If you’re thinking about learning Greek, then you might be wondering whether Duolingo’s Greek course is the way to go.
Greek is one of humanity’s most significant languages, used to compose the epics of Homer and many of science and philosophy’s foundational texts.
But is Duolingo any good for learning Greek?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Greek on Duolingo.
We’ll go over:
- How Duolingo’s Greek course is structured
- Special features
- Other features you need to be aware of
- The pros of Duolingo’s Greek course
- The cons of Duolingo’s Greek course
Shall we get started?
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What you’ll find in Duolingo’s Greek course
If you’re new to Duolingo, then you’ll find that all of the courses are structured in much the same way.
They all follow what is commonly referred to as the lesson tree.*
The tree is broken up into a set of units…
Each unit has a set of skills…
Each skill has up to 6 crown levels…
And each crown level has a set of lessons…
The basic goal is to work through the tree by completing every lesson… in every level… in every skill… in every unit.
As of July 2022, Duolingo’s Greek course has a total of 5 units, broken down into a total of 95 skills. That means there are 475 crown levels in Duolingo’s Greek course — or 570 if you include the legendary levels.
The exercises in the Greek course are basically the same as in all of Duolingo’s courses. Some of the common exercises you’ll come across include:
- Complete the translation
- Mark the correct meaning
- Picture flashcards
- Select the missing word
- Sentence shuffle
- Speak this sentence
- Tap the pairs
- Tap what you hear
*Duolingo are switching up their courses to a brand new format known as the Learning Path. It’s only been rolled out to a handful of users so far, so the majority of users will get the traditional lesson tree above. However, if your Greek course looks different to the above, then you’ve probably got the new lesson path. Check out this post from Duolingo to learn more!
Does Duolingo’s Greek course have any special features?
Although Duolingo offers nearly 40 language courses for English speakers, not all of the courses are created equally. Some courses have special features that others don’t.
Unfortunately, Duolingo’s Greek course doesn’t currently have stories, audio lessons or podcasts.
However, it does have a neat little feature that only a few other Duolingo courses have: the writing-system tool.
As you probably already know, Greek uses a different writing system to English. Some of the characters look and sound the same as their English counterparts, but a lot of them don’t.
Duolingo’s Greek writing-system tool helps you get to grips with the subtle complexities of Greek sounds, and makes it easy to associate them with the letters of the Greek alphabet.
This can take a bit of getting used to regardless of how you go about it, but the writing-system tool definitely makes a big difference. You’ll even learn how to write out the letters in the tracing exercises!
Other features in Duolingo’s Greek course
Duolingo’s Greek course is built on the same stuff as all of Duolingo’s other language courses.
We won’t go into too much detail here, but some of the features worth knowing about include:
- XP – As you work through Duolingo’s Greek course, you’ll earn experience points, which are more commonly known as XP. You’ll earn XP for pretty much everything you do. Some lessons, tasks and exercises will earn you more XP than others.
- Leagues – Every week you’ll be entered into a league with other Duolingo learners. There are 10 leagues to work through, starting at Bronze and ending at Diamond. The leagues are basically leaderboards — simply earn more XP than others in your league to have a chance of winning.
- Gems – XP and crowns aren’t the only things you’ll earn as you learn Greek. You’ll also earn gems, which you can spend in the Duolingo Shop. There isn’t really much you can buy here, but you can use your gems to pick up things like Streak Freezes, Timer Boosts for timed challenges, and some costumes for the owl.
- Friends – Duolingo is a social experience, so you’re able to follow other users and compare your progress. The guys at Duolingo reckon you’re 5 times more likely to finish your course if you follow people! To get you started, feel free to give me a follow — my username is DCiiieee!
- Duolingo Plus/Super – This is Duolingo’s premium membership. Pay for Plus/Super and you’ll get access to some useful features, including unlimited hearts, no ads and Practice Hub.
Is Duolingo good for learning Greek?
