Ask Me Anything related to the Greek or English from Greek course on Duolingo.
I have read many comments in the past few days about the progress of the Greek course on Duolingo. Due to time constrains, it is not possible to answer each comment personally, especially since the same questions appear again and again in different places. I thought it would be a good idea to keep all these questions, and the best answer I can provide for them, together in one place. So I am going to try to answer all the questions asked here between now and Sunday evening, as best as I can.
Please keep your questions related to Duolingo and the Greek or English course, follow the Duolingo guidelines, be respectful, avoid foul language, and be patient.
The "main translation" follows the official language guidelines and grammar rules. As far as I know we did not included any local dialect variation as alternatives in our exercises. From the technical point of view, they can be added in a later stage after the course is released, but (a) since I am from the south and I am not familiar with it, somebody else will have to do all the additions, and (b) if we add one, then we will have to add all possible dialects, otherwise it wouldn't be fare.
The progress index is a very simple metric indicating that there are at least 3 exercises for each of the proposed words in the vocabulary of the course. It is calculated automatically and it does not include any information about the quality of these exercises, the grammar, the tree structure, or even the proposed number of words. To give you an extreme example, If all the words except one, from the vocabulary list, are deleted, then with three sentences including this word the progress index will jump to 100%. "Hatching" is a term adopted by the Duolingo developers for the first stage of courses in the incubator. The course is in the "Hatching" stage since the day it started. When we think it is complete, and after we do some tests, then it will be promoted into the next stage, the "Beta testing". Everybody will have access to the course then, and as they try it, they can send reports indicating errors they found, so that we can fix them. Unfortunately, to release the course, we have to lock the tree, so if the reports show major errors in the course structure, we will not be able to fix them. To avoid that, we have to test the course internally, and try to fix as many issues as we can before the release.
(PS. Just to push my extreme example, If I was to add the vocabulary 1 word at a time, and type 3 nonsensical sentences, then the course would be always at 100% but nowhere near graduation to beta).
There are some steps that have to be done manually, after we lock the tree, and before the course is released. This will take probably 1-2 weeks. We do have to visit all the units, and read all the exercises and fix errors. Right now it is not easy to guess how long this will take. Best case scenario, if everything is fine, and there are no errors to fix, we still need a couple of weeks to verify that. My original estimate for a release in late April-early Mai, is the best I can do right now.
Right now we have the flexibility to change everything we see fit, vocabulary, structure, order. Before releasing the course we will have to lock the tree. From that point on, we will only be able to do minimal modifications. No unit or lesson rearrangement , no vocabulary modifications, we might be able to add new sentences, but they are going to be without sound.
Sometimes the numbers that appear in the progress indicators don't make sense. Without having an 100% understanding why this is happening, I believe that it is usually caused in the transient when different servers (the incubator and the duo main page) are syncing, and information is transferred. It will return to normal within a couple of hours.
A couple of questions:
How will the alphabet be taught? Will it be similar to the Russian course? And will it be necessary to download the keyboard ourselves?
Also since I don't know much about the language, but are there large differences between the Greek dialects? For example if I use this course will I be able to understand to understand people from Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete or Cyprus all alike?
This is probably harder to answer, but when finishing this course and learning all of the skills perfectly, what level of Greek can we expect to speak according to the CEFR standards?
Anyways the Greek language seems interesting so I'm looking forward to trying the course :) I definitely want to visit the country some time so knowing at least some basic Greek could be useful :)
About the alphabet, we are trying to create a section to teach it, but we have technical difficulties. There are many free resources on the Internet, and it is really hard to create something better, given the technical constrains we have to fight.
The course is focusing on the official language. It is spoken and understood everywhere in Greece. There are variations in the local dialects from place to place, but this shouldn't be a barrier. Even though I don't have personal experience, I believe this would be the case for Cyprus as well. Of course there are always people speaking with a heavy accent, using only local vocabulary (especially from older generations) but only in very rare cases they are not going to be able to communicate in common Greek as well.
About the target level, Ideally we would like to provide the seeds for our students to be able to reach level B2. This is the general target of most of the Duolingo courses. Of course this requires continuous practice, consulting some additional resources (a grammar book, a good dictionary, the internet). Without continuous practice, and focus I wouldn't expect much progress beyond level A2.
Cyprus Calling: Yes, even though CyGreek has lots of differences with SMGreek (Vocabulary, Syntax, Morphology, Phonetics, Phonology and so on) SMGreek is understood 100% since it's an official language in Cyprus and it's written everywhere (newspapers, books, official documents) and can be heard on the news, in the television, at school, in the street etc. (always with a few exceptions). We do have several false friends (words) but other than that no problem to visit Cyprus if you learn SMGreek.
Dear Panagioti, I admire your English! What a treat from a Greek. I was so proud having earned more points than you in Spanish last week ( I know it is rather mean!), but now you are back full strength. Hope it wasn't illness that kept you away from learning Spanish. What a prolific language learner you are! I hope that in a year I will have added a few more new languages to my list. I am a newcomer (pensioner = plenty of time) Take care.