Culture

Duolingo is packing Spanish lessons into a true crime podcast

Learn Spanish and solve crime.

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Does "El Gran Robo Argentino" sound familiar to you? If not, you can learn about it and a good deal of Spanish through Duolingo's bilingual true crime podcast.

El Gran Robo Argentino translates to The Great Argentine Heist, an insanely suspenseful 2006 bank robbery that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The sum stolen was jaw-dropping: $20 million. The cultural effect of the bank robbery was even more stunning as locals heralded the robbers as folk heroes. It's the kind of drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

After announcing to teach kids how to read, Duolingo wants to teach you Spanish while you try to understand how five men stole $20 million from a bank that was supposed to be thief-proof, as The Verge first reported. (If you're curious about the actual incident and may not have time to learn a new language, don't worry. GQ covered the whole ordeal.)

Background — Although Duolingo has been running its Spanish podcast since 2017, El Gran Robo Argentino marks a decidedly deeper business decision from the language learning app. True crime, as we've reported before, tends to do really well with online audiences. There are different theories that could explain true crime's genre-specific popularity; people love a good thrill, listeners like to busy themselves while tuning into a mystery, the classic stories of crime are combined with newer and lesser-heard-of incidents that niche crowds can obsess over, and more.

On top of that, language-wise, Duolingo has frequently noted that Spanish is its most learned language. In a previous blog post, the company reported: "Unsurprisingly, Spanish came out on top as the most popular language being learned in all 50 states by a wide margin, with an average of nearly 45.4% of users learning the language." Packing true crime and Spanish in one offer is a smart commercial move.

Who is the hostess? — Martina Castro will be running the Duolingo Spanish podcast and detailing the exciting robbery from more than a decade ago. You will get both an English and Spanish edition in the podcast. So even if you don't want to learn a new language and aren't too interested in boosting productivity (we understand) during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still listen to Castro talk about the 2006 heist and enjoy the juicy details. How do you say "We're totally into it" in Spanish?