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Duolingo ABC – An app to teach children how to read and write

Duolingo has launched March 2020, a completely free app. It helps parents who have suddenly found themselves homeschooling in COVID-19.


This new app is Duolingo ABC, and it is for children learning to read in English. For now, it is only available on iOS, and you can only download it in eight countries. In the Americas, in the United States, and in Canada. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland are the countries that have the same privilege in Europe. And in Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.

You can also use the app offline. It has no ads and no in-app purchases.

They planned to launch this new app further this year. But due to the pandemic, it was unveiled sooner.

The company explained this on the iOS app page:

“In light of the recent school closures around the world, we’re making Duolingo ABC available early to help provide more educational resources for kids and parents at home.”

Although this app does not help us or our children learn Italian, we are excited about this launch. We know the high standards this language-learning company has. And we hope a similar app for teaching children to read Italian will also follow. We will be watching out for this!

Duolingo ABC is the third platform launched!

With this app, Duolingo is attempting to help native speakers. And this time of a far younger audience compared to what they have done with their other two platforms. If you are not familiar with Duolingo’s primary service, check it out by clicking here. When publishing this post, they are teaching many pairs of languages. For English speakers, there are 32 languages available. And you can take the complete course in each and all these languages for free.

Duolingo has also launched a flashcard platform to help language learners absorb vocabulary. To check their flashcard platform, click here. It is also completely free to use.

Learning with games

Children like to play. That is not a secret. And even adults, when we can learn in a game format, we enjoy it more.

Duolingo has experience in gamification. And this makes us excited about Duolingo ABC. Children from age three and upward can enjoy this platform.

“You found a story. This story is called Mad Monkeys!”

The app begins with its first lesson this way. There are 127 units with more than 300 lessons summing all the units. After going through the app, a child should know how to read elementary school texts. It sounds a bit different from how I learned to read, LOL.

What can I find inside Duolingo ABC?

It is super simple to use and very intuitive for a 3-year-old child. The “gamified exercises” inside the app teach a child all the letters in the alphabet. He will learn their sounds with some other fundamentals required for early reading.


The app presents one letter at a time. And it asks kids to tap, drag, listen and speak out loud.

The first time a parent opens the app for his child, he must introduce the kid’s name or nickname. Would you be surprised to see your child writing his name a few days later? Who taught him? Duolingo ABC (with no effort from his parents).

This app also uses speech recognition. Children to advance certain levels need to say a letter or read a whole word. The app will need access to the device’s microphone.

If the parents deem it necessary, developers will explain how they collect children’s data. Also, how they use and share it. Duolingo ABC sends this information to parents by email. And parents have choices. They update Privacy policies every If the parents deem it necessary, developers will explain how they collect children’s data. Also, how they use and share it. Duolingo ABC sends this information by email to parents. And parents have the final word. Privacy policies every once in a while. And the updates are also sent via email. But if parents do not provide an email, the child can still play with Duolingo ABC.

The games

The first game the preschooler will come across is “Mad Monkeys.” In it, he will trace the letter “m.” After that, he will identify its sound and recognize words that start with “m.” And as the game progresses, things get a bit more complex. Distinguishing uppercase and lowercase versions is one of the activities. And another one is to say out loud words that include “m.”

To unlock successive games, the infant must complete earlier games.

The games are colorful and will engage any child. I even imagine grown-ups that want to learn English playing them. These mini-games take their players on a logical journey. They start with simple things and gradually increase in complexity.

Duolingo ABC cons

  1. Children that already have some reading skills can not choose where to start. Everybody must slog through the early levels. It may take some time until they reach material that challenges them.
  2. The app can be too engaging, LOL. What kid would not like tapping through stories, popping bubbles, and tracing letters? It is a very colorful environment. And it can suck hours away from our little ones. So parents must watch out and allow the child to play with the device in small doses.
  3. Currently, Duolingo ABC is only available for learning English on iOS. And only in eight countries. In the Americas, the United States, and Canada. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland in Europe. And in Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.

Duolingo ABC pros

  1. They start with the very basics and build up from there.
  2. The app helps kids with all four language skills. As background knowledge, there are two receptive skills and two productive. The former are listening and reading. And the latter are speaking and writing.
  3. It is engaging.
  4. Completely free (no ads nor anything of that sort whatsoever).

