China's crackdown on online education extend to oversea-based language learning apps

August 6, 2021 5:06 pm

Overseas-based language-learning app Duolingo, Memrise and Beelinguapp have been removed from China’s Anroid app stores as China’s crackdown on off-campus tutoring and education extended to broader areas.


Duolingo, a language-learning app based in the U.S, was unable to download on Friday from Android app stores operated by Huawei and Tencent, despite it is still downloadable on the iOS app store in China.

“We are working to solve the issue and we hope that the app will be resumed in the near term. Meanwhile, existing users in China can continue to use the app,” Duolingo said in a statement.

Duolingo, which raised USD521 million from its listing on the Nasdaq in July, entered China in 2019 and it offers learning courses in 40 languages.  

As of the end of 2021, the app accumulated 15 million users and has about 40 million monthly active users, according to Chinese media outlet Jieman which cited unofficial data. Duolingo was one of major beneficiaries of Covid-19 lockdowns last year when it booked 300 percent year-over-year in March and April last year, according to the company’s annual report.

Apart from Duolingo, several other foreign language learning app including Memrise, Beelinguapp, Lernu are also unavailable to download from some of China’s Android stores.

The removal of foreign language learning apps was first spotted by some social media users of Chinese microblogging site Weibo, some of them left comment and posted screenshots about absence of the apps.


The takedown of foreign language learning apps is extension of China’s wide crackdown on education sector practically online education and off-campus tutoring.

According to a government document, online education and off-campus tutoring firm were banned to offer learning courses to students in China’s legal holidays and winter and summer holidays, meaning some of these institutions will be forced to redefine as non-profitable entity.

Educational training institution are banned from raising money through stock listings. Listed companies may no longer be allowed to invest in or acquire education companies that teach school subjects, and foreign investment will also be prohibited from entering the industry, the document wrote.