Duolingo

Learn French with a robot.

Talia Avakian
October 06, 2016

Language-learning platform Duolingo is introducing chatbots that can engage in conversations with users, allowing for a more engaging way to learn a new language.

The chatbots come in a range of characters, from a restaurant chef to a coffee shop barista, to replicate common situations travelers would be likely to find themselves in.

To start, Duolingo is launching bots in Spanish, French, and German (for native English speakers).

Duolingo

Communication with the bots happens through text and voice pronunciation. As users converse with the bots, they will get a series of questions and reactions. There's a help option is a phrase is too challenging.

“Based on our own experiences and what we hear from our users, we know that one of the biggest difficulties is translating what you learn in a book or class on a language into conversations,” Gina Gotthilf, vice president of growth and marketing at Duolingo, told Travel + Leisure.

“Memorizing phrases about a coffee shop and actually speaking in a coffee shop are two very different things, with the bots giving people a way to practice those interactions,” Gotthilf said.

The bots are programmed to respond to hundreds to thousands of words and phrases, so conversations could vary greatly based on what users say. Conversations start at a beginner level, however the company may add an option to start at a more advanced level soon.

Duolingo is initially launching the bots exclusively on iOS. An Android version, as well as the ability to converse with the bots through voice conversations, will be available soon.

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