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Word of the Day: Help Refugees Integrate

Hi Duolingoers and Duolingoees!

My name is David and I am writing from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office based in Stockholm.

We are responsible for helping refugees integrate into the eight countries we cover: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.

We’ve been talking with the Duolingo team and we are launching today a project where you get a chance to use your language skills to help new arrivals learn important words in their new countries.

We are making a multilingual Word of the Day flashcard – translating Arabic to our eight regional languages: Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian and Swedish.

We need the support of the Duolingo community to help us choose important words for integration and to help us translate them. We will publish these cards on our official Twitter account and host them on our website so refugees can download the cards, use them to learn the language and find jobs, go to school and feel safe and secure in their new countries.

A example of the type of flashcards we are making is shown here;


I’ll admit that I’m Australian and don’t speak Arabic, just English and the Swedish I've learnt here in Stockholm, so the mockup is for design purposes (and uses a fair amount of Google Translate). If you see errors, please let me know and we can correct! (It’s kind of the point of drawing on your expertise).

The first step is for expressions of interest – we are looking for broad involvement. Then we would need to make a list of words for translation together as a team. From there language groups can take over and submit translations. And in the end we at UNHCR Northern Europe will review and publish the finished cards.

So, let me know below if you’ve got comments or questions and particularly if you would like to be involved.

Looking forward to working with all of you,

David UNHCR Northern Europe

(PS: If you want to know more about what we do, you can visit our website at www.unhcr-northerneurope.org )

UPDATE 2: 14 March (2:34pm, Stockholm Time)

Hi everyone. The first working thread is now up on: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14258218

Let's coordinate the medical terms there, but keep suggestions for next and future months on this central thread.

UPDATE 1: 8 March (3:48am, Stockholm Time):

Wow, thanks so much guys for all of your support. I also want to give a shout-out to the Moderators for keeping things civil in here, my apologies for the hubbub! I've replied to most of the comments below and I've noticed two great suggestions so far:

  1. We need to sort out how to order the languages on the cards - should they be flags, grouped by language family, etc.

  2. Let's start with emergency and medical words that would be useful to know. It's March, so let's try to make it Medical Month. Can we get 23 words from an Arabic speaker on medicine, doctors, fire, pain, mental health, etc, and see about finding 23 translations in our 8 languages...that's only 184 translations, surely you guys do that before breakfast, right?

I'll update this post with the words for the current month as we go and a progress tally (as long as that's okay with the mods, of course!).

March 7, 2016



Hi guys,

we temporarily locked the discussion because of way too many comments that are against the guidelines. We normally don't do this, but we also have to moderate this discussion somehow and make sure that it will not escalate.

Furthermore, there are users here who said that moderators delete all the comments that are against their own opinion and, quite frankly, this is plain wrong. We have our own moderator guidelines and it is expressly stated there that we have to moderate in accordance with our own guidelines, not according to our personal opinion and we stick to that. The comments that we deleted have been deleted because of violating the guidelines.

I kindly ask all of you to discuss in a neutral way at least. Insulting or violating comments, hate speech, Islamophobic comments a.s.o. will be deleted - not because it reflects our own views, but because it violates the guidelines.

We will notify all the users whose comments have been deleted, but that'll take some time. Sorry for all the inconveniences!

  • 2248

The fact that we're all a little twitchy is due to the fact that the solutions to the refugee crisis are politically charged. And since Duo is taking sides here, it isn't a stretch to assume that people of a different cultural background from Western Europeans (who seem to be very open to receiving refugees from the Middle East, much more open than others) are unwelcome here.

And I will also say that this joint venture will definitely help Duolingo in the present environment with getting support from the governments of countries that are open to refugees, so I understand Duo's motivation here. But how well it will turn out and whether any other politics might crop up in the future, that remains to be seen. I am not in favor of turning Duolingo into just another social justice activism site at the expense of losing some of that unique language learning experience.


Hi. So, I haven't read much more than your comment, and from the sounds of it, I probably shouldn't waste the time. That said, though, I sincerely would like to know if Duolingo can confirm that this is legitimate, that DL is working with this group. I understand that this UN commission could be sincerely be trying to give an opportunity to the learners here to be able to help other learners (any given refugee), which would be wonderful...but the wording, otherwise, makes it sound somewhat suspicious to me. As good an opportunity as this would be for everybody, I really feel like the UN wouldn't necessarily reach out to a forum of Duolingo users.

