Duolingo’s highly anticipated new math app – in beta – unveiled at the annual duocon conference Friday.
Duolingo Math, which already has a . has waiting list for its beta testing on iOS devices, uses the same game-like interface as its often-memed language learning app to learn and test basic math concepts such as multiplication, division, fractions, basic geometry, and reading an analog clock.
Samantha Siegel, a senior software engineer at Duolingo who leads the team behind the app and will present the beta on Friday, says it’s a natural result of Duolingo’s mission to make quality education available to everyone.
Mathematics was Siegel’s favorite subject growing up, with a math professor father and a mother who also worked as an educator. However, she acknowledges that many children and adults feel anxious about the subject, and the Duolingo team hopes the light-hearted, gamified app can help them overcome that nervousness.
Future versions will likely also include “brain training” exercises aimed at adults (and the current app could certainly be useful for anyone of any age who has never quite conquered fractions, say).
It’s far from the first digital tool to help kids study math: games like Math Blaster! and Number Munchers have been around for decades, as have countless web-based tools that provide flash cards, video instructions, and other features. But Siegel says Duolingo is working with educators, including a math learning expert, to create the app, which so far emphasizes a visual and conceptual understanding of the subject.
Multiplication and division lessons use illustrations to emphasize multiplication as repeated addition and division as division into equal-sized sets. And numbers, angles, and other elements of math problems are generated dynamically, allowing users to use the app repeatedly and practice their skills with new content.
“Everything is dynamically drawn in code, so there’s a degree of randomness in each lesson,” Siegel says.
In addition to answering multiple choice questions, users can drag and drop blocks into sets, construct angles with a virtual protractor, and even draw numbers by hand on their phone or tablet screen, which Siegel says kids will find fun and helpful. The app reuses some of the code from the company’s language learning tool, as well as some of its successful features, such as awarding continued use sequences and having cute and colorful mascots, including, in this case, geometric figures such as spheres and pyramids.
“We have some really nice animations in the app,” Siegel says.
The company hasn’t developed a plan to monetize the app yet, as it’s still collecting feedback from users and looking to confirm the “product-market fit,” Siegel says, though the app’s post-beta launch is likely later. year will be announced.
This is not Duolingo’s first step in child education – the company has launched Duolingo ABCthat teaches basic reading skills, in 2020 – and it may not be the last expansion beyond language.
As Siegel points out, “We certainly think there are a lot of topics that could benefit from this.”