Turns out you can speedrun Duolingo, and someone did an entire course in 24 hours

Long gone are the days of speedrunning being confined to mere video games. You can gamify anything into speedrun territory these days: Wikipedia, Google Maps and even gamified language learning apps like Duolingo, as proven by one person who managed to blast through the entire Spanish course in 24 hours. Well, sort of.

Reddit user quilqon, also known as JoZapinski on YouTube, posted his attempt to complete all 205 units of Duolingo’s Spanish course as fast as he could. In his Reddit post, he said “I already speak Spanish so I just went with that since my goal was to try and speedrun the whole thing,” mentioning that he thought it would only take him around 12-14 hours to complete, though that wasn’t the case.

“It ended up being extremely difficult and I greatly underestimated how long it would take. Each level itself wasn’t that hard even in the later levels but Duolingo is suuuuper picky about the way you translate things and its easy to get stuff wrong.” It’s interesting that even well-versed speakers can struggle to battle Duolingo’s owl and its picky grammar choices, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard such a complaint from native speakers of the app’s various courses. 

The entire run was uploaded to YouTube, with its middle section sped up to squeeze into the site’s 12-hour limit. There are a few stumbles along the way, like the aforementioned pickiness and misreading a few of the questions, but the run goes relatively smoothly for the most part. Unsurprisingly, having to manually select words on some of the questions were the cause of several slowdowns, whereas being able to manually type answers saw quilqon flying through units.

Unfortunately, things seemed to unravel right as quilqon reached the finish line. He was unable to complete the final unit without completing every other subsection first, and even then he was forced to buy hearts—Duolingo’s energy currency—in order to wrap things up. It seemed to be the speedrunner’s final straw, where  the video says “24hrs straight on this app 99.99% completing the course. I’m counting it as done.” So while he didn’t quite hit the 100% mark, it appears to be the biggest Duolingo speedrun attempt done so far.

I was surprised to discover a lot of people speedrun the first unit of Duolingo’s many courses, with some treating it like a roulette of sorts, being assigned a random language and trying to power through its beginner unit as fast as possible. Doing the entire thing, even as a fluent speaker, would be a mentally taxing task I wouldn’t want to undertake myself. Maybe someone else can give it a try though, and see if they can do better than quilqon’s 24-hour victory. 

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