How to Create a Language Learning App Like Duolingo: A Complete Guide

August 4, 2023
8 min
How to Create a Language Learning App

It used to be that, to learn a foreign language, you needed to buy dictionaries, textbooks and phrase books and attend courses in person. Today there are lots of interesting opportunities to learn grammar and vocabulary while on the go. For example, you can use one of the mobile applications that have been developed for people of different ages and with different learning preferences. In this article, we’ll offer a series of practical tips to help you to make a language learning app and win the hearts of your target audience.

Overview of the language learning app market

The language learning app market was valued at $18.2 billion in 2022, and analysts expect this figure to hit $32.5 billion by 2029. The number of language learning applications in the marketplace continues to grow, thanks in large part to the low cost of learning with these apps. Some apps are absolutely free, while others are paid or offer paid plans with advanced features. Secondly, apps bring great convenience and flexibility to learning. You can use a language learning app to improve your proficiency while waiting in a queue, riding a bus, or sitting at a boring event. 

E-learning market

Thanks to modern technologies and approaches used by developers, the educational process can be highly engaging and entertaining, even for those who thought they hated learning new languages.

As of the beginning of 2023, the world’s most popular language learning app was Duolingo. In February 2023 alone, almost 13.4 million people downloaded this application to their devices. As we can see from the graphic, OckyPocky, an application that had 2.18 million downloads within the same period of time, has a long way to go to match its competitor.

E-learning market

How does Duolingo work?

If you’re considering how to make a language learning app like Duolingo, you’ll need to understand what makes this app special and what opportunities it offers to users.

Today Duolingo has courses for more than 40 languages, and 39 of those are available to English speakers. English courses are offered in 25 languages. The application can be used by people of various ages.

The courses are based on interactive exercises that help users develop reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills simultaneously. When a user starts a course, it is necessary to indicate the level of knowledge of the chosen language so that the app can offer the appropriate complexity of tasks.

When a person is making progress along the learning path, the exercises become more challenging, and more attention is paid to writing and speaking.

This language-learning app provides plenty of gamification elements that make the learning process even more exciting:

  • Experience points (XP);
  • Leaderboards;
  • Streak (a number of days in a row without missing lessons);
  • Hearts (“lives” in games);
  • Gems (a currency for buying various bonuses in the shop).

If you have plans to create an app like Duolingo, we strongly recommend you think about enriching it with gamification elements to add more excitement to the learning process.

As for monetization, the app allows users to learn languages completely for free. But it also has a premium subscription that allows an ad-free experience, the ability to leverage unlimited Hearts, and review your mistakes.

7 steps to make a language-learning app like Duolingo

The process of creating any language-learning app involves a series of steps that will allow you and your development team to launch a solution in full accordance with ongoing market demands and requirements.

  • Step 1. Preparation

This step is typically devoted to creating a detailed concept and analyzing market research. It’s important to find out what solutions already exist and what they offer to users, while defining their weaknesses so as to understand what you can do to address market gaps.

  • Step 2. Requirement gathering

Once you have all the information needed about the market and the tasks you want to solve with your product, you can write your requirements for the app. It is necessary to indicate what features you want to build, what external services you need to integrate, and how user interaction with your app should be organized.

  • Step 3. Tech stack selection

This task is usually performed in close cooperation with your development team. Based on your requirements and the devices your mobile app should be compatible with, developers will help you choose the most appropriate tech stack.

  • Step 4. Design and development

This step is central to the entire process of project realization. While designers will need to create user-friendly interfaces, developers will work on building the desired features. Quite often businesses decide to develop an MVP first to check whether the idea of the application will be positively welcomed on the market. 

In parallel, you’ll need to create learning content (lessons, tests, quizzes, games, etc.) that will be available to app users.

  • Step 5. Testing

Teams that follow current principles in software development usually start conducting manual and automated tests at the development stage. This approach allows them to detect and fix bugs and vulnerabilities as soon as possible. When all changes are introduced, it’s time for regression testing that will show whether everything works as planned.

  • Step 6. Launch

When all the bugs are fixed and everything is prepared, the app can be launched and published on app marketplaces, where it can be downloaded by users.

  • Step 7. Maintenance and support

After the launch, you need to monitor the performance of your app to quickly solve any issues with its functioning. Moreover, we recommend you track what users think about your app and introduce changes that may be required based on their feedback. For instance, you may detect that users want the ability to pass revision tests after each block of lessons. You can add this feature and make it available in one of the app updates.

It is also important to think about the best market positioning and promotion of your app and to find the best ways to let people learn about the existence of your app. There are various options. For example, you can advertise your application on websites for language learners, on different social media groups, or cooperate with influencers.