Wrapping up

Duolingo’s first platform teaches adults a second language. But it includes ads for the free version. In contrast, Duolingo ABC is add-free.

We appreciate this effort by Duolingo. For all those parents out there, please check it out. And for those that have already done, please leave us your comment about your experience with the app.

Thank you very much!

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  1. This is pretty neat! I have two young kids who are 3 years old and 5 years old so this would definitely be something that I’m interested in. Considering we are home due to COVID-19, it’s definitely great timing.

    I’m glad it was launched early and I’m also glad it’s free! Even though we can’t skip ahead in the app like you stated, I think it would be a great app just to practice and learn as much as they can. I’ll try it out and let you know how it went!

    1. Hi! I’m glad to hear you’ll give this app a try. Yeah, it would be perfect for your children.Please share with us your feedback after using Duolingo ABC. Thank you.

  2. Keeping yourself entertained at home while self-isolating can be tough, but it’s made all the more difficult if you’ve got children to keep occupied, too. Thanks Henry for this article.I’ll check the app out later today. Can’t wait to get my nephew busy. He likes to stick around me all day but with an app like this, I believe, we could use his time productively.

    1. Hey Peter.Yeah, this would be a good app for him. He will have fun and at the same time learn to read.

  3. This app is very interesting! Many things changed because of COVID-19, but the good side of technology is that we are able to quickly find solutions to some problems.

    It is good that this app was released earlier than planned. But it’s a pity that the app was only made available in a few countries!

    1. Hi Rosalia,Yes, it’s a pity but I understand that they won’t stay there. They’ll continue to expand their reach with Duolingo ABC. I hope to soon see Italian as one of the languages added to it.

  4. So thoughtful of you to write up this even though it hasn’t been released in Italian yet. Apps like this can really help us teach our children how to read and write… A lot of kids find it difficult to learn when surrounded by other children. They fear not reading correctly or being disapproved.This app would help in those cases where kids would normally feel embarrassed of reading in the presence of other kids.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I am so glad that I found this review of the Duolingo ABC. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn and it’s helpful to get a quick overview of high-level policies. I like that there are no ads and no in-app purchases, as no one wants to be surprised by what their kid accidentally might click and purchase! Awesome that it can be used offline too! What a cool app!!

    1. Hi Aly, yes I agree with you that no one wants to be surprised by what their kid accidentally might click and purchase!This is a good app that can prove helpful for many parents.

  6. What an excellent product and hats off to Duolingo for making this available free, and – super important point – ad-free. I’ve used an online language learning tool called Transparent Language for a few years now to learn Mandarin. I was quite consistently learning for about six months before we went on our China trip. Then after we returned I slowed down. Now I just get the daily words and phrases emailed to me. It is still having an effect and I still remember much of what I learned. We are fortunate that our daughter is in 3rd grade now and is doing very well with remote schooling 3 days a week and then in person tuition 2 days a week. I think while the socialization of physical school is key, it would be a shame if schooling, in general, doesn’t seek to capitalize on the successful aspects of online learning that many have experienced during the pandemic. This could be a way for smaller schools, particularly in rural districts that don’t have teachers specialized in certain subjects to provide those subjects to their students online, while the core curriculum is delivered in person. I am not involved in the education sphere but I would hope some forward-thinking educators are considering opportunities. This looks like a great product and I commend Duolingo for making it available free, and ad-free. Best regards, Andy

    1. Hi Andy.I completely agree with you concerning capitalizing on the successful aspects of online learning. Core curriculum delivered in person and specialized subjects provided online seems to be the way that education should be. Thank you very much for your good input.

  7. Wow, I didn’t know Duolingo had an app for kids. I use the app for language learning, and it’s pretty great in the way the process flows. If it’s so smooth for adults, then I can imagine how interactive it is for kids.

    Learning from games is a great approach. And education as a whole seems to be going in this direction.

    1. Yes, Duolingo has designed a way to keep users going back to its apps. And learning comes from exposure.
      Gamifiying learning is in its infancy stages. But, yes, it seems to be a trend that arrived to stay.

  8. It is nice to have tools like this available for parents. And even for those adults learning English. I give thumbs up to Duolingo for this new platform.
    I wish there were apps like this when I was learning how to read. I may have enjoyed it more, that is for sure.

    1. Hi! I also agree with you that children and grownups learning English benefit from this app. Yeah, I also wish there was something like this when learning how to read.

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