First, the company now offers a free basic language assessment test. Unlike the company’s $20 certificate, which directly competes with established English tests like the TOEFL, the quick test isn’t remotely verified by a human. With that, Duolingo’s main cost in offering the certificate is gone and the company is hence able to offer this test for free. The main idea here is to create a new standard for displaying language skills on resumes.
“These are largely self-assessed today (“I’m intermediate in French”) and therefore unlikely to be taken seriously by institutions,” the company notes in today’s announcement.
A company spokesperson told me that the difference in content between the paid Certificate test and the Quick test is small. The Certificate test with 21 questions and 152 sub-items takes about 20 minutes and the Quick Test, which features 15 questions with 110 sub-items should take about 15 minutes. (Correction: Duolingo initially provided us with the wrong number of questions on the Quick Test. The correct number is 110 and not 150. We’ve updated the post to reflect this.)
Users can take the Quick Test both on Duolingo’s Test Center website and through its Test Center app on Android.
The more people who come on the platform and start using the free test, the more likely it is that these users will also want to get the full certificate at some point. If anything, these free tests will allow users to check their own language abilities and prepare for exams without having to pay for them.
The second announcement marks a first for both Duolingo, as well as its new partner Uber. In Colombia, Uber will now use Duolingo to certify your driver’s English skills (using the paid $20 certificate test, not the new free Quick Test).
Uber tells me about 60 drivers have already completed the program and over 1,000 Uber drivers are currently in the process of using the service to certify their English test and foreign visitors in Colombia, where Uber is active in Barranquilla, Medellin, Cali and Bogotá, can now request an UberEnglish driver.
I’ve taken my fair share of taxi rides around Colombia and I’ve never felt unsafe, but I can see why a foreign visitor with minimal Spanish skills would want a driver who speaks English.
Using UberEnglish will cost riders about $1,500 Colombian pesos extra and the option is available for both UberX and regular Uber rides.
The plan is to launch this service across other major cities in Latin America later this year.