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Duolingo Spanish reviews: why it won’t make you fluent

In this post, we will give you detailed Duolingo Spanish reviews. You’ll also know if this app will make you fluent.

Full Duolingo Spanish reviews

One of the most widely used apps for learning Spanish is Duolingo. People adore this product since it has a fully free base version and an innovative course design that makes learning Spanish fun.

But the question that most people have—and that we always hear—is: Can this free online learning tool based on games make you fluent in Spanish? We specifically answer that question in this in-depth analysis of the Duolingo Spanish course.

Below are the full Duolingo Spanish reviews:


  • Lessons are entertaining games that only require a short time to complete.
  • The only significant language-learning resource that offers a free version
  • Exercises and drills of all kinds are used in lessons to aid in the retention of information.


  • The Spanish program on Duolingo seems less advanced than others (not very comprehensive)
  • Grammar lessons are not a top concern (focuses more on straight vocabulary)
  • The free version has severe limitations (annoying ads and daily caps on mistakes)

Duolingo Spanish app cost

Since the price of Duolingo’s Spanish program is one of the key draws for using this software, let’s start this review by discussing it. You may know that Duolingo provides a free version of its course. You don’t have to pay a dime, that’s true.

Be aware that the free version of Duolingo has some restrictions before you rush off to join up for it as your preferred language learning application. You are subjected to the intrusive sidebar and pop-up advertisements, daily usage limits, and an extremely strict curriculum when using the free version of the software (as opposed to being allowed to jump ahead).

In other words, Duolingo uses the standard “freemium” software subscription model and mostly relies on paid, premium subscriptions to generate revenue. And if you decide to sign up for Duolingo Plus, their paid subscription, it will run you about $84 per year (or $7 per month).

Duolingo’s bothersome commercials are removed, unrestricted usage, the ability to test out of units and move on, personalized lessons to examine your mistakes, and other features are added when you upgrade to the Plus plan.

Does it make sense to upgrade to Duolingo Plus, then? I believe it to be valuable. Although I believe the premium features provide a far better experience, you should ultimately consider your budget.

Duolingo Plus provides a 14-day free trial, so you may check out the premium service and see if you like it significantly more than the free version.

The fact that Duolingo is free is a big part of its appeal.

Therefore, why not consider enrolling in one of the most effective Spanish courses available if you will be paying for a course regardless? That is a legitimate concern, as Duolingo undoubtedly has certain drawbacks.

So, if you’re going to pay for a course, I’d suggest doing your research and comparing Duolingo to the alternatives. Please feel free to read our reviews of Italki, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Pimsleur. All four of these Spanish classes rank far higher than Duolingo does.

How the Duolingo Spanish app works

We’ll not here to discuss other platforms. We will discuss Duolingo. So let’s go into the organization of their Spanish course.

There are various checkpoints within Duolingo’s Spanish learning “tree” (for lack of a better term). Additionally, each checkpoint contains 20 to 30 modules that address skills, ideas, and themes (e.g., emotions, travel, and present tense).

Each module has six levels, with three to four lessons on each level. Although that may seem like a lot, each lesson is brief and only takes 5 to 10 minutes to finish.

So, there is the program at its most basic. In essence, there are many modules you must complete that are gated by checkpoints, and each module is broken down into levels and lessons.

And to be clear, Duolingo decides which modules you complete in what order. The individual classes inside each module also only become accessible when you have finished the preceding one. By passing a brief test, you can test out specific modules (or entire sets of modules, if you like) under the premium Duolingo Plus subscription. This lets you advance however you see fit.

The Duolingo money known as “lingots” may be used to purchase extra features in the Duolingo store, and as you finish each lesson, you gain experience points (XP points for short), which link to your daily goals and let you measure your progress.

The whole point of this is that Duolingo wants to make the process of learning a language more enjoyable. They think that by structuring their curriculum like a questing game, you’ll remain interested and committed over time.

Duolingo Spanish lessons: what are they like?

Now that you know the Duolingo program’s organizational structure let’s see what the lessons are like. And the main thing to remember is that they are brief.

As I mentioned, each one only takes a few minutes to finish, and time flies by quickly. This is mostly because each lesson consists of around 12 quick-hit, engaging drills and exercises. These exercises include, as an example:

  • Listening Exercises. You could be required to put in a sentence after listening to a word or phrase spoken by a native speaker and choosing it from a list.
  • Fill-In-The-Blanks. A statement with a blank may be displayed beside a cartoon image of a man; you would click the word “hombre” to finish the sentence.
  • Pairing. You might be asked to accurately match 10 different words, 5 of which will be in English and 5 of which will be in Spanish.
  • Verbal training. After hearing a word or sentence said by a native speaker, you can be prompted to repeat it while using Duolingo’s voice recognition technology to check your pronunciation.
  • Writing Complete Sentences. Full-sentence translations from English to Spanish and vice versa may be required.
  • Mock discussions. You might have to finish a series of fictitious conversations by picking the appropriate word from a list.

These are the main exercises you’ll be required to accomplish. Again, they are brief and concise.

What we like about Duolingo Spanish

Now that we’ve discussed the different membership plans and you’re aware of what the courses are all about, let’s get into the specifics of this review. That is, following a comprehensive evaluation of the software, what we like and what we don’t like about Duolingo.

Let’s begin with the positive things.

The price

The fact that Duolingo has a free version is undoubtedly one of its main attractions. In this day and age, it is pretty uncommon, and who doesn’t appreciate free? You don’t even need to provide your credit card information to use their service in its entirety.

