Duolingo has launched on March 2020 a completely free app. It helps parents who have all of a sudden found themselves homeschooling in the midst of COVID-19.


This new app is Duolingo ABC and it’s directed to children learning to read in English. For now, it’s only available on iOS and you can only download it in eight countries. In the Americas, only United States and Canada. In Europe: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. 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 on this year but due to the pandemic they unveiled it sooner.

The company explained this in 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 doesn’t help us nor our children learning Italian, we’re 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’ll be watching out for this!

This would be the third platform Duolingo launches

With this app, Duolingo is attempting to help native speakers. And this time of a far younger audience compared to what they’ve done with their other 2 platforms. If you’re not familiar with Duolingo’s main service, check it out by clicking here. At the time of publishing this post they are teaching many pairs of languages. For English speakers, there are 32 languages available. And you can take the full course of each and all these languages free.

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

Learning with games

Children like to play. That’s not a secret. And even grownups, 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 3 and upward can enjoy this platform.

“You found a story, this story is called Mad Monkeys…” This is the way the app begins with their first lesson. There are 127 units with more than 300 lessons summing all the units. At the end of them, a child should know how to read basic texts. It sounds a bit different from how I learnt to read, LOL.

What can I find inside Duolingo ABC?

It’s 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’ll 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 very first time a parent opens the app for his child, the grown-up will have to introduce the kid’s name or nickname. What a plesant surprise to see a few days later the child writing his ownname. 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 necesary, 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 once in a while. And the updates are also sent via email. But if an email is not provided, a 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’ll identify its sound and recognize words that start with “m”. And as the game progresses, things begin to get a bit more complex. Distinguishing uppercase and lowercase versions is one of the activities. And another one is to say words that include “m” out loud.

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 its players on a logical journey. They start with very simple things and gradually increasing in complexity.

Duolingo ABC cons

1. Children that already have some reading skills can’t choose were 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. Who’s child would not like tapping through stories, popping bubbles and tracing letters? It’s 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. At the moment, Duolingo ABC is only available for learning English, for iOS. And only in eight countries. In the Americas, only United States and Canada. In Europe: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. 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. For those of you who don’t know, there are 2 receptive skills and 2 productive. The receptive skills are listening and reading. And the productive ones are speaking and writing.

3. It’s really engaging.

4. Completely free (no ads nor anything of that sort, whatsoever).

Wrapping up

For all those parents that have a 3 to 6-year-old kid at home, this app will prove valuable. Duolingo products have always been very well crafted and to cap it all this one’s free. Completely free. This contrasts with Duolingo’s main platform. In it, it teaches adults a second language. But it includes ads for the free version. Duolingo ABC is add-free.

We appreciate this effort done by Duolingo. Launching this helpful service in the midst of these difficult days were living is good. 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!


Mondez and Kayla · June 2, 2020 at 11:20 PM

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!

    Jonathan Henry · June 3, 2020 at 1:33 AM

    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.

petergeorge5666 · June 2, 2020 at 11:21 PM

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.

    Jonathan Henry · June 3, 2020 at 1:37 AM

    Hey Peter.

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

Rosalia · June 2, 2020 at 11:23 PM

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!

    Jonathan Henry · June 3, 2020 at 1:40 AM

    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.

evans · June 3, 2020 at 12:00 AM

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.

    Jonathan Henry · June 3, 2020 at 1:48 AM

    Hey Evans.

    I hadn’t thought in this application myself. Thanks for sharing it.

Aly · March 11, 2021 at 5:18 PM

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!!

    Jonathan Henry · March 11, 2021 at 7:47 PM

    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.

Andy · March 11, 2021 at 6:20 PM

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

    Jonathan Henry · March 11, 2021 at 7:53 PM

    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.

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