Many language learners tend to compare Mondly vs Duolingo, and for good reason! They’re very similar with gamification, tons of languages, and beginner content. So which should you go for, Mondly or Duolingo?
In this Mondly vs Duolingo review, we’ll see the core differences between the two language apps so you can decide which one you should use to start your language learning journey.
Mondly vs Duolingo: how they’re similar
Both platforms function mostly as mobile phone apps but are also available on desktop. They’re both meant for beginners with no or next-to-no knowledge of the language they want to learn. And they both support the following languages:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
Both Mondly and Duolingo teach you via short, 5-minute lessons, and also remind you to study every day. Both apps keep track of how many days in a row you’ve studied to help you keep up your motivation, and give you a little map by your username so you can show off how many languages you’re learning.
Both resources also have free and paid options and can be highly addictive.
So, as you can see, both Duolingo and Mondly are very, very similar in a lot of ways. However, this is just about where they each branch off into their own methods of bringing language learning to their audience.
Mondly vs Duolingo: the differences
To start, Mondly also supports the following languages:
- English (American)
- English (British)
- Filipino (Tagalog)
Duolingo does not cover those languages, however, you can use it to learn:
- High Valyrian
Using a base language other than English
Besides being able to learn some different languages depending on the app you’re using, there’s a difference in the language you’re learning from as well, which is great for those whose native language is something other than English!
Mondly really excels in this, by offering every language course in each of its 41 languages, which is amazing! You can use Mondly in Hebrew, for example, to learn French, and vice versa. This is not only great for language learners of all backgrounds but is helpful for learning more than one language, as it allows you to immerse yourself in one language while studying another.
Duolingo does offer a similar approach, but not nearly as well. Go to the Duolingo website and select your native language (or the language you want to learn from) and you’ll see which languages are available to you. It’s usually not much, honestly.
Learning foreign language concepts
While Mondly and Duolingo are both primarily a way to get new vocab into your brain, they both teach new vocab by presenting sentences, and you can’t make sentences without grammar! Grammar, though, is another concept entirely that language learners have to set aside time to figure out. Grammar is like the math of language learning.
Duolingo does this pretty well by having forums. Whenever you answer a question, if you get it wrong, you can easily click through to the comment thread on that particular question. There you’ll see all the questions other users have asked, as well as any answers that have been provided.
If your question isn’t answered, ask away! You’ll also find other users sharing resources outside of Duolingo that might be helpful for you, so this is also a good way to expand your tools and find help outside of the app.
Mondly…doesn’t. At least not as well. As you go through your Mondly quizzes, you sometimes have the option to tap a word that you might not understand, and the app will translate it or present you with a conjugation table.
But that’s about as far as Mondly goes. It’s helpful, don’t get me wrong, but I do prefer seeing the conversations that other people have had about sentences on Duolingo. I also like the community aspect of the Duolingo forums. You have other language learners right there with you, trying to figure out the same things that you’re struggling with, as opposed to being all alone.
Syncing between mobile and desktop
Both Mondly and Duolingo are more commonly used as mobile apps, but their content can be accessed on a desktop, too. I know that 99% of you are going to stick to mobile, but I thought I’d touch on this, just for the sake of being thorough.
Going to Duolingo on desktop is pretty much the same thing as mobile, but there are a couple of other features that you won’t find on the app. We’ll talk about those perks in a sec, but for now, just know that you can’t get to them via mobile.
Other than that, your accounts and all your languages will sync seamlessly between desktop and mobile, so you can use whichever device at whatever time you want to work on your Duolingo.
Mondly is also accessible via desktop, and the switch is pretty seamless. However, many of the more special Mondly features, like Augmented Reality, are not available on desktop, for obvious reasons.
Free & paid options
Both Mondly and Duolingo provide you the option to give them your money (surprise, surprise!), but for two completely different reasons.
Duolingo advertises itself as free forever, which is true (technically…there’s a strong theory that Duolingo’s getting money-hungry with the new hearts system). Everything I’m talking about here and what I talked about in my Duolingo review is accessible to everybody for absolutely free.
Fairly recently, Duolingo also introduced a $10-15/month subscription (depending on your commitment) service, called Duolingo Plus, which allows paid users an ad-free experience as well as offline access. There are some other perks as well, but no new content.
Mondly, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. You can use Mondly for free, but you won’t get a whole lot. You basically get a preview of the app so you can give it a trial run before you invest. It’s definitely not a huge investment – over the long-term, it’s actually cheaper than Duolingo!
Free Mondly members get a few lessons, a few chatbots, and the streak function. After that, you can opt to pay monthly, annually, or just once for life. Plus, you can use my link to get 20% off!