Even if the free edition has certain drawbacks, as I already stated, it’s hard to disagree with free if you’re on a limited budget or just seeking to brush up on the fundamentals before a vacation to Mexico.

Drills variety

You’ll appreciate the large range of activities and lessons Duolingo provides for speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It’s excellent that you can practice your skills using a variety of media for educational purposes.

The variation also increases the program’s interest and enjoyment. More likely, you’ll never experience boredom during a lecture.

Quick-hit lesson work

I appreciate the format of the Duolingo Spanish classes and how brief and interesting they are. They pass by very quickly.

Students and working professionals would appreciate this. Not everyone has an hour available each day to devote to studying a language. When you only have 15 to 20 minutes, it’s good to be able to finish a few small classes each day and yet feel productive.

English translations

Duolingo classes include English instructions, translations, and suggestions because not all language learning software does this. For instance, Rosetta Stone strongly supports complete immersion. In other words, they seldom ever speak English. And although though I believe this technique has some validity, I also believe that it may frustrate users.

In the end, I like how Duolingo uses a lot of English in their lesson material to ensure you always understand what is going on and what is being requested of you, as well as keep the lessons moving along quickly.

Sleek digital platform

The digital platform of Duolingo, together with all the visual aids and prompts it offers, is a great favorite of mine. They have a daily goal tracker on their dashboard, which is very clear and simple. They also have a scoreboard where you can compete with other users, invite friends, and keep track of your streaks.
All of this comes together to create a friendly, helpful environment that keeps you inspired and on task. In that regard, I give Duolingo the thumbs up.

Duolingo Spanish disadvantages

duolingo spanish reviews

Lack of focus on speaking

The Duolingo lessons don’t do a good job of enhancing your speaking abilities, which is the first drawback. They include speaking activities in their classes but are not very good.

You are essentially expected to repeat words and sentences. After hearing a word or phrase, you are instantly asked to repeat it. There aren’t any effective memory aids or contexts to aid in making sense of the words and improving recall.

They also have subpar voice recognition technology. There were numerous occasions when a student was aware that he was pronouncing a word or phrase incorrectly, but the application would still accept it and inform the student that he did it correctly. And it’s not good.

Sincerely, we believe that Italki, a competitor of Duolingo, is far superior when it comes to verbal practice. In the framework of a real conversation, you are required to utter certain words or phrases and answer a native speaker in the audio/video classes.

With Italki, you actively participate in following a conversation, and the instructor keeps you on your toes by requesting that you recall and utilize language under duress, exactly as you would in actual life scenarios.

In our opinion, this fosters a far better environment for learning a new language.

Unnatural usage of language

It’s strange, but some of the sentences Duolingo uses in its classes sound out of the ordinary. We’ve read a lot of complaints about this, and we have to agree. Their use of some words and phrase constructions is downright strange.

It appears that Duolingo has made progress in this area recently, but now and then, you still come across a strange sentence or phrase that makes you kind of scratch your head, whether from a grammatical viewpoint or just a pure, “what the heck did I just hear?”

Grammar instruction

This one is fairly easy. Grammar training isn’t a top concern in Duolingo lessons. To be clear, we’re not advocating that they should fill your head with complicated, dull grammatical rules; it might be detrimental, especially when you’re just starting to learn a new language.

However, it would be best if they had provided a little more guidance or explanation on grammar rules. It would be good if Duolingo took a similar approach to grammar to Babbel. Babbel effectively and subtly incorporates grammar education into its sessions.

They may merely provide a one or two-sentence explanation at other times or subtly include it in drills. In either case, I think Babbel’s approach to it is fantastic.

Ads in Duolingo free

Ads are always present in Duolingo’s free version, as was already mentioned. Free software often has issues like that, but there’s no denying that they are distracting and interfere with your primary goal. At first, it’s not too horrible, but eventually, it wears on you.

You understand what we mean if you’ve ever played the free versions of Candy Crush, Angry Birds, or another iPhone game. The commercials grow stale. We don’t want to be inundated by commercials; we’re here to practice and learn Spanish.

The free version

Your daily usage of Duolingo is restricted in the free edition. It works as follows: each day, you are given a set number of “hearts,” starting with 5, and if you respond incorrectly to a question, you lose a heart.

You are limited to 5 misses every day unless you review earlier classes to increase your heart count.

That is annoying if that makes sense. However, it can be demoralizing as well as mildly bothersome.

And from reading the boards, it seems like many people do end up doing that, especially since many of the errors are simply typos rather than intentionally inaccurate responses. I suppose it’s just another unpleasant feature of the course’s free version.

Conclusion: should you use Duolingo to learn Spanish?

Overall, there are many positive aspects to Duolingo. The first-rate digital platform has many drills and activities, and this Spanish learning app is free. However, there are undoubtedly some drawbacks to using Duolingo Spanish.

Most importantly, in my opinion, there are several major annoyances with the free version, and it’s just not the best for improving your Spanish speaking abilities.

In conclusion, we believe Duolingo should be utilized more as an additional study tool than as a stand-alone language learning program. In my opinion, you’re better off treating it like an instructive game than a genuine study tool.

Duolingo is a great tool if that’s all you want, possibly because you occasionally want to brush up on your Spanish for fun. Italki, Babbel, Pimsleur, and Rocket Spanish are perhaps better options if you’re serious about learning Spanish and intend to devote a significant amount of your time to reaching some level of proficiency.

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