A Comprehensive Analysis for Language Acquisition - Ixorainternational

A Comprehensive Analysis for Language Acquisition

Comparing Duolingo and IELTS: A Comprehensive Analysis for Language Acquisition

Duolingo and IELTS represent prominent language assessment methodologies employed to gauge an individual’s competence in a foreign language.

While both evaluations assess English proficiency, they do so through distinct approaches.

Duolingo functions as an online language learning platform, providing diverse language courses. Conversely, IELTS serves as a globally recognized English language testing system.

This guide aims to furnish a thorough comparison between Duolingo and IELTS.

Contrasting IELTS with Duolingo

Duolingo and IELTS represent distinct approaches to language learning and assessment. While Duolingo serves as an expansive online language learning platform, offering a diverse array of language courses, IELTS functions as a globally recognized English language proficiency test.

Administrative Oversight

Duolingo is developed and administered by Duolingo, Inc., a private entity specializing in language learning. Conversely, IELTS is jointly developed, managed, and administered by esteemed organizations including the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment.


Duolingo is primarily geared towards language acquisition, providing users with interactive exercises, games, and assessments to enhance their language skills. In contrast, IELTS serves as a standardized test utilized to evaluate the English proficiency of non-native speakers for academic, professional, and immigration-related purposes.

Testing Format

Duolingo adopts a computer-based format, delivered entirely online, comprising multiple-choice questions assessing reading, listening, writing, and speaking abilities. In contrast, IELTS is available in both paper-based and computer-delivered formats, with the latter predominantly administered in person at authorized test centers. The IELTS examination comprises four distinct modules: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, with the Speaking module often conducted separately.


The Duolingo assessment typically spans approximately 45 minutes, conducted online, while the IELTS examination entails approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, commonly administered at designated test centers. The IELTS Academic version encompasses four sections, while the General Training variant comprises three sections.

Comparison Between Duolingo and IELTS
Details Duolingo IELTS
Conducting Body Duolingo, Inc. British Council and IDP IELTS
Purpose Language learning assistance Assessment of non-native English proficiency
Format Computer-based test Paper-based and computer-delivered
Structure Adaptive & Video Interview Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking
Duration 45 Minutes 2 hours and 45 minutes
Scoring Skill level from A1 to C2 Scale from 0 to 9
Fees $49 $150 to $200
Validity Period Unlimited Two years
Difficulty level Easier than IELTS More difficult than Duolingo
Result declaration Immediate availability 13 days after the test
Scoring Approach:
Rather than using numerical scores, Duolingo evaluates users based on their proficiency level, ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced), determined by the number of correct answers. On the other hand, the IELTS test employs a scale from 0 to 9, with separate scores for each of its four sections, culminating in an average overall score.

Duolingo offers a cost-effective option with a modest fee of approximately $49. Conversely, the fee for the IELTS exam varies depending on the location, ranging from $150 to $250.

Eligibility Requirements:
Duolingo imposes no eligibility criteria, allowing anyone keen on language learning to enroll and commence their journey. In contrast, the IELTS targets students, professionals, and immigrants seeking to validate their English proficiency. To sit for the IELTS exam, candidates must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid passport or national ID card.

Validity Period:
Duolingo does not impose a validity period, enabling users to utilize the platform indefinitely. However, IELTS scores remain valid for two years from the examination date.

Difficulty Levels:
Duolingo is generally regarded as a less challenging test compared to the IELTS. It concentrates on fundamental language aspects like grammar and vocabulary, necessitating less profound language comprehension. Conversely, the IELTS demands a deeper understanding of the language, assessing reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities in English.

Result Disclosure:
Upon completing the Duolingo test, results are promptly accessible, though they aren’t directly comparable to other proficiency assessments. In contrast, IELTS results are disclosed 13 days post-examination and are accessible online. These scores align with other language tests, offering a more precise gauge of language proficiency.

Comparison of Exam Formats:

1. Duolingo Format:

The Duolingo assessment is structured into two main sections: the Adaptive Section and the Video Interview Section.