Now to answer the all-important question: Is Duolingo good for learning Greek?
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
Greek can be a tad scary in the beginning.
The different alphabet’s terrifying enough, but even after you get beyond that it’s not exactly the most straightforward of languages.
There are a lot of grammar rules that just won’t make sense to a native English speaker, and some of the sounds can be difficult to get your tongue around.
But the great thing about Duolingo is it makes Greek really accessible from the very beginning.
The placement test gets you settled right away.
The writing system tool (which we’ll talk a bit more about in a sec) it’s soooo useful for getting over the alphabet hurdle.
And it’ll get you reading and typing in Greek from the outset.
From the very first lesson, you’ll feel like you’re making progress, no matter how much of a beginner you are!
Have I mentioned the writing-system tool yet?! 😉
For me, this is probably one of Duolingo’s biggest selling points when it comes to the Greek course.
It was one of my favourite features of the Russian course, and it doesn’t disappoint in the Greek one either!
Not only does it get you used to how the Greek alphabet looks and sounds, but it also gives you the opportunity to write it out with the tracing exercises.
Depending on what you want Greek for this might not matter much to you…
But in any case, it does a great job of getting you up to speed with something that can seem so alien in the beginning.
Definitely one of the best things about Duolingo’s Greek course.
This doesn’t just go for Duolingo’s Greek course, it’s the same for ALL of them!
One of the best things about Duolingo is that it’s more than just a language learning tool.
It’s also a game. And although this isn’t to everyone’s liking, it’s a big part of why so many people show up every day to do their daily lessons.
For everything you do in Greek, you’ll earn XP (experience points) which contribute towards your position in the weekly leagues.
Now this isn’t something you should take too seriously (you can read more about why here) but if you take it lightly it’ll definitely make your Greek a lot more enjoyable.
Because ultimately, the more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to do it. Learning Greek is going to require A LOT of your time, so the more enjoyable it is, the better — and Duolingo definitely has you covered here.
Another great thing about Duolingo is that the Greek course is 100% free.
There is a premium subscription — Duolingo Plus (or Super, depending on your device) — but this isn’t something you need in order to complete the course. The whole thing is completely free; the premium membership just adds a few features that make things a bit smoother.
This is great if you’re just dabbling with Greek and aren’t ready to commit just yet. But also if you’re keen to get started with the language but don’t want to fork out on special software or tuition.
I take it you’ve seen the owl memes?
Yes, the owl can be *a bit* of a stalker at times, pestering you at all hours to do your daily Greek lessons!
But relax, contrary to popular belief, he’s not gonna kidnap your family anytime soon!
Jokes aside, Duolingo is brilliant for keeping you motivated.
Learning Greek is a long journey. It’s not something you’re going to pick up overnight.
According to the US Foreign Service Institute, it takes roughly 1100 “class hours” to reach “Professional Working Proficiency” in Greek.
So yeah, if you’re going to learn Greek, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul!
That means creating an unbreakable habit. And Duolingo’s amazing for doing that.
Put it this way — my current streak (i.e. the number of days in a row I’ve used Duolingo) goes all the way back to May 2016.
And that’s not just because I’m a bit obsessive! It’s thanks to Duolingo being such a great way of keeping me motivated!
Duolingo’s a great way of getting started with Greek. But eventually, you’ll need to look further afield if you want to progress.
That’s because Duolingo’s Greek course is pretty short. Although each skill has up to 6 levels, realistically you could complete the course to crown level 1 in a fairly short time.
And as I mentioned earlier, you don’t get some of Duolingo’s swankier new features like stories or audio lessons.
So if you think you’re going to become fluent with Duolingo’s Greek course by itself — sorry, it’s not gonna happen.
No tips or explanations on mobile devices
This is probably one of my biggest gripes with Duolingo’s Greek course.
We’ve already been over how scary Greek can be for beginners.
