How To Make An App Like Duolingo And Start A New Successful Business

Picture of Dyachenko Anastasia
Dyachenko Anastasia
CEO at Cadabra Studio. UX expert and business consultant

Today people don’t need to leave their homes if they want to obtain new skills. Using an Internet connection and smart devices, they can always find the right app to learn software development, cooking, or languages. 


The latter is the knowledge that remains crucial. People want to speak more languages to do successful business with foreign partners, travel, get an education in another country, etc. Thus, you can think about creating an app like Duolingo, the software that helps users speak new languages quickly. Why is it a good idea, and what you need to create a similar app? This is what our article is about. 

What Is A Duolingo App? 

Duolingo is an online service for learning languages; it is available for web and mobile platforms (iOS and Android). The principle of learning is elementary. But the main advantage of the Duolingo app and its difference from competitors is that it allows anyone to learn a new language from the ground up, explaining complicated words simply.


All tasks are grouped by complexity levels. Everything starts with identifying words on images and simple phrase translation, and it ends with long sentence translation. Users can assess other users’ translations and rate them, so helpful and qualified translations always have a high rating. 


The Duolingo system contains a wide range of languages to learn. However, everything depends on your native language. For example, if you are a German-speaking person, you can learn English, Spain, French, Italian. If you speak English, then almost 40 languages are available for learning.

How Duolingo Works

Once users sign up to the Duolingo app, they can see the list of languages for learning, depending on their native language. When they choose a language, it is necessary to indicate the knowledge level. However, if users don’t know exactly what level they have, they can undergo a short test to find out. 


If users know a language on a zero level, the system lets them start with the basics, and lessons become more complex as users’ level grows. What’s interesting, the Duolingo app tries to teach users via gamification features. For example, users have three tries to complete each level. If they fail, they start from the beginning of the level. 


In fact, Duolingo is a large platform that motivates users to gain new skills without stress and pressure from teachers. 

What Is The Reason To Create A Learning App Like Duolingo?

According to Statista, worldwide mobile education app downloads reached 1 billion in Q1, 2020, compared to 500 million in Q1, 2017. This statistics includes both App Store and Google Play downloads. It means that educational apps gain popularity year by year.

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The reason for educational apps’ popularity lies in their accessibility. Users can effectively gain new knowledge using their mobile device or laptop. Besides, many educational apps are free, and they provide users with all the required features for learning. 


Do you want to create another app, not an educational one? Then you’d better contact our managers directly and clarify all requirements. 


Based on this, we may take into account the 24/7 availability of educational apps, the way they bridge the gap between online teachers and students (it is much more exciting to learn entertainingly, rather than to sit in a boring class), portability, and, of course, honest approach. If you want to achieve something, you need to learn. Cheating is not the option. 

Revenue Models For A Duolingo-Like App

Ok, you’ve got real proof that an educational app is an excellent startup idea. But the development process requires investments, and you want to know how to make a profitable app. Thus, let’s review the primary revenue sources you can use. 

  • Freemium. The app is available for free, but it has more exciting features up its sleeve. If users want to get the utmost out of your Duolingo-like app, they may switch to the premium app version for a fixed subscription fee. 


  • Paid app. Your app is paid by default, and any users who want to start dealing with it must pay. On the one hand, you will earn on it. On the other hand, not everybody is ready to use a paid app when there are free apps of competitors. In this case, your app should have some unique and attractive features.


  • In-app purchases. This model fits well with educational apps. Users can pay for specific services and content. For example, they learn Chinese, and if they want to proceed to the upper-intermediate level, they should unlock this level by paying the required amount. 


  • Advertising. Other relevant companies may use your app as the platform for the promotion of their services. You will be paid for an ad that will be displayed in your app. 

Useful Tips To Make Duolingo-Like App More Appealing

The educational app has its particularities, and you need to consider them if you want the app to remain competitive and engaging. Our tips will help you create a top-notch educational app.

  • Make a straightforward app. If we take Duolingo as an example, you can see that it has an easy-to-use and clear format. It doesn’t make users figure out how an app works — everything as simple as possible. So remember that educational apps must be straightforward. 