I mean, maybe I'm completely wrong. If we can confirm that this is legit, great. by all means, good on those who get involved. I would just like some more official word to confirm this.


Hi frankenstein724! We have indeed been talking with the Duolingo management and have their backing to undertake this project. We are producing a resource that is of great value to refugees and would benefit anyone else that wanted a resource for learning these important words in our eight languages.

We are UNHCR, a part of the UN, and we actually have a division called UNHCR Innovation that regularly uses social media and other online platforms to help solve refugee issues. We reached out to Duolingo because you guys are a great, constructive community and we really feel this is an interesting project for you guys to get involved with, very accessible for people of different levels of language learning, and an important humanitarian cause.

As has been said, I am indeed working for UNHCR Northern Europe. To prove it, I'll update the example image on our website with your name on one of the sample names. Does that sound like it would convince you?


Considering it has been made sticky on the front page suggests that the post is genuine. If it wasn't I'm sure it would have already been deleted a long time ago.

In addition, the flashcard example on the UNHCR website refers to Duolingo: http://www.unhcr-northerneurope.org/index.php?id=1052.


Hi frankenstein724! I have updated the example image with your name. You can find it on our website:


Hope that reassures you that this is legit, and that we really are engaging with Duolingo because we see a lot of potential.


so are you guys looking for people speaking in Arabic? because I am a native Arabic speaker and I am willing to help you guys :)


Hi Nasagirls! Yes, that would be really great to help us check the quality of some of the translations. We'll keep you in mind. Thanks for the enthusiasm.


It's my pleasure!


oh by the way, if by any chance you guys want to contact me via email for any help, I would love to. just give me your email and I will propose very helpful phrases/sentences that are simple yet helpful.


(Deleted this message here as I formerly mentioned.)


Thanks MultilinguAlex. To be honest, the best way to reach us would be to go to our webpage at www.unhcr-northerneurope.org and use the contact sheet there to send us an email. I think that is in line with the Duolingo guidelines and also preserves the privacy of users.


Even better than simple flashcards, we also have several courses for Arabic speakers available: French, German, and Swedish are all now advanced Duolingo courses, so don't forget to recommend those for the refugees :)


Hi CodyORB! I agree, the Arabic-Swedish course is perfect for us, and my colleagues in Germany and France are looking at the French and German courses, I'm sure. We are particularly excited by future courses that can help refugees in Denmark, Finland, Iceland Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Norway, and in the meantime think that these flashcards can help speed up the important step of learning the language while integrating to a new society.


I think this is a great project and wish you lots of luck with it.


Thanks for the support, Cotton-Tail! Please do get involved if you feel there is something you can do to contribute.


Thank you David. I don't speak any of those languages. But I'm really proud to be part of Duolingo right now, in that it is hosting this request.


We have lots here in Glasgow

and in the Argyll and Bute

Scotland welcomes them all

thank you for the links


I am a native Arabic speaker and I want to help but I don't know how exactly would I do so?

I am pretty good at English and I know some German


This Is a great project.We are ALL HUMANS before getting divided into countries and borders... these people who have lost their countries,homes and relatives need support.I wish I knew any of those languages so I could help but I am only fluent in English,Hindi,Urdu and Punjabi.


Thank you, I couldn't agree more. We are all the citizens of this one small planet, we speak diverse languages and have different ways of communicating, and that makes us all the more interesting and different. I feel uplifted to see this project so well supported here, I just wish I could help.


I'm a native Arabic speaker and I'm 100% willing to help you guys. Please contact me if you need anything, and email me anytime. I'll be very very glad.


Although this is somewhat language related, it is also overtly political and as you can see from some of the responses below, your comments are not appreciated by all. I am quite sure that UNHCR has in-house resources to create language flashcards and does not need to masquerade and semi-solicit for support and donations on this website.

Incidentally, I am a monthly donor supporting Australia for UNHCR at http://www.unrefugees.org.au/ so I am not being critical in any way with respect to what you hope to achieve. Simply put, it is my belief that DuoLingo is not the right place to advertise/solicit for donations/seek volunteers/attempt to spread political opinions.

