The Community That Teaches Languages and Powers Duolingo

As classrooms have gone virtual and people are spending more time online, Duolingo has seen an influx of students and educators on their platform. Luckily, Duolingo has a structured ambassador program to help those new users find their way and achieve their language learning and teaching goals.

Kevin Reaves, a community support specialist at Duolingo, talks extensively about who these ambassadors are, what motivates them, and how they exhibit ownership in areas from forum moderation to event management, course creation, and more. Their program has thousands of volunteer ambassadors and with that, quality assurance protocols to ensure that everyone is advancing Duolingo’s mission of bringing free language education to the world.

Patrick and Kevin discuss:

  • The structure of Duolingo’s ambassador program
  • How Duolingo empowers and rewards superusers
  • Ensuring quality in community-authored courses
  • Their “dream” community features and tools

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Big Quotes

Rewarding power users with insider features (7:48): “Some people have 900+ day streaks, 2,000 day streaks [on Duolingo]. Those people are amazing. They really put forth the effort to learn. We try to reward that as much as we can [with special extras].” –@Ksquall1

Language learning brings families closer (11:43): “We have warm stories [from the Duolingo community]. ‘I can now communicate with my grandma using her native language.’ … It really goes to show a lot of what language learning as a whole can do for people.” –@Ksquall1

Course health as an indicator for community health (25:47): “[We want] at least 90% of our courses [to be] active at any given time. If we notice that a course is inactive… we check in with the team and say, ‘Are there any blockers? … Is there something that we can do to help in the building of this course?’” –@Ksquall1

Taking care of yourself as a volunteer or community professional (44:15): “The impact of seeing [self-harm and] abuse, it can wear on the body a bit. It can wear on you emotionally, and that’s why it’s important to take that break, get yourself a drink of water, walk around a bit … lean on each other and give each other advice, because [that] goes a long way.” –@Ksquall1

About Kevin Reaves

Kevin Reaves has been working in community management for 7 years and, since late 2017, he’s been a contractor at Duolingo as a community support specialist. Previously, he spent time at Space Ape Games, Enthusiast Gaming, and The Huffington Post.

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