Language app Duolingo is unveiling a new cast of characters that it hopes will help users better learn new languages, even during the toughest lessons. The characters will act as guides within the app, cheering you on if you get an answer correct, or reacting in a disappointed (or sassy) way if you get one wrong. The nine characters of Duolingo Project World all have unique personalities, and serve as guides to make a new language feel more familiar.
“Obviously Duolingo is a very gamified language learning app,” says Duolingo art director Greg Hartman. “We took a lot of cues from other games, and I think you realize how motivating characters can be; when you remove the main character you have an emotional attachment to you’ll probably play that game less. We wanted to establish some emotional connection, and have characters that encourage users, by giving them positive reinforcement.”
Learning a language can be a challenging journey that takes a lot of mental energy, Hartman notes; you’re learning things like how to order food in Spanish, phrases that would be useful to communicate with other speakers,