  • Add gamification. The learning process becomes much more involved when it is gamified. Thus, users may gain new knowledge and play simultaneously — isn’t it awesome? Users don’t want to feel like they are in a classroom; they need an entertaining experience and new achievements via gamification.


  • Build a clear structure. Remember that your app won’t be used by newbies only. Users with strong background knowledge also need a tool to enhance their level and proceed to the advanced level. So your app must be available for people with different skill levels.


  • Social media integration. Sharing results and some other information via social media may be vital for users. So make sure that social media integration is available in your app.


  • Learning bots. Although adding chatbots is an optional feature, the Duolingo app makes use of chatbots successfully. The integration of machine learning algorithms is a more complicated and expensive process, but it helps increase customer loyalty and motivate users to learn new languages. 

How To Create An App Like Duolingo Following Practical Steps

The development process of an app like Duolingo includes a few must-have steps that are to be taken. Otherwise, improper elaboration will lead to app failure. By the way, you should know all the reasons for app failure — they are hidden in the article describing why apps fail. Well, there we are. 

Start With A Strategy Planning

First, your task is to plan to create your app and build a mobile app business plan. If you don’t know what it is and how to create one, you need to read our article about the app business plan. You need to conduct research and single out the pros and cons of existing competitors. 

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Concept Design by Cadabra Studio

Your app should be unique and include some new features to make users download it. Thus, it requires a detailed analysis of the market and drawing up the plan that will contain all crucial information concerning the future app. Besides, a mobile app business plan is beneficial if you want to attract investors. We have also prepared a guide on how to pitch an app idea

Collaborate With Language Experts

If you want to know how to build an app like Duolingo, you should remember that a language learning app must be created properly, and you need the assistance of experts. All the information used should be from the right sources; otherwise, users will abandon your app. 


Therefore, you need to collaborate with language experts to build a perfect language learning platform. On the whole, you must remember about your reputation when you make any app. 

Choose A Platform

A Duolingo app is available both on web and mobile platforms. But we recommend starting with one platform when you create an MVP. Yes, starting an MVP can be essential if you don’t want to lose your money. The article about MVP importance is at your disposal. 


So you can create an Android app, for example, and monitor its key metrics to keep up with the statistics. If it goes well, you can order iOS app development additionally. A web version should also be created since many users prefer learning languages via desktop/laptop. 

Hire Design And Development Team 

You probably heard that bad user experience and user interface won’t attract many visitors since 90% of them will quit the app within a few minutes. Thus, your language learning app’s design should be both user-friendly and minimalistic, and it doesn’t need to contain too many blocks and images. However, vivid and colorful illustrations are required.


Anyway, you’d better cooperate with a qualified UI/UX design team that knows what you need to build a language learning app. 


At Cadabra Studio company, we ignore the complexity of obstacles and challenges. We solve them and learn from these challenges to build fascinating apps. That is why Cadabra Studio may become your choice. Contact us!


Once the design is created, mobile app developers (along with web developers, if you consider it necessary) start building your app. The development team cooperates closely with the design team, and they will create an app considering all your requirements. 

Think About Modular App Structure

Modular app structure is the development technique when the app is created without a monolithic structure; it is separated into independent modules. Why is it an option? The matter is that your app should be updated continuously if you want to retain existing users and attract new ones. Updates require time and money, especially when the app has a monolithic structure. 


When the app is modularized, each section can be updated without impacting other sections. Thus, you save money since developers do it quickly. Besides, it doesn’t hurt the app’s performance. The development team at Cadabra Studio knows how to do it right, so we will help you build the modular structure.

MVP Features For An App Like Duolingo

Of course, we didn’t forget about the functionality of your app. It should have some basic features the app won’t function properly without. You will find the list of features you need to integrate into your app. Or, more precisely, developers will do it.

  • Social login. The app’s authorization process should be as easy as possible, so let your users sign in with their social media accounts. Or let them use sign-up via email in case they don’t have an account on social media. Your system may also require such data as age, gender, and skill level to select an appropriate course for users.


