Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read

Variety of drills offer solid, thorough approach to reading fundamentals

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Subjects & Topics

English Language Arts

Price: Free
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Pros: A simple, logical path gradually introduces new concepts and reviews old ones.

Cons: All kids must start at the beginning; for kids who already know a bit about reading, it can get tedious to go through the early levels.

Bottom Line: This can be a fun way to engage struggling readers or reinforce early reading classroom instruction.

Teachers can use Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read to reinforce the work kids do in the classroom. There's little to no explicit instruction, and kids work through the activities by trial and error. There's also no option for customizing the order of activities or for choosing where kids should start on the learning path, so teachers may find that the concepts don't line up perfectly with the material they're covering. But as long as kids have a general idea of the concept of letter names and letter sounds, they should easily find Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read relevant and accessible.

Since there's no option to create multiple user profiles, Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read works best if kids can play on their own individual device. Then, it might be a great addition to stations or reading groups so that kids can work on letters, sounds, and writing their name when they're ready.  

Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read uses speech recognition software for games in which kids are asked to read letter sounds or words out loud. For that, teachers need to allow access to the device's microphone. Upon opening the app for the first time, teachers are asked to enter a name or nickname for the player; throughout the lessons, kids will learn how to write that name. And reading concepts successively unlock as kids follow a logical journey.

Simple drills introduce young kids to letters, letter sounds, phonics, and other foundational early reading concepts. One letter at a time, kids play a variety of early reading games that ask them to tap, drag, listen, and speak out loud. For example, kids first tap through a story about mad monkeys and then move on to the next games, which introduce and build on the letter M. Activities include tracing it, what it sounds like, words that start with it, the uppercase and lowercase versions, saying M words out loud, and so on. Kids must complete each successive game to unlock the next. With 127 units, kids learn each letter of the alphabet and practice tracing letters, reading, rhyming, and more.

These colorful mini-games take kids on a logical journey toward learning how to read. Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read starts from the very beginning and slowly works its way through more complex concepts. Each step along the path is purposeful as new games review what's already been introduced and then build on those concepts. One downside is that kids can't choose where to start on that path. That is, if kids come to Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read with some reading skills already, they'll have to slog through the early levels until they reach material that challenges them. Though the mini-games can sometimes feel like drills, kids interact in a variety of ways, from tapping through stories, to popping bubbles, to tracing letters or shapes, and more. That should be enough to keep them engaged. Even so, Duolingo ABC - Learn to Read may be best in small doses.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Bite-size activities are bright and colorful, and there's some variety in activities.


Kids learn through trial and error on a journey that covers letter names and sounds, words that begin with each letter, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Kids also explore other ELA concepts like rhyming.


Each level unlocks the next, which builds on what kids have learned; kids can easily see where they are on the learning path. There's little learning support for kids who are struggling.

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