Editor’s Picks

Industry News

The Launch of Duolingo Arabic

By Cait Etherington
July 05, 2019

In late June, Duolingo–one of the world’s most popular AI-driven language-learning solutions–announced that it had just added a new language to its roster. The launch of Duolingo Arabic will no doubt be welcome news for language learners around the world. After all, Arabic is one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn and one of the most common languages.

Arabic as a World Language

Arabic is just behind Chinese, Spanish, English, and Hindi when it comes to popular world languages. It currently has an estimated 250 million speakers around the world in over a dozen countries, including Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. Reasons to pursue Arabic-language studies are also diverse. Arabic is an essential language for many people working in business. People working in international relations are also often eager to learn Arabic since many of the countries where Arabic is the official language remain mired in conflict.

Challenges Associated with Learning Arabic

The U.S. State Department, which offers language training in multiple languages, categorizes Arabic as a Level IV language or a “super-hard language” to learn as a native English speaker. Other Level IV languages include Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese. The State Department recommends 2200 hours of instruction over 88 weeks to reach some level of fluency in Arabic. By comparison, they only recommend 650-750 hours over 24-30 weeks to maintain some level of fluency in Level I languages, which include French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

A recent blog post on the Duolingo site explains that there are several reasons why Arabic is so difficult for native English speakers to learn. First and foremost, Arabic has a different writing system. Second, it has many grammatical conventions that don’t exist in English. Third, Arabic has many sounds that are difficult for native English speakers. Finally, there are many different Arabic dialects to tackle. This, however, doesn’t mean it is impossible for native English speakers to learn Arabic. It simply means that native English speakers often need to give themselves more time to learn Arabic than more familiar languages such as French or Spanish.

The Launch of Duolingo Arabic

Since Arabic is a diverse language with many forms, the Duolingo Arabic launch will focus on just one variant: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). However, a disclaimer on the Duolingo site notes that the version they are teaching won’t be quite as traditional or complex as MSA. The initial course, currently being rolled out on the Duolingo platform, focuses on foundational skills related to reading and writing, vocabulary, and pronunciation, as well as basic grammar.

About Duolingo

Duolingo is an online language learning platform that leverages AI to help people learn new languages. For free or just a nominal fee (that is, if they wish to avoid advertisements), leaners can progress at their own pace with their language studies. Since launching back in 2011, the company has gained millions of users and a lot of attention from investors. As of late 2018, Duolingo had already raised more than $100 million in funding and attracted attention from some of the largest venture capital firms in the United States, including Kleiner Perkins.

Duolingo’s founder, also the brains behind the security technology commonly known as CAPTCHA, also continues to attract a lot of attention. Last year, Luis von Ahn took home the Lemelson-MIT Prize, which is worth half a million dollars.

To learn about the launch of Duolingo Arabic and to start learning one of the world’s most popular languages, visit the Duolingo website.

Photo by LuX Clara on Unsplash.


  1. Western Governors University is amazing!!! I am impressed with all this School has to offer. Everything is at your finger tips. The mentors they have for each student are amazing. They are very helpful and very assessable. The course mentors are also amazing!!! I just completed my BSN/ Nursing this past November 2017, I started the Masters Program/Nursing Leadership and Management In December 2017. I would highly recommend this school to anyone who wants to get their degree in higher education. One thing you have to know is that you need to be disciplined. You set the pace you want to go at, but need to finish the classes you signed up for by the end of the semester.

  2. I have been at WGU studying Accounting for the last 6 months. I have really enjoyed it. WGU is NOT a correspondance course. There are live lectures, direct teacher and mentor interaction, dozens of additional resources. The Department of Ed is trying to protect its brick and motar cronies who provide students with more debt than they can handle to sit in classrooms and not learn a damn thing.

  3. I’m a WGU graduate and now work for Microsoft. WGU prepared me for my future opportunity and I recommend WGU to all my friends and family. I have two family members that have sense graduated and have more then doubled their income. My income has seen a 4X growth since graduating. WGU is a fantastic option for working professionals seeking higher education.

  4. I am currently finishing up my first year at WGU using my Post 911 GI BIll. I cannot stress enough how awesome this school is. I work full time and have 2 small children, the flexibility WGU provides is instrumental in my ability to finish my degree. I would not be able to complete my degree otherwise. I see a lot of Universities are now attempting to copy the WGU model by providing 4 year degrees fully online, but WGU is light years ahead of most of them. I know several people who have graduated from WGU who are extremely successful in their careers. WGU isnt some sham for profit University like UOP or ITT Tech, its a legit school where you get challenging courses. I highly recommend WGU to anyone looking to complete their degree.