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Hiding Mature Words

Hello teacher community! Many of you have asked, and now there is a way for you to disable certain “mature” words and stop them from appearing to your students in lessons. We are blocking as many potentially mature words as possible, even if some of these could be harmless. For example, we are hiding the word “victim,” because although the word could be okay on its own, some sentences generated around it may not be.

Mature words include: alcohol, attack, beer, blood, death, drug, violence, bomb, addiction, murder, war, wine, etc.

To access these settings, go to your main Dashboard page and click on “Settings” on the top menu of the page.

...and uncheck "Enable all words"

If you do see any behavior or words that warrants escalation to Staff (see Community Guidelines) please email us directly at abuse@duolingo.com, and we'll take the appropriate action based on your report. Please remember that your students may encounter unfiltered language in discussion and activity streams. You can disable all your students' forum and stream interactions in the same setting window you use to enable/disable “all words.” By default, all words are enabled for Duolingo students (including mature words), and all students have access to forums/sentence discussions. So remember to uncheck those boxes if you would like to restrict your students more.

We hope this setting is useful to help protect more sensitive audiences. If you see additional words that need to be hidden when this setting is on, please let us know as soon as possible.

August 26, 2015

This discussion is locked.


My Daughter who is in year seven (learning german) got told that they wouldn't learn the word dick (for fat/hefty) because the word is offensive. its a bit ridiculous, but I can see this feature would be good for younger students. (wine and beer for example)


I was confused for a moment until I realized you meant the German word dick.
In a German DOY shop, where an item is "30 cm dick".


children will look for knowledge in any place ,so we shouldnot hide anything


As a course contributor, this is the kind of thing that takes away a lot of my motivation.


Oh, I hope that changes! We love having you Arnauti, and please know that this is for a very, very small minority of, usually parents with tiny children or teachers with vocal parents and/or strict school districts that were asking us to offer this. It is completely optional, and teachers are not asking for this because words will "scar" children -- they have been asking for it so that their principals or the students' parents will allow them to use Duolingo in their classrooms.

And to those expressing concern in the thread, remember that just because we are not asking a 6-year-old to repeat the word "wine" or "murder" within Duolingo does not mean this child will not have the opportunity to ever learn that word in their lives. We do not have that kind of power and hope everyone here understands this feature was launched for inclusion and maybe even to inspire a love for language learning that will last throughout adulthood — and not to make anyone learn less. =)


"By default, all words are enabled for Duolingo students (including mature words), and all students have access to forums/sentence discussions. So remember to uncheck those boxes if you would like to restrict your students more."

I hope such filtering will continue to be absent from the forums and that any educators who are reading this will think carefully before disabling the forum for their students. Something which came up yesterday on the en/cs forum will, I hope, clarify what I mean by this. A user, whose age I have no way of knowing, asked why a translation was rejected. I'm quite sure the question was innocently meant, as the translation was one which would look entirely reasonable at first sight to a learner at that stage. Unfortunately English is a tricky language and words often have very different meaning as different parts of speech. The sentence she suggested has only one possible interpretation, of which only a much more advanced learner could be expected to be aware, and which is very much not the one she intended. In fact it would be an admission of an activity which is socially stigmatised everywhere and a felony in most English speaking jurisdictions. I explained why the translation was rejected and why she should be careful not to use this word in this way in conversation. I was only slightly more explicit there than I have been here, but my reply would probably have been hidden by a filter like that which is applied to the lessons, and would certainly not be visible to users whose access to the forum is blocked entirely. Whatever the arguments for or against teaching students "mature" vocabulary, it is sometimes necessary to allude to such themes in the forums to prevent students from unwittingly making statements which are likely to be interpreted as having very "mature" content.


"I was only slightly more explicit there than I have been here"

I hope you were at least a little more explicit, because I have no idea what you are talking about here :p I'm struggling to conceive of an activity that's socially stigmatized everywhere, and we don't have felonies as such here in England. I can only think that rape is stigmatized in most places, and an indictable offence in many places, but cannot think how that could come up easily by accident.

I can readily imagine plenty of sentences that may involve words such as "come" and "do" (with their connotations that sometimes exist in the paired language, and sometimes don't).

I certainly agree it's important to be able to discuss such sentences and know whether a word or phrase means the same in another language.

In the Irish course for instance, there's "I come, you come, we all come" in one of the early lessons, and it's been necessary for many of us to check out the discussion there to learn that this not quite as exciting in Irish as it sounds in English. I mean, we can readily guess that it wasn't the intention as Duo doesn't teach explicitly sexual content, but we could flip a coin over guessing whether it also had the extra connotations it has in English.