Have an idea for a language learning app and need help with its development?

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Top features of a language-learning app

Before building any educational app, it’s crucial to deeply study the needs and expectations of your target audience as well as take into account the market trends. That’s why the functionality of apps created for people of different languages and from different social groups can vary greatly. Nevertheless, some features are relevant in a wide range of cases. You can use them as inspiration for your future project.

Top features of a language learning app

  • Simple sign-up and sign-in. The easier all the steps are, the better. You can also allow registration via social media accounts, which will let users sign up just in a few seconds.
  • Language preferences & course selection. There should be a list of available courses with short descriptions so that users can choose languages of interest to them. 
  • Social media sharing. You can let users share their achievements on their accounts on social media, which can help you attract the attention of a wider audience to your e-learning product.
  • Microlearning. This concept involves breaking down huge courses into small parts or lessons. This approach makes it easier for users of a mobile app to organize their learning time and study new information in small bites.
  • Gamification. Leader boards, bonuses, rewards, contests, and other elements of gamification can be cool motivators for people of all ages.
  • Payments. If you have any paid options on your app, it is recommended to make it possible to pay directly via an application.
  • Push notifications. Notifications can be sent to users to remind them of uncompleted lessons or unlocked rewards. It’s a good idea to make this feature customizable. as some people may find notifications irritating.

How much does it cost to create an app like Duolingo?

Development costs are one of the key questions our clients have when they turn to our team. But it is impossible to provide any exact figures without taking into account a series of factors that include but are not limited to the following:

  • desired features to be built;
  • number and complexity of integrations;
  • size of the team that will be working on your app; and
  • tech stack.

That’s why, when customers share their requirements for their educational app with us, we need to analyze all of them to provide a  precise estimate. If you work with us, our experts will also offer ways to optimize costs to make them appropriate for your budget.

How long will it take to create a language-learning app?

The timeframe of any development project involving an educational app depends, first of all, on the scope of work, the complexity of tasks, and the number of experts who will be engaged in building a solution for you.

Developing full-scale language-learning applications can take around 5-10 months (or more if you want to build a more complex solution). Developing an MVP that will have a very limited number of features and will help you test the feasibility of your product may take just 2-3 months.

Challenges of language-learning app development

Any mobile app development project faces numerous challenges, and an educational app is no exception. But the more you know about the nature and specificity of these pitfalls, the better prepared for them you can be.

  • Compatibility with different mobile devices. When you’re planning to create an app like Duolingo, you’ll obviously want to reach a wide target audience. It’s difficult to predict what devices people will use to interact with your application. That’s why you need to make sure your product will be compatible with screens of different sizes and shapes, including the foldable phone screens that are gaining popularity.
  • Protection of user data. Security should be a top priority for you, starting from the first stages of the development process. The team should bear in mind the necessity to protect users’ sensitive data, and especially their banking details if you offer paid functionality on your application.
  • Online and offline mode. It’s crucial to make the learning process as comfortable as possible for users. When you offer a language-learning app, it is highly unlikely that people will want to use it only when sitting at home with a strong WiFi signal. That’s why you need to think about the functionality that will be available when users are offline, to let them continue learning a language regardless of their location.

Educational app development by Cogniteq

If you’re looking for a team that will be able to create an educational app in full accordance with your requirements, Cogniteq is an excellent choice. Our company works with clients from a wide variety of industries, and that’s why our portfolio includes a range of amazing projects of various types.

One example of solutions created by our team is an e-learning platform for online courses with video streaming. The key idea behind the project was to build a solution that will allow both organizations and individuals to easily set up virtual classrooms for organizing lectures, workshops, seminars, corporate training, etc. We were responsible for building a web platform as well as iOS and Android mobile applications fully from scratch.

online course platform

The solution’s functionality allows for conducting video streaming sessions with a live chat, tools for assessing courses, testing student knowledge, and conducting certification. The mobile application is available in both offline and online modes, which ensures broad possibilities for continuing to learn on the go.

It is a unique solution that has very few rivals on the market. It has been successfully launched and now boasts great popularity among universities and corporate clients.


A language-learning app can become a great project with a high chance of winning users’ attention. This type of app can provide users with a comfortable, straightforward, and enjoyable way to develop language skills and gain new knowledge, regardless of their location and the time they have available to devote to learning. 

If you have an idea for a language learning app or any other e-learning solution, we are always happy to support you in realizing your project. With our expertise in developing solutions for this market, we are confident that we will be able to help you build an educational app that will not only meet your requirements but go far beyond your expectations.

Just contact us via our website. Let’s discuss what our team can do for you.