The best way to practice your language skills is through conversation; easy if you live in the country concerned, or are surrounded by those who speak the language, not so easy otherwise. This is the problem Duolingo has set out to solve with the latest update to its language-learning app.

Duolingo’s iOS app now allows you to have text chats with AI bots. The bots will converse with you in the form of three different ‘personalities,’ and will help you out with suggestions if you’re struggling to reply …

For now, the bot chat feature is limited to French, German and Spanish, but it has told TechCrunch that other languages are on the way. Duolingo CEO and co-founder Luis von Ahn believes that the chat-bots offer the closest thing yet to a real-life conversation.

One of the main reasons people learn languages is to have conversations. Students master vocabulary and comprehension skills with  Duolingo, but coming up with things to say in real­-life situations remains daunting. Bots offer a  sophisticated and effective answer to that need.

The company also says that it hopes in time to allow spoken conversations with bots.

The intelligence behind the conversations sits on Duolingo’s servers, rather than within the app, so you do need a net connection to use the feature.

Duolingo is a free download from iTunes with in-app purchases.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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