Duo should have Tibetan and Sikkimese Courses

Tibet was illegally invaded by the illegitimate communist Chinese state 65 years ago. Its language and culture has been marginalized. A policy of mass resettlement of ethnically Han Chinese people in Tibet is effectively effecting genocide on the TIbetan people.

If duolingo is serious about helping threatened languages, it should show it by having a Tibetan course.

Duolingo should also offer courses in Sikkimese and Lepcha. Both these languages are endemic to the independent kingdom of Sikkim before it was illegally invaded and usurped by the land-grabbing Indian state. Both are threatened by the influx of Nepali-speakers (encouraged by the Indian government, which wants to see the death of Sikkimese culture and nationalism).

It's funny that while the PRC recognizes the independence of Sikkim, India recognizes the independence of Tibet. Both these land-grabbing powers are brazen hypocrites!

We must do something to save these languages and cultures!

November 21, 2015


Tibetan is a beautiful sounding language, and the oppression is real. Already, China has, under purposeful political will, fully eradicated many minority languages -- replacing them with Mandarin (another language I enjoy and am learning). I would love to see Tibetan come to Duolingo, and I believe it fits the goals and philosophy of the company well.

  1. Tibetan is a language at risk.
  2. Tibet is an impoverished region which could greatly benefit from increased education of English
  3. Learning Tibetan and investing in its culture by foreigners can help bring awareness to the plight of Tibetan people.

I hope to see a Tibetan course soon!

November 21, 2015

Hi, you can feel free to suggest new languages and show your support of why the language is necessary. And personally, I share the sympathy with the Tibetan people under the crisis of social justice they have to face. However, please keep the joy of learning language away from politics as much as you can. Even if it is relevant to mention in this case, Duolingo forum is still mainly about learning languages.

November 21, 2015


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November 21, 2015

I have a question about this situation. My history teacher (he is not Chinese or pro-chinese) told me that Tibet, Xianjin, Taiwan and Hong-Kong are happy to be communist. I insisted to say that I know for sure they want to be independent and I know some Taiwanese people that don't like to be affiliated to China. So a question for someone from Tibet or any part of China : Are you guys happy to be part of China ?

Also good post. I hope one day we will have Taiwanese, Tibetan and Sikkimese

November 21, 2015

Tibetans initially welcomed China because they did get rid of a lot of cruft (and China didn't make it clear they intended to take over politically), then it was 40 years of not caring too much as China didn't really exercise their authority over Tibet, and Tibet saw some economic growth and some of this can be attributed to China. But recently, China's been cracking down on Tibet, and effectively oppressing Tibetan culture, language, etc. and are replacing it it with Han. This has upset the Tibetans, and they want their autonomy returned (they kind of gave up on Independence, and want something similar to what Hong Kong has had).

Xianjin: I don't know much about. There is, at minimum, Muslims who fear China's oppression of their beliefs. There is a sizable group who wants either independence or autonomy.

Hong Kong: They were tolerant of the status quo (autonomy of Hong Kong) through the 90s and 2000s, but ever since ~2010, 2012, China's been cracking down on Hong Kong, and it's made Hong Kong people quite upset, growing pro-independence sentiment, and they generally HATE Chinese now. Like, speaking Mandarin is a good way to ruin business deals in some circles in Hong Kong, whereas through the 2000s it was considered practical (although Cantonese speaking would earn you favor). They DO NOT want Chinese "communism" at all. They clearly want autonomy, with their own government, under a British-derived capitalist / democratic system.

Taiwan: They just plainly want Independence. Almost no Taiwanese would be happy with China owning / ruling / administrating / making claim to Taiwan. Something like 40% of Taiwanese want independence, another 40% want "The status quo," but without the threat of war with China are presumed to want independence, another like 5% (usually aged 50+) want unification with China (but almost exclusively with ROC ruling, not PRC), another 4% is other, and like 1% or fewer actually wants China to take over (they're likely the few people who are from Mainland). These numbers aren't exact, as I'm recalling from an article I read months ago, but I'm confidence they, at minimum, capture the general sentiments.

I have no idea where your History teacher is getting his information, but it's wrong.

November 21, 2015

Thank you ! I understand better the situation for Tibet now and Hong-Kong. I already knew about Xianjin and Taiwan

November 21, 2015

Nice answer but do you mean Xinjiang instead of Xianjing?

November 1, 2017

I also read that even before Chinese occupation, Tibet wasn't that democratic and peaceful as a country, but rather a poor, medieval-like Kingdom with a rigid caste system and gruesome corporal punishment.