I recall quite a debate over in the Italian discussion regards whether "I came into the restaurant yesterday" is necessary or whether "I came in the restaurant yesterday" should be acceptable (my view, it should be - because it's a perfectly valid construction - albeit if you say it to someone with a schoolboy sense of humour, be warned that they may smirk, that kind of thing).

Similarly I've had numerous students of English need to learn that "to feel" isn't reflexive in this language, and so "I feel myself happy again after work" isn't saying quite what they thought it was, for example - and it's important to be able to explain why.


I was a bit surprised you no longer have felonies. It seems you had them up to 1967, and here in Ireland we had them up until 1997. I hadn't actually realised the felony/misdemeanor distinction had been abolished. In England the activity in question is an offence under Section 53 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The problem with the student's sentence was that while "madam" as a form of address is harmless, if somewhat archaic, as a common noun, at least in American English, which is the variety we say we're teaching, it refers only to a woman who runs a brothel. So it would be a bad idea to introduce yourself as one unless that's really your intent. It's not a word we teach in the course, but the user suggested it as an answer in a reverse translation exercise. I could of course just have said it wasn't a valid translation, without going into detail, but I doubt she would remember. Knowing why it's not valid makes it much more likely that she will.


I can't find this setting on mobile, so this suggestion may be unhelpful, yet alternatively, it would be in the best interest of teachers to be able to choose and enable words to block manually, instead of a select group of words that the screenshot suggests.
Let's say that for one teacher, "beer" is an offensive word but "victim" is not, the teacher can block "beer" instead of censoring words that the teacher (and possibly school) deem appropriate for class. That way, if there is "too much censoring" as the comments seem to indicate, it will be the teacher who is responsible for doing so, rather than those who work -- or maybe volunteer -- for Duolingo.
To me, that seems like a fair compromise because I have seen another program that does nearly the same thing, but it is for hiding spam comments -- which you actually can use it to block "mature" words as well but that's not the intended purpose.


Thank you! That's great news! And just in time for my new school year, too! I know this wasn't an issue for the majority of Duolingo users, so I really appreciate that you've put in the time and effort to develop this feature for those of us who really need it as an option. I'm excited now to start setting up my class! Woohoo!


I could understand not translating swear words, but words like "attack" and "war"? They have lessons on the American Revolutionary War in second grade. Should restaurants be banned from making coq au vin? For that matter, many restaurants have alcoholic beverages on full display. </rant> But I guess that it does have some purposes in limited contexts.


As any sociologist knows, showing any child the word 'attack' will cause him immediately to go out and mug an old lady; as such, it's outrageous that the verb 'to be' isn't rightfully censored; do they not realise that teaching pupils a copula must surely encourage them to copulate? This is an unmitigated case of wanton pollution of our children's minds; particularly considering that the average school-aged duolingo user is clearly an orphan raised by bears and living in a cave in the Ruwenzori mountains.


Oh my god, your comment made me laugh so hard :-)


I had a teacher who wanted to not teach her child the word "no". She failed miserably. That encouraged me to take up Sociology in school. Ended up with a BS in Social Science with concentrates in Sociology and Criminal Justice where we studied cases about children allegedly parroting violence and how it "damaged" them. I kept mentioning in class how the 60's saw the most violence where 1 in 5 men were violent from playing Cowboys and Indians, then I'd wink. My psychology professor hated me, but my Sociology professor understood perfectly. lol


We are really hoping that the teacher, parents, books, travel, and the internet will end up teaching those words to the kids outside of this platform. And when these children graduate from their teacher's Duolingo for Schools classroom, they will once again have full access to all words and social features on their Duolingo account, and that will be an extra exciting reason to practice again. :]


I appreciate the option to hide the words from my 3rd - 5th grade students, but more because of the sentences in which those "mature" words were placed than because the words themselves are offensive. (Swear words being one exception.) "Completely nude waitresses" exist only in very private dining areas, and except to offer unnecessary titillation, is not an appropriate sentence. If the writers of the sentences would auto-censor from immature sentences, then this forum would be needless as well as the "hide" button for mature words.


I think that it depends on the age of the student. Some children... say lower than 4th grade i would not advise. Older children ( high schoolers more or less!) can probably handle these " mature "words. also just because their is a word in everyday life doesn't mean its OK. these words are in alto of movies and TV shows. TV most of the time will give a bad impression on children.


Bambi and disney movies are not that bad... also kids will not think into the movies slight violence only beacause it is usally displayed as bad!


also DosPerros04 i am not a teacher ( in the sense of the world) i am still in school.


i would NOT recommend sponge bob though... that is a bit " mature"


i agree with dosperros04 because children should not be hidden from the real world .


