Planning a trip to the beautiful country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and want to be able to speak a bit of the local lingo, Burmese? It’s a cool thing to do, it’s polite and it’ll go a long way with the locals! So, when we talk about trying to learn a new language, there’s normally one go-to app that’ll be on top of your list: Duolingo. With this in mind, does Duolingo have Burmese as one of its language courses, and if not, what alternatives are out there? Let’s find out.
Is There a Burmese Course on Duolingo?
Unfortunately, you won’t find a Burmese course on Duolingo. It’s not massively surprising considering that only 2 million of the 38 million Burmese speakers are non-natives.
That being said, Duolingo has plenty of niche languages and sometimes even fictional languages in its roster, so when you think of it that way, Burmese should be higher up the development list than Klingon…
I seriously would not be able to learn languages without italki (I’m taking 3 classes per week right now) try out a class and you’ll thank me later. They’re usually $9 or less!
Are They Planning on Releasing Burmese on Duolingo?
At the moment, Duolingo is not planning on releasing a Burmese course. Duolingo commonly announces what language courses they’re working on to try and placate the message boards and get people excited.
So, because of this, we know what’s coming up and what isn’t, and sadly, Burmese is in the latter category.
Why isn’t Burmese on Duolingo?
There are a few reasons why you won’t find Burmese on Duolingo at the moment. First of all, there is a lack of native-speaker volunteers that are helping out the Duolingo team.
Pre-2021, Duolingo had a combination of in-house employees and volunteer native language teachers who worked together to develop new courses.
The result was a course that was both easy to follow – as all Duo courses are – without losing the nuances and the preferred method of teaching certain languages.
Without these native volunteers, the development of new language courses has slowed with a focus on more popular languages, over niche ones.
Secondly, Burmese is a really hard language to learn. It’s in the hardest category of languages according to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This means it would take some serious time and effort to adapt it to the trademark, easy-going style that Duolingo is known and loved for around the world.
Finally, the demand just isn’t really there. Like I’ve mentioned there are only 38 million Burmese speakers and 36 million of them are native to Myanmar.
So, there aren’t many people looking to learn Burmese for fun or for a quick trip. This definitely contributes to Duolingo’s desire to invest in a new language course.
3 Language App Alternatives to Duolingo with Burmese Courses
So, considering that Burmese isn’t going to be on Duolingo any time soon, what other apps can help you out right now?
Okay, so to be upfront, there isn’t a dedicated, specific Burmese language learning course on Memrise. What you have instead is a community-run set of lessons and resources that you can pick and choose from to build up your Burmese skills.
These range from quizzes, flashcards, and Burmese language media, all of which are designed to help you polish up your Burmese skills.
2. Simply Learn Burmese
As the name suggests, this app is entirely dedicated to learning Burmese, primarily through the use of a phrasebook that features over 300 words and phrases – ideal for building vocabulary on the go.
You can access Simply Learn Burmese anywhere, so if you are traveling around Myanmar and want to brush up on your words and phrases in your hotel room, this is the perfect app to do just that.
As you continue along your Burmese learning journey, you’ll gain access to audio lessons and language quizzes that can help assess your levels and any gaps in your knowledge.
This helps with those all-important pronunciation skills that you’re going to need if you want to use your Burmese skills out in the real world. It’s a difficult language and you don’t want to offend anyone by mispronouncing anything.
Love apps that gamify learning to make it more fun? Ling will be right up your street for learning Burmese.
With flashcards, quizzes, and games to help build your vocabulary and practice your grammar, it’s a great way to get started with Burmese. It’s fun, entertaining, and has a similar overall vibe to Duolingo if you’re looking for a direct alternative.
Need to work on your conversational skills? Use Ling’s chatbot feature and strike up a conversation. It’ll help you with context-related language skills as well as Burmese grammar.
6 More Ways to Learn Burmese (That Aren’t Apps)
There are plenty of ways to learn a new language, and apps just cover a small percentage of the options. If you’re looking to learn Burmese away from the language learning apps, here are some great options.
Speaking of talking like a local, why not improve your Burmese conversational skills by talking to one from the comfort of your home? iTalki allows you to choose from a list of native Burmese language tutors (among other languages), and schedule conversational practice with them.
You can pick your tutor based on the reviews of previous students as well as their hourly rates. Pronunciation and conversational skills are super important if you’re wanting to put your Burmese skills into practice, and iTalki is the ideal place to do this.
If you’re looking to teach yourself anything, YouTube has to be the first port of call. There are a surprising amount of Burmese language videos, including TED Talks.
You can watch these with or without subtitles because it’s okay if you don’t understand everything. You’re immersing yourself in the language and getting used to the sound of it.
If you’re looking for a more guided course to learn Burmese, try the Beginner Burmese course on Udemy. Udemy has a bunch of courses with reviews from learners so you can choose the best one for you.
This Reading in Burmese course got great reviews!
4. Burmese Lessons
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but Burmese Lessons is a website that has a whole host of language learning tools and resources for you to take advantage of – no matter your level.
You’ll find flashcards, audio and video courses, assessments, and more. It’s a really comprehensive site and worth checking out, even if you’re already using another language-learning tool.
5. Burmese Language Guides on Amazon
Of course, if in doubt when it comes to learning Burmese, hit the books. Especially if you want to improve that tricky Burmese grammar, language guides are an excellent resource because you can keep on referring to them and take it at your own pace.
Looking on Amazon, this Burmese Language Guide has gotten good reviews (Known as the Easy Language Series). Since Burmese uses a different alphabet, it will be difficult to buy a book originally in Burmese until you have a solid understanding.
This book goes over how to read and write in Burmese to get you started.
One of the trickiest things about learning a language when you’re not immersed in it is that you’re never 100% sure that your pronunciation is on point. Forvo is an online pronunciation dictionary that’ll help you really nail down those difficult words and phrases, and have you speaking like a local in no time.
Burmese Doesn’t Have Many Resources, But It’s Still Possible to Learn It!
So, if you want to learn Burmese, it’s kind of a niche choice and as a result, your standard go-to language-learning apps, like Duolingo, might not be able to help you out on your language-learning quest.
Don’t worry though, because as we’ve discussed, there are plenty of amazing Burmese language learning resources out there for you to try. You never know, you might even like them more than Duolingo!
Read More About Language Learning:
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.