No Burmese On Duolingo: #5 Reasons +2 Excellent Solutions

There are many comments on Reddit forums wondering why there’s no Burmese on Duolingo. In this blog, we will look at some reasons why this might be, what the alternatives are, and the benefits of learning Burmese.


Why Is There No Burmese On Duolingo?

  1. Myanmar(formerly called Burma) has had some political problems in recent years. It is in the news for the wrong reasons, and although that shouldn’t affect a decision to put a language into the incubator, it ultimately, probably, does.
  2. Duolingo is committed to languages going extinct as opposed to more minor languages that are still widely spoken.
  3. Related to point #1. Investment and tourism have dropped off in the country because of political problems.
  4. Duolingo chiefly focuses on language giants like English and Spanish. There is some interesting data about this. 53% of all Duolingo users study English solely. Current migration patterns are not from well-developed countries to less well-developed countries but the opposite. Even in countries like the U.S, most Duolingo users are learning English because those Duolingo users are not native speakers and have traveled from Central America.
  5. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has made a list to show how long it takes to learn a specific language for an English speaker. In that list, Burmese is in the Group of Category 4 languages, meaning it is estimated to take at least 1100 hours to reach general proficiency in speaking and reading.
575-600 hours to learn750 hours to learn900 hours
to learn
1100 hours to learn1100 hours to learn(Cont)1100 hours to learn (Cont)2200 hours to learn (Cont)
Danish MalaysianArmenianIcelandicSlovenianCantonese
Dutch SwahiliBengaliFinnishTagalogMandarin
French  BosnianKhmerThaiKorean
Italian  BulgarianLaoTurkishJapanese
Norweigan  BurmeseLatvianUkrainian 
Portuguese  CroatianLithuanianUrdu 
Romanian  CzechMacedonianUzbek 
Spanish  EstonianMongolianVietnamese 
Swedish  FinnishNepaliZulu 


Why Should You Learn Burmese?


Although Myanmar is having political problems at the moment, it has gone through similar problems in the past and rebounded. A particularly lucrative market is if you’re an English teacher who wants to work in the country. The cost of living is so cheap, and the salary is so high that you could save $500 a month. Of course, speaking Burmese only makes this whole process easier.


It goes without saying that the best way to learn the language is through culture.

Sidenote: A fascinating case of this Korean. Deference is built into the language, which is a problem if you work together on a complex task like flying an airplane. Korean Air had the worst safety record in the 1980s, and it wasn’t down to a problem with the planes. The flight attendants were intimidated by the pilots because they’d been taught to be deferent to people above them in the social hierarchy(as reflected in Korean honorifics). So when there was a problem with the plane, they were too cautious about raising it with the captain resulting in numerous crashes. Now Korean Air has an excellent record because the crew communicates with each other using English.

You also see the role hierarchy plays in Burmese culture, where there is a culture of ancestor worship.

Burmese Is Cool!

Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. When you see the Burmese script written down, it looks like something you would find on a secret alien colony on Mars.

In all seriousness, the Burmese language is beautiful. It is a Brahmic script derived from either Kadamba or Pallava. The writing has been in use for at least 1000 years, with the earliest example found in 1035.

The Burmese people have always held a special place in my heart because of the George Orwell novel ‘Burmese days.’ One day, it is a dream of mine to go to the country and follow the route that he took as Emma Larkin did in her book ‘finding Orwell in Burma’.

No Burmese On Duolingo


What Are The Alternatives To Duolingo?

My first go-to, when I’m learning a foreign language, is usually Youtube. It provides an excellent introduction to a language and gives you a sense of whether or not you want to continue learning. But, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find many high-quality Burmese resources there.

However, there is a very good cultural guide by a woman called Neya, an Australian ex-pat living in Myanmar. She has 20k+ subscribers and posts frequent videos on her life in the country.

Simply Learn

Simply Learn is an online guidebook by Simya Solutions, creators of Ling. It is beneficial when traveling in a foreign country and needing to use a simple sentence, for example, in a taxi, when ordering food at a restaurant, or asking for directions. They have over 50 languages, Burmese included.

Learn Burmese With Ling

Ling is unquestionably the best app out there for learning Burmese.

It has 100’s of hours of content at an affordable price. Firstly you can learn the Burmese script and then practice reading in your target language(with instructions in your native language).

The gamification elements of the app ensure you never get bored and keep coming back for more. In addition, you can compare yourself to others for extra motivation. 

Unfortunately, at the moment, we don’t have a Burmese blog on Ling, but we do have a Thai blog and a Lao blog that talk about many of the same cultural factors in the region.

Come on over to our website and speak Burmese today. You won’t regret it. 

To learn a new language is to possess a second soul!

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