[Last updated: December 9, 2021]
This mega list of Duolingo tips will help you get the absolute maximum out of your Duolingo experience!
I’ve been using Duolingo since 2014 and my current streak is over 5 years old. In that time I’ve learnt a lot about Duolingo and the best ways to approach it.
So I’ve racked my brain and come up with 28 pro tips to help you become a Duolingo master.
Let’s get into it!
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1. Don’t worry about your League
One of the biggest mistakes new and long-term Duolingo users have in common is making a big deal out of their league.
Instead of focussing on improving in their target language, they become more invested in getting promoted and winning their leagues.
While the league system is great for keeping you committed to Duolingo, it has a tendency to encourage bad habits, such as constantly going back over the easy lessons.
I’ve also found it’s one of the biggest culprits for turning people away from Duolingo. They get so burnt out from the constant grind that they eventually throw in the towel and give up on learning their target language altogether.
My advice is to take the league system lightly. Treat it as a secondary concern. See it as a bit of fun. Remember that your league is not a reflection of your ability in your target language.
(For a more detailed breakdown of Duolingo Leagues, be sure to check out this article).
2. Focus on Crowns
As far as I’m concerned, one of the best measures of your ability in your target language is how many crowns you have in it.
This is because, unlike XP, unlocking crowns requires you to progress through your tree. You can earn lots of XP by simply going back over the easy lessons every day. And while this will do wonders for your league position, it won’t help you improve in your target language.
In theory, the more crowns you have, the more you know about your target language. So take this as your goal and you will be sure to make progress.
(For a more detailed explanation of why your Duolingo crowns matter, be sure to check out this article).
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)
3. Keep your streak
Alongside your crowns, I believe that a solid streak is a great indicator of language learning success.
Now it’s important to note that a good streak itself doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing well in your language. Again, you could just keep your streak alive by doing the easy lessons every day.
The importance of your streak is found in the habit that it creates. Learning a language is a long term commitment. You have to show up every day for a very long time in order to see results.
Your streak is the manifestation of this commitment. By making it a priority, you ensure that you login and engage with your target language every day. This is really important. Consistency won’t necessarily carry you to fluency, but fluency does require consistency. That’s something to think about!
(Be sure to check out this article for a more detailed explanation of why I think maintaining your Duolingo streak is important).
4. …but don’t cheat
It’s also important to note that you’ve got to keep your streak clean.
In addition to ensuring that you’re pressing forward in your tree, you also need to resist the temptation to use Streak Freezes or Streak Repairs.
The reason is simple: if you miss a day, but you preserve your streak with one of these tools, then it’s no longer a streak. It may say that you’ve logged in and used Duolingo every day for 365 days in a row, but the reality is that you haven’t. It’s a deception.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s all about those habits that you adopt. If you do it once, then you’ll almost certainly do it again… and again… and again… until eventually the whole point of keeping a streak is lost.
So keep it clean. If you miss a day, let it go. This can be hard, especially if your streak is super long. But keeping a zombie streak won’t do you any favours in the long run.
5. Set a manageable daily goal
In the interests of creating a healthy language learning habit, I think it’s a good idea to set a healthy daily goal.
Some argue that it’s best to set a really high daily XP goal, as it will force you to spend more time on Duolingo than usual. I think this approach has some merit, particularly if you have a clear and compelling reason for learning your target language.
But more often than not it’s actually counter-productive. Doing too much in too short a time frame can lead to burnout. And burnout, as I mentioned above, is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t succeed on Duolingo.
It can also be really frustrating. If you’re a non-Plus member, which most of you will be, then you’ll know how frustrating the heart system can be. Setting a high daily goal will make it more likely that you exhaust your heart reserves, and this will prevent you from completing any more lessons.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is to set a manageable daily goal. 10 XP a day isn’t much, but it will make it easier for you to log in every day and complete your lessons. Of course, you don’t have to stop there if you don’t want to. If you still have hearts available and you’re motivated to carry on then there’s nothing stopping you from diving into more lessons.
The important thing is that you keep coming back. It’s better to do 20 XP every day than to do 100 XP one day but not show up again for another week.
6. Practice to unlock hearts
While we’re on the subject of hearts, one of the easiest ways to unlock more is to do a practice session.
You simply tap on your hearts at the top of the screen and select ‘Practice’.
The cool thing about these sessions is that you can work on your target language without the fear of losing any of your hearts, and also know that at the end of the session you will unlock another. This will allow you to dive back into your tree and pick up where you left off.
I go into more detail on how to beat the heart system in this article, so be sure to check it out if you’re getting frustrated!
7. Consider Duolingo Plus
This is something that many, including myself, have been too quick to dismiss over the years.
