Hands free Audio learning
Has an Audio only mode ever been looked at? It would be great to play duolingo through my car stereo. I was thinking like the translation and speaking tasks, you could be promoted with a phrase and either have to repeat it, or translate to you native language and respond verbally. Some limited multiple choice might work too, with the choices read out loud.
This obviously wouldn't replace existing methods', but could be a good supplement.
Love the app and can't wait for Mandarin
If you want something like that, you might want to look at Pimsleur of Michel Thomas - both are audio only courses that pretty much do exactly what you describe, and I use them a lot myself as a primary method to familiarise myself with a language. Audio only courses are a beautiful thing, it's very relaxing both being able to learn something 'passively', and also being able to blend it into time otherwise lost, like driving - although it doesn't need to stop there, consider time spent walking, cycling, cooking etc. I hope Duo does audio courses too eventually, even if I can't think of a way it fits in their business model, but in the meantime, consult your friendly local public library for these existing courses, because you know what, they are a damn overpriced and that is probably the main reason that people don't know about them already! (I'm not joking, $450 is what they want just for a full set of mp3's... why do people willingly dig their own graves?)
It can certainly fit in Duolingo's model. There are a variety of ways this could be done. For example, one could respond to most of the lessons verbally, and it will transcribe it using a speech to text software, and later on it allows you to review the sentences and correct them, when online. Another possibility that could also allow Duolingo to gain more profit is for them to use it in immersion. It reads a passage and then you offer an audio translation, and possibly transcribes it too. It could also be crowdsourced, and people can hear your translation, enter it as text, proofread it and submit it.
I'm not sure if this would work in a car, or kitchen where there may be a lot of noise, but in a calm environment it could certainly work. The only problem is that this may generate considerable traffic, and bog down Duolingo's servers.
There's also the drawback that Duo's speech recognition isn't exactly amazing. Sometimes I get marked right for saying 'uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........', other times I can repeat something crystal clear three times and still get marked wrong.
Well, there is an easier way to get it to work properly. It used to be done in old TTS software. The user would train the Engine for a couple of hours and eventually it would closely match the users voice. The trouble with this is that people aren't proficient in the language they are learning so they are more likely to make many mistakes. But it could be simpler, with multiple choice questions, where it reads the options, and asks you which option to choose. The user would then only need to say, 1, 2 or 3, for example.
I'll tell you what I think would be memorable - there's a generic musical trick where the lead singer sings a line about something, and then the backing vocalists jump in straight after and affirm it. It's in pop, rock, r&b, classical everything. I don't know if this has a name, but think of the Monty Python lumberjack song, if you know it;
Michael Palin - "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok, I cut down trees and a work all day"
Canadian Mounties - "Oh He's a lumberjack and he's ok, he cuts down trees and he works all day!"
It's a pretty fun system if the music is good enough, and I challenge anyone not to join in after each line. Laugh at me if you like, but damn, THAT is the system I would like to see implemented :)
It reminds me of something very revealing I once read - when Dr Seuss was writing The Cat in the Hat, he wasn't just pulling random ideas out of the air - he had actually been challenged to write an entertaining kids story using only roughly the first 200 of the most common words in English - a story that they wouldn't be able to put down, and therefore be compelled to develop their reading skills. I think the fact that the book is now an icon is testament to the fact that materials developed to teach language skills don't automatically have to be incredibly boring :)
ps here's the full Monty Python skit for those who haven't seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xToPCaNxaow
Some excellent suggestions in this thread, I'd love to see some of them implemented.
This!!! I have a very long commute everyday and would LOVE to spend that time constructively (like learning a new language). I would totally use this!!!