My own view is that you are sullying the good name of UNHCR by advertising/spamming on this forum and it would be better if you deleted your post. I'm here to learn a language, not have charities or politics pushed upon me.


Simply put, it is my belief that DuoLingo is not the right place to advertise/solicit for donations/seek volunteers/attempt to spread political opinions.

It's been stickied...so it looks like Duo supports it.

(Not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone...just pointing out Duo seems to be okay with it).


See this part of the note above: "We’ve been talking with the Duolingo team and we are launching today a project where you get a chance to use your language skills to help new arrivals learn important words in their new countries." Implicitly, it appears that this project has the approval of Duolingo staff.


I can not see it is overtly political. I see no wrong in helping folks survive and especially not in teaching language. For all and everyone on this planet. As simple as that. It is not political at all, according to me. It is the only right and humane thing to do.


This is a small suggestion, which might seem a bit nerdy, but would you consider ordering the languages on the card by language family, rather than alphabetically? It will probably make the result look neater in the long run, since related languages will naturally blend together on the cards.


Hi Chilvence! This is great - we are also looking for design advice, so thanks for the suggestion. We can come back to this as we move towards some finalised cards, once the translations are sorted.

One thing to consider, is that I know that a flag is not a language - particularly when many Finns speak Swedish, for instance. Do you have any advice for how we can still make the card look elegant, but avoid that pitfall?


That's not a terribly easy problem to solve - even the UK flag is pretty much a de facto icon for the English language, despite the fact that it represents more than just England. I have no idea how pervasive Swedish is in Finland, but I think more to the point is , what language would you expect everyone in Finland to be able to understand without question? I don't think it is unreasonable to expect the answer to be 'Suomi', and I think it would be daft for people to consider learning only Swedish if they were there - the same way I would think it daft to advise people to learn Welsh if they were moving to East Anglia...


I think that you should put not only phrases and pieces of vocabulary, but "miniguides" about each language, detailing pronunciation and basic grammar.

For example, I could see refugees being confused with ð, a unique letter of the Icelandic alphabet pronounced like "th", which can be explained in the "miniguide".

Also, flashcards teaching the Latin alphabet would be very helpful for learners.


Hello there,

My name is Finn, and I am highly proficient in Swedish, and learning Danish. I do not speak Arabic, but have a very good Arabic-English dictionary. I would love to help out, and I think that I would be a good fit to help, as I have knowledge in 2 of the languages that you need translation in. Additionally, I attend an IB school, and, as such, am required to do quite a lot of community service in order to pass my grade. I feel as though this project would not only greatly help many, many, many refugees, but also allow me to inspire others, and to put my language skills to good use.

I am between the ages of 12 and 16 (I can't mention my age here), but I assure you that my skills in Swedish and Danish are to the required level.

One more thing: There is currently a Swedish for Arabic speakers course on Duolingo - perhaps it could be good to incorporate that into your program?)


Finn D


G'day Finn! It's great of you to get involved mate. We are already recommending the Swedish for Arabic speakers course, and it would be great to have you involved to help us translate words for the flashcards. Don't worry about your age, it's the quality of the translations that matter! Please get involved as we make more details available shortly.


Medical Translations for you:

Swedish / English / Danish / Arabic:

Hjälp / Help / Hjælp /نداء لطلب العون

Jag har ont i armen/ My arm hurts/ Min arm gør ondt / يضر ذراعي

Ansiktet / The face / Et ansig / وجه

Huvudet / The head / Et hoved / رأس

Armen / The arm / En arm / ذراع

Foten / The foot / En fod / قدم

Benet / The leg / Et ben / ساق ، رِجْل

En Läkare / A doctor / En læge / طبيب

En Sjukskörterska / A nurse / En sygeplejerske / ممرضة

En Ambulans / An ambulance / En ambulance / سيارة إسعاف

Ett sjukhus / A hospital / Et hospital / مستشفى

En sjukdom / A disease / En sygdom / مرض

En nödfall / An emergency / En nødsituation / إسعافات الطواريء

En klinik / A clinic / En klinik / مزاولة طبية تشاركية

Överkörd / Run over / kørt over / يصدم، يدهس

Jag är förkyld / I have a cold / Jeg har en kold / لدي رشح

Jag har (sjukdom) / I have an (illness) / Jeg har (sygdom) / لدي مرض

Influensa / Flu / Influenza / إنفلونزا

Jag har ont i huvudet / My head hurts / Jeg har hovedpine / عندى صداع

Det gör ont / It hurts / Det gør ont / هذا مؤلم

Vad är det för fel på dig? / What is wrong with you? / Hvad er det galt med dig? /ما بكم؟

