Flying High. Duolingo bets big on India with increasing user base bl-premium-article-image

Abhishek Law Updated - March 12, 2023 at 11:00 AM.
Jennifer Dewar, Senior Director of Strategic Engagement, DET

India has emerged as one of the largest markets for Duolingo’s English (aptitude) test — DET — for international college admissions, with nearly one-third of the total test takers globally coming from the sub-continent. And the number continues to grow, says Jennifer Dewar, the Senior Director of Strategic Engagement for DET.

India, incidentally, is the second largest source of students for higher education institutes in English speaking countries. And for Duolingo, India has overtaken China recently in test numbers. People took the DET from over 1,200 cities and towns in 2022, and the numbers grew nearly 80 per cent from the year ago period. Currently, for Duolingo, the top 10 largest cities in the country accounts for 76 per cent of overall test volume.

“We have particularly seen a strong adoption in Hyderabad (and surrounding areas), where the demand for studying in the US is most pronounced. We also saw around 50-100 per cent year-over-year growth in key metros — Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai — where student’s preferred destinations are more diversified,” Dewar told bloncampus.

The company is now ramping up its presence in India as it is looking to add more tie-ups across international universities. They are also seeking to expand the scope of foreign language learning to include Korean, French, Spanish and so on. Its recent report shows that English, Hindi and French topped the list of the most popular languages studied by Indians in 2022.

Push in Tier-2 markets

Duolingo is now planning a substantial push into the Tier-2 and smaller cities of India.

In 2022, the company saw an over 100 per cent y-o-y growth in cities such as Kochi, Nellore, Bharuch, Malappuram and Eluru, among others.

Using digital medium to promote their flagship ‘DET exams at home’ — which comes at a substantially lower cost (of about $50 per test) compared to other competitive international examination agencies — have helped the company. Pandemic-led disruptions came as an added advantage which gave a further push towards Duolingo’s testing through use of digital medium strategy.

The World Bank estimates that 35 per cent of India’s population is urban (around 480 million people). Not only does this mean that there is an estimated only one testing centre for every 6.6 million people in a city, but also that around 900 million people would have to travel to urban areas to visit a test centre, the company’s report says.

In 2022, Duolingo conducted a research into the availability of Secure English Language Test (SELT) centres globally, and found out that there are 73 SELT centres in India, all of which are concentrated in cities.

“For many, this would require travelling significant distances. Most students are unwilling to or unable to afford the same. Moreover, the vast majority of the students specified that they would prefer online testing,” Dewar said.

Study Abroad Trends

According to Dewar, surge in the middle-income class’ income has fuelled the popularity of studying abroad. The Indian overseas education market is projected to hit $100 billion by 2025, as more than 2 million Indian students intend to pursue higher education overseas.

“Our studies show that candidates favour locations that offer superior education, high-quality standard of living along with access to international job prospects and improved remuneration,” Dewar said adding that English speaking countries are the first preference for students from the Indian sub-continent.

Factors like visa requirements and immigration procedures have also played a role in the students choosing a country to go abroad and study. Availability of finance is another factor.

Duolingo has a tie up with Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, Emory University and the Northeastern University in the US; University of Dundee in Scotland, Columbia and Chicago University, among others. It has nearly 4,200 programmes on-board.

Published on March 12, 2023 05:30

This is a Premium article available exclusively to our subscribers.

Subscribe now to and get well-researched and unbiased insights on the Stock market, Economy, Commodities and more...

You have reached your free article limit.

Subscribe now to and get well-researched and unbiased insights on the Stock market, Economy, Commodities and more...

You have reached your free article limit.
Subscribe now to and get well-researched and unbiased insights on the Stock market, Economy, Commodities and more...

TheHindu Businessline operates by its editorial values to provide you quality journalism.

This is your last free article.