Duolingo’s new AI chatbots help you learn Spanish, French or German

Duolingo is already one of the best language-learning apps you can get, but it just got even better. Alongside the usual audio and written tasks, the app now gives you the option to talk to foreign chatbots, and it should make it even easier for you to learn a new language. The chatbots are currently available on just the iOS version of the app, and so far work only for French, Spanish and German – but they show yet another useful avenue for AI.

“One of the main reasons people learn languages is to have conversations,” wrote Duolingo CEO and co-founder, Luis von Ahn, in a company statement. “Students master vocabulary and comprehension skills with Duolingo, but coming up with things to say in real­-life situations remains daunting. Bots offer a sophisticated and effective answer to that need.”

The chatbots work using the cloud, so you’ll need to be connected to the internet when you’re using them, and there’s actually a few of them – each with different personalities. To maintain variety and keep your learning unpredictable, each of these characters will react differently to certain situations. Duolingo says the bots accept a variety of answers for each reply, so won’t rely on you having to use a particular word if your response still makes sense.

If you’ve ever used Duolingo before, you’ll know the app allows for both text- and audio-based learning – but you can currently only communicate with the chatbots in text form. Either way, it’s interesting to see the ancestors of things such as SmarterChild actually being put to good use.

 

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