Duolingo ABC – An app to teach children how to read and write

Duolingo has launched on March 2020 a completely free app that helps parents who all of a sudden have found themselves homeschooling in the midst of COVID-19.

This new app is called Duolingo ABC and it’s directed to children learning to read in English. For now, it’s only available on iOS and it’s limited to be downloaded in eight countries, which are: United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The app can also be used offline, has no ads and no in-app purchases.

They planned to launch this new app further on this year but due to the pandemic they unveiled it sooner.

The company explained this in the iOS app page:

“In light of the recent school closures around the world, we’re making Duolingo ABC available early, to help provide more educational resources for kids and parents at home.”

Although this app doesn’t help us nor our children learning Italian, we’re excited about this launch knowing the high standards this language-learning company has. Hopefully a similar app for teaching children to read Italian will also follow. We’ll be watching out for this!

This would be the third platform Duolingo launches

With this app, Duolingo is attempting to help native speakers and of a far younger audience compared to what they’ve done with their other 2 platforms. If you’re not familiar with Duolingo’s main service, check it out by clicking here. At the time of publishing this post they are teaching many pairs of languages. Just from English you can learn 32 other languages. And you can take the full course of each and all these languages free.

Duolingo has also launched a flashcard platform to help language learners absorb vocabulary. To check their flashcard platform, click here. It’s also completely free to use.

Learning with games

Children like to play. That’s not a secret. And even grownups, when learning is presented in a game format, they enjoy it more.

So taking into account the experience Duolingo has in gamification make us excited about Duolingo ABC. We believe children from age 3 and upward can benefit from this platform.

“You found a story, this story is called Mad Monkeys…” This is the way the app begins with their first lesson. There are 127 units with more than 300 lessons summing all the units. At the end of them, a child should know how to read basic texts. It sounds a bit different from how I learnt to read, LOL.

What can I find inside Duolingo ABC?

It’s super simple to use and very intuitive for a 3-year-old child. Inside the app a kid will find “gamified exercises” teaching him all the letters in the alphabet and their sounds with some other fundamentals required for early reading.

Kids are presented one letter at a time and they are asked to tap, drag, listen and speak out loud.

The very first time a parent opens the app for his child, the grown-up will have to introduce the kid’s name or nickname. As the lessons roll by, you’ll be surprised to discover the kid will be writing his own name in no time (with no apparent effort from his parent).

This app also uses speech recognition, in which children in order to advance certain levels need to say a letter or read a whole word (the app will require access to the device’s microphone).

There is an option for parents to provide an email so developers can explain how children’s data is collected, used and shared. And parents have choices. Privacy policies are also updated every once in a while and the updates are also sent via email. Although a child can still play with Duolingo ABC even if an email is not provided.

The games

Once a parent hands the device with Duolingo ABC to his child, the first game the preschooler will come across is “Mad monkeys”. He will be required to trace the letter “m”, identify its sound, recognize words that start with “m”, distinguish uppercase and lowercase versions, say words that include “m” out loud and many other similar activities. Earlier games must be completed in order to unlock successive games.

The games are colorful and will rapidly engage any child. I even imagine grown-ups that want to learn English playing them. These mini-games take its players on a logical journey, starting with very simple things and gradually increasing in complexity.

Duolingo ABC cons

1. Children that already have some reading skills can’t choose were to start. Everybody must slog through the early levels until they reach material that challenges them.

2. The app can be too engaging, LOL. Tapping through stories, popping bubbles and tracing letters in this colorful environment can rapidly suck hours away from our little ones. So parents must watch out and allow the child to play with the device in small doses.

3. At the moment, Duolingo ABC is only available for learning English, for iOS and only in eight countries (United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand).

    Duolingo ABC pros

    1. They start with the very basics and build up from there.

    2. The app helps kids with all four language skills, the receptive ones (listening and reading) and the productive ones (speaking and writing).

    3. It’s really engaging.

    4. Completely free (no ads nor anything of that sort, whatsoever).

      Wrapping up

      For all those parents that have a 3 to 6-year-old kid at home, this app will prove valuable. Duolingo products have always been very well crafted and to cap it all they’re free. In contrast to the Duolingo main platform that teaches adults a second language and includes ads for the free version, Duolingo ABC is add-free.

      We appreciate this effort done by Duolingo to launch this helpful service in the midst of these difficult days were living. For all those parents out there, please check it out. And for those that have already done, please leave us your comment about your experience with the app.

      Thank you very much!

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