The Duolingo language learning app has announced its decision to suspend the Welsh course and cease further updates, effective at the end of this month.
This move is being made despite the company’s 2020 statement that Welsh was the fastest-growing language in the UK.
The company has justified this decision by reallocating its resources to courses with greater user demand.
A petition, initiated by concerned users who fear the Welsh course will stagnate, is now urging First Minister Mark Drakeford to encourage Duolingo to reconsider this action.
“We hope that our petition would move you to persuade Duolingo to continue to have a vibrant Welsh curriculum that would allow us to achieve a functional fluency,” wrote the creator of the petition.
Duolingo has indicated its intention to halt updates, coinciding with the National Centre for Learning Welsh ceasing material creation in November.
The platform has stated its strategy to prioritise languages with greater demand, such as Spanish, French, and German.
A spokesperson for Duolingo said: “Welsh, already one of our most comprehensive courses, will remain free for all, and continue to be the go-to for people wanting to begin learning Welsh and those seeking to improve their skills.”
In 2020, Welsh ranked as the ninth most popular language among Duolingo’s user base in the UK.
According to a 2021 report from the company, the app had attracted 1.62 million people learning Welsh, with over 400,000 actively engaged in the process.
The National Centre for Learning Welsh, in its collaborative efforts with Duolingo, has expressed its commitment to continue directing learners to Duolingo as a “valuable” resource for practice.
A spokesperson said: “Should Duolingo change its policy the centre would be happy to help with the work of developing the Welsh course,”.
Jeremy Miles, Education and Welsh Language minister, said: “In light of this news, I will be writing to Duolingo to ask them to consider how, together with the National Centre for Learning Welsh, we might support the continued development of the Welsh course.”