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Welsh is one of the ‘most popular’ languages on Duolingo, says company boss

13 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read

Welsh is one of the “most popular” languages on Duolingo, according to the company’s boss.

Luis von Ahn, the firm’s Chief Executive, said it is still the fastest growing language in the UK on the learning app – which has over 40 million users worldwide.

He was asked about the most popular languages on the application during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

This follows the company revealing this week that revenues are still rising as the world starts to open up from Coronavirus restrictions. The firm recently floated on Wall Street with a multi-billion dollar price tag.

Ahn also said there has been an explosion in the number of people getting to grips with Scots Gaelic.

There are now 400,000 people learning Scots Gaelic – 10 times the number of those who speak the language.

The number of people wanting to learn Welsh soared during the pandemic

According to the 2020 Duolingo Language Report, the new learners on the app shot up by 44 per cent – beating French, Hindi, Japanese and Turkish.

The report also described Welsh learners as some of the most serious and dedicated in the world.

Then on St David’s Day this year Duolingo revealed it would align course content and share knowledge with the National Centre for Learning Welsh to help the Welsh Government reach its target of one million speakers by 2050.

It was reported that 1.62 million people are using the app to learn Welsh – with 474,000 active learners.

‘In particular’ 

When he was asked about which were the “most popular” languages on the app on Radio 4’s Today programme, Luis von Ahn said: “In the UK in particular we have a lot of UK languages – for example Welsh is the fastest growing language in the UK.

“Another interesting statistic in the UK is there’s about half a million people learning Scots Gaelic which is about 10 times the number of speakers (which is something) a lot of Scots Gaelic people are very happy about.

“Ultimately, investors are the ones who pick our price in the Stock Market, that’s the idea of being a public company

“We’ve just grown really fast. For the last four years our revenue has more than doubled every year.

“The way Duolingo makes money. It’s entirely free to learn on Duolingo which is one reason why we have so many users.

“You can entirely learn for free but, just like something like Spotify or many of the dating apps like Tinder, the way we make money is that if you learn entirely for free you have to see ads at the end of a lesson and we make money from those ads.

“There’s also a subscription where if you pay to subscribe you can turn off the ads – so we make money from the subscription as well.

“Only five per cent of our users pay to subscribe but they give us 70 per cent of our revenue.

“Our mission is good for the world but it’s also good for business. Only five per cent of our users pay us. We are the top grossing app in the education category on iPhones and Android devices worldwide.

“We make more money than all those other apps although the majority of those apps charge everybody.

“The reason we are the top grossing app is that our free users have allowed us to grow to our super massive scale, basically through word of mouth.

“I absolutely think that having a really great service for free for people who can’t pay or don’t want to pay is actually good for business as well and I think the more sophisticated investors we have understand that really well.”

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j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

This confirms what we hear from all over Wales. Extremely encouraging.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

Add to that all the learners who are using Say Something in Welsh, or DysguCymraeg, and haven’t used Duolingo, and the million seems a plausible target.

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

I’m doing all three – I enjoy the DysguCymraeg Courses (which I now do on-line via zoom) but it’s only 2 hours a week. I found DuoLingo brilliant for learning Vocab and Grammar – I finished the course a few months ago, but still use it to practice every day – currently on a 626 day ‘streak’. But I recently started SSiW as I still need much more practice speaking Welsh – as I never hear it spoken in my part of Radnorshire (aka Powys, if you prefer)

hjr555
hjr555
1 month ago
Reply to  Erisian

Same here. I hit a mental block with SSiW, so moved to DuoLingo for a few months and found it really helped solidify what I learnt with SSiW. They compliment each other IMO – knowing how to spell the words, and seeing the spellings is really useful to me.
I’ve not heard of DysguCymraeg before – I will check it out!

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Good news. Of course Cairns and his ilk will call it “vanity”.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

While, ironically, his Welsh medium education almost certainly helped put him where he is today.

arthur owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

I have no time for Mr Cairns,but he does speak fluent and idiomatic Welsh.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

I have tried a number of different ways to learn. I feel very frustrated with the official national ‘Myneddiad’ course. It’s horrible. Like a tourist parrot learning phrases without being taught meaning and structure so it feels lost in meaningless sounds. Treats you like a stupid robot. The theory of mimicking baby learning style was dropped in linguistics decades ago. //// The topics are tacky, pop level.There is little for the more serious kind of person. I want Welsh especially for my studies (talk of books, essays, libraries, history not sport, pop music). There’s a business course option but no… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

There should be many different types of courses available for different people. I feel far more should be available, for different levels, different needs and for free.

Mawkernewek
1 month ago

I started Duolingo by learning Latin, my first exposure to Welsh came much earlier, when it was on the other side of a record of the Fireman Sam theme tune.
Welsh I learnt starting with an old copy of a Teach Yourself book and the recordings of BBC Catchphrase.
Cornish isn’t on Duolingo yet, but I created this arithmetic quiz in Cornish, anyone want to try? taklowkernewek.neocities.org/kwizawgrym.html

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