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No more new languages : Reverse learning first !

Hey Duolingers !

Even though I'm thrilled by the two new languages added to Duolingo, I have a few concerns about the next moves on Duolingo.

Once all the Beta thing is finished, I would really like the Duolingo team to concentrate on making a reverse learning process for the existing languages before adding new ones.

What I mean by that is :

Why Spanish people should be the only ones to be able to learn English via Duolingo ?

There are several main arguments :

  • English is the language people WANT to learn the most
  • English is the language people NEED to learn the most
  • English is the language necessary to use Duolingo

So please, before adding new languages, consider adding reverse learning, so more and more people will be able to join Duolingo easily,

I'd be glad to know what you guys think about this.

January 7, 2013



I agree but feel they should focus on Mandarin and Spanish as English/Mandarin/Spanish are the three most widely spoken and important languages making Spanish/English speakers be able to study Mandarin and Mandarin speakers be able to study Spanish/English would be a huge step.... Compared to focusing on German and Italian, two regional languages


Agreed that English/Mandarin/Spanish are the 3 most spoken languages. But there will be people who like to learn even German & Italian. So let German, Italian also continue.


Though it's regional, German is a very powerful language around the world. Don't underestimate it's importance because it isn't "popular."


I was going to recommend this site to my students (who are French) until I realised they wouldn't be able to use it to learn English, which is a great shame because I think some of them would really love it!


I don't understand why they couldn't use it to learn english? From my understanding it works both ways, in that you learn english to french but it could just as easily work the other way around since both are addressed in the process. The only lacking quality is spoken english but maybe I'm mistaken?


You can't learn English by learning French through English. Sure, some of the translations go both ways, but the all important authentic documents only go one way (people are much better at translating into their own language, and you also tend learn more this way). Also, the grammar on the course is geared towards French grammar from an English perspective. English is very different, so you would have to approach it very differently. Not to mention the difference in the way vocabulary overlaps.

To take just one example: 'faire' can be translated two main ways into English – 'to do' and 'to make'. This is easy for us, because we can easily learn that both words end up the same thing. But the other way around, it's much more complicated, especially with this example as there doesn't seem to be a simple logical rule ('make' implies an end product, right? but then how is a bed 'made' and yet cooking 'done'?). French-speakers find this very difficult.

To take the reverse view, Spanish has two words for 'to be' – 'estar' and 'ser' – which poses great problems for English speakers, especially when their nuances become more subtle ('es bueno' verses 'está bueno'). Now if a Spanish-speaker were to use take the course to learn Spanish through English, they would have to put up with constantly tested on their knowledge of the difference between 'estar' and 'ser'... something they already know instinctively. Fortunately for them, the option to learn English through Spanish already exists.

Also, one final point that just occurred to me is that everything written in French is vocalised, whereas nothing written in English is. So learners would not only be missing out on pronunciation and speaking skills, but also on listening.


I'm Dutch learning Spanish via English. The words and sentences aren't too difficult in the beginning. So for me it's not a problem.

Nevertheless I praise the day Duolingo will use DUTCH on their program.


I support everything you posted here, Arjofocolovi (+ Jaimepapier). Please let me add a few insights.

The way Duolingo was looks evidences the fact that it was primarily created by and for Americans (English + Spanish).

  • In my 8 month experience here (French learner), I have noticed hundreds of questions dealing with the English language. My assumption is that French, here, is of interest to a huge number of non-Anglophones.

  • The very brand name of this site is meaningful: it is about learning a second language and allow Anglophones to understand Web pages written by foreigners. In reality, it could be called Triolingo (at minimum) since the prerequisite is that a vast majority of learners are already fluent in English to be able to tackle another language.

  • The aim of getting the Web translated into English is jeopardized by the amount of non-Anglophones at work here (including myself since I am French, learning French because this is currently the only way here for me to improve my English).

  • When I work on translations (a pretty tough task for me!), I am proposed to give my blessing to one out of 3 other translations (or 2 + mine). The bias is enormous because very often, none of the 3 versions proposed is good enough in my opinion (I realize that the English language is not good and/or there are misinterpretations of the French text). Therefore, in many cases, either the translation is faithful and the English is sub-optimal (my translations, for example) or the English is perfect but the meaning is wrong. (Not to mention that if I refuse to click on one of the 3 proposals, I won't get any point!).

  • In lessons, the English used is a kind of "globish", mostly American, not really standard English. Therefore, in the Discussion section, you can find quite a few comments from British learners about usage or spelling that obviously add to an overall confusion among non-Anglos.

  • I haven't yet been brave enough to try another language here so I can only judge from my perspective as an advanced English speaker and a very good French speaker/writer (no boasting, just to let you all know that this is rare in France!). Knowing that, because I visit this site everyday and respond to nearly all questions from other learners, I strongly recommend to IMPROVE the existing features :

please, Duolingo, RE-RECORD the French voice,

please FIX all bugs,

please IMPROVE the English language,

please IMPROVE features for natives' reporting on translations...

