Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps in the world, providing free access to tons of language courses with an engaging “gamified” experience. It’s already brilliant, featuring on our best language apps list, but it had until now been lacking the world’s most prevalent language: Mandarin.

This was added to the Duolingo app yesterday, following the introduction of a couple of other Asian languages earlier this year (Duolingo received support for Japanese in May and Korean in September). Those who’ve used Duolingo previously should be right at home with the format of the new course; however, because Mandarin uses a logographic writing system, it will be a greater challenge to pick up at first (by comparison to languages which make use of the English alphabet).

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Logograms represent words or ideas rather than sounds, so, whereas you could see the French word “bonjour” and have an idea of how to pronounce it English, you can’t see 你好 in Mandarin and know you’re supposed to say “ni hao.”

This is a natural part of what makes going from English to Mandarin hard (and that’s not to mention difficulties presented by the tone-based nature of Mandarin when it’s spoken) and it’s a difficult thing for language apps to work around. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in learning Mandarin on Duolingo, don’t expect it to progress at the same pace as other languages you might have tried learning with the app.

To download the free Duolingo app, visit Google Play at the link below.

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