Reviewed as at September 2019.
I’ve been using Duolingo for French for three months now and think it is a great learning tool. I was wondering how it fared for the Korean language, so I added Korean to my courses and sat the placement test. It granted me access to the top level, so I could see all of the lessons along the tree. After looking around all the levels and trying out several lessons my conclusion is…
The short answer is: it is a disaster. You could stop reading here, but I’ll explain why if you’re interested.
Korean is a fundamentally different language to Western languages, and understanding the rules behind its grammar is critical. Duolingo teaches you literally nothing about grammar and just expects you to figure it out through fill in the blank kind of examples. It won’t happen.
Secondly it doesn’t teach you different levels of formality and different registers. So you won’t know the difference between how you talk to your best friend versus talking to your boss. This is Korean 101 and Duolingo doesn’t cover it.
Finally there is no syllabus so anything you found helpful you won’t be able to locate down. Nor can you ever find anything specific you’re trying to learn.
Time spent using Duolingo is better spent doing almost anything else. If you’re looking to use an app, try Lingodeer. I personally haven’t tried it for Korean but I did use it for Chinese (I’m Chinese), and I’ve heard it teaches Korean and Japanese very well as well.