Sjukförsäkring / Health Insurance / Sygeforsikring / تأمين صحي

Har du sjukförsäkring? / Do you have health insurance? / Har du en sygeforsikring? / هل لديك تأمين صحي

Allergi / Allergy / Allergi / مثير للحساسية

Har du en allergi? / Do you have an allergy? / Har du en allergi? / هل لديك حساسية؟

There you go: 96 translations!


Hjälp / Help / Hjælp / مساعدة

Jag har ont i armen/ My arm hurts/ Min arm gør ondt / ذراعي يؤلمني

En nödfall / An emergency / En nødsituation / حالة طارئة

Jag är förkyld / I have a cold / Jeg har en kold / انا مريض بالزكام, انا مريضة بالزكام

Jag har (sjukdom) / I have an (illness) / Jeg har (sygdom) / انا مريض, انا مريضة

Allergi / Allergy / Allergi / حساسية

The following in Arabic literally means: I have a headache, not my head hurts.

Jag har ont i huvudet / My head hurts / Jeg har hovedpine / عندى صداع

This is how you say my head hurts: رأسي يؤلمني


Some corrections of the Swedish too: En sjuksköterska, en ambulans, ett nödfall, Jag har en (sjukdom), har du en sjukförsäkring.


Do you mind if I correct some of your Arabic translations?


Please do! Thank you!


English / Estonian

Help / appi!

My arm hurts / mu käsi valutab

The face / nägu

The head / pea

The arm / käsi, käsivars

The foot / jalg, jalalaba

The leg / jalg

A doctor / arst

A nurse / õde, medõde

An ambulance / kiirabi, ambulants

A hospital / haigla

A disease / haigus

An emergency / hädaolukord

A clinic / kliinik

Run over / alla ajama, üle sõitma

I have a cold / mul on külmetus

I have an (illness) / mul on haigus

Flu / gripp

My head hurts / mu pea valutab

It hurts / valutab, teeb haiget

What is wrong with you? / mis sul viga on?

Health Insurance / tervisekindlustus, ravikindlustus

Do you have health insurance? / kas sul on tervisekindlustus/ravikindlustus?

Allergy / allergia

Do you have an allergy? / kas sul on allergia?


You may want to repost this information here, where the medical flash card discussion is taking place: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14258218.


Will do! Tack så mycket / tusend tack!


Oh, I too am Australian, and am fluent in French (ignore my Duolingo level) as I am half-French, should you ever need French translations!


Hello, guys. I'll add a few words in Arabic, and provide their English translation. You may add the translations in Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian or Swedish if you speak any of them.

ماء - Water

هناك حريق - There's a fire

مسكّن للألم - Pain reliever

حادث سيارات - Car accident

عملية - Surgery

حرق - A burn

انا مجروح - I'm wounded

انها تولد - She's in labor

بسرعة - Quickly

عين - Eye

لا اشعر اني بحالة جيدة - I don't feel well

طفاية حريق - Fire extinguisher

احتاج الى دكتور - I need a doctor

متى الموعد؟ - When's the appointment?

هل تحتاج الى شيء؟ - Do you need something?

الوزن - Weight

الطول - Height

المريض - Patient

حالة - Condition (of a patient)

انه يتحسن - He's getting better

انها تتحسن - She's getting better

انف - Nose

اسنان - teeth

فم - Mouth

مضاد حيوي - Antibiotic

سرطان - Cancer

دم - Blood

ضمادات, بلاسترات - Band-Aids

فيروس - Virus

بكتيريا - Bacteria

There you've got 30 words. Please translate into any of the languages mentioned above if you can.


Wow that's great! Thanks. I will update the first post with a list of the words we have selected and we can start tracking the translations we need across the eight languages. This is so exciting!


Here are Swedish translations:

Water / Vatten

There's a fire / Det finns en eld

Pain Reliever / Smärtstillande

Car Accident / Bilolycka

Surgery / Operation

A burn / En brännskada

I am wounded / Jag sårad

She's in labour / Hon föder

Quickly / Snabbt

Eye / Öga

I don't feel well / Jag mår inte bra

Fire extinguisher / Brandsläckare

I need a doctor / Jag behöver en läkare

When is the appointment? / När är mötet

Do you need something? / Behöver du något?

