Carnegie Mellon to Test Duolingo App for International Admissions

Duolingo, a provider language learning web and smartphone apps, is partnering with Carnegie Mellon to test whether or no a 20-minute, $20 test is enough to prove an international student’s English proficiency. Currently, students looking to study in the U.S. must take costly and time-consuming standardized tests like IELTS and TOEFL to prove they can speak and write English.

Duolingo is working to disrupt that market with their approach. With no proctors, students are asked to take a photo of themselves and a valid photo ID. The app then matches the photos and monitors the student for suspicious behavior like excessive background noise or looking away from the phone. The recording is then verified by a third-party proctoring service.

Test takers must then answer four types of questions: pick out English words from a lineup, listen to a sentence and transcribe it, record themselves reading, and fill in the blank. Duolingo uses adaptive algorithms so questions get harder or easier depending on how a student answered, in hopes of pinpointing where a student’s proficiency lies.

Still, building a successful language proficiency app is only half the battle. Unless colleges, universities, and employers adopt the new approach, Duolingo will remain a cool science project.

For full story, see Inside Higher Ed.

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne is a writer for Edtech Times who is most interested in technology's role in culture. When she is not combing the web for the latest in educational technology, she is reading classic literature or watching the game on TV. You may know her from Gradeable,, Emerson College, Busa Wine & Spirits, UMass Dartmouth, or Burlington High School.