  • Personal profile. Each personal profile should contain the name of the user, photo, email, language level, daily goals, etc. Moreover, personal profiles are required to let users save their progress and learn from the last checkpoint. Also, a personal profile allows users to monitor their statistics. 


  • Courses. As a Duolingo app has language courses, your app should also have something similar. The Courses feature allows users to choose learning frequency preferences (daily, weekly, or monthly lessons). Let your users choose the appropriate type of courses. It will increase their loyalty. 


  • Achievements. It may look as a dashboard where users can see their statistics and current achievements. The higher their level is, the more achievements they have. This dashboard may also serve as the motivation for users; they can see future achievements to unlock.


  • Push notifications. Notifications are essential since they can keep users tuned and remind them about the lessons they need to complete. Push notifications will accompany any updates in the app. 


  • Health. This feature makes the Duolingo app unique. You shouldn’t copy it if you don’t want to have a clone of Duolingo, but you can use it to make something similar. The Health feature represents virtual health for the user, and each mistake leads to one health removal. If the Health level becomes zero, the user needs to correct all errors to keep on moving. The Health level will revive over time.


  • Chat. Users should be able to interact with other users as well as support managers. So the Chat feature must be available in your educational app. 


  • Shop. As we noted, in-app purchases are an appropriate way to gain some revenue, so your app must have a Shop containing additional bonuses and levels that may be purchased for real money. Or you can add something else. Everything depends on the particularity of your app.


    As for additional features, you can also think about integrating audio/video streaming so that users may practice listening comprehension, watch videos, or even have classes with an online teacher (if your language learning app provides a mentoring feature as well).


    Finally, tests should be available after each lesson or course. Users can test their knowledge and find out how well they learned this lesson. Successful test results should provide users with awards and new achievements.

Tech Stack Of A Language Learning App

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The app development process requires developers to use multiple tools and technologies. It is rather difficult to predict what tools will be used for your educational app without precise requirements, but we may draw up an approximate list for your consideration. 

  • Programming languages: Swift (iOS), Kotlin (Android), Python, or Ruby for the backend.

  • Frameworks and libraries: Vue.js, Angular, CSS, jQuery, Bootstrap may be used for frontend development. React Native or Flutter can be used for cross-platform app development.

  • Databases: MongoDB, MySQL, Redis.

  • Web server: Apache, Nginx.

  • Data storage: Google Cloud Storage, AWS.

The Cost To Build An App Like Duolingo

The final cost of any app development is formed of many factors, so it may vary depending on the app platform (iOS, Android, or both), frontend/backend development (if you need a website), the complexity of the design, location of the team.


Interestingly, the location may be the primary factor to focus on since the lower the hourly rate is, the more affordable the development cost will be. 


If you’re planning to hire an in-house development team that you will control personally, you will need to consider additional expenses like office rent, taxes, equipment. So you’d better outsource the development process to offshore countries. You can find out all the benefits of outsourcing in our article about offshore software development


Thus, hiring developers in North America will cost you about $120-200 per hour. In contrast, Western Europe and its companies may offer about $75-100 per hour. In Eastern Europe, rates are lower ($25-50), however it is the region where you can find talented and experienced professionals. The relatively low rate is connected with the market particularities. 


In Ukraine (the location of the Cadabra Studio team), rates vary between $35-50 per hour, but our area of expertise is vast, and we are known as a troubleshooting company. Even if there is a complicated project, it will be a perfect challenge for us to solve. 


Do you need to get a detailed estimate for your project? Get in touch with us right now. The Cadabra Studio team will undoubtedly help you build both robust and first-rate apps. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The cost of medical app development depends on several factors like your needs, set of features, technology stack, and so on. Though our business analytics make sure to not spend an unnecessary penny.

To make a mobile app screen, you need to create a user flow diagram for each screen, draw wireframes, select design templates, and colors, create layouts, and create an animated prototype.

We usually take our clients through the following steps:

  1. Planning and Research; 
  2. Prototyping;
  3. Design;
  4. Development;
  5. Testing;
  6. Release;
  7. Maintenance.

You will participate in every stage of the development process and get regular updates.

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