Dutch from The Netherlands is not Flemish from Belgium
I'm from the Flemish part of Belgium and my girlfriend is from Porto, Portugal. We both wanted to get to know each other's language and found duoLingo to be a fantastic solution and app for when we're not together.
But after a while, it's clear to us that I'm learning Brazilian Portuguese and she is learning Dutch from The Netherlands, not Flemish from Belgium. This issue is not totally making the experience worthless, but it's discouraging to realise we're not really speaking each other's language after so much practice.
No matter what people say, Flemish from Belgium is not Dutch from The Netherlands and Portuguese from Brazil is not Portuguese from Portugal. We can all understand each other, yes, but pronunciation, accent, conjugation of verbs, building of sentences, polite ways of expressing yourself, typical expressions and sayings - in short: the language - are very different in those so called "same language" countries.
We hope duoLingo will soon make courses available for Flemish and Portuguese from Portugal, so my girlfriend and I (and many others with us, I'm sure) can further enjoy this otherwise absolutely fantastic app.
I hope our message is heard.
Sincerely, Alexander Belgium
Thing is, the Dutch course is advertised as Dutch, 'the national language of the Netherlands', and on the Portuguese course it actually specifically says: 'On Duolingo, we'll teach you Brazilian Portuguese, but you'll also be understood in Portugal'. Surely it would be surprising if a course advertised as Dutch taught Flemish instead, or if a course purporting to teach Brazilian Portuguese taught European Portuguese variants instead?
Duolingo is a free resource, and isn't, so far as I can tell, meant to be exhaustive. Treat it as what it is, a broad introduction to most aspects of a given language to give the learner a good foundation.
Realistically, more people speak Brazilian Portuguese than European Portuguese, ditto Dutch versus Flemish, just as Duolingo teaches American English rather than British (or Australian or Canadian or...) English.
I don't see Duolingo starting British English, Flemish or European Portuguese any time soon when (1) mutually intelligible versions of those languages are taught and (2) there are sooooo many languages still waiting to be added to the Incubator which aren't represented at all yet, many of which have few or no freely available resources for would-be learners.
Yes, it would be lovely if Duolingo had courses to and from every language and every dialect of every language, and maybe they will one day, but I don't think it's likely to be (nor, frankly, do I think it should be) their priority right now. (To be honest, I think those of us who are native English speakers or fluent enough to learn from English are generally totally spoiled on here. I think it's 13 languages and counting? All for free? That's pretty fantastic. I wish I'd had this resource when I was studying French or German in school, or Russian at uni. Maybe it's just me, but it's hard for me to take that for granted...)
I actually think it's fantastic that they're adding courses like Swedish and German for Arabic speakers in response to the current refugee crisis - responding to an actual need. Most of us who use Duolingo, let's be real, are doing so largely because it's fun and we like languages. Expecting it to exactly cater to what we want is probably a lost cause ;) and potentially actively detrimental.
I'd rather Duolingo prioritised to needs than wants. I'd love to have courses to/from them all in the languages in which I'm most fluent, but it's not my site, and I'll be very patient for a free, freely available, well thought out resource, and my desire to learn language X Y or Z just because I want to (and especially if there are other resources available - let's be real, an actual person who speaks the language natively is always the best resource and you already have that!) really shouldn't eclipse people who actually need to learn languages and don't have access to resources. Which is not to say Duolingo won't occasionally be whimsical or downright frivolous (see: Klingon), but it makes sense they prioritise needed languages, and languages that will more generally help the site in terms of publicity, rather than to catering to every dialect.
Having a course to/from a given language/dialect/version of a language is not an entitlement.
I understand it's not the same, but don't you think it would be quite complicated to build a course for every single dialect? In that case we could argue that the French taught on Duo is the standard, not the French spoken in Quebec, or Africa, or even in some parts of France. We could argue that the French spoken in the East of France is different from the one spoken in the West, so why not build a course for each so that differences in pronunciation and vocabulary can be heard...?
Because in the end, we still understand each other. Accent, local vocabulary... All that comes afterwards, when you live in the country, or you make the choice to learn this or that dialect, or when you have someone to teach you that. You have the chance of having someone helping you, and to experience first hand the creativity of the language. If you look at it that way, it's quite a positive experience ;)