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Welsh language hits 3 million mark on Duolingo

04 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Image: Duolingo

Emily Price

A new report has revealed the number of people using Duolingo to learn Welsh has hit 3 million, despite plans to mothball the course.

The language learning app today (Monday 4 December, 2023) published its fourth annual Global Language Report which analyses trends and attitudes towards languages drawn from Duolingo’s 84 million learners.

The app’s Welsh course – which features bite-sized, gamified lessons – hit 3 million learners in December 2023.

The number of learners grew by 38% over 2022 (when it grew by 26%).

There are currently 675k people learning Welsh on Duolingo.


In November, Duolingo announced they would pause adding any new content to the course but confirmed that it would remain available on the app and continue to be free for all.

The app uses game-like experiences to help learners practice and improve their language skills and at one point Welsh was the biggest growing language course on the platform.

After Nation.Cymru broke the news of the app’s mothballing, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles wrote to Duolingo to ask them to reconsider.

Duolingo bosses have since met with Mr Miles as well as Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie.

Labour’s Shadow Tech Minister Alex Davies Jones MP also expressed concerns to Duolingo and will meet with bosses soon.

A Senedd petition was also launched calling for the First Minister to intervene on Duolingo’s decision.

Duolingo’s new report reveals users from all over the UK have been using the app to learn Welsh and the course has proven popular in the US, Australia, New Zealand and India, with a cohort of learners in Argentina where there is a Welsh speaking community.

A group of volunteers made up of Welsh subject teachers initiated Welsh on Duolingo in 2015, when they persuaded the company to add the language as its 16th one for English speakers.

They then maintained it from its launch in January 2016 until the volunteer programme ended in 2021.

Since then the National Centre for Learning Welsh took over the responsibility of developing and maintaining it.

Richard Morse, one of main original course writers, welcomed this new milestone.

He said: “This achievement vindicates the vision and the thousands of hours of unpaid labour by the original team to create this course.

“These numbers reflect both the success of the Duolingo approach and the ‘hiraeth’ to learn Welsh both in Wales and outside.

“It is unfortunate that the Welsh Government agency seems unable to utilise this desire to learn Welsh in boosting the numbers of people learning Welsh on its courses past the numbers learning before it was established.”


A Duolingo spokesperson said: “Welsh will remain free for all on Duolingo and continue to be the gateway for people wanting to begin learning the language and those seeking to improve their skills.

“For learners who want to take their learning even further we encourage them to explore the Languages Gateway which links to many advanced Welsh learning resources, including some from the National Centre.”

The annual language report found that English is the most popular language learned on the app in the world and ranks No.1 in 122 countries, up 3 on 2022, and second in 15 countries.

The Scots Gaelic course – which celebrated its 4th anniversary on St Andrew’s Day 2023, hit 1.8 million learners.

This is up 17% in 2023, an increase on 12% in 2022. There are currently 519k people actively learning Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo.

Rebeca Ricoy, Duolingo’s lead in Europe said: “Duolingo’s course is the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to start learning the language. It’s completely free, so there is no stopping you.”

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Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
2 months ago

Duolingo is an important program if we are to expand knowledge of the Welsh language to at least 33% of our nation.

I hope that Duolingo will consider relocation form New Jersey to Cymru Wales.
It will certainly put our country on the map as an international gateway.

2 months ago

This is a great advancement for our Cymraeg! Hopefully, the success of the Duolingo course will inspire competitor language apps to create Cymraeg courses too.

2 months ago

Would also be nice to see Cornish on there too.

2 months ago

I hope they will bring back the Duolingo notes and “discuss” features. It is a shadow of its former self without them, despite the content improvements

Last edited 2 months ago by Erisian

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