In this context, I’m gonna have to side with the angry Duolingo users who believe Duolingo is using tricky tactics to get everybody to pay. Not to say that I’m getting behind this theory, but in using both Duolingo and Mondly…I’m more of a fan of Mondly being upfront about charging.
The fact that each app provides daily push notifications to get you practicing your language every day was already mentioned, but they’re not quite equal. If you’re one of the literally millions of language learners that have already used Duolingo, you know you get a quick notification every day to prompt you to open the app and study.
If that works for you, that’s awesome! It never did anything for me, though. Plus, if you just ignore it enough, it gives up on you. Literally. The little Duolingo owl basically says “well, you’re clearly not coming back, so I’m going to stop wasting my time on you”. Ouch! That hurts the ego and is also not very productive to inspire people to get back on the horse.
Mondly is a little different. Yes, it gives you the same kind of reminder, HOWEVER. While Duolingo tells you to do something, anything, Mondly has new lessons every day for you to work on. They might not be new content for you, but you do get a monthly calendar to keep track of every lesson every day.
Once you’ve completed that day’s lesson, you’ll get a little green circle on that day on the calendar. If you complete all the lessons for the week, you get a new weekly quiz. If you complete all the daily and weekly lessons, you’ll also get a new monthly quiz. That is definitely more motivating than a generic message to get back to Duolingo.
Language skill development
While Mondly vs Duolingo have very similar approaches, the meat of the lessons is actually pretty different! Primarily, Duolingo teaches grammar the way we learn languages in school (but more fun, to be fair); Mondly teaches vocabulary and speaking.
Both apps do have other features besides their main lessons to help expand on their users’ educations. For example, Duolingo Stories are very short stories combining reading, listening, a touch of vocab, and even some comprehension questions.
While Duolingo keeps the approach pretty passive, Mondly is much more effective for your speaking skills. Not only do they offer both chatbots and AR conversations, but you can also opt to say the answers in some of the normal lessons. It’s not a real conversation, but honestly? It’s pretty close.
With the chatbots and the AR (and soon-to-be VR) experiences, it’s really hard to beat Mondly’s approach to conversations with a robot!
Yes, Duolingo does have a speech recognition function in their lessons, but it’s really buggy. It’s totally normal for speech recognition to straight up not work, which is fine, but on Duolingo, you’ll get stuck until it gives up on you. With Mondly, you can just tell it to move on.
With their own directions, I don’t think it reasonable to expect Duolingo to catch up to Mondly; there’s a huge difference between repeating a phrase back once, and contributing to a real conversation!
Besides having conversations in your language with real human beings, I do believe this is the best you can get. The tech isn’t quite 100% just yet (the AR lady isn’t particularly life-like, for example, and the phrases are said by a different robot entirely), but I’m excited to see how Mondly continues to improve on this.
As a language learner (and a human who cares about the ethics and privilege that goes into learning foreign languages), the accessibility of learning a language is an important subject for me.
And when I say accessibility, I don’t mean that free apps are good and expensive apps are bad. Let’s use Mondly and Duolingo as an example.
As I’ve mentioned, while Duolingo is technically free, they are slowly but surely putting all of their users on the heart system. More on this here, but the basic idea is that you’re actively punished for getting questions wrong; if you don’t want that punishment, pay for Plus.
If you’re a Duolingo Plus user (if you pay), you get unlimited hearts and you can focus on learning, without the added pressure of losing hearts (including in the middle of a lesson, at which point you lose your progress and you start over).
Meanwhile, though Mondly is a paid app, it can be cheaper than Duolingo. No trickery, no nothin’.
And don’t even get me started on the non-English base languages: Duolingo offers the ability to learn some languages from non-English languages (though the options aren’t consistent and the content isn’t complete), while Mondly offers the ability to learn all of its languages from all of its languages.
And remember: with Mondly, you can pay for lifetime access once. With Duolingo, the best they can do is annual.
Mondly vs Duolingo: which one is for you?
Whether Duolingo vs Mondly is your preferred app at the moment is a totally personal decision. In my personal opinion, I do think they’re both great starting points for learning languages, though as time goes on Duolingo is getting more restrictive and Mondly is constantly improving.
I’ve used both for long periods of time for different reasons; Duolingo because it’s clearly structured from beginner to intermediate, and Mondly because of the languages available.
Personally? Experiencing both Mondly and Duolingo over the long term, I’d go for Mondly any day (especially considering my 20% off discount!). For one, I’m excited to see their AR blossom and grow into the future tech that all language learners need (while Duolingo seems to consistently become less and less usable without paying).
At the end of the day, I’d recommend you try both out and see what they do for you. Honestly, they both utilize slightly different strategies and methods.