Learning French with Duolingo - does it teach bad French?

The more we use Duo, the more we realise that the English used is very often poor, and that’s not just because it’s a direct translation (which it seldom is) or American English. There have been times during our personal classes where the French we’ve picked up is plainly not right, and required correcting, and the tutor has mentioned other clients where their ‘Duo-French’ has not been correct. We’re wondering if, although we’ve learned a lot of useful vocab, it’s actually been teaching us badly.

Any thoughts?

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It teaches more or less useful vocabulary and not much else. Great as an immersion preparation for a holiday somewhere, not so great for learning a language. Or perhaps for being questioned by a police bot, but rubbish if stopped by a human gendarme.


I’ve used several online courses including DL (though it’s the only one with a paid option I have not used). I stopped it when I realised it was a burden and not really teaching me. What @JaneJones says is right.

I quite liked Babbel; found Rocket too American; got a bit bored with Hugo’s InnerFrench interviews …

The two I’m using at the moment for grammar are Kwizik/Lawless, which at least acknowledges a difference between American and English, and takes you through the DELF levels, and Linguno. Linguno is free; Lawless was cheap in a sale. Linguno lets you choose what tenses to practise and (I think) is excellent for a free resource.

Steve Kaufman also stresses the importance of different sorts of input, so I listen to and read RFI’s Journal en Français facile each day; use YouVersion’s parallel text facility to read a chapter of the Bible each day; listen to France Info when I can; and watch some television (there’s a surprising amount on YouTube). Plus an hour on Skype with a French friend, half in English, half in French.

But what really makes the difference is putting it into practice when we’re in France.


Thanks for that Porridge. I have been using Duolingo for years (the free version) and hate the Americanisation with words like gotten. I have had a quick look at Kwizik and Linguno and I will give them a go because they are different to Duolingo.


I use Duolingo from time to time but it not only has very dodgy (English) grammar, the French is also questionable. It’s useful, as has been said, for vocabulary but I agree with @Porridge that you need a variety of input if at all possible.

The best I have found for me, at the moment (because of working towards an exam) is Kwiziq (it explains grammar really clearly and has all sorts of helpful input, even at the free level) but I have also found Frantastique (Gymlish) to be very good, although I’ve reached the end of the line with that one.