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Cool by Association or by Distinction: Comparing Eduling Speak and Duolingo

By Dr. Linh Phung

When the TESOL Convention was held in Pittsburgh, one of my colleagues came to me and asked, "Are you a sponsor of this conference?" I was really surprised to hear because I'm nowhere in the sponsor league financially. It turned out that he mistook Eduling for Duolingo, which is also based in Pittsburgh.

Recently, when I participated in the LaunchPad International Ed-Tech Competition, one comment from a judge (in an informal conversation) was that my app resembled Duolingo. One question from the audience is "How is it different from Duolingo?" I was perplexed with the comment and question, but it was interesting to hear so that I can reflect on this more.

Sure, I have birds in my logo, but there are two in mine as Eduling Speak has interactive tasks that learners can complete in pairs to develop real communication.

Sure, the app has gamification elements such as streak, ranking, leaderboard, level, ... but these gamification elements have become common in many applications.

Sure, we are both based in Pittsburgh, but mine is Eduling, which is a combination of Education and Linguistics. When I thought of the "ling" part, I also thought it also reflected the pronunciation of my name in Vietnamese.

Admittedly, Duolingo is so big and recognizable that the mistake is kind of amusingly good and bad for apps like mine. One colleague says that Duolingo has been dominating to the to the point of users thinking of it as synonymous with language learning.

Yet, there's room for innovation like mine because Eduling Speak is very different.

  • It's task-based and pedagogically driven. (Read more about tasks HERE). We use criteria of tasks to develop the content: primary focus on meaning, communicative gap, learners using their own linguistic resources, communicative outcome.

  • It's development-focused. Whenever I think of a new task or feature, my question is "How is this going to drive language development?" I think in terms of applying principles of second language development: meaningful input, output, interaction, feedback.

  • It tackles the difficult skill to develop through an app: speaking. However, it's not a free conversation. It's speaking on task.

  • It has input-based tasks that learners can complete individually as well. The input is beyond the sentence level. Language focus is contextualized within meaningful input.

  • It targets higher levels proficiency while Duolingo targets the lower level (from my experience), which I admit makes it much more accessible

  • Eduling Speak has more development ahead to make it easier to navigate and more helpful with packages of service although it already has so much to offer if you persist in exploring it.

Duolingo is my neighbor. I've visited their office. I've talked to colleagues there. I do admire what they do and their innovation, but there's room for more innovation.

I hope to see more comparisons of the two apps in the future. To download Eduling Speak on the App Store or Google Play or with this LINK.

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