Duolingo update bringing Xhosa, Zulu and a few other languages to the app


In what might be an ‘about time’ moment for the language app, Duolingo has a new update on the way that will finally add a couple of South African languages to the service. Specifically, Xhosa and Zulu are on the cards for those able to brave the fury of the owl instructor who really, really wants you to learn a new language.

New Duolingo duo

The pending update was announced at DuoCon, an online event detailing what’s coming next from the language-centric app. It’s not just South Africa finally being represented either — Haitian Creole, Tagalog and Maori are also being added in the same update. So if you’re looking at moving to New Zealand, you’re covered.

The South African language courses were created with the assistance of Nal’ibali, a program that promotes South African literacy in as many languages as possible. Company COO Katie Huston said “For years, we’ve been working to elevate the status of South African languages by creating and distributing high-quality stories for children. Partnering with Duolingo to create these courses is another step towards elevating and protecting our local languages, and sharing them with new audiences around the world.”

Duolingo also has a few (less local) changes incoming. The company is introducing a Family Plan, which starts at around $120 (R1,850) a year and will see up to six family members using the same account. It’s certainly better value than the standard plan, which will set you back $80 (R1,250) annually or $13 (R200) a month.

The paid subscriptions include unlimited hearts (so you can study for as long as you like each day, no matter how terrible you are) and the option to keep your streak going if you miss a day. The app is also looking at expanding into basic mathematics training, using the same concept it applies to language.


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Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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