Weight / Vikt

Height / Höjd

Patient / Patient

Condition / Kondition

He is getting better / Han blir bättre

She is getting better / Hon blir bättre

Nose / Näsa

Teeth / Tänder

Mouth / Mun

Antibiotic / Antibiotikum

Cancer / Cancer

Blood / Blod

Band-Aids / Plåster

Virus / Virus

Bacteria / Bakterier


Antibiotic - Antibiotika

Blood - Blod.

Bacteria - Bakterier (eller bakteriell)

Still no offence, just correcting.


Thank you again! I got Danish mixed up with Swedish (in Danish blood is written with the ø), and the bacteria was just a typo. Thank you for making me aware of these mistakes!


translation to Estonian:

vesi - Water

seal on tulekahju! - There's a fire

valuvaigisti - Pain reliever

autoavarii - Car accident

lõikus, operatsioon - Surgery

põletus - A burn

ma olen haavatud - I'm wounded

ta on sünnitamas - She's in labor

kiiresti - Quickly

silm - Eye

ma ei tunne ennast hästi - I don't feel well

tulekustuti - Fire extinguisher

mul on arsti vaja! - I need a doctor

kuna on kohtumine? - When's the appointment?

kas sa vajad midagi? - Do you need something?

kaal - Weight

pikkus - Height

patsient - Patient

olukord, seisukord - Condition (of a patient)

tal läheb paremaks - He's getting better

tal läheb paremaks - She's getting better

nina - Nose

hambad - teeth

suu - Mouth

antibiootikum - Antibiotic

vähk - Cancer

veri - Blood

plaastrid - Band-Aids

viirus - Virus

bakterid - Bacteria


You may want to repost this information here, where the medical flash card discussion is taking place: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14258218.


I don't speak any of those, but good luck! If I could suggest words though, you could cover emergency words early on. Duolingo doesn't, but words like 'Help' might be good when living in a foreign nation. Once again, best of luck.


Hi EpicPowerHero! This is a really fantastic suggestion and the kind of things we are looking to get involved with. Emergency words are a great starting point for the project, so let's develop a list of those and see how we can get them translated.


Thanks! I think help me is obvious, but then don't do that, I'm hurt, this person is hurt, and call (emergency number) are some other good ones. Thanks whoever gave me the lingot.


Edit: I'm sorry for the bad formatting :(

Here are some medical words:

| Arabic | English | Swedish | Finnish |

| ألم | pain | smärta | kipu |

| دواء | medicine/drug | medicin/läkemedel | lääkettä |

| طبيب | doctor | läkare | lääkari |

| ممرضة | nurse | sjuksköterska | sairaanhoitaja|

| مسنشفى | hospital | sjukhus| sairaala |

| سعال | cough | hosta | yskä |

| غثيان | nausea | illamående | pahoinvointi |

| قلب | a heart | ett hjärta | sydän |

| صدر | a chest | ett bröst | rinta |

| رأس | a head | ett huvud | pää |

| حنجرة | a throat | en hals | kurrku |

| ضغط الدم | blood pressure | blodtryck | verenpaine |

| حمّى | fever | feber | kuume |

| اكتئاب | depression | depression | masennus |


translation to Estonian:

pain - valu

medicine/drug - ravim/rohi

doctor - arst/doktor

nurse - medõde/õde

hospital - haigla

cough - köha

nausea - iiveldus

a heart - süda

a chest - rind

a head - pea

a throat - kõri/kurk

blood pressure - vererõhk

fever - palavik/temperatuur

depression - masendus/depressioon


You may want to repost this information here, where the medical flash card discussion is taking place: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14258218.


I would like to suggest, if anyone would please help me translate this into the appropriate languages:

I am deaf.
I am hard of hearing.
I need a translator please.
I need a piece of paper and a pen please.

Thank you!

Special thanks to:
thecupcakefarmer and PatrikRosen (Swedish translations)
Selma_lb. (Arabic)



انا أصم, أطرش / I am deaf

يصعب عليّ السمع / I am hard of hearing

احتاج الى مترجم من فضلك/ I need a translator please

احتاج الى ورقة وقلم من فضلك / I need a paper and a pen please

Note: the second sentence is more like: Hearing is hard for me; it fits the Arabic language construction better.



