Yes, you read that title correctly. Duolingo, the language-learning app famous for the owl that haunts my dreams every night, now has a companion app to teach you (and the kids – but mostly you, the readers) math.

To get the most pressing question out of the way: Yes, Owl is present in the new app called Duolingo Math. However, the bird appears to have been compressed into a kind of cube. I’m not sure if it continues to qualify as an owl in this new form factor. I think a mascot reclassification wouldn’t go wrong here, because owls can’t do math. Come on now. This is not fantasyland.

As someone who’s studied multiple languages through Duolingo (you’ll get my 200-day streak out of my cold, dead hands) but after the incorporation of letters that showed no natural affinity for math Lost, I consider myself an ideal candidate for the test out of Duolingo’s math curriculum, which begins with “Multiply 1”. Excellent. This is where I am.

(By the way, I assume that “magnitude” above does not refer to the field of higher mathematics that evaluates the effective diversity of point clouds, but I think it would be unbelievable if they threw it in here. Let’s say I’ll get that out after learning rounding.)

Topics that followed multiplication included division, fractions, areas, perimeters, angles, telling time, and other things that I immediately forgot how to do as soon as I graduated high school. As you progress, you get a vertical progression of lessons that build on each other.

I’ve studied a few multiplication and division units so far, and the experience is aesthetically similar to the language app. The short “ding” you hear when you get the right answer is satisfying, but not the same, that you hear in language courses. Lessons are equally quick, taking less than two minutes to complete. As you complete the lessons, you may see your little circles fill up. If you don’t study as often as you should, you get a passive-aggressive notice from a cube bird of prey.

And as is the case with language apps, no two exercises are the same. Language lessons in Duolingo typically involve you interacting with a bunch of new words in a variety of ways – you hear them, you say them, you type them, you spell them, and hopefully those Some combination of exercises will be successful to cram them into your brain. Mathematica’s approach seems similar. You connect three squares together, and then you match them to a picture of three blocks of four dots, and then you tap the block of four dots three times, and then you count from four to 12, and you hammer that foundation of multiplication really *Is *Remember in front of you (probably, at some point) that three times four is twelve.

You’ve even handwritten your answers to some questions in a box, which the app does a good job of recognizing and converting typed text. Unfortunately, I cannot support this feature; I got a division query wrong over and over again because it turned out that I was writing a trailing “5”. If I’ve been writing “5” on the back this whole time, I totally blame you all. One of you should have told me.

The similarities between the two apps are no coincidence, says senior software engineer Sammy Siegel, who built “everything you see” into the new math program. Siegel – who has been working on Duolingo Math for over a year and was the sole engineer on the project for most of that time – aimed to set up and practice maths to help Duolingo succeed in the language field .

“We have all these different mechanics to keep people engaged. We wanted to use everything we learned from teaching the language and apply it to another subject,” Siegel tells WebMD. *ledge*,

“Whether it’s calculating the tip on a check or modifying portions in a recipe, math is really essential to our lives,” Siegel says. “We also know there’s this proliferation of math anxiety where people don’t feel completely comfortable with their math skills. We think that with a fun and engaging app, we can cut down on that and make it easier for us to do it.” Can break for people.”

Of course, the methods of learning math are different from learning languages.

The primary hurdle I see is that most people starting a Duolingo language, regardless of their age, can reasonably be assumed to be beginners in that language because they are using Duolingo. Huh. While some people may get bored at the beginning (I’ve long complained about how long some Duolingo courses take to be any fun at all), the Korean I or whatever downloads with the basic alphabet are perfect. Seems like a step.

But math learners, one would suspect, come with highly variable math knowledge and ability. Figuring out where to start everyone so that the material isn’t too easy or too difficult strikes me as a difficult prospect. You can start on whatever unit you want, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of comprehensive placement testing.

To address this, Duolingo plans to offer courses at multiple levels based on age. Currently, there’s one for elementary school students (I can only assume it’s what I’m into) and one of the functions geared more towards adults who want to brush up. (I’m too afraid to try it because as Siegel mentioned it will involve “difficult numbers, like multi-digit multiplication”. Rest of you.)

More levels, including some for high school, aren’t out of the question, though the team is currently focused on the two courses they already have.

My other concern is that the language app has been great (in my case) at helping me remember words, but I’m less good at retaining grammatical concepts in the long run – and the latter is less good at learning math. seems much more necessary. For example, in the Duolingo language app, I find myself repeating a specific sentence over and over, which helps me remember that sentence, but doesn’t necessarily help me use the words in that sentence in other sentences. be easy to do.

To address this, there is a level of randomness in the numbers that appear in every math exercise. There are some constraints, which vary by exercise, but the goal is that two people doing the same lesson side-by-side won’t always have the same problems. I haven’t seen any really funny numbers as a result of this yet, but I’m looking for one.

And to address the last thing I recently complained about with the language app: No part of Duolingo Math is behind the company’s $6.99/month paywall (at least for now). “We want to make sure we get a product-market fit before we start thinking about monetization,” Siegel says. Wow.

In case I haven’t completely clarified this fact yet: I’m not an expert in math, education, or any subject. But it was a fun app to use.

While the content is clearly aimed at people younger than me, I’ve challenged myself in parts (for which I’m not ashamed, as I have a calculator on my phone that can do this stuff for me. Kiddos, your There is much to look forward to. There’s some creativity and variety in practice that puts them a step above school on the fun scale. I can definitely see how it would speed up my mental math, and make me think more deeply about what I’m doing when I write a tip on a receipt.

The iOS and iPadOS Duolingo Math app is currently available in beta, which you can join now, with a full launch later this year.