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Duolingo plots expansion in Vietnam

is Duolingo’s third-largest market in Asia after Japan and China.

Duolingo app. Source: Shutterstock. Duolingo app. Source: Shutterstock.

US-based language learning app Duolingo, which is valued at USD 1.5 billion, is exploring ways to step up its presence in Vietnam.

Product manager Zan Gilani, who is responsible for advancing Duolingo’s business in Vietnam and Japan, told KrASIA in an interview that the app has already attracted 2.2 million users in Vietnam in the past 12 months and has about 500,000 active monthly users.

Gilani claims that Duolingo has not spent any money on advertising in Vietnam since the app went live in the country in 2014, but the company is looking to do so in the coming months to capture more users.

“The appetite for education is very high in Vietnam, especially when it comes to learning English. Although online learning is not very popular in Vietnam yet, it is becoming more and more so,” he said.

According to Gilani, 65% of Duolingo users in Vietnam are under the age of 30, and the percentage of learners who say they’re acquiring English-language skills for employment opportunities is twice the global average.

Besides competition from offline English language training centers, there are also a variety of education tech startups offering English classes in Vietnam. Notable names include ELSA, which helps shape English pronunciation, and Topica Edtech Group.

Gilani said the plan is to generate awareness of Duolingo being a free app, and offer it as a tool for anyone who is looking to learn English in a convenient and casual way, from beginners to people who want to maintain their existing language skills, as well as advanced learners who want to supplement their study programs. Duolingo might also expand to offer new language courses for Vietnamese learners, covering Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.

Duolingo offers a paid service in Duolingo Plus, which demands a USD13 monthly subscription fee to remove ads and access learning materials offline. It carries other benefits too.

With more than 300 million users, Duolingo is the world’s most popular language learning app. It was founded in 2011 by by crowdsourcing pioneers Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker. The startup has raised USD 138 million up to date, according to data on Crunchbase.