For a long time I vowed that I would never subscribe to Duolingo Plus (Duolingo’s premium membership). It seemed too pricey and didn’t seem to add much to the free experience, which is already one of the best deals in language learning.
But in recent times Duolingo have really stepped up their premium offering. It now packs a ton of cool features, including Pronunciation Review, Mistake Practice, Mastery Quiz, and, perhaps best of all, unlimited hearts. It also removes adverts and allows you to download your courses for offline use.
It’s still pretty pricey at $83.88 for the year. But if you use Duolingo regularly and know you will continue to do so then it’s definitely worth considering. I’ve been using it for over a year now and recently resubscribed for another.
(For a detailed review of Duolingo Plus and whether it’s worth the price, be sure to check out this article).
8. Don’t skip the tips
Not all of Duolingo’s language courses include the Tips sections, but for the ones that do they’re definitely worth looking at.
When I started learning French I found myself ignoring them and just diving straight in to the lessons. I had enough knowledge from Italian to help me through those early lessons, so I just didn’t see the point.
But as I progressed through the tree, I started to consult the tips pages a bit more. And to my surprise they’re actually really well written, presented and explained.
So be sure to give them a glance.
9. Read the Stories
To be honest, I don’t think this is something that I really need to encourage.
Stories are one of the coolest features on Duolingo at the moment. They pretty much sell themselves given how well written and utterly hillarious most of them are. I regularly find myself binging the French ones as they’re so brilliant.
And the best bit is that they actually have a positive effect on your language learning. They’re all about testing and improving your reading and listening comprehension. They take everything you’ve learned in the standard tree and present it in an authentic environment.
The result is that you start using the language as opposed to simply learning it. This is a big deal.
If you’re learning French or Spanish then you’re in luck, as there are absolutely loads of stories available and their libraries are constantly growing. There’s plenty to choose from in German, Portuguese and Italian as well, albeit they’re not as well catered to.
Anyone currently learning Japanese can get excited as this is the next language to be getting Stories.
10. Use the forums
The Duolingo forums are brilliant to use alongside your Duolingo studies.
This is where the Duolingo community congregates to discuss all things Duolingo and language learning.
Here you will find conversation about all aspects, including course-specific discussions, general language learning chatter, as well as the future of Duolingo and possible updates.
It’s a great place to ask questions if you’re getting stuck, and to mingle with like-minded users. You never know, you might find yourself a language learning buddy with whom you can practice your conversation skills with!
11. …and for confusing questions
Another great use of the forums is through the questions you answer in your language tree.
Whenever you answer a question, you get the option to discuss it on the forums. Each question has its own forum page, so you can hop in and ask for clarification if ever you get confused.
This is really useful if the question is a particularly confusing one, as you can guarantee that others have had the same difficulties.
12. Don’t forget to report
The above is also useful for when a question just doesn’t make sense — and isn’t supposed to because there’s an error.
The guys at Duolingo are only human, after all, so sometimes mistakes are made. It could be that your answer was correct and should have been accepted, but was marked wrong. This can be really frustrating, especially if you only have a couple of hearts left.
Not only is the forum a useful place to find out if others are having the same issue, but you can also report the problem to Duolingo by tapping the flag icon. This will let the guys at Duolingo know that there’s an issue with one of their questions. If enough people do this, then the issue will get resolved.
13. Tune in to the podcasts
This is another feature that is unfortunately limited to only a couple of languages. But if you’re studying French or Spanish, then the Duolingo podcasts are definitely something you should consider checking out.
I’ve listened to a few of the French ones and they’re actually really good. They’re usually about 20 to 30 minutes long and combine English and French to great effect. They’re easy to follow and the topics are usually pretty interesting.
And even better news for those learning Spanish: Duolingo have created a 6-part mini-series which they describe as “the world’s first-ever true crime series designed specifically for language learners“. I haven’t listened to it myself, but from the previews, I’d say it sounds pretty cool!
You can access the Duolingo podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, and they’re 100% free.
14. Try not to skip the speaking exercises
The speaking exercises have long been one of the most frustrating exercises on Duolingo.
The AI can be really strict about some of the pronunciations to the point that nothing you say will be accepted. On the flip side, sometimes you can pronounce something completely wrong and it will accept your answer.
As a result it can be really tempting to tap ‘Can’t Speak Now’ and avoid speaking altogether.
I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m just as guilty as anyone of doing this. They’re just too inconsistent. And besides, it can be pretty embarrassing repeating the same thing over and over again when other people are in the room with you. Sometimes I’d rather just avoid it altogether.
As frustrating as it is, though, it still isn’t in our best interests to do this. Even if the exercises aren’t accurate, it’s still good practice to speak every once in a while. If you skip the speaking exercises too often, then, trust me, your pronunciation will suffer.
