As with all else that manages to hold the attention of post-millennial America—Foursquare, Instagram, The Bachelor—the key to Duolingo’s success lies in gamification. Whether it’s vying to become the virtual mayor of a taco joint, racking up likes for our vacation photos, or battling viciously to wed a homophobe we’ve just met, we clearly enjoy turning the stuff of life into bite-sized, recreational competitions. Duolingo recognizes that humans are wired this way. It also recognizes that the key to learning a new tongue is repetition. So the app transforms language study into an amusing diversion, replete with points, leaderboards, and video game “lives.” At the end of each successfully completed round, we’re rewarded with a trumpet fanfare and a delicious sense of accomplishment.