People might joke about some of the, well, less than useful phrases that Duolingo sometimes comes out with, but on the whole, it helps millions of us learn and practice our target language. Their newest feature? Audio lessons, so you can listen and learn on the go. So, let’s find out everything you need to know about Duolingo audio lessons.
As one of the most widely used and popular language learning apps in the world, Duolingo has been building up its platform to be even more useful for language learners.
Adding new features, characters, and even a premium membership system called Super Duolingo (formerly Duolingo Plus), it’s building a comprehensive system for learning languages.
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UPDATE Since 2022: With the new Duolingo Update, Audio Lessons have disappeared from the app. There is no more tab with headphones. Although Stories have been added to the main course to be a part of the path, Audio lessons have not (yet!). I hope Duolingo adds them back and I’ll update if they do!
What Are Duolingo Audio Lessons?
Duolingo audio lessons are pretty self-explanatory. You listen to two presenters talking about a set topic, and you can respond verbally at given points. It’s designed to help you improve your listening and speaking skills, something that was massively overlooked in traditional Duolingo lessons.
They cover a series of topics and themes, similar to regular Duolingo lessons, but also offer tips on pronunciation, formal usage, and spotting context clues. It’s basically a podcast between two native speakers, giving you an insight into learning your target language while immersing yourself in the language itself.
You can find the audio lessons in a separate tab at the bottom of the homepage, with the headphones icon.
How Do Audio Lessons Work?
Duolingo audio lessons work similarly to any other lessons on Duolingo. You click on the audio lessons tab and select a themed pack. These themes are similar to the ones that you’d find in the regular section of Duolingo and will help to give you a bit of context for your upcoming audio lesson.
Each pack has a series of audio lessons that follow each other. You can either do one lesson at a time or set the pack to autoplay if you want a longer session.
Once it starts playing, the two presenters will start a conversation rooted in the pack’s designated theme, while also giving advice on pronunciation and when to use certain formal phrases.
All you have to do is listen along through your headphones. You can also follow along on screen if you want to see the spelling and phrases that are being said as well. It’s essentially a language learning podcast but designed for your chosen level.
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At certain points within the conversation, you’ll hear a little bell which is a pause point for you to repeat a phrase or piece of vocab. This isn’t registered by Duolingo like the spoken sections in normal Duolingo lessons, but it does give you the opportunity to practice speaking in a set context.
A lot of Duolingo is learning set phrases rather than having a full conversation or giving you full context, so this is a really cool feature to have now.
The final lesson in each pack is more interactive. Your two presenters will ask you questions in your target language and you reply accordingly. Once you’ve successfully completed it, the pack turns to gold!
Which Languages Have Audio Lessons?
At the moment Duolingo has only launched audio lessons for French and Spanish for English speakers, but Duolingo is expected to roll out more languages over time. The next one on the list is slated to be English for Spanish speakers, so if this is you, keep your eyes peeled for that headphone icon!
Obviously, it takes a while to build up a bank of packs and lessons, especially with the more interactive aspects of the final lesson. Just as Duolingo itself started with just a few languages and kept adding more and more, it’s likely the same development model is going to be followed with the audio lessons feature.
How Long are Duolingo Audio lessons?
Duolingo audio lessons last anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Obviously, the more interactive final lesson of each pack can take longer, depending on how quickly you can respond. That being said, these audio lessons are still in the bite-sized chunks that Duolingo is known for, making them perfect for on-the-go language learning.
If you want to listen to them back-to-back on autoplay, you obviously can. This increases your language learning time without having to actively press play on each and every lesson.
Recently, Duolingo has added “Podcast” episodes below the Audio lessons. These are usually around 23-25 minutes long.
Since you don’t earn any XP for listening to Duolingo podcasts outside of the Duolingo app, this would be a good way to listen to some of the same podcasts (not all of the podcast episodes are on Duolingo) and earn points for them!
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How Many XP Do You Get for Audio Lessons?
For each audio lesson, you’ll receive 20XP which will go towards your weekly total and leaderboard rankings. Obviously, if you have your audio lessons of autoplay, these XP points can quickly add up.
If you’re looking to take your Duolingo leaderboard by storm, audio lessons are a really great way of building up extra XP with minimal effort.
If you exit out of an audio lesson early, you may get a few XP even if you didn’t finish depending on how much you listened to before you quit the lesson.
How Many Audio Lessons Are There?
At the moment there are 13 audio lesson packs available in French and 5 audio lesson packs in Spanish. Each pack of audio lessons has 4-5 units, each with a series of lessons within them.
It looks like the amount will continue to vary based on language and the level that you’re working on as Duolingo is still developing this feature and adding more content to it all the time.
