Duolingo unveiled its first bilingual true crime podcast for those learning Spanish. The podcast, El Gran Robo Argentino (The Great Argentine Heist), tells the true story of a 2006 bank heist in Buenos Aires.
The podcast could appeal to the 140 million users around the world learning Spanish on Duolingo. The serial crime podcast will include six episodes in Spanish with english narration provided. Each episode includes interviews with journalists, investigators, and actual robbers that were a part of the heist who all speak slowly to help listeners understand each sentence. The podcast is ideal for intermediate-level Spanish speakers and includes vocabulary from Duolingo lessons to help listeners further practice their proficiency. By making the podcast bilingual, users at lower levels of Duolingo’s Spanish lessons—or those who have no understanding of Spanish—can follow along without getting lost. The podcast is not available on the Duolingo app, but can be found on other services like Spotify and Apple Podcasts under “Duolingo Spanish Podcast”. Since El Gran Robo Argentino’s release in late October, it has been downloaded 39 million times.
Weaving podcasts into its lesson plans could help Duolingo keep up with consumer entertainment trends and engage audiences outside of its traditional app format. As 45% of Duolingo users and 75% of true crime podcast listeners are women, El Gran Robo Argentino could resonate with a large, female audience and maximize app discoverability for the language service, according to a Gartner report on the topic. By making its podcast available internationally, Duolingo could further gain new members, including those who may want to learn a language other than Spanish. To increase connections with new or current language-learners, Duolingo also created a French podcast for English speakers and an English podcast for Spanish speakers. Unlike El Gran Robo Argentino, the other podcasts are not series, but rather cover a different cultural topic in each episode. By testing out two different podcast strategies, Duolingo could discover which method resonates more with consumers, and use that knowledge to improve future podcasts. Either way, the podcasts present a unique audio alternative to traditional language lessons, which could captivate listeners and help Duolingo grow its presence in the podcast industry.
As podcasts continue to rise in popularity, Duolingo’s true crime series could echo with users around the world and in turn boost its image as an intermediate between learning and entertainment.