And while Duolingo does a great job of getting you to grips with the alphabet and some basic sentences, it does very little — if anything — to help with grammar on mobile devices.
Tips and explanations are available on desktop, just not on mobile.
So if you’re an iPhone user, for instance, you’ll have to go off and figure out conjugations, genders and cases on the fly.
You should expect to be doing a lot of googling once you get to the second and third units, as so many of the lessons just don’t make sense without any grammar explanations.
Even the first unit was a bit of a challenge for me trying to figure out the different genders and conjugations.
This is really frustrating as many of Duolingo’s mobile courses come with tip sections that make the lessons a whole lot clearer.
For a language as complex as Greek, I’m amazed they still haven’t addressed this.
Not great for speaking
If you’re hoping to get conversational in Greek, then Duolingo probably isn’t the tool that will get you there.
Well, not by itself anyway.
That’s because Duolingo focuses mainly on reading and listening. You do get the opportunity to practice your pronunciation with the speaking exercises, but these aren’t conversation exercises and a lot of the stuff you’ll practice aren’t sentences you’ll ever use anyway.
Speaking is a skill in its own right and to learn it you’ll need to practice it regularly, ideally with a native speaker, or at the very least using a program that has conversation scenarios (such as GreekPod101).
If you’ve read any of my other articles then you’ll know one of the things I dislike most about Duolingo at the moment is the heart system.
Hearts are basically lives or chances. You start off with 5 then lose one every time you make a mistake.
If you lose all your hearts then you’re not allowed to progress through your course until your hearts replenish.
You can either watch an ad to get one back, do a practice session, spend some gems or wait 5 hours.
It’s far from ideal as it does the unhelpful thing of punishing you for making mistakes.
Which, as far as I’m concerned, is ridiculous as mistakes are absolutely essential and unavoidable when learning a language — especially one as complex as Greek.
And when you factor in the lack of tips and explanations, you’re going to be making lots of mistakes — and therefore you’re going to be losing lots of hearts.
If you’re a total beginner and looking to get started with Greek, then Duolingo’s Greek course is comfortably one of the best places to start.
You’ll get to grips with the Greek alphabet, see the language in action, practice your pronunciation and learn some useful vocabulary.
By the end of the course, you’ll definitely be more advanced than when you started!
However, given that the course only has 5 units, you’ll need to look beyond Duolingo if you want to reach fluency.
At best Duolingo could probably get you to an A2 level by itself (so long as you’re doing enough passive learning as well), which is amazing for a free app.
A good tool to use — either alongside Duolingo or after you’ve completed the course — is GreekPod101.
GreekPod and Duolingo complement each other beautifully, as they both target areas that the other misses. Duolingo is great for reading and typing things out, whereas GreekPod is brilliant for improving your listening and speaking.
With GreekPod you’ll also get essential resources like grammar packs, cultural insights, and learn the 2,000 most common Greek words — so by the end of the course, you should be able to understand as much as 80% of all Greek conversations.
When used together, Duolingo and GreekPod will give you everything you need to reach a comfortable level in Greek.
if you’re new to Greek…
I’d recommend using Duolingo to get familiar with the Greek alphabet and start writing out basic sentences.
There are plenty of useful resources on the internet to help you out with the grammar side of things. Greek Grammar has some pretty useful PDFs you can download for free and use alongside your Duolingo lessons.
At the same time, it would be a good idea to take advantage of GreekPod’s free trial to get familiar with how the language sounds, pick up some useful phrases and cultural insights, and practice speaking as soon as possible.
Once you’ve worked your way through the Duolingo course, I’d recommend coming back to it daily to keep the streak alive (habit is SO important when learning a language) and start to move through the intermediate to advanced packs on GreekPod.
Also, make sure you’re getting enough passive exposure to Greek as well — so things like TV shows, music, books and real-life conversations — so everything you learn on Duolingo and GreekPod can begin to bed in.