Influenced by Pop Culture, Korean is now the fastest growing language in India: Duolingo Language Report 2021

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 Unveiling language learning patterns, attitudes and perceptions in India, Duolingo (Nasdaq: DUOL) – the world’s most popular language learning app – today released the 2021 Duolingo Language Report in the country. Taking a deeper dive into the impact of culture on language learning, Duolingo also conducted additional research in India in association with an international data and analytics group.

Commenting on the 2021 edition of the Duolingo Language Report, Country Marketing Manager in India, Karandeep Singh Kapany said, “With a young  India wanting to stay connected to local and global culture we have witnessed most traction on Duolingo from the 17 to 25 age bracket, across languages. As Indians increasingly move to virtual learning platforms that are fun and effective, we look forward to further tailoring courses for the Indian learner and meeting their language learning needs.”

Key Insights from the Duolingo Language Report 2021 (India):

Korean leads the language learning growth curve in India

Influenced by pop culture, Indian millennials and Gen-Z – especially between the age groups of 17 to 25 – are responsible for the rise of Korean learning in India. Korean has climbed up the ladder of most popular languages becoming the fastest growing language in India and has comfortably established itself as the 5th most popular language in the country. This rise can be attributed in-part to the release of popular TV series Squid Games in 2021.

As India tunes into more Korean entertainment and listens to more K-pop, language study has been reframed as something that complements and supports interests and other activities—not just something required in a classroom. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Duolingo, over 56% respondents said that they were influenced to learn a new language by pop culture trendsetters including movies, OTT shows and web series.

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English, Hindi, French and Spanish are the other top languages that Indians are currently learning on the Duolingo app. It is interesting to note that English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese are the most popular languages on Duolingo globally.

Improving career opportunities and personal growth are main reasons in India for learning a new language

Close to 40% of respondents stated that they were currently studying a new language.

While the range of reasons to study a new language is diverse for Indian learners, professional and personal growth remain top motivators. This trend is observed across age groups as well as across metro and non-metro cities in India.  

Interest in a different culture, staying connected with the community and pursuing a new hobby are reasons that follow closely.

Equal focus on learning English and regional languages

When asked which languages they would be interested in learning in the future, 38% respondents picked a European language with French, Spanish and German being the top choices. With the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors getting increasingly global, it is not surprising that Indians are looking to expand their professional boundaries by learning these globally popular languages.

Interestingly, an equal number of respondents stated that they would be interested in learning English and an Indian regional language. This showcases the need to branch and seek new opportunities, while also staying connected to cultural roots.

Digital learning is the most preferred medium of learning especially via mobile applications and video platforms

Spurred by the pandemic, virtual learning has taken precedence over physical classrooms. It also allows learners the freedom to upskill either on-the-go or from the comfort of their homes. Respondents said that they were most comfortable learning a new language from mobile applications and video tutorials. Physical classrooms are the next preferred medium of learning followed by distance learning language courses.

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Most 2021 Phrase

To coincide with the report Duolingo announced its Most 2021 Phrase. ‘I’m mentally exhausted’. Duolingo selected this phrase, found in its Japanese course, to reflect the tone and overall feeling of the year after much of the globe continued to cycle through lockdowns, delayed return-to-office plans, and ever-changing health policies.

Additionally, Duolingo is rolling out a new Year in Review experience which provides a visualized deep dive on individual user activity, showcasing eight different types of learners based on a variety of factors including hours spent learning, number of courses a learner has taken, what time a learner tends to practice, and more. The Year in Review experience is available for all Duolingo learners who completed at least 10 lessons in 2021. Duolingo learners can see their personalized Year in Review snapshot in the app and can share their learner style directly to social media.

Duolingo revealed that in 2021, over 700 million hours were spent learning on the Duolingo app with nearly 10 billion lessons completed and 15 billion words learned. It also revealed that 25 million people worldwide were learning more than one language.