Duolingo Leagues have become one of the biggest and most exciting features in Duolingo. They add a competitive and motivational edge to your language learning experience, which can push you even harder to complete your daily lessons.
But what exactly is a Duolingo league? How many are there? What’s so special about the Diamond league? Are people cheating? And does your Duolingo league really matter?
Let’s take a look.
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What are Duolingo Leagues?
A Duolingo league is basically a weekly leaderboard containing 30 random users from across all platforms, including IOS, Android and desktop.
The leagues are ranked on XP — the user with the most XP at the end of the week will finish top of the leaderboard, win a bunch of gems (or lingots) and get promoted to the next league up.
Users that finish 2nd or 3rd will also receive some gems (albeit a smaller amount) and get promoted.
The promotion zone covers the top 10 finishers, so although 4th through to 10th won’t receive any gems, they will get promoted to the next league.
11th through to 25th will remain in their current league for another week.
Anyone who finishes 26th or lower — in what is known as the Demotion Zone — will be relegated to the previous league.
Follow me on Duolingo!
Up for some friendly competition? Then be sure to follow me on Duolingo!
My username is DCiiieee 🙂
(If the link doesn’t work then just type my username into the ‘Search for friends’ bar on the app)
How many leagues are there in Duolingo?
There are currently 10 leagues in Duolingo.
When the league system first launched there were only 5, with another batch of 5 being added in a subsequent update.
The leagues are the same across all language courses. So whether you’re learning Spanish or Hawaiian, you’ll compete in the same 10 leagues as everyone else.
All Duolingo leagues in order
From bottom to top — with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest — the 10 Duolingo leagues are:
Bronze is the starter league. From there, the goal is to work your way up through the leagues all the way up to Diamond — Duolingo’s top league.
Duolingo Diamond League
The Diamond league differs to the other leagues in a couple of ways.
Only 3 users can be relegated and there are no promotions (as there’s no where else to go!).
Diamond is usually the most competitive of the 10 leagues. Although only 3 users can be relegated, you have to be on your A-game to stay in the league for another week. XP totals are usually really high—often in the thousands—so you may need to do more lessons than usual to avoid getting demoted back to the Obsidian league.
Winning the Diamond league is even harder. I’ve been using Duolingo every day for nearly 5 years and I’ve only recently won it for the first time!
And what do you get if you win the Diamond league? A swanky achievement, some gems and a pat on the back from the owl. After that, the league resets, and you have to do it all over again (if you can muster the energy!).
Duolingo bots — are people cheating?
Something that gets a lot of discussion in the forums is whether people are cheating.
All too often (and this isn’t just limited to the Diamond league) there are users that top the leaderboards with seemingly impossible XP totals. These are often accumulated in short periods of time by profiles that haven’t used Duolingo for that long.
Needless to say, it gets people wondering.
While this hasn’t been proven, it seems likely that some users are using dodgy algorithms to hack their way up the leaderboards.
There are plenty of examples of this in the Duolingo forums. In this one a user was accumulating XP at a rate of 19 XP every 30-35 seconds, while in this one a user went from 400+ to 700+ in just 5 minutes.
Unless they’re superhuman, these totals seem pretty impossible!
I’ve no idea why people would resort to cheating on Duolingo. After all, the whole point of Duolingo is to learn a language — not to finish top of a leaderboard having done absolutely no language learning at all.
Does your Duolingo league matter?
To be sure, I’m a big fan of the Duolingo league system.
It adds a competitive layer to an already brilliantly gamified process and gives you extra incentive to show up and complete your lessons.
As far as I’m concerned, it fits Duolingo like a hand fits a glove.
But that doesn’t mean I think you should make a big deal out of which league you’re in or your position in it. Here’s why:
XP is a flawed idol
The league system encourages you to focus on earning as much XP as possible. This would be fine if more XP equalled more progress in your target language. But it doesn’t.
As it is, the easiest and quickest way to earn XP is to complete the easy lessons. This is because you have less chance of losing your hearts (and therefore your licence to learn) and the amount of XP on offer in the easy lessons is exactly the same as in the harder lessons.
