Duolingo has risen to prominence over the past decade with its language learning app giving people around the world a low-cost or free option to learn dozens of languages. With a reported 500 million users by 2022, the app has found a loyal following among budding linguists. Now Duolingo, headquartered in East Liberty, has decided it’s time to branch out and use its expertise to tackle a universal struggle: math homework.
The next Duolingo Mathematics the platform will have two options. If you have a child between 7 and 12 years old, you can practice multiplication and fractions in a fun way. But, if you have a student at home over the age of 13 who needs to work on their mental math – or want to practice the basics of math yourself – then Duolingo Math offers “brain training” to help users to improve and apply math to their daily lives.
The Idea, Senior Software Engineer Sammi Siegel Told Technicallyis to further Duolingo’s mission to make education accessible and to make math a little more fun.
“As a company, we’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years about teaching on mobile platforms, from game mechanics like experience points to developing interactive lessons to augment learning, all things that are transferable to other subjects,” Siegel said. “We want to make learning math more accessible and fun, just like we did learning languages.”
The development team included Siegel and two other engineers and at one point the team was even able to use Siegel’s colleague’s daughter as a source of feedback. The public got a glimpse of Duolingo Math last August during Duocon, the free, virtual, pre-recorded conference providing updates on the company’s business strategy and product features. Duocon 2022 is being held today.
Why a math app now? After learning loss due to the pandemic and pre-existing math anxiety among more Americans, Duolingo felt the time was right to meet the current need for additional math education, according to the company. Because Duolingo wanted to make sure lessons were relevant, the team included a math learning scientist whose job was to provide insight into what children would be most likely to learn and how best to learn. teach the subject.
“Our goal of being an educational app that teaches in a fun and playful way is the same,” Siegel said. “Mathematics exercises are always as interactive (and depending on the concepts taught, even more!) than the linguistic application.”
Siegel added that while math was a favorite subject for her growing up, she’s no stranger to what it’s like to struggle with it. As the only woman to take graduate-level math classes throughout college, she sometimes felt downright isolated, she said. Without the support of her math teacher father, Siegel recalled that she might have given up on the subject altogether. Still, she’s aware that not every struggling student has a mathematician in their living room to use as a resource, so she hopes the app can provide some relief.
“We want to make learning math more accessible and fun, just like we did learning languages,” Siegel said.
Duolingo Math’s technology stack is made up of “mostly Swift and some SwiftUI,” the engineer said. “From a technical perspective, much of the underlying user interface code in the Math app is identical to the original Duolingo language app.”
The app will be available for beta testing on iOS devices and has already earned a waitlist among launch plans later this year. Sign up to join here.
Learn more about Duolingo Math during Siegel’s talk at the Duocon virtual conference, taking place today: