For Teachers

For Parents

Duolingo ABC

Fun reading lessons for kids

  • iPad, iPhone
  • Free
  • age 3+
Download for iOS

About Duolingo ABC

Duolingo ABC is a free app helps young children learn to read with 300 different lessons, like assisted reading, decoding, and sight words. It uses letter tracing, interactive storytelling, and other activities to teach kids ages 4 and up phonics, reading comprehension, and more. 

Teacher Review

No, not the popular language learning app. This free app does takes its cues from the well-received Duolingo experience but adapts them to form a comprehensive set of activities to help young children establish their understanding of letters, words, and reading.

Duolingo is well known for its language learning apps. Its high standards of presentation and gamified approach to learning have proven popular with many students and very effective, too. Duolingo ABC takes the same approach and high standards to assist not with learning a second language but with helping young learners lay the foundations of reading and writing in their first.

The app has a lovely, consistent graphical style. Little flourishes are common where animations and sounds play. These never intrude on the learning but just make the experience that bit more fun and interesting. 

The spoken word is used to good effect in the app. All instructions and feedback are said aloud and the simple stories are also read out.  Letter sounds and names are pronounced clearly and usefully without strong accents which is important for children learning to recognise and pronounce the sounds for themselves.  If users miss anything, they can tap an on-screen button to get the app to repeat what was said and in the stories, each word is highlighted as it is spoken.  

The activities are accessed in a defined order.  Each letter of the alphabet is introduced with a short and simple story that emphasises its use.  Each subsequent bite-sized activity in that section is then based around that letter.  Its name, its sound, how it is formed, how it rhymes and so on are all part of the lessons.  Usefully, upper and lower case forms of each letter are also covered.

Quite uniquely, Duolingo ABC does not just speak but it listens too.  Borrowing from Duolingo's main apps, speech recognition is used to help children practice sounding out words.  This can be a useful feature but parents should think about it in the context of their children and how well their speech has developed.

Some children take longer than others to be able to enunciate words clearly.  It is also possible that the speech recognition facility is more finely tuned for adult voices.  Both of these could lead to some errors in recognition.  If your child falls foul of this, you can turn off the feature to avoid harming their confidence.  This does not mean that the practice it offers should not be carried out, but an adult's feedback might, in some cases, be more useful and sympathetic.

Every activity has a clear purpose and usefully employs repetition.  This emphasises the Duolingo way of little-and-often.  Marathon sessions with this app might cause the repetition to become a little tiresome but this is not how the app is best used.  Make some time each day with your child to play through just a few sections.  This will keep the app interesting and mean that the repetition reinforces learning rather than leads to boredom.

At the time of review, Duolingo ABC is a brand new release, so improvements will likely continue to be made as they have been with the developer's other apps.  There are no issues that drastically harm the app but one improvement that could be made.

The area that could be usefully enhanced is in the sections that teach how to write individual letters.  In these, children are asked to trace over a letter but it is rather too forgiving.  Only correct start and end points are required.  Once some children discover this, they will enjoy abusing the app's laxity rather than correct practice.  When it is used alongside a supporting adult who can direct children to engage properly with the activity, it will not be a problem, though.

Duolingo is a great app to have on children's devices.  Each activity is short enough to be easily slotted into the time available.   There is plenty of content to keep children learning for some time.  It works offline so there is no requirement to find wifi or use up data.  Most of all, it is an app that provides a great educational experience and, at the time of review, is free to download.  You should go right ahead and make the most of this great app.

The app was made available earlier than originally intended to offer parents another resource for teaching their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s one of many initiatives to help kids who are not currently in school due to the virus. Duolingo ABC offers offline learning, too; so, when this is all over, kids can learn anywhere they go.

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App Details

Teacher Ratings

Devices

iPad, iPhone

Price

Free

Skills

Academic Relevance
Reading

Safeguarding

In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No

Publisher

Duolingo

Screenshots for Duolingo ABC

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Publisher's Description

Duolingo ABC is the fun, hands-on way for your child to learn to read! Created by the team behind Duolingo, the world’s #1 education app, Duolingo ABC helps kids have fun while they practice reading and writing!

*Learning kids love*
Activities like letter tracing and interactive stories are fun for even the youngest learners. And it’s a blast learning with Duolingo ABC’s cast of characters!

*For kids, by experts*
Duolingo ABC is designed by literacy and early-education experts to develop children’s skills in phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, and more.

*Kid-safe and ad-free*
Rest easy, parents: There are no ads or in-app purchases to worry about.

*Offline learning*
On a plane? At a restaurant? Duolingo ABC works offline so kids can learn wherever you go.

*New and updated content*
There’s always something new for your child to discover, so they’ll want to return to the app and keep learning!

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