Duolingo is arguably the best free online language learning platform available. Duolingo can be used through its website or mobile app.
The selection of languages on Duolingo has been fairly limited, but it is quality over quantity. When writing my previous blog post about on-line language learning, I certainly did not imagine a Duolingo Swahili course to be reality only a year later!
The Duolingo Swahili course has been under development for a while now by a small team, who have made a great effort to create the course. There must have been many challenges to overcome, since Swahili is very different compared to any other language on Duolingo.
Duolingo Swahili course was released on beta earlier this year, but in three weeks had attracted 40.000 learners already! That is encouraging and indicates the course will be a success, not just a playground for few enthusiasts. Since the course is still on beta, it lacks some functions, most notably audio recordings, but these will be ready by the official release.
Many (non-native) people claim to speak Swahili, but in the reality only know words and simple sentences, having no idea about the rather complex grammar. With Duolingo it is different, the grammar is learned from an early stage of the course. One has to understand the structure to proceed.
At the moment there are no other African language courses in development, but hopefully it will not take too long for more to appear. Duolingo incubator is where new courses get developed, don’t be afraid to initiate a one for your language there!
Which one will be the next African language on Duolingo? Maybe one of South African languages, either Afrikaans or an indigenous language like Xhosa or Zulu. Then there are dozens of notable languages in Western Africa, Yoruba and Hausa being among the most widely spoken.
In the meantime, Memrise is a simple but highly recommended language learning app. It has a large selection of courses, also on many African languages.