Duolingo reports 485% increase in Ukrainian learners

The number of people learning Ukrainian through Duolingo has skyrocketed in recent weeks, according to a recent report from the digital language learning company.

According to a March 13 blog post, the number of Duolingo users learning Ukrainian increased by 485% in the weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Breaking down the numbers by country, Duolingo noted that most of the new users are based in the United States, however the neighboring country of Poland saw a 1,800% increase of Ukrainian learners. 

In an announcement of the company’s efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees with language services, CEO Luis von Ahn stated that the company will be donating all of its ad revenue from users learning Ukrainian to aid efforts in Ukraine.

“While it’s wonderful to see that show of support and appreciation for Ukraine’s culture, it would not be right for us to profit from it,” von Ahn wrote. “These funds will support our partners at the UNHCR, IRC, and other organizations working to help refugees from Ukraine.”

In working with these organizations, von Ahn said that the company will also work to deliver free codes to access the premium version of Duolingo, allowing refugees and the people hosting them to learn each other’s language using the app.

Free access to Duolingo Plus will certainly be appreciated in the neighboring country of Poland, where the number of people interested in learning Ukrainian has absolutely soared. As the company noted, Poland has taken in a large number of refugees living in Ukraine, and learning Ukrainian will allow hosts to better communicate with the displaced people entering the country.

Duolingo’s Ukrainian course for English speakers was the first Slavic language course on the platform — development on the course actually began as a result of the 2014 unrest in the country, which also displaced several people (though to a lesser extent than the most recent wave of refugees leaving the country). The course was launched in 2015 with support from Peace Corps volunteers who had to leave the country after the Euromaidan protests.

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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