Anyone with Duolingo Plus will know that Duolingo have gone some way to helping with this recently. Pronunciation Review gives you the opportunity to listen back to your recordings. So even if the AI continues to reject your answer, you can at least know yourself whether or not you’re getting it right.
15. Keep moving forward
I’ve referred to this a couple of times already but it’s worth repeating because it’s so important.
You must resist the temptation to coast along in the easy lessons. While this may be the best way to avoid losing hearts and to storm up the league standings, it won’t do your language learning prospects any favours.
You should always be looking to step out of your comfort zone. On Duolingo, this means moving on to the next skills as soon as possible.
Personally, I like to take two steps forward and one step back: I’ll throw myself into a new skill as soon as I unlock it and try to unlock the first crown; I’ll then go back to a previous skill and level it up. This way I can ensure I’m making progress while at the same time keeping everything else I’ve learned fresh.
You might want to read this article from the Duolingo Blog about the Hover technique as it’s pretty much what I do!
16. Dabble with desktop
I don’t do this as much as I used to, but something you might like to consider is to mix up your Duolingo usage between the app and the desktop version.
While the app is definitely more convenient and, in my opinion, more versatile, the desktop version also has a few tricks up its sleeve.
If you’re a free member, then you can use the desktop version to avoid the heart system. So if you’ve lost all your hearts but you’d like to keep your language learning session going, hop on over to the desktop site and pick up where you left off.
Another cool thing about the desktop version is that you get access to a list of all your encountered words. You can see all the words Duolingo thinks you’ve learned in your target language, as well as a strength bar and when you last practised it.
Again, this isn’t something I use as much as I used to. As a Plus member I don’t have to worry about hearts, and the word strength stuff I get over at LingQ while I’m reading through news articles and song lyrics. But for free members this is definitely something worth playing around with.
Duome.eu is a cool little website that you can use to really dig into your Duolingo stats and flesh out your experience.
It’s a fan-made website that collates loads of data from Duolingo and presents it in a bunch of different leaderboards.
It’s got a hall of fame for longest streak, most crowns, golden owls and more. You can find your stats by typing duome.eu/*yourusername* into your browser’s address bar.
Better still, you can also access the vocabulary lists for every course. This is great if you want to create flashcards or you simply want to go over everything you’ve encountered.
18. XP Ramp Up Challenge
This has been one of my favourite features on Duolingo for a few months now.
XP Ramp Up is a timed challenge available via the league tab on IOS devices. It tests your comprehension speed (as well as your nerves) by throwing a bunch of questions at you, which you have to answer before the time runs out.
If you answer them all before the time runs out, you will earn a cool 40 XP. If you don’t manage it, then you’ll usually earn 5 to 10 XP for your efforts.
(You can learn more about XP Ramp Up in this article, in which I share several tips to help you succeed more often).
Personally I’m not that bothered about the XP side of things. What I’m most interested in is the timed aspect. Answering questions with a timer looming over you forces you to think instinctively, and this is great for improving your comprehension.
Better still, XP Ramp Up doesn’t use up your hearts, so this is a great option for non-Plus members.
19. Get acquainted with your settings
This one might sound a little stupid, but hear me out.
How familiar are you with the settings menu?
Here you’ll find a bunch of cool settings that you can use to propel you to language learning success. You can tweak your daily goal, manage your courses, and dive into the help center if ever you’re having any issues.
The most important settings you’ll want to adjust though can be found under the Notifications heading. Here, as you might expect, is where you control the notifications that the owl sends you. For maximum commitment, I recommend setting up device and email reminders for your daily lessons and picking a convenient time to receive them.
This bit is really important. Don’t leave it set for 09:00 am if you know that’s when you start work, otherwise you’ll be more inclined to ignore it and annoy the owl in the process!
Instead, set it for a time that will work for you more often than not. It could be first thing in the morning when you’re having your breakfast, in the middle of the day when you’re having your lunch, or at the end of the day when you’re winding down.
20. Look for the capitals
A cool little hack if ever you’re stuck in a lesson is to keep an eye out for the capital letters.
If you have a word bank exercise, in which you have a selection of cards and you have to pick the right ones to match the sentence, have a look and see if you can spot one with a capital letter.
There won’t always be a capitalised word, but if ever there is this will usually be the first word of the sentence.
I’ve noticed this isn’t as common as it used to be (maybe Duolingo have realised and started to snuff it out). Certainly in the French course the French cards rarely seem to have any capitals. But when you’re translating from French to English, the English cards still usually have a capitalised word.
This will probably vary from course to course, so keep your eyes peeled.
