Duolingo Japanese Review | Everything You Need to Know

Duolingo Japanese Review | Everything You Need to Know - EDOPEN Japan

Duolingo is one of those language apps that is not only popular but also free. With over 300 million users worldwide, it is the most popular and most downloaded learning app in the world.

This time, I would like to introduce everything about Duolingo you should read this review article thoroughly if you want to know how to use “Duolingo” effectively or to hear reviews from Duolingo users to see its quality and try to think carefully whether this app is suitable for you.

You can also try trying to learn Japanese with various methods with the method of remembering through songs or other methods, please explore further at the following link!

See also:
12 Greatest YouTube Channels for Learning Japanese
12 Best Podcasts for Learning Japanese
Top 10 Free Apps for Japanese Learning

What is Duolingo?

What is Duolingo? - EDOPEN Japan

Duolingo offers more than 100 courses in nearly 60 languages, which includes Japanese. Users can improve their vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation through repetitive exercises that cover written translations, reading comprehension, and short stories. Duolingo is accessible on their website or can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play.

Users can start as a beginner or take a placement test. The comprehensive Duolingo Japanese course is designed for JLPT levels 4 and 5. Duolingo is a valuable and engaging tool for language learning that enhances motivation and enriches vocabulary acquisition.

Trace of Learning Japanese with Duolingo

Launched in 2012, Japanese is currently the fifth most widely spoken language globally, and the most popular Asian one. The company aims to teach Japanese to learners from the very start, utilizing pedagogical methods similar to those utilized in childhood education. To achieve fluency, learners must master katakana, hiragana, and kanji and overcome the challenges posed by Japanese grammar.

Despite being one of the most sought-after languages, “Duolingo” has yet to release a Japanese course as the company faced challenges in achieving effective teaching and overcoming technical obstacles.

The course will then proceed to teach you about self-introductions, greetings, idioms, and frequently used vocabulary. Later, you will be taught vocabulary and phrases pertaining to sports, dining, shopping, and directions.

The Features of Duolingo

The Features of Duolingo - EDOPEN Japan

Below are 8 features of Duolingo to consider:

1. Most downloaded language learning application in the world

The total number of downloads is the highest in the world, and 34 hours of study is equivalent to one semester at a university.

2. Multilingual

Duolingo provides courses in more than 94 languages for speakers of 28 languages. These 94 languages include prominent languages like English, French, and Chinese, as well as minor ones, like Mayan, Basque, and Esperanto. The rationale behind it is to preserve these minor languages.

3. Contents allow you to learn Japanese like a game

There are numerous motivators for learning that can enhance your efficiency and enjoyment while preventing boredom, much like playing a game.

4. Covers reading, listening, speaking and writing

Duolingo provides comprehensive language learning resources, covering vital aspects like vocabulary, writing, reading, listening, speaking, and translating. In each lesson, you will encounter a well-rounded mix of questions that cater equally to each of these elements, ensuring an intensive and balanced learning experience in a short time. With only 20 questions per lesson, you can gain a solid grasp of all the necessary language skills quickly and efficiently.

5. Basic sentence structure and words

“Duolingo” offers a structured approach to learning a language by breaking down complex grammar and vocabulary into smaller, repeated lessons. As you progress, you’ll enhance your ability to understand and use new concepts in context. This user-friendly platform is ideal for beginners, providing a simple and effective way to start your language learning journey!

6. Colorful and pop appearance

Duolingo has a vibrant and fun appearance, ensuring visual engagement throughout the learning journey. The adorable illustrations accompanying word learning make the process even more enjoyable and accessible, easing recall. One of Duolingo’s allures is its gamified approach to learning.

7. Personalized learning

Duolingo’s personalised language training sets it apart from other learning apps. While making progress, the AI examines each learner’s situation, adjusts the course content accordingly, and tailors the pace and difficulty levels accordingly.

8. Completely free

When downloading a language learning app, price may be a concern, but fear not! “Duolingo” is a highly sophisticated and enjoyable option that comes at no cost.

Why is Duolingo available for “Free”?

Some may wonder why this app is freely available to everyone. The answer lies in the background of “Duolingo’s” development by Luis von Ahn, the app’s creator. Originally from Guatemala, von Ahn witnessed an educational gap caused by the difference between the rich and the poor during his childhood.

As a result of his consideration to close the education gap, he believes that learning a foreign language is one of the most reliable methods to escape poverty. Despite its global popularity, Duolingo remains available for free. Moreover, it actively supports and encourages refugees living in Europe.

