Duolingo vs DuoCards

DuoCards and Duolingo are both popular language learning apps, but they have different features and purposes. In short, Duolingo offers a ‘competitive’ approach along a fixed path of set phrases, whereas DuoCards helps users memorize new vocabulary through the spaced-repetition of personalized flashcards. 

Read on, as we take a closer look at the differences between the two.


Once you download DuoCards, you’ll have access to the pre-made and public decks of flashcards available in the library. These decks include common topics such as food, animals, and people. They’re a great starting point if you want to master the basic vocabulary of a new language.

In addition to the deck library, DuoCards allows you to create your own flashcards. Simply do this by manually typing in your own words or selecting and adding vocabulary from your own resources. You can do this by adding resources to the DuoCards library or by using the DuoCards browser plugin in. Whichever method you chose, it means that you can add that phrase from an article, line from a video, or lyric from a song. 

This feature makes it easy to learn words related to a specific topic such as engineering, yoga, or whatever you’re into as well as local phrases or slang words that aren’t traditionally taught by language apps. Language teachers can also use this feature to create individualized vocabulary decks to help their students practice what they’ve learned between lessons.

It’s a good idea to also add your vocabulary in the context of a sample sentence. Of course, you can use the source material, but If you want to find different contexts try a service like SKELL.

Creating flashcards with your own vocabulary means that the content you are learning is relevant. Furthermore, being able to add your own sample sentences means you can be as zany or realistic as you’d like!  

With Duolingo, users follow a predetermined path, making it ideal for those that want to ‘try out’ a language or don’t have specific targets to aim for. This is a good starting point if you want to learn basic sentence structure in addition to vocabulary, or just need a few simple phrases before going on vacation abroad.


When using the free-version of Duolingo, users lose a life (or ‘heart’) each time they make a mistake. Once your lives have been lost, you can either buy more lives or wait for them to recharge. At the same time, users can also earn points to compete for the top spot in various leagues – which is ideal if you’re motivated by competition. 

In DuoCards, there’s no punishment if you can’t remember a word and the only competitive element lies within each user. If users can’t remember a word, that flashcard appears more frequently, which is more effective for long-term learning.   

And though you don’t earn points with DuoCards, you can win upgrades to Memo’s (the DuoCards mascot) home – a wholesome approach to positive reinforcement! 

The Mascot

Both apps have animal mascots: Duolingo a green owl, DuoCards a woolly mammoth. However, the role and ‘motivational’ behavior of these animals is quite different. 

The Duolingo owl relies on (jokey!) snide remarks and put-downs to motivate its users to open the app. On the other hand, Memo the Mammoth is there for quiet background support.

Of course, this is down to personal preference. Do you prefer the famously passive-aggressive green owl that has an issue with respecting personal boundaries, or Memo, the strong and gentle prehistoric beast whose home you get to improve as you learn? 

Either way, we appreciate these animals’ passion for language learning!

DuoCards or Duolingo?

Ultimately, this depends on your language learning goals and how you prefer to interact with your target language. 

For learners that are motivated by the idea of competition, want to get a feel for the basics of a language, and learn a few fun phrases along the way,  Duolingo might be a good fit. It’s a fun app, and certainly more beneficial than playing Candy Crush! 

However, if you are serious about making progress with your language learning by tailoring your input to achieve specific goals, then DuoCards is the clear choice for you.

Or you could always use both apps alongside each other and enjoy the best each app has to offer. 

Click here to get DuoCards and start improving today!


  1. Duolingo is expensive. You pay for hints with real money charged to your account. It’s a trap for users who have English as a second language.
    Duo cards is great!

  2. I like both apps and they are very different. Duocards are the ideal handy dictionary that is always at hand and allows you to expand your vocabulary in any direction. And without a vocabulary, nowhere.

  3. I use both. Whenever a new word appears on Duolingo, I save it on a card in Duocards. They somehow complete eachother.

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