Duolingo, the popular language education app, is partnering with OpenAI to develop a new subscription tier featuring generative AI technology. The new subscription tier, called Duolingo Max, will offer users more detailed explanations on incorrect quiz answers through the Explain My Answer feature and allow them to practice their language skills in a more organic setting through the Roleplay feature with generative AI chatbots.
The Explain My Answer feature will use generative AI technology to expand on the current explanations for incorrect answers. This feature will act like a teacher who can help students understand their mistakes through a discussion. On the other hand, the Roleplay feature will provide users with the chance to practice their language skills by starting an improvisational dialogue with an AI chatbot. The AI chatbot will play different roles, such as a waiter at a restaurant or a hotel clerk, creating an organic setting for users to practice their language skills.
The new features incorporate the large language models developed by OpenAI. While Duolingo has not specified which LLM will be used, the ChatGPT API introduced by OpenAI this week seems the most likely option. Duolingo has been working with OpenAI for some time, experimenting with their GPT-3 model to design personalized lessons and feedback for students. According to Duolingo’s analysis, students who interacted with the AI showed a measurable improvement in their writing skills.
Duolingo CEO, Luis von Ahn, explained the company’s decision to develop the new subscription tier in a letter to shareholders this week. “While we have been investing in AI since 2013 to power both the Duolingo language learning app and the Duolingo English Test, the technology has advanced to a level that is within striking distance of our vision to teach as well as a human tutor. As such, we’ve begun testing a higher subscription tier (above Super Duolingo) with new generative AI features, called Duolingo Max, that is the next step on this path. We worked closely with OpenAI to develop Max features, using an advanced system that is optimized for language learning,” von Ahn said. “We believe that together, these new features will allow us to get closer to simulating a human tutor while continuing to make Duolingo even more engaging and fun.”
The Roleplay feature, in particular, seems like a good fit for incorporating characters with fictional backgrounds and synthetic voices. However, the new features do not include any of the characters with synthetic voices that Duolingo began experimenting with last year.
What is Duolingo Max?
Duolingo Max is a new subscription offered by Duolingo that provides a more comprehensive language learning experience. It comes with all the benefits of Super Duolingo and introduces two new AI-powered features, Explain My Answer and Roleplay. At present, Duolingo Max is only available on the iOS version of the app in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Duolingo Max can be purchased as an individual subscription or as a family plan that can be shared with up to five other users. If a family member is not using the iOS version of Duolingo or is learning a course that does not yet support Max features, they will still have access to all the non-AI powered subscription features such as unlimited hearts, mistakes review, and no ads. Existing Super Duolingo subscribers can upgrade to Duolingo Max through the iOS app, and a prorated refund for the previous subscription will be issued based on how much time is remaining in the subscription period. If upgrading during a free trial period, users will be billed for a Max subscription unless canceled 24 hours before the trial expires.
The Duolingo Max subscription tier costs $13.99 per month and includes the features of the $6.99 per month Super Duolingo tier. Currently, the new subscription tier only offers Spanish and French lessons for English speakers, but Duolingo plans to expand to other languages in the future.