When we think about language learning, the majority of people automatically think of Duolingo. With that in mind, does Duolingo have Estonian? And, if not, why not?
For those of us that have heard the melodic tones of Estonian, it’s a twinkling, almost hypnotic-sounding language – and one that would be amazing to be able to speak. There are only 1.1 million people worldwide who speak Estonian, and most of them are still native to the Baltic country of Estonia.
That being said, with Estonia establishing itself as a tech and start-up powerhouse, the demand, especially among young people, for Estonian language learning courses may be growing.
Is There an Estonian Course on Duolingo?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an Estonian course on Duolingo right now. Despite having fictional languages on its platform, Duolingo hasn’t used its considerable resources to help teach this historic Baltic language.
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 Estonian on Duolingo?
As Duolingo tends to announce what languages are next up on their development slate, we tend to know pretty far in advance which new Duolingo language courses are on the horizon.
Sadly, Estonian is not even part of that conversation. It’s not in development at the moment or in Duolingo’s incubator so it’s unlikely we’ll see Estonian on Duolingo for at least three years.
To add insult to injury, Duolingo has now removed its forum, where many users campaigned for new languages and where the powers that be could see which languages were in demand.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer in play, so it’ll be interesting to see how Duolingo chooses new language courses moving forward.
Why Isn’t Estonian on Duolingo?
There are a few reasons why there is no Estonian on Duolingo. First of all, the demand isn’t really there. It’s not a super popular language and there is a lot of crossover with Finnish, as the border is so close.
As Duolingo already has a successful Finnish course, we assume that they think it’s a temporary fix for not having Estonian.
Not really, but without a significant increase in demand outside of Estonia, it’s unlikely that this language is going to move up the pecking order for development.
Estonian is also one of the harder languages to learn, being rated as a Category III language by the FSI (Foreign Service Institute). This means it’ll take a lot more work and effort on Duolingo’s side to translate traditional Estonian language teaching methods into their trademark, easy, breezy learning methods.
Another reason is that until recently Duolingo used native language teacher volunteers to help them create and test their new courses. Even though Duolingo is a huge company with hundreds of employees, they can’t be expected to know every single language, can they?
So, these native volunteers worked alongside Duolingo employees to help speed up the development process.
Recently, Duolingo has taken the decision to stop working with volunteer contributors which is massively slowing down new course development and testing, especially with tricky or niche languages.
3 App Alternatives to Duolingo with Estonian courses
So, Duolingo has let us down when it comes to learning Estonian, so what other apps can we use instead to learn this beautiful language? Let’s find out.
Now, if you’ve been in the language-learning game for a while, you’ll remember Memrise. It’s predominantly run by contributors from all over the world so you’ll be able to find games, media, and quizzes on all kinds of topics, including Estonian.
So while Memrise doesn’t specifically have an Estonian language learning course, there are plenty of user-created resources that you can use to get you on your way.
Want to improve your vocabulary skills with a fresh-looking app? Then look no further than Drops.
This fun and easy-to-navigate app uses interactive activities to help you build up your bank of Estonian words and phrases, using just five minutes a day on their free plan. It’s beautifully designed and the user-friendly platform means it’s easy to build a habit out of using Drops.
3. Master Ling
Love learning languages with a side order of gamification? Learn Estonian the fun way with Master Ling. This is probably the most similar option to Duolingo out of these apps, with set Estonian courses in a multitude of fluency levels to help build those all-important base skills.
You can also practice valuable conversational skills using Master Ling’s chatbot feature. See how far you’ve come and where there are gaps in your knowledge!
5 More Ways to Learn Estonian (That Aren’t Apps)
We all learn in different ways, so learning via apps isn’t for everyone. Here are a whole host of alternative ways to learn Estonia, whether that’s alongside other language learning methods or on their own.
Want to talk with a native Estonian but aren’t going to be flying out there anytime soon? It’s time you checked out iTalki. This site features tons of vetted native-speaking Estonian tutors that you can hire per hour to talk to via video chat.
They’ll help you practice your conversational Estonian, and give you pointers on your grammar and pronunciation. All the tutors set their own hourly rates and have user reviews, so you can find the right teacher to suit your needs!
If you want to learn pretty much anything, most of us head to YouTube. Language learning is no different, and there are plenty of videos of native speakers offering short lessons or tips on grammar and pronunciation.
These go really well alongside vocabulary-based apps that often skip over those all-important grammar and speaking skills.
There aren’t many resources for people learning Estonian compared to other languages (The Sound of Estonian being one of the only ones I could find!), however, there are plenty of creators who are making videos in Estonian.
When you first get started, this might be too difficult of a listening activity and it also might take you a bit to find a creator you enjoy watching.
Maria Rannaväli vlogs in Estonian as does Hensugusta if you’re looking for some YouTubers to get you started!
This beginner-friendly online course has actually been created by the Estonian government, so you know it’s vetted and legit! You’ll find plenty of useful exercises, animations, and tutorials to help you learn practical Estonian words and phrases.
They actually focus on real-world examples that you’re likely to use, unlike some of the phrases you end up learning on Duolingo…
4. Language Learning Guide Books and Phrasebooks on Amazon
If you’re ever in doubt about language learning, start with the classics and hit the books. Although you’ll have to be in a pretty niche bookstore to find an Estonian phrasebook, it’s fairly easy to find them online.
Like this phrasebook from the Lonely Planet or this Complete Estonian Language Course that can take you from beginner to intermediate level (including an audio course as well as book form!)
You can learn more about the grammar of Estonian, which will massively help your conversational skills. Definitely something to consider before you put your Estonian skills into practice!
5. Eesti keel
Looking for a comprehensive site that’s going to help you practice your basic Estonian skills? Eesti Keel directly translates as ‘Estonian Language – Practice Makes Perfect’.
Choose from over 130 exercises that range in difficulty and subject matter to give you a super well-rounded approach to learning Estonian!
Have Fun Learning Farsi, Even Without Duolingo!
Despite Duolingo being one of the biggest language learning providers in the world, it doesn’t look like they’re going to be developing an Estonian course anytime soon.
Essentially, there doesn’t seem to be a demand for it over other languages, and Duolingo would need to spend a lot of resources to break down this notoriously tricky language into their trademark, easy-to-follow style.
That being said, if you want to learn Estonian – and it’s a beautiful language to listen to – there are plenty of other apps and language-learning methods that you can use to flex those Estonian language muscles. Just start with any of the tools in this article, and you’ll be in safe hands!