Then please, move to reverse languages for all of us eager to improve their English.


Screw your request, WE WANT SWEDISH.

I'm kidding, sorry. Yeah, that is a good idea. It would also be a good idea if Duolingo got a team of indie devs or fluent speakers of both English and (insert another language here) to volunteer to help make this system better, more stable and more versatile. I am a native Serbian speaker and I have been studying English for over 8 years. And if it weren't for my knowledge in English, I would have had a really hard time on using this website. So yeah, if anyone from the Duolingo crew feels like it, I am open to translate from English to Serbian and back, both textually and audio-wise (I have a condenser mic, so the sound quality is not really a problem.)


Yes!, why not Swedish Im sure there will be tons of swedes helping to do that! i am one ready to go for it! please!!


I agree with that idea! But I'd also go so far as to say all languages should be connected. I am German and want to learn Spanish, so I have to sort-of do a double-translation every time I use Duolingo now. It would be more convenient if I could use German-Spanish translations. French-German should be an option, and Spanish-French, and Italian-Portuguese, and so on. And to nonstopneil: Germany is really not a regional language. In the European Union, for example, it is the language with the most native speakers, and only second to English in number of second-language speakers (numbers from 2007, could be different now). It's an official language in a surprisingly large number of countries ;)


Well that's the final goal anyway, but it's harder and longer to do, that's why I think it's better to start with both way translation in English first. But yeah, I see the future of Duolingo as a website where you subscribe knowing only one language, no matter which one, and you can then learn anyone you want starting from your native language. That would be pure awesomeness.


I second that and also would like to have the opportunity to learn German => Spanish. At the moment my English speaking skills are enough but as soon as it will go into tenses I will mix up and will get "bad points" because I even do not know the proper tenses in English. So I would like to have a perspective if German => Spanish is anywhere on the road map for the near future?


That's true. In fact I am more than interested in learning German cause it opens great options for me all over Europe. By the way taiichii if I could help you with your spanish just let me know. ;)


English/Russian/Mandarin/French/Italian/Portuguese (Brazil)/German/Arabic = Kick Ass

We need Russian, Mandarin, and Arabic!


It needs more russian. I can't read my russian authors or listen to my russian music without knowing russian.


Russia is definitely a cool language that I would like to see being supported.



I am learning Portuguese through English, and while my English is pretty solid, my native languages are Spanish and German, and I would like to learn Portuguese through Spanish. And I know a lot of German people who would like to use Duolingo to learn English.


I already posted a message on the same topic on the page "Tired of seeing next language requests !?".

That + suggestion that existing languages have to be improved (significantly in French, namely).


HI FIVE, Arjofocolovi. Your argument here is the first reason why 75% of people to whom I've recommended Duolingo - they didn't begin. They wanted to learn/improve English first...


yes it is sometimes easier to learn other lamguages when you have a learn back other language....like am doing now learning portugese while using my knowledge of spanish


I hope that they will add more languages because the internet needs to be translated into english. But I can also agree with you Arjofocolovi. But my biggest wish right now is that they add Arabic.


Well that's your wish, sure, but I was more talking about improving Duolingo so it can welcome more people and give more opportunities to users. There will be a time when adding Arabic, Mandarin and other languages will come, but I don't think that's the priority right now.


I think it would be a great idea. It seems to me like Duolingo is also trying to build a community, and this suggestion would help bring in other people. Perhaps these people will also end up sticking around and helping others with translation? If so, that would be another benefit to the program too.


I find this whole site fascinating. I have a daughter on a church mission in Brazil. She used Rosetta stone for a few months before leaving to prepare. She already had Spanish and French under her belt. She has been gone for a year now and is so fluent in Portuguese that most people thinks she is native..even with all the dialects. I happened upon this app on my iphone because I wanted to learn the language and have conversations with her when she comes home in a few months. I am able to skype with some of the people in Brazil who have become her dear friends and this tool is wonderful for helping me learn. I only just found out that I can continue my lessons on my laptop instead of just my iphone. Such a bonus! I everyone's comments. Thank you, everyone.


I dunno what other users feel...but for me "duolingo" is great for beginner. For additional tutors i use youtube. Actually friends this site worth a lot as its free.


It would be nice to include all the six official UN languages. Therefore would love to learn Arabic on Duolinguo! ;) As well as Chinese and Russian. Including languages with a non-Latin script is not easy I guess, hope they will become available soon, good luck with any project until then! ;)


Completely agree and I am ready to volunteer for French to English!


As an ESL teacher I have many students I know could benefit greatly from this program using reverse learning. It would make a perfect practice engine for grammar lessons as homework and such.

Aside from a teaching aid, the idea struck me that If I could learn a third language using my second it would be especially amazing. I do not expect this any time soon if ever, but I hope I'll have the opportunity in the future for such study.

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