Jag är döv.

Jag är hörselskadad.

Jag behöver en översättare.

Jag behöver en bit of papper och en penna ; tack.



Jag är hörselskadad. Jag behöver papper och penna, tack.

No offence, just correcting.


translation to Estonian:

I am deaf - ma olen kurt

I am hard of hearing - ma kuulen halvasti/ma olen vaegkuulja

I need a translator please - ma vajan tõlki, palun

I need a piece of paper and a pen please - ma vajan paberit ja pliiatsit, palun


You may want to repost this information here, where the medical flash card discussion is taking place: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14258218.


I don't know any of the languages involved, so can't be of much help with it, but it sounds like a great project. Good luck with it!


Thanks! There is little stopping you from getting involved and making your own in Spanish, which I see you've got 25 levels in!


I'm not sure how that would work, since your project covers such a specific geographic area?


HI b05aplmun.ca! While you wouldn't be able to paticipate in this particular project with UNHCR Northern Europe, you could contact ACNUR (our office in Spain) and see if they are interested in working with you, or you could self-publish using the same hashtag we will use on Twitter when we launch the project. Even if it's not specific to refugees in Northern Europe, I'm sure you'll help many people.


I'm not fluent enough in any of these languages to help directly, but Duolingo has a Swedish course for Arabic speakers (along with a few other ones, not any of the listed languages here unfortunately), and Memrise is a helpful website that can help as well. If you have a Memrise account, you can make your own courses that works a lot like flash cards. I recommend these for the refugees and anyone who wants to help! Shukraan (thank you) for helping these unfortunate people!


Hi NeonDragoness! This is a great idea - we will look into Memrise too. Let's keep this page about Duolingo for now, but once we have some translations finalised we can make language specific courses on Memrise too. The Swedish course for Arabic speakers is a real inspiration to us for what the Duolingo community can achieve! We are excited for giving support in our seven other languages.


that's more than one word buddy ;)


Haha, you've got me there. But hopefully you guys aren't so verbose as me!


Hi, I speak English and would happily help out with Latvian (it's my native language).


Looks like an awesome project., too bad I can't speak Arabic. Unfortunately only one (1) of your languages (Swedish) is available for Arabic speakers. English speakers only have three (3), sadly we can't cover all eight (8).


Dear Dvalin9891 - I agree, it's great that the Arabic-Swedish course is out, but it leaves support light on the ground for our seven other languages. We are one of the most linguistically diverse offices in UNHCR, so we are really looking forward to the Duolingo community helping us to make these flashcards.


I can help with English and Russian (to an extent). :)


Hi notdeadluna! While Russian isn't one of our specific languages for our office, you can get involved and help supply translations using the hashtag we will use once we have published the cards. See the answer I gave to b05aplmun.ca for more information on how this could be done.


I think Russian would be VERY useful for anyone settling in Latvia or Estonia, especially in cities like Narva and Daugaupils where virtually everyone are native Russian speakers. Russian is also often a requirement on the labour market. So even if Russian isn't a "specific language for your office", I believe that learning Russian would help refugees to integrate.


Bra initiativ! Jag hjälper gärna till! :)


Hej Lars! Tack för att du stödjer projektet. Vi ser fram emot att arbeta med er här i forumet och hoppas verkligen att du kan bidra med översättningar från svenska! (Was that right?)


Javisst, det var helt rätt!


Hi! I'm sure if you google 'core 100 words' in any of the languages listed above, you will find the most frequently used words. or you could use my course at Memrise for completely random words:) http://www.memrise.com/course/980077/3-words-a-day-norwegian/


That isn't as easy as you might expect. Sure it is easy enough to find lists of most frequently used words on google, but it is a lot harder to decide which ones are actually immediately useful to know. I've been trying to compile a list of essential words in any language, I started with the aim of choosing 500, but every time I try to boil it down to that, I end up adding more instead, heh!

My aim was to have a deck of 50 cards (ie average set of playing cards) that constitutes most of the words you would need to know in an average day, but it started to look like I would need 50 words on every side of every card...


