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The Duolingo Model for Habit Forming Learning

The Duolingo Model for Habit Forming Learning

At SoloLearn, when we talk about learning languages, we’re usually talking about Python, PHP and C++ -- not French, German or Japanese. But whether you’re learning a programming language or a romance language, there are a lot of learning principles that can help you to learn more quickly, retain more information, and be ready sooner to make practical application to what you’ve learned.

Duolingo has helped millions of people to learn natural languages with their bite-size lessons and fun games and challenges. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best features of Duolingo, and how you can use those same tricks to help you learn to code.

Habit-Forming Learning - The Key to Language Learning

Recently we discussed the ins and outs of habit-forming learning. SoloLearn is designed to help you learn to code by building learning habits into your life. With quick study, practice, and review sessions, you’ll build the habits you need in order to build your skills.

Duolingo has been using these principles in the language-learning world with their habit-based approach for a while. Their bite-size lessons have helped millions to master languages that they never thought they’d have time to learn. They’ve even helped people succeed where college courses and expensive audio programs have failed. How do they do it? There are three important parts to Duolingo’s approach that have helped learners succeed: 

  • Fun, quick and interactive lessons
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Habit-forming reminders and goals

Let’s look at each one of these components as used by Duolingo, and how SoloLearn also uses these techniques to help you learn to code.

Quick, Fun Language Learning Lessons

One of the keys to habit-forming learning is to make it fast, fun and interactive. Rather than simply memorizing words and phrases, Duolingo lessons combine vocabulary with fun activities that reinforce learning and help students grasp grammar and sentence structure intuitively.

In each lesson, you’ll find reading and listening exercises that teach new words along with correct pronunciation and grammar. Each lesson builds on the previous ones -- new words and concepts are introduced at the same time as previous vocabulary is reviewed. This gives the whole learning experience a cohesive, organic feel. Each lesson can be completed in just a few minutes, meaning that you can pick up a lesson wherever you have spare time. And a great mobile app lets you learn wherever you may find yourself -- on the bus, at home or on your lunch break.

If you’d rather study Python than Portuguese, then SoloLearn offers a similar experience for learning to code. The quick and simple lessons can be completed in just a few minutes, helping you to grow your skills quickly. A variety of activity types -- multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and drag-and-drop -- will keep you engaged throughout the lesson. And the unique mobile learning experience lets you pick up where you left off anywhere you find yourself with your phone and a free moment. 

The Duolingo Model for Habit Forming Learning by SoloLearn

Rewards and Incentives to Track Progress

Another key to habit-forming learning is having a clear and simple way to track your progress. When you can visualize how much progress you have made, it motivates you to keep going.

Duolingo uses a few different rewards systems to track progress. The primary one is XP -- just like in video games, the more you grind, the more XP you receive. Each time you complete a lesson, you get more XP. And you can earn bonus XP for things like completing streaks, completing entire lesson sections, and other activities.

In addition to XP, Duolingo uses Crowns and Lingots. For each core concept you master, you earn a Crown. And certain activities will earn you a Lingot, which is the virtual currency of the Duolingo world. With Lingots, you can “purchase” power-ups including additional language skills, timed practice sessions, and other features that can help you learn more quickly.

And to add an element of friendly competition to learning languages, Duolingo features leaderboards. Leaderboards track your XP progress across all languages that you’re learning, and show how you stack up against others for the week. You can also compete against your friends by adding them on Duolingo. You’ll then see a friend-specific leaderboard that will show you who is the language learning master.

Finally, what’s a game without achievements? Duolingo offers a number of badges and achievements for completing milestones across the platform. You’ll earn badges for adding friends, for completing longer and longer streaks, and for completing a certain number of skills in your courses. And of course these badges will display prominently on your public profile, so you can show off the progress you’ve made.

SoloLearn also offers you a quick and easy way to track your progress when you’re learning to code. Earn XP for each lesson that you complete. And see how your progress measures up against your friends and the SoloLearn community with our leaderboards. You’ll also earn badges as you make progress. Since SoloLearn is heavily focused on our global community of learners, the more you participate in forums, community challenges, and Q&As, the more badges you earn.

Habit-Forming Reminders and Fun Goals

The final key to habit-based learning involves actually forming the habit. This means setting aside time each day to learn, practice and review. And it can also include some fun incentives to keep you learning day after day, week after week, and month after month.

We have to mention here the (in)famous Duolingo Owl. By creating a fun character that gently reminds you to spend a few minutes practicing a language, Duolingo has helped millions of people to build a learning habit that helps them to make progress quickly.

The Duolingo Owl appears in your email or app notifications to remind you to do at least one lesson per day. Before long, you’ll have built a streak -- a number of days in a row where you’ve consistently logged in to practice a language. The longer your streak, the more XP you’ll get for continuing it -- and the more you’ll want to avoid breaking it.

You are also rewarded with badges and achievements for long streaks. You get your first badge with a 7-day streak, and it goes up from there. On the Duolingo community forums, you’ll find users showing off their 100 day, 365 day, and even 800 day (!) streaks.

A streak is an important indicator of just how far you’ve come in making learning a habit. The more streak days you have, the more you’ve committed to reaching your goals by practicing a little bit each day. As you approach new streak milestones, you are able to look back on your progress -- and keep yourself motivated to keep practicing day after day.

SoloLearn takes the same approach when it comes to learning to code. Just a few minutes spent doing an activity each day can develop into a permanent learning habit. SoloLearn provides you with email and notification reminders to jump into a lesson or practice and keep your streak going. Most of the lessons take under 10 minutes, so you can build your learning habit without a major time commitment.

Are you on the go? If so, SoloLearn’s mobile learning experience is perfect for you. No matter where you are, you can keep your streak going and keep learning -- even when you’re away from the computer. And the longer your streak is, the more XP you’ll earn -- and the more bragging rights you’ll have in the SoloLearn community.

Building a Lifelong Learning Habit

Whether you’re learning a programming language or a human language, the key to learning success is to create a simple, repeatable routine that lets you learn, review and practice quickly and easily. Choosing a learning platform that works with you to build your learning habit will give you the tools you need to reach your goals.

If your goal is to get fluent in a new language, then Duolingo is for you. With quick, easy lessons, fun goals and habit-forming reminders, you’ll be on your way to mastering Chinese, German or French.

And if you’re looking to apply the same methodology to learning how to code, then SoloLearn is the right choice for you. By spending just a few minutes each day learning and practicing with SoloLearn’s bite-size coding lessons, you’ll be on your way to learning a new (programming) language in no time.