in the areas of numbers, foods, months, and days and provided me with more opportunities to hear the Welsh language being spoken.”

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