As such, if your priority is staying in or winning your league, you will naturally gravitate toward taking shortcuts. And this will be to the detriment of your target language. Rather than making progress and expanding your comfort zone, you’ll coast in the easy lessons because that’s the only way you can guarantee doing well in the leagues.
Some users have an unfair advantage
Another reason you probably shouldn’t worry about your Duolingo league is that some, like me, have an unfair advantage.
As an IOS user and Plus member learning French, I have access to some XP-boosting goodies that make it much easier for me to climb up the rankings.
One of which is an XP Boost, which I receive after earning my first crown of the day. This gives me double XP in all of my lessons for the next 15 minutes. So rather than the usual maximum of 15 XP per lesson, I get the opportunity to earn 30 XP per lesson.
And if I complete another crown while my boost is active, I can earn as much as 50 XP in a single lesson.
I never used to get these boosts when I was learning Italian or Russian, so I can only conclude it’s a language-specific thing, maybe limited to languages like French and Spanish. (Let me know in the comments if you get XP boosts in your language!)
Another big advantage I get as an IOS user is XP Ramp Up. This is a timed challenge available via the League tab that gives me the opportunity to earn 40 XP in under 2 minutes.
Because I’m still in the early stages of the French course, the questions I get in XP Ramp Up aren’t that difficult and I find myself earning the 40 XP more often than not. As such I can usually rack up 200 XP in under 15 minutes.
Sadly Android and desktop users don’t get access to XP Ramp Up, so it can be difficult for them to fairly compete with IOS users.
And then there’s Duolingo Plus. The big advantage of Plus is that it removes the heart system, meaning I can just plough on for as long as I want, racking up XP without having to worry about losing my licence to learn.
Pressure and burn-out
It’s a tiring old business trying to win (or even stay in) your Duolingo league, particularly in the higher ones. The XP totals are often astronomical, even without the cheaters.
So when your league becomes a priority, this can put enormous pressure on you to rack up huge XP totals in a short amount of time.
This is exhausting and unsustainable in most cases. If you begin to associate Duolingo with fatigue, then, over time, you’ll be less inclined to show up and complete your lessons. And this isn’t good for your language learning prospects.
Sadly, I see this happen all the time: users racking up loads of XP for a few weeks, and then disappearing altogether. This is what happens when the need to be the best overtakes the desire to learn a language.
Do this instead
When it comes to Duolingo success, the most important thing (in my experience, at least) is to not lose sight of why you started using it in the first place.
I can pretty much guarantee you didn’t sign up because of the league system. Most likely you signed up because you wanted to learn a language.
So focus on that, and nothing more. It’s easy to get caught up in the gamification of Duolingo, thinking that there’s a correlation between those who finish top of their leagues and their ability in their target languages. But as we’ve just seen, it’s rarely this clear-cut.
My advice is to take the league system lightly. Don’t prioritise it. Simply see it as a bit of fun that adds to your motivation.
In my experience, it’s better to prioritise other things. On Duolingo, I believe your Crowns and your streak should be your main focus. Collecting Crowns shows you’re progressing in your target language, and a solid streak shows you’re developing a strong language-learning habit.
And don’t forget that fluency in your target language will depend as much on what you do away from Duolingo as what you do on it.
LingQ will help you turn your favourite content — such as books, blog posts, song lyrics and even Netflix shows — into your most effective lessons, taking your reading and listening proficiency to the next level.
And a quality VPN, such as NordVPN, will open the doors to an almost endless supply of movies and TV shows in your target language.
It’s here that the learning takes place — not at the top of your Duolingo league. Don’t forget that!
Have your say!
The league system is undoubtedly a huge part of the current Duolingo experience.
But what do you think of it?
Does it motivate you to do your daily lessons?
Has it helped you progress in your target language?
Are there any changes you’d like Duolingo to make?
What are your thoughts on the ‘cheating’ debate?
Let me know in the comments!