Chinese political and economic intervention in Tibet began several years before they actually seized it, and was greeted by the Dalai Lama - then a teenager - who even wrote a poem in honor of Mao Tse-tung.

Actually, it seems that many Tibetans, while enduring the same restrictions to personal freedom as the other Chinese citizens, are at least happy with some degree of economic development brought by the central government.

Now, I'm neither pro-Tibet nor pro-China; if anybody has different opinions/ideas/information, feel free to share.

That said, I think every language deserves to be on Duo, provided that its speakers are willing to contribute.

November 21, 2015

Actually, it seems that many Tibetans, while enduring the same restrictions to personal freedom as the other Chinese citizens, ...

This often gets conflated with the "Tibetans aren't oppressed!" argument, and is usually used to argue that China's doing nothing wrong in Tibet.

It's bull. Tibetans aren't "dealing with the same restrictions" as other Chinese citizens -- they're actively targeted. Many Tibetans have been forced from their homes and businesses which were then given to Han Chinese moving from Mainland along with other benefits like monetary rewards for "homesteading."

Tibetans ... are at least happy with some degree of economic development brought by the central government.

The Tibetans are generally not seeing any of the economic development -- the only people enjoying the economic development brought by Chinese intervention are Han Chinese which China has moved to Tibet. Tibetans are still living in shacks while across the street China is building housing and apartments for Han Chinese. Then the Han Chinese complain about the poor people and the police come, tear down those shacks, imprison a lot of them, and shoo the rest away to build their shacks away from the few places economically viable in Tibet.

Tibetans are the target of an active genocide, largely by manipulating the economic conditions the Tibetans are subject to. The only way out is to abandon any Tibetan identity and completely assimilate one's self into Han Chinese culture (for women -- this means marrying a Chinese man, for men, your only option is to join Chinese labor programs which include "re-education", move to Mainland, or get a business permit which won't be given unless you cut off all ties to anything Tibetan (ie. if most of your friends aren't Han, you won't be approved)).

November 21, 2015

Thanks for this additional information, I will research the topic more thoroughly :)

Again, no pro-China or pro-Tibet stance intended.

November 21, 2015

There's one way to fight off the genocide that you haven't mentioned yet - Fight a war and demand independence, hopefully bringing their plight to the forefront of world news.

November 21, 2015

Pretty much everyone is aware of the Tibet situation. It was a huge cause in the 90s; my school had two assemblies about it when I was in fourth grade in 1999.

November 21, 2015

I'd love to see Tibetan on Duolingo! I've always found the language beautiful, the culture to be highly fascinating, and would simply love to learn more. Unfortunately there are not that many resources around, having it on Duolingo would be amazing.

For inspiration, here's a playlist of beautiful Tibetan music. Enjoy :)

November 21, 2015

It would be great to have a Tibetan course in Duolingo! Tibet is an amazing place that I really want to visit and feel it's energy. And Tibetan culture is very interesting.

November 21, 2015

"If duolingo is serious about helping threatened languages"

Two things about that:

  • I don't think "helping threatened languages" is Duolingo's main mission.
  • There are hundreds of threatened languages. Even if it wanted to help them, it can't make courses for all of them at once. So Tibetan might not be at the top of the list.
November 21, 2015

It's not Duolingo's main mission, but Luis von Ahn has definitely expressed interest in leveraging Duolingo to help preserve endangered languages, and otherwise doing what it can where "learning languages" can help benefit humanity.

One of the main inspirations of Duolingo was providing English courses for those in poverty.

I think Tibetan is a good candidate on all of these accounts. I think the political situation of Tibet -- and increasing English speaking in Tibet and Tibet speaking outside of Tibet would give a lot of opportunity for Tibetans to communicate their plight to the world and help further understanding. This would be a huge "in the benefit of humanity" point.

Ultimately, there are a lot of languages which really deserve or would really benefit humanity by being on Duolingo, but as you said, we can't just put them all on here any time soon. But there really doesn't seem to be any "top of the list." How do you quantify which language is most worthy or most needed?

There are no bad choices. I think Tibetan is a good candidate. I think there are many other good candidates too.

(PS: Most of these arguments for Tibetan also apply to Sikkimese).

November 21, 2015
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There are very few resources for people trying to learn Tibetan, a DL course would be most welcome.

November 21, 2015

I agree, please add Tibetan from English!

December 13, 2018

Yes on Tibetan. If there are legitimate ways to promote it for Duolingo, let me know someone, please.

May 2, 2019

Thank you. May you please offer Tibetan languages and Sign Language and teaching how to communicate with animals.

Animals have languages.

May 7, 2019
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