https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warriorcat99

Suggestion for a bigger, better Duolingo: Multi-language Integration

Okay, tell me I'm not crazy for thinking this.

Having learned Spanish to the point where I can converse more or less freely with my Spanish-speaking friends, I decided to start learning as many languages as my single little brain can handle. I proceeded to complete the Italian tree.

My difficulty came when I realized that when working between Spanish and Italian, my mind was still using English as an intermediate step. My solution was to take the Italian for Spanish speakers course, which would help encourage my brain to think fluently in each of the three languages without depending on the others. But I quickly discovered that on the same account, Duolingo only allows you to take courses with a single language as your "First Language".

My solution was to create another account with Spanish as the first language. However, it would be much easier if Duolingo supported the ability to sign up for any course, even if the first language of the course is in fact your second language--and I don't predict much difficulty in upgrading it to be able to do this.

The more I thought about this, however, the more I realized how cool it would be if my Italian learning was within a single course, but had questions involving translation from both English and Spanish.

This would, of course, be rather tough to do (I'm a programmer, I know). But someday I would really like to see a Duolingo which integrates all of the languages you know into the learning of new ones.

Is this just a pipe dream? Or am I seeing a way to make Duolingo even more amazingly awesome?

August 20, 2015

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/qwertylaal

Just saying, you can learn Spanish for Italian speakers or any other combination that is finished by going to the course selection page by clicking on this link: https://www.duolingo.com/courses Then, you click on the place where it says wing lush and change your settings to whatever language you want.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warriorcat99

Doesn't work. When you select the course, it changes the entire website to that new first language and hides your progress in other courses-in essence, forgets that I speak English.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

It doesn't forget - it just doesn't show all the courses simultaneously. It just means there are some extra (3?) mouse clicks to change between courses.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eagersnap

Actually each course page has its own direct link, so you can make the switch in just two mouse clicks if you save each link in your favourites bar.

For instance this is the link for English for Spanish speakers: https://www.duolingo.com/course/en/es/aprende-ingles-en-linea

Just follow that link, then click "ir a este curso". Takes less than 10 seconds.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

You may find the site has a nervous breakdown and starts asking you to translate English to English or learn French from French, though.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warriorcat99

Thanks for clarifying--fair enough. Nevertheless, doing that is still clunky, ideally Italian for Spanish speakers and Italian for English speakers should be on my little list, equally accessible at any given time. (Or one course!)

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

I think we all agree but apparently it's difficult to fix and the situation has always been the same. I think this is the fourth thread I've seen this week asking for it.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

It does work, but it's a bit of a pain to change. I might set up a different account on a different computer as you suggested.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

Surely it is even more clunky to swap accounts to change from your 'learning from' language. You have to log off and then log back on, entering your new username/password. More key clicks than just changing you base language.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

Not if you have two computers. I can keep both logged on at all times.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eagersnap

You can change base and target language in just two mouse clicks. Very easy once you get used to it.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErikBoyle

@Elizabeth261736 Save both languages as bookmarks. Then it's:

  1. Click on the bookmark

  2. Click Switch to Course

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErikBoyle

Then you have to change computers to use one or the other. That's even more difficult.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

How are you able to change base and target language in only two mouse clicks? For me, it's:

  1. Select flag

  2. Scroll down to Add new course

  3. Select I speak.

  4. Scroll to Español/Français or whatever

  5. Click target language.

  6. Click switch to course.

  7. Accuiel/Welcome or whatever

Although it takes less than a minute, it's the scrolling that I dislike. Then, you have to repeat to get back to all the courses from English.

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sv3nman

It might also be cool (and probably easier to implement) if it integrated the "laddering" approach--whenever you finish a tree, that language gets registered as one of your base languages, same as the one you started with, and allows you to sign up for courses from that language. So in this case rather than trying to merge the courses, it would just let you sign up for Italian from Spanish without any hassle. It seems that's what most people seem to be trying to do right now, but it could definitely be easier.

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanGrant33

Sv3nman for President anyone?

Seriously though, that's such a great idea that I'm not even mad you thought of it before me.

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wyqtor
  • 1712

Here is my own related request for multi-language integration: if you strengthen a Italian word in the course for English speakers, the word should also be strengthened in the Italian for Spanish speakers course (if you happen to also take that course)

It is a nuisance for me because, at the moment, my strength bar in the German for Spanish speakers is very low, even though it is almost maxed out in the German for English speakers course.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanGrant33

Now that is the best idea I've heard all day

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/supainanoko

There is a userscript that allows you to easily switch base languages, at least: https://github.com/arekolek/DuolingoCourseSwitcher

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErikBoyle

I don't think you're crazy. I agree, it would be a lot of work and personalization to get to that point on Duolingo's part, and it is probably a ways off.

Anyway, until that day comes, here is what I suggest for trying to understand your languages better. My third language isn't advanced enough that it affects me too much, but I've tried to do this even when learning Spanish, which was my second. Whenever I encounter something to translate, I always try to generate a mental picture of it without words first. Even if this means looking up pictures of things online, I want to associate the words with abstract ideas or concrete objects rather than associating them with English words. I also try to do this with sentences, so I just get used to accepting the syntax of the language I'm learning and not think about how I have to modify English syntax to be grammatically correct. To translate things, then, I have this middle step of ideas rather than English to work with, so it's unbiased. That, for me at least, creates a stronger bond between the words and their meanings than between the words and other words.

August 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warriorcat99

Thank you all! This is not a support request, it's a suggestion of a direction to move toward--clearly both solutions would require an insane amount of effort, since letting one user have multiple "first languages" would require a radical redesigning of several elements of the app, and essentially merging two courses into one would probably require collaboration between the incubators. Glad to know my thinking isn't too out-there, though.

August 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrankKool

Excellent idea. I'd really like it if DuoLingo made all skill trees reversible, or at least that you'd unlock the reverse skill tree once you have finished the first one.

August 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warriorcat99esp

To add another clarification (I'm doing this from the account I created to do Italian for Spanish speakers), no matter how the app is modified, I'm sure it will be difficult for the Duolingo team to do it. Even allowing all those other courses to be selected, for example, would require adding the capability to change the language site information is displayed in, redesigning the way our levels show up when we chat, etc.

August 22, 2015
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