Perhaps I’m a bit biased to write a post about Duolingo and Uber as I like and use both apps.
For those that are not familiar, Duoling is a free language app, where you can learn the language of your choice on your phone or laptop. I can’t even begin to tell you the advantages of learning a new language after the invention of smartphones and even the internet: when I first started to learn English back in the 90’s in Brazil, all we had were cassette tapes and paper books. I’ve been using Duolingo for about one year to learn Swedish, although I’m nowhere near to be fluent, I can still get by and understand signs and a basic conversation.
That’s why I think Uber will strike gold pairing with Duolingo – the partnership is called UberENGLISH and will offer drivers free English certification through Duolingo Certificate Exams. To cover the cost, Uber customers will pay an additional USD 0.48.
Let’s take a look at Brazil for instance: Uber launched in May 2014 – and not surprisingly, it reached 1 million registered users last week. Uber also plans to increase its number of drivers from 10,ooo to 50,000 and already operates in 5 major cities. UberENGLISH was launched in Rio, almost an obvious choice as the city is the touristic capital and host of the next Olympic games. The service already started before the Carnival (that happened last week) to cater for the high influx of non-Portuguese speaking foreigners that come to enjoy the festivities – and surprisingly enough, 1,400 English-speaking drivers have already signed up.
Imagine yourself in a country like Brazil without speaking a word of Portuguese and trying to get a taxi: you can just get one with a push of a button and not only that, but your driver will be able understand you and even have a conversation with you in English. I’m not saying that all the drivers would become fluent English speakers, however it would put people more at ease. And if I couldn’t speak Portuguese, I would definitely choose Uber over any other taxi service.
While the Duolingo-certified drivers will be limited to Colombia and Brazil for now, more Latin American countries will get the UberENGLISH treatment shortly — probably Mexico and Costa Rica to begin with.