21. XP Boosts
Again, this is another feature that, for some reason, doesn’t grace every course. I don’t even know why as it wouldn’t be hard to incorporate.
But on the French course, whenever you complete a level, you will usually unlock an XP Boost. This is a timed boost that doubles your XP for about 15 minutes. You’ll know when it’s on as there will be a little XP Boost icon showing on your lesson tree.
If you’re really intent on doing well in your league, then you can use these boosts strategically to your advantage. The best course of action is to hold off on completing a level until the start of your language learning session. This way you can ensure that every lesson you complete earns you double XP.
If you unlock an XP Boost at the end of your session then it will go to waste, as the time starts as soon as you unlock it.
So if you’re determined to get as much XP as possible, be sure to take this into consideration.
22. Combo bonuses
Further to the above, if you’re hell-bent on maximising your XP totals, then be sure to keep an eye on your combo bonus.
This is awarded based on how many correct answers you get in a row, with 5 XP being the maximum award (10 if you have an XP Boost active).
This is dished out at the end of the lesson along with the rest of your lesson XP. So if you complete a lesson without making any mistakes, you’ll bag yourself 15 XP as opposed to 10.
23. Tap the pairs
I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to notice this.
It’s not much of a tip as it doesn’t really help that much. But it might save you a bit of time if, until now, you’ve been looking in the wrong places.
The Tap The Pairs exercises always have the root language down the left-hand side of the screen, and the target language down the right. So if you’re learning French from English, the English words will be down the left and the French words will be down the right.
Again, this probably won’t be of much use, and you might have already spotted it. But if some of the words on both sides are similar, it could prevent you from making a mistake.
24. Skip levels if they’re too easy
If you’re coasting along in a skill then this is definitely something you should consider.
Tap on the skill in your lesson tree and you should find a little Key button. If you tap it you’ll be given the opportunity to sit a test, which will assess whether or not you can skip forward to the next level.
The tests are harder than the standard lessons in that you don’t get any hints. Make three or more mistakes and you get a big fat fail.
This is something I recommend doing if you’re flying through a level and you don’t feel as though you’re learning much.
In fact, if your performance is strong enough, Duolingo will ask if you want to skip to the next level without even needing to sit the usual test. This happens when you complete two lessons in a row without getting any of the questions wrong.
25. Tap flags to see XP and Crowns
If you’re anything like me then you’ll have dabbled with a few different languages on Duolingo.
If you’d like to see your stats for these languages, specifically how much XP you’ve acquired in each, then doing so is really simple.
All you need to do is navigate to your profile page and then simply tap on the list of flags beneath your details. Here you will find a breakdown of all of your languages and how much XP you’ve acquired.
To see how many crowns you’ve unlocked in each language, just tap on the flag in the top left corner of your language tree and select your desired language. Your crowns for that language will be recorded just to the right of the flag.
26. Tap friends/users to compare stats
Want to see how you stack up compared to your pals? Well Duolingo have made it easier than ever.
Just head over to your friend list on your profile page and tap on the account of a user you’d like to compare your stats with.
You’ll find a neat little graph which tracks your XP for the week vs your friend’s, as well as some other statistics including streak length, XP total, crown total, and current league. You can also view all the achievements they’ve earned.
This isn’t something you need to take that seriously. It’s just a bit of fun that adds to the overall learning experience!
27. Check the Incubator
The Incubator is where you’ll find everything you need to know about upcoming courses and updates.
It’s currently split into three sections. Incubation Phase 1 contains details of courses not yet released; Phase 2 contains details of courses currently released in beta; Phase 3 contains all the courses that have graduated from beta and that are now live.
And if you want, you can also contribute to up and coming courses. Know both Swedish and Russian? Then why not contribute to the Swedish course for Russian speakers!
28. Reverse tree
I’ve left this one until last as it’s not something I’ve actually done, but I know it’s something that a lot of Duolingo users recommend.
The reverse tree involves flipping (or reversing) your target language with your root language. So if you’ve been learning French from English, you would instead ‘learn’ English from French.
It’s recommended that you do this after you’ve completed the tree to mix things up.
Although this isn’t something I’ve done myself, I can see a lot of merit in it. It looks like a great way of keeping things fresh and allows you to come at your target language from a different angle.
Alternatively, if you’re that confident in your target language, you could even learn a new language from your newly acquired one. For instance if you’ve recently completed the Spanish tree and now you’d like to learn Russian, then you could do so with Spanish as your native language.
It’s definitely something you can get creative with, so be sure to give it a whirl if you’re feeling confident!
Have your say!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that you will find some of the tips I’ve shared useful!
But is there anything I’ve missed out?
Perhaps you disagree with some of the ones I’ve included?
Do you have any top tips that you’d like to share?
Let me know in the comments!