duolingo

Language learning platform Duolingo has raised funding worth $45 million led by Google Capital and some existing investors. The funding will be used to improve the Duolingo platform and increase its adaptation in schools globally.

Its existing investors include Union Square Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, actor Ashton Kutcher, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tim Ferriss. This round of funding values the company at $470 million, the company said.

Duolingo had previously raised Series A funding worth $3.3 million led by Union Square Ventures in 2011, Series B funding worth $15 million led by NEA in 2012 and Series C funding worth $20 million led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2014.

Machine learning and Duolingo for Schools

The company claims that it analyses every tap made in the app to improve its rate of knowledge acquisition. It has a team of machine learning PhD members who use this data to make adaptive courses. Duolingo claims that its Duolingo for Schools platform already has over 100,000 registered teacher accounts. It added that some of these teachers have substituted language textbooks, while others have adopted the platform’s curriculum, also allowing teachers to give real time feedback and optimising in-class time.

Hindi, Japanese and Chinese support

In April last year, Duolingo had added support for Hindi, to help Indians who didn’t know English to learn foreign languages. Apart from Hindi, the service had also added support for Japanese and Chinese. Along with that, it introduced a vastly improved gamification feature that let users compete with other users who were learning the language.

We’d reported then that this would add a competitive element to online learning which was otherwise considered too passive. Such a feature could also encourage more people to continue using the service and complete their courses, importantly because dropout rates for online courses are very high.

50 million users worldwide

According to an April 2014 report by ET, Duolingo was being used by over 1.5 lakh Indians who were learning languages like Spanish, French and German. Out of the 28 million users it had then, 85% were accessing the service from a mobile phone. The company now claims that it has over 50 million users worldwide.

Available on the web, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.1 platforms, Duolingo was started by Professor Luis von Ahn with his students Severin Hacker, Antonio Navas, Vicki Cheung, Marcel Uekermann, Brendan Meeder, Hector Villafuerte, and Jose Fuentes in 2012.

Image Credit: Flickr user Slgckgc