Museum of wonky english from duolingo


No one can ask a visitor to urinate with precision and elegance as classily as Duolingo Japan. The language app bats its eye on Japan’s mistranslations when it comes to the English language, and instead of solely correcting their comprehension cohesion, Duolingo opens the doors of the Museum of Wonky English, a language station visitors can roam around to read and witness the growing list of Japan’s English-gone-awry via an exhibition.


The language app and company knows that learning a foreign language isn’t a piece of cake. It doesn’t want to stomp on the small victories learners experience when they go through the intricate challenges the English language gives them. Instead of shaming the language learners on the mistakes they usually make, Duolingo turns them into a work of advertising where the language app celebrates the learners’ slip-ups as valuable stepping stones to their recently learned vocabulary or expressions. The Museum of Wonky English is the first institution in Japan to shed light on the art of mistranslations in the English language.  

duolingo museum wonky english
images courtesy of Duolingo and UltraSuperNew



Giving mundane expressions surprising meanings


The Museum of Wonky English by Duolingo and was spearheaded by the independent creative agency UltraSuperNew. The museum is located in Harajuku, Tokyo, and is free for anyone wanting to be blown away by sixteen of the best wonky-English examples found all over Japan. The selected phrases and expressions showcase English mistranslations that have given mundane phrases surprising meanings.


The whole team hopes that when visitors look at the signs, menus, clothes, and other objects exhibited in the museum, they can make them chuckle, gasp, think, and reflect. They hope the visitors will notice there’s more depth to wonky English than they initially thought and become brave enough to step up and learn a foreign language in general.


Visitors are also invited to participate in a social activation to share their own humorous and interesting mistranslations they come across in daily life on Duolingo’s Twitter channel. ‘The best submissions will be exhibited in the museum next to the rest of the masterpieces, and those who sent them will be rewarded with a free month of Super Duolingo,’ the language app writes.

'urinate with elegance': duolingo exhibits wonky english mistranslations in tokyo



Making language learning engaging


James Kuczynski, Creative Director Brand & Marketing of Duolingo, comments that the team’s goal is to make learning a language fun and effective for everyone. ‘By highlighting these wonky mistakes, we turned them into fun language learning moments. By highlighting these mistranslations we want to help normalize that making mistakes is part of learning a language and remind everyone that not all of those learning a new language may have the same proficiency goal,’ he says.


Andrés Aguilar, Associate Creative Director of UltraSuperNew, adds that there shouldn’t be a negative insinuation to a learner’s mistake when they’re studying a language. ‘Why do mistakes have such a bad rep? They’re the unsung language-learning heroes, and we wanted this campaign to settle the scores. There’s a treasure trove of meanings you can only access when lost in translation, and that’s what we wanted people to experience in the Museum of Wonky English,’ he says. The Museum of Wonky English is open from 11am to 7pm, everyday from November 29th until December 7th.

'urinate with elegance': duolingo exhibits wonky english mistranslations in tokyo 'urinate with elegance': duolingo exhibits wonky english mistranslations in tokyo 'urinate with elegance': duolingo exhibits wonky english mistranslations in tokyo



project info:


exhibition name: Museum of Wonky English

company: Duolingo

creative agency: UltraSuperNew

exhibition location: UltraSuperNew Gallery in Harajuku, Tokyo in Japan

dates and times: 11am to 7pm (everyday), November 29th to December 07th, 2022