This population might also need to understand specific phrases that don't come up that much in most of our daily lives - things like "Do you have your birth certificate with you?" "Do you have your passport with you?" "Your children's birth certificates?" And, since families are probably splitting up, for pragmatic reasons or by accident, on their journeys, phrases like, "Are you the legal guardian of your niece?"

And on and on through endless bureaucratic phrases.


Basic (or not so basic) medical vocabulary would also be important. I know that if I suddenly found myself in a strange country where I didn't speak the language, one of my priorities would be to be able to find medical providers and to be able to communicate about my medical issues.

General phrases like, "I am allergic to ___," "I need to renew my prescription of ____," or "Could you refer me to a doctor who speaks Arabic?" are likely to be useful. So are phrases that might describe common injuries resulting from the journey itself, such as, "I think some of my blisters may be infected."

A smaller subset of people will have a critical need to be able to say things like "I have a history of _ surgery," "I had a reaction the last time I had a flu shot," or "My daughter is diabetic," but at that point it might be best to give up on the flashcards and rely on translation and/or individual instruction.


This is really great stuff. We've so far got emergency words and let's go ahead and add the medical terms to the list as well. I agree that some phrases are best not given as flashcards, but words like allergic, or for common issues (ill, pain, upset, etc) it could be enough to communicate with a medical practitioner in the beginning.


Good idea and good course, many thanks.


I don't speak arabic either but this site is much better than google translate: http://www.wordreference.com/enar/


Hi -.-., Thanks for that! I don't understand much of what's going on on the page (need to drastically improve my Arabic) but I managed to use GoogleTranslate to make sense of it (it was a little bit like Translator-inception for a while).

[deactivated user]

    Do you guys plan to extend this to other regions, such as Asia?


    Hi Everyone!

    Just to let you all know that we have been working behind the scenes to make this happen. We will have an update for you all tonight with next steps and a structure for working.

    Thanks again for all of your suggestions and help!


    Thanks for keeping us updated!


    UNHCR_RRNE, Duolingo currently doesn't have courses for Finnish or Icelandic, so finding native speakers of both those and Arabic might prove difficult at the moment in terms of possible candidates from this site. But hey, maybe you can poke the Duo staff on releasing Icelandic and Finnish courses so that native English and Arabic speakers can be one step closer to helping you! ;D


    From what I understand from the OP, the idea is:

    • Step 1. "to help us choose important words for integration"
      First to only create a list of basic vocab. in the 8 languages that would be helpful to integrate specifically into those 8 countries.
      => So this part needs in fact only people familiar with the culture of each ones of Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian and Swedish, then making a common list. No Arabic speakers needed in this first step.
    • Step 2. "and to help us translate them"
      Then, in a second time, to have this list of words/concepts translated into Arabic.
      => It only needs one speaker of "Arabic and only one of the 8 languages": the flashcards will be one arabic word with all 8 words (in each of 8 languages), so if someone speaks both SV and AR (for example), it'd be enough to translate the all deck of flashcards. Of course, if several persons are available, it'll be faster. ;)

    Just to say that it doesn't seem to need for teams of volunteers for course IC<-EN and FI<-EN to be mounted up since none of the steps seem to need, per se, that the persons involved do speak English (but they'll probably do anyway ;)).
    But, in case the OP want to enter in direct contact with such native speakers:

    • here a discussion about Estonian for English speakers course where people familiar with Estonian culture may be found.
    • here a discussion about Finnish for English speakers course where people familiar with Finnish culture may be found.
    • here a discussion about Icelandic for English speakers course where people familiar with Icelandic culture may be found.
    • here a discussion about Latvian for English speakers course where people familiar with Latvian culture may be found.
    • here a discussion about Lithuanian for English speakers course where people familiar with Lithuanian culture may be found.


    Wow, thanks for compiling all of that. I'll be sure to make contact in the threads you've mentioned.


    A good suggestion: I think that you should put not only phrases and pieces of vocabulary, but "miniguides" about each language, detailing pronunciation and basic grammar.

    For example, I could see refugees being confused with ð, a unique letter of the Icelandic alphabet pronounced like "th", which can be explained in the "miniguide".

    Also, flashcards teaching the Latin alphabet would be very helpful for learners.


    That sounds like a very worthwhile initiative. I wish I could help, alas I can't speak any of the languages involved.

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