App of the Week - Duolingo

App of the Week - Duolingo

Joining a gym. Learning a language. Finally asking her out.

These are three of the most common New Year’s Resolutions on everybody’s list. And while Duolingo may not help you lose those extra LBs, it can help you take the plunge of learning a new language at the low cost of, well, free. And think how much easier it will be to ask her out in French, the language of love!

You can choose one of ten languages - including Italian, French, German, and Spanish - and then use Duolingo's fun, game-based platform to help you learn it over time. Here’s how it works:

After setting up a profile on your device, choose the language you wish to learn, and set daily goals to help you stay motivated. You can choose anything from a “casual” learning goal, requiring 10XP (experience points) per day (which equates to, more or less, 5 minutes or learning), to “insane,” requiring 50XP per day (approximately 25 minutes of learning) to keep your virtual language coach - who just so happens to be an adorable green owl - satisfied.

Each stage of Duolingo consists of lessons that start you off with the basics (such as “Hello” and “My name is…”) and gradually increase in difficulty (like ordering at a restaurant or booking a hotel room). Lessons consist of listening, speaking, translating, and word-matching questions, fueled by playful pictures and an incredibly smart algorithm geared towards vocabulary retention.

Every question that you answer correctly progresses you in the lesson. Enough correct answers allows you to complete the lesson, then awarding you 10XP points towards your daily goal. Occasionally, you're awarded "Lingots" for your efforts - Duolingo's in-game form of currency which can be used to unlock fun secret lessons, compete in learning challenges, or buy fun outfits for your virtual coach.

As an added bonus, Duolingo also lets you track your progress against your friends via social media, to encourage each other's progress. Who doesn't like a little friendly competition?

We’ve tried Duolingo and love it. It’s a fun and addictive approach to learning. But you don’t have to take our word for it - Apple chose Duolingo as it’s 2013 App of the Year. Trés bien! (Translation: Not too shabby.)

Duolingo is available on Android, IOS, and PC.


Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).