Pros & Cons about Duolingo

Pros & Cons about Duolingo - EDOPEN Japan

There are some opinions on the pros of Duolingo Japanese users, see below:

Pros of DuolingoCons of Duolingo
1. Includes learning hiragana and katakana.1. No comprehensive learning solution for grammar or kanji.
2. Covers a wide range of topics.2. There is no explanation of the difference between hiragana, katakana, and kanji.
3. Daily reminders encourage you to keep learning.3. Not leveled or suitable for JLPT study.
4. A good range of vocabulary and grammar in the course.4. Does not ask you to memorize the stroke order of kanji.
5. It’s fun with all the different gamification elements.5. Lacks professional grammar explanations.
6. The variety of exercise types makes it interesting.6. Pronunciation is sometimes wrong.
7. The competition section motivates you a lot.7. Kanji stroke order is sometimes missing in Duolingo.

Here are some valuable tips for utilizing the Duolingo application effectively:

  • To help students make connections between related words and concepts, Duolingo offers its lessons by topic rather than by grammar or difficulty.
  • The thematic structure in Duolingo Japanese allows you to immediately apply the vocabulary you learn.
  • Features like a daily reminder function encourage and help you learn the daily basics.
  • There are a few other nice features, like the ability to form a language learning group with friends or strangers to motivate each other and chat about Japanese.

What Duolingo teaches and does not teach you?

You can clearly see the table below what aspects that Duolingo actually teach you and does not teach you:

Duolingo teaches you how to:Duolingo doesn’t teach you:
Listening to and understanding Japanese sentences.The stroke order of Kanji.
Being able to construct sentences in Japanese.Know the grammatical rules for using grammar points.
Be able to read “hiragana” and “katakana”.Grammatical constructions outside of example sentences.
Be able to figure out grammar through context and comparison of translations.Kanji Radicals

One issue is that only recognition of Japanese characters can be learned, with writing not being possible. To properly write Japanese by hand, it is crucial to learn the correct stroke order when studying new characters.

Another issue is the sound, as some of the app’s functions do not produce sound when tapping on certain words, while the majority do. This is a problem because it is difficult to hear the entire sentence’s pronunciation accurately.

What’s more, the pronunciations are occasionally incorrect. Japanese words can have several meanings or pronunciations, making this a significant issue. Unfortunately, Duolingo seems to only recognize a single pronunciation for each word or character, exacerbating the problem.

Duolingo Gamified Learning – Making Japanese Learning Fun

Duolingo Gamified Learning - Making Japanese Learning Fun - EDOPEN Japan

One element that creates an enjoyable learning experience on Duolingo is the Gamification programme. It is widely acknowledged that we learn with greater success when we enjoy the process, and as a result, gamification has become a favoured motivational tool utilised in schools, applications, and workplaces.

Multiple types of gamification are incorporated into Duolingo, and the table below outlines what Duolingo presents concerning Gamification:

Game FeaturesDescriptions
Leveling systemSpend more time and progress through the sessions and you can ascend. Then, you can get golden stars!
Unlock rewardsClimb to customize aspects of the user interface, such as disguising the Duolingo owl or accessing special.
Achievement badgesDepending on the number of hours you spend studying, you can earn badges and reach milestones that will be displayed in your profile.
Streak trackingStudy for a set amount of time each day to continue your streak.
Goal trackingSet a goal and the coach owl will tell you if you are on the right track to reach that goal or not.
leagues and leaderboardCompete with your friends and the Duolingo community-ranked on the leaderboards.

A Brief Review of Duolingo

A Brief Review of Duolingo - EDOPEN Japan

It’s not perfect, but it is an enjoyable and effective way to learn the basics of Japanese. Duolingo Japanese is a great tool for beginners or those who want to practice a specific grammar. Below we make a table for your easy reference:

Duolingo is great forDuolingo isn’t that great for
Who learn best by repetition and memorizationTourists looking for a phrasebook
Who wants to try Japanese to see if they like itStudents who need to know the ‘Why’ behind the grammar
Who need to fill short blocks of time with a quick lessonWho want to learn how to write Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana.
Who wants to revise for the JLPT N5 and N4 examsWho want to go beyond a beginner level

To ensure clarity and ease of use, we highly recommend acquiring a basic understanding of hiragana before starting to use Duolingo. Doing so will make navigating the app a breeze.

Duolingo Social Learning – Makes People Connect

Duolingo’s section for friends and classmates to connect and compete provides a platform for its students to add each other via their profiles or Facebook.

The leaderboard serves as a strong social element as most people are interested in keeping up with their friends. By clicking on the chat bubble, students can access information about previous queries and relevant responses, or pose their own questions to the community.


You’ll acquire Japanese vocabulary pertaining to various subject matters subject to periodic updates. It is noteworthy that the “Duolingo” app is a commendable tool for easy and enjoyable language acquisition.

In addition, “Duolingo” is an optimum option for N5/N4 students, individuals with packed schedules, and memorizers given its inclusive repertoire of foundational vocabulary and grammar, as well as its diverse set of exercise formats.


Representative Director of Reboot Japan Co., Ltd., which operates EDOPEN JAPAN. Founded the company in 2018, which provides Japanese language education and assistance for studying in Japan. Started the company after living with international students at a Japanese language school. He enjoys learning about new people and cultures and has lived in Australia and Malaysia. Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Sophia University.