Adaptive Section: This segment comprises multiple-choice questions that dynamically adapt to the user’s proficiency level. Covering areas like grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, the questions adjust in difficulty to match the user’s skill level.

Video Interview Section: Candidates are prompted to record brief video responses in the target language, showcasing their speaking abilities in real-time.
Sections Types of Questions Duration
Adaptive Section Multiple-choice questions covering grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension 45 Minutes
Video Interview Section Recording brief video responses to prompt questions 10 Minutes
2. IELTS Structure Overview:

IELTS offers Academic and General Training versions, each catering to distinct purposes.

Academic Version: Designed for individuals aspiring to pursue tertiary education in an English-speaking environment or seeking professional registration.

General Training Version: Tailored for those planning to migrate to an English-speaking country, emphasizing essential survival skills applicable in diverse social and workplace scenarios.

Both versions feature four sections:

1. Listening: Comprising four sections, each with ten questions. Candidates listen to four recordings and respond to corresponding queries.

2. Reading: Comprising three sections, each presenting various question types. Candidates engage with three passages and answer associated questions.

3. Writing: Comprising two tasks. Candidates are tasked with composing essays of 150 and 250 words, respectively.

4. Speaking: A one-on-one interview with an examiner. Candidates discuss personal experiences and share opinions on provided topics.
Sections Number of Questions Duration
Listening 40 30 Minutes
Reading 40 60 Minutes
Writing 2 60 Minutes
Speaking 2 11 to 14 Minutes
IELTS vs Duolingo: Assessing Language Proficiency

Both IELTS and Duolingo evaluate language proficiency but cater to distinct objectives and demographics.

1. Proficiency Level in IELTS

Language Proficiency in IELTS

Expert 9
Very good 8.5
Very good 8
Good 7.5
Good 7
Competent 6.5
Competent 6
Modest 5.5
Modest 5
Limited 4.5
Limited 4
Extremely Limited 3.5
Extremely Limited 3
Intermittent 2.5
Intermittent 2
Non-User 1.5
Non-User 1
Non-User 0.5
Non-User 0
2. Proficiency Level in Duolingo
Proficiency Level Corresponding DET Scores
Basic Scores between 10-55 indicate a fundamental grasp of English, enabling expression within familiar contexts.
Intermediate Scoring within the range of 60-85 signifies the capability to handle routine tasks at work and school in English.
Upper-Intermediate Falling between 90-115 indicates proficiency to discuss unfamiliar topics and comprehending abstract concepts in English.
Advanced Achieving scores from 125-160 reflects an advanced level of English proficiency, showcasing exceptional command across diverse situations.
Comparing IELTS and Duolingo Scores:

In the IELTS test, each section is graded on a scale from 0 to 9, with the overall band score derived as the average of these four section scores. Conversely, Duolingo offers a proficiency score, termed as the Duolingo English Test (DET) score, ranging from 0 to 170. Below is a table illustrating the comparison between IELTS and Duolingo scores:
Duolingo IELTS
160 8.5-9
155 150 8
145 140 7.5
135 130 7
125 120 6.5
115 110 105 6
100 95 5.5
90 85 80 5
75 70 65 4.5
10-60 0-4
Universities Embracing IELTS and Duolingo:

The IELTS and the Duolingo English Test hold significant recognition globally as assessments for language proficiency. Many prestigious universities worldwide acknowledge both exams for evaluating language skills. Below are some renowned universities that accept both assessments:
University IELTS Score Requirement Duolingo Score Requirement
Harvard University 7.5 125
Stanford University 7 110
University of Oxford 7 120
University of Cambridge 7 120
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7 120
University of California, Berkeley 6.5 115
University of Toronto 6.5 110
University of Sydney 6.5 115
University of Edinburgh 6.5 110
University of Hong Kong 6.5 110

Duolingo and IELTS present excellent avenues for individuals seeking to enhance their English proficiency. Duolingo serves as an excellent starting point for those aiming to grasp fundamental English concepts. At the same time, IELTS offers a broader approach suitable for individuals aspiring to advance their language skills to a higher level. The decision regarding which to utilize hinges on factors such as personal objectives, time constraints, and commitment levels.
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