We are counting on the real world to make sure that doesn't happen. And don't worry, most teachers do not even use this for older kids. =]


I am against the idea of hiding these words, because if a student is going to be speaking that language on a daily basis later, they will not know those words, and many of them are harmless. Also, restricting activity stream and forum is taking the fun out of Duolingo


We are hoping that if they are going to be speaking that language on a daily basis later, they will know those words.


You guys... ya'lls need to mature.


Cool feature!


Thank heavens, and I guess Duo, that this is not the default.


Yeah... let's pretend those thing doesn't exists and everything will be fine, right?


All you have to do is go through all of Cartman's social media, delete the negative comments, and then print the good ones and give them to him.


I'm not a teacher, only a parent. My kids learn all of these words and quite a bit more. I think kids should NOT be "protected" against these words, but if teachers and children don't use Duolingo because Duolingo has these words in them, I prefer that they are now able to hide them.


Hey would anyone agree with me that kids need to be able to say adult language or when they have a job and they say adult words they would get fired or gain a lawsuit for saying F#$% in front of a kid and then they would sit down and say "What did i say i mean i never said that word and i thought is was nice so then what went wrong?" don't you agree with me?


Thank you for this!!


There is a Bonus (+) Skill called Flirting. Should this also be blocked when a teacher chooses to hide mature words?


At the moment, we cannot hide bonus skills or age restrict them.


I agree with you, DosPerros04. However, some things will mentally scar children if revealed too early. You have to be careful about that.


I'm in 8th grade and this can be useful for really young kids (like pre-preteen, if that makes sense) but it is a little ridiculous because I love learning about things in the news and all of these words are in there. Even if you censor those words the probability of them appearing elsewhere is very high with today's society/world


On a different note, How can I delete the unwanted languages in my profile?


Can you please help me. I cannot find where to uncheck all words.


Hi! Have you tried going into your dashboard on Duolingo for Schools? There should be a little settings link on the top of that page, just like the one I posted in the picture. Let me know if you still can't find it. :]


Thanks for the quick reply. Okay, so I have this taken care of. Another question...I didn't realize that I could put students into a classroom. Am I able to move kids to my classroom now even if they have already created accounts?


No, you can only move students around if they have accepted your invitation. :] There is some info and step-by step instructions here and also here. Happy teaching!


thankyou. the cabbages are accepted


Thank you! As a teacher of elementary and jr high students I really appreciate this option!


You actively want to keep your students from learning words like "beer"?

(My son knew that in multiple languages when he was two years old. He's now four, and fully bilingual, and still not an alcoholic)

And words like murder, blood, death... You don't think your students are big enough for fairy tales yet?

(My 4-yo son has enjoyed Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, etc, and has not even once tried to commit genocide yet... Come to think of it, he's even survived The Lion King et al... I'm not sure whether he's seen Bambi or not, but you might want to keep your students from it)


i do agree with beer being fine... i don't think kids should become alcoholics in a day because they were learning Spanish and the word beer popped up


I think anyone who becomes an alcoholic because of learning the word in foreign languages has deeper mental health issues for which they would need long term professional help...


@DavidStyles You seem to have a very fiesty reply to my comment thanking the Duolingo team for giving me more options as an educator of young children. You also make a number of unfavorable assumptions about me. I know they will learn those words eventually, and have no issue with it. But I appreciate the option to filter the content. I have had complaints from parents about the frequency of phrases that focus on drinking alcohol. Phrases about drinking beer and wine are really not "critical phrases" that a 5th grader needs to learn right away in Spanish. I'm fine with them learning other phrases first.

Calmate amigo :)


Myself I'd just opt to explain the situation to the parents. "It's just a noun, a common word, and it occurs in example sentences. Same goes for "car", and your kid probably doesn't drive either. But it's about learning how the language fits together and doing that with simple vocabulary that produces easy-to-conceptualize sentences"

Or if taking a more interactive approach, I might address what exactly it is that the parent's complaining about and why (do they think their kid will be more likely to take up drinking because they know how to say "beer" in Spanish, for instance?), and then assuage their concerns as appropriate.

In any case... Please be assured any "feistiness" isn't personal so much as me being very staunchly against such Orwellian censorship in language-learning in general and when it comes to children in particular.

And when I say "Orwellian", I don't mean that the way the word is often thrown around hyperbolically, but rather quite literally that actively excising words like those listed, this is actually what Big Brother was doing with Newspeak.

(I'll assume you did mean feisty, not fiesty, although it's entirely possible you meant that I'm a one-man party, of course, and so could be described as "fiesty". Wouldn't normally bother to mention typos, but when there's a funny interpretation, well, I have a silly sense of humour)


To the haters: maybe some people aren't comfortable with typing "I drink the alcohol" while their parent watches over their shoulder....

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