Currently, the 13 French packs are split up into 6 beginner packs and 7 intermediate packs. This gives a clear progression over time and you can definitely hear the difference in difficulty. For now, all five Spanish packs are beginner rated to get you started.
Each pack and unit have a set theme so that you can follow along in a given context. This might be greeting, ordering in restaurants, travel, and more. As you go along, the lessons get progressively more advanced, just the same as the traditional Duolingo lessons.
Are Audio Lessons Available to All Users?
Yes! Duolingo audio lessons are indeed available to all users. It was rumored that this feature might be exclusive to Super Duolingo/Duolingo Plus members, but instead, they’ve been rolled out to Plus and Standard members alike.
Pros and Cons of Duolingo Audio Lessons
As with any new features, there’s a lot to love about Duolingo’s audio lessons, but there are also a couple of teething problems that need sorting out along the way. Let’s check out the pros and cons of the audio lessons feature.
3 Pros of the Audio Lessons
First up let’s check out some of the good points about the new audio lessons:
1. It’s Convenient
One of the best things about Duolingo audio lessons is that you can really do them on the go. All you need to do is stick in your headphones and listen. If you can’t talk or want to challenge yourself by not reading along with the onscreen transcript, you can use audio lessons anywhere.
Think of it like an educational podcast that you can enjoy at the gym, on your commute, or if you just need something on in the background while you cook or clean. It’s super convenient just to be able to learn in a hands-free kind of way!
You can even play them through your car entertainment system if you have that kind of tech capability. Why not learn something as you get from A to B rather than having the radio playing the same three songs on repeat!
2. The Lessons are Conversational
Unlike regular Duolingo lessons, which, despite being related to a certain theme, can seem a little random at times, the audio lessons are a proper conversation between two native speakers of your target language. It feels like an actual in-person language class, with the presenters giving you advice as you go.
A big reason why it takes so long to learn a language if you’re not speaking it every day is because you’re also not listening to it every day.
It’s all about immersion, and even if you don’t understand everything that your presenters are saying, you’re getting used to the language and you’ll be able to pick out more and more phrases and pieces of vocabulary each time!
Context is a huge part of language learning so it’s important not to just learn a series of phrases in isolation. Think about when you’re on holiday and you order something in a restaurant and the waiter comes back with a question or response that you either don’t understand or don’t know the answer to.
It’s frustrating and annoying, and although you won’t know every answer straight away, having context clues like theme and surroundings really helps.
3. You Can Speed Them Up or Slow Them Down for Better Listening Practice
If a lesson is too easy for you, you can click on the top right to speed up the audio. If it’s too difficult, you can slow it down! This is a great way to practice your listening skills and make sure that you really understand what the speakers are saying.
2 Cons of the Duolingo Audio Lessons
Okay, onto the features and parts of Duolingo audio stories that can be improved moving forward:
1. Progress Tracking
The thing that keeps Duolingo users coming back time and time again are things like streaks, leaderboards, and progress reports – essentially anything that measures progress and how you got on with certain modules.
Although you still get XP for audio stories that go towards streaks and leaderboard rankings, there isn’t really anything that tracks your progress specifically for audio lessons.
It would be a good idea to have a recap of what you’ve learned in each unit or module so that you can go back and focus on certain things or match it up with a similarly themed traditional Duolingo lesson.
Sort of like a cheat sheet if you’re out and about on holiday and need a reminder of things like directions or asking for reservations.
I appreciate that they’re designed to be listened to, but having access to this kind of refresher would really help in real-world scenarios, rather than having to scrub back through the audio to find the phrase or section that you’re looking for.
2. Pronunciation Practice
Now, I know if you’re a member of Super Duolingo, you already get access to pronunciation practice, which is a massive feature. However, if you’re on the standard plan, there isn’t a lot of help with pronunciation.
It’s a huge part of language learning and without using your target language all the time, it’s hard to improve or be told when you’re getting it wrong.
The launch of audio lessons was a great opportunity to give standard users a little peek at the pronunciation features and help entice them into trying Super Duolingo. Especially in the last lesson of each pack, where you have a sort of question-and-answer dynamic going on, it’s the perfect place for pronunciation correction and practice.
Add in the fact that the two presenters of audio lessons are actively telling you about pronunciation throughout the packs and units, it would be a no-brainer to add a pronunciation practice element into that final assessment section.
Do You Like Duolingo Audio Lessons?
All in all, Duolingo audio lessons are a welcome new addition to the Duolingo learning experience. Especially when you’re learning online or via an app, listening and speaking skills can be difficult to practice in an authentic way.
Not everyone is going to be able to practice their language skills with native speakers all the time, so having this conversational, educational and instructional version of Duolingo is super useful and overdue. I just hope they roll out more languages ASAP!
I’d love to have Duolingo Audio lessons in Italian!