Woman talking(l+r), Duolingo app(c)

Rafapress/Shutterstock @funkshe/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘My tutor taught me how to say hi for the first time’: Woman says that she’s finished DuoLingo’s Polish lessons, but still can’t speak Polish

"Duolingo is just to get started."


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Dec 20, 2023   Updated on Dec 20, 2023, 2:21 pm CST

A woman says that after completing all of Duolingo’s Polish lessons, she cannot speak conversational Polish.

In a TikTok posted on December 11, Nancy (@funkshe) says that even though she completed all of Duolingo’s Polish lessons, she can’t actually converse in the language and struggles to comprehend when it is spoken to her. She can, however, say obscure phrases like “you cannot see me because I am a ghost,” “the tiger is sad because it is in a zoo,” and “is that my wife or a hat?” Nancy says she is now working with a tutor to learn conversational Polish phrases.

“My tutor taught me how to say hi for the first time,” Nancy says in her TikTok. “Polish is very hard.”

In follow up TikToks, she says that after more sessions with her tutor, her Polish is improving.

On Wednesday, Nancy’s initial video had over 1.5 million views on TikTok.

@funkshe Why doesnt #duolingo teach practical conversational #polish?! #mowiepopolsku #polska #learninglanguages #polyglot #polishtutor #learningpolish ♬ original sound – funkshe

Nancy is not the first person who has felt that Duolingo’s lesson were lacking. The Cut examined the app’s claims that it can make users fluent in a language, and that one can do so in “300 hours”: Anecdotes from The Cut’s sources say both claims aren’t true.

In a statement to The Cut, language coach Kerstin Cable wrote, “I don’t think [using Duolingo as your only tool] is going to get you anywhere, and it’ll give you that dissatisfaction that so many people feel. It’s really frustrating.”

Commenters on Nancy’s viral video had other explanations for why Duolingo lessons didn’t help her achieve conversational fluency in Polish.

“I think Duolingo teaches your how to grammatically speak in that language,” a commenter wrote. “So that you can then construct sentences that makes sense.”

“Duolingo is just to get started,” another said. “That’s why I’ll never understand how people have streaks that lasted YEARS… You’re still learning the basics.”

“Duolingo is useless for only some languages,” a commenter shared. “Because it has been quite helpful for me.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Nancy and Duolingo via email.

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*First Published: Dec 20, 2023, 2:20 pm CST