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Feature request: Add a timetable for new courses in the incubator

Hi Duolingo,

Reading through the discussions I find the topic of wondering when a new course would make it into the incubator a quite frequent one. I myself have applied to contribute to English for Bulgarian speakers but I have no information when this course will kick-off incubating.

So I would like to suggest a simple new feature to Duolingo incubator in the form of a single page which displays the list of courses with applications for contributions, the requirements each of them still need to meet to get to phase 1 and a rough estimation on a date when phase 1 may start.

I understand that Duolingo team must invest resources in every course and that these resources must be shared between the different projects so you must select carefully. I believe that maintaining the page I suggest will not be much of a burden to your team but it will give invaluable insight to the contributors about any dependencies in play and will give them better chances to build strong teams in preparation for the course incubation. In return Duolingo team may get better insight on the teams preparing for course incubation even before phase 1.

Do you like this idea?

Thanks, Stephan

July 5, 2016



Thanks for an interesting discussion. It might help if Duolingo members could know from the Duolingo team what top factors decide a language is to be added to Duolingo. If "Duolingo member interest" is one such factor, then a transparent automated tallying of which languages have been requested, number of possible volunteers agreeing to help, etc... would be appreciated ! If this is already available, please point me to it.


For the last three weeks I tried to connect to Duolingo team but so far I am not successful in getting a response from them. I tried emailing Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker at their duolingo.com email accounts, I tried their Duolingo profile streams ( @luis @severin ) as well as those of a few other Duolingo team members, I tried the LinkedIn accounts and the contact email addresses on the web site - press@duolingo.com, I also tried the bug report email address for Android app - android@duolingo.com. Still my request to get in contact did not get noticed.

If any of you have an idea of any way to get a response back from Duolingo team please let me know. I ran out of ideas.


I think this is a good idea for a few reasons:

  • It will lessen repeat posts demanding certain courses (Latin, Arabic and Japanese in particular; I like the languages but the repeat demand gets really overwhelmingly noticeable and clutters the forums). Of course, there will be a few "when will x be out" posts, but I see less of that in the forums than "I want x language on Duolingo."

  • It will let other people know if they can be potential contributors and plan accordingly to fit their schedule. I think more contributors can be available this way, since it becomes less of a guessing game.

  • It will allow users to see Duolingo's priorities and request a future priority which can allow Duolingo to statistically plan their next step in expanding their site and user base. For example, Duolingo is focusing on languages of India this year, and if enough users say something like "I know many friends who want to learn English, but they only speak Farsi" or "My friend is planning to go to Japan a few years from now and it'll be nice if they can have something easy to study with", they can plan their next move by introducing more learn English from Middle Eastern languages, or more Asian languages for English speakers.

I also agree with your points and I see the potential good a page like this will bring. I hope the staff at Duolingo considers this.


Thanks for building onto the purpose of the page, DragonPolyglot! I find the opportunity of Duolingo users to have influence on the strategic priorities of language selection a very interesting one. I did not think of this so far.

And your vote is the 50th one :) so I'll start preparing for my approach to the team of Duolingo. Knowing that they have plenty of requests from left and right I'd carefully prepare my first e-mail. I think September 1 will be a good day to send it. Then I'll add a comment here to let you all know what happens.


We're getting close to 50 votes so I prepared a page to get some feedback from you before I approach Duolingo team. Have a look http://kids-read.appspot.com/ and tell me if you expect something different. Of course, the steps to get to Incubator Phase 1 are just a markup for what I should get as information from the Duolingo team. Until then, you can have your favorite language in the list by adding a comment on my profile page with the text "I wish to contribute to course <language> for <language> Speakers" For example: "I wish to contribute to course Bulgarian for English Speakers" as described on the page. You will need to be patient and give me a day to update the page.

All comments are welcome!


Здравей! I applied a few days ago for the Bulgarian course (for English speakers) and I got an email that I will be contacted "when there is an opening", whatever this means.

Is there any chance of the course starting soon? Considering this post is one year old...

Edit: now I see you're talking about an english course for bulgarians. I was mislead because I found your post on that thread about bulgarian for english speakers, but there are many willing to contribute there so I expected at least it to have started, but aparently it hasn't.


I've posted on your stream already, but just wanted to say again that I think you've found a practical way of addressing users' curiosity and frustration. Good luck with your approach to the team.

(And, yes, Bulgarian, please!)


Just keep up the good work. I would gladly support BG<>EN language courses!


This is impossible to produce because Duolingo relies on volunteers to create the courses. And they cannot schedule a course until they have sufficient numbers of qualified volunteers. Even when they have the volunteers they have lots of other parameters to consider so they cannot schedule anything until the last minute, probably just before it enters the incubator.


Anything is possible :)

Any project can be scheduled. I know this from my experience as a project manager. Even though I am not familiar with the process Duolingo team follows before a course appears in the incubator for me to see, I can assume that there should not be any technical difficulties to produce a page that gives (based on the information that you put):

  1. The number of volunteers who applied to contribute to the particular course

  2. The number of volunteers who Duolingo team deemed as qualified

  3. The minimum number of qualified volunteers (since there are already running courses with a single contributor, I believe the minimum is 1) required to kick-off the course

  4. The next date when a member of Duolingo team will revew the list of volunteers for the particular course and run the qualification tests or interviews.

The first three of these may be produced with an automated report from Duolingo incubator database. The last one is entirely in control of the Duolingo team so even if they have lots of parameters to consider, they should be able to say when they plan to actually start considering the parameters for this particular course.

I know I am making wild guesses on the process Duolingo team handles the incubator with. It will be great if a Duolingo team member shed some light into it, too :)


I did not mean that a language cannot be scheduled, simply that it would be impossible to give a realistic forecast of when it could be scheduled. You could easily say language x will enter the incubator in 2017 but if there is no free slots in the incubator or one of many hundreds of other problems which prevent it getting into the incubator then you can guarantee that there will be a flood of posts ask what has happened to language X.

We already get a schedule of languages leaving the incubator and that is difficult enough to forecast and those variables are much more dependable.


This is exactly my point. You need to manage expectations and the easiest way to do it is by increasing transparency. If Duolingo says there are 2 slots in the incubator and the languages queued for those are X, Y, Z so the expectation is that X and Y make in 2016 and Z only in 2017 that will be undrstood by those who wait for Z. Then if things change and there are no qualified contributors for Z, or language A enters the queue with higher priority than Z, or anything else then Duolingo will announce that Z is postponed to 2018. People will understand that. Of course, there will be discussions on the arguments but these will be much better than the ones we see today where people are simply confused about what is going on.


The value is not in how realistic the schedule is but in the feedback volunteers get.


Which is why many people don't understand why for a course like Finnish for English speakers (the case I know better) for which there are many bilingual volunteers and that people have been requesting for ages, there's no indication of whether it has the slightest chance of being put into the incubator...


I think this is what he is trying to create, like some sort of criteria checklist as to when a new language is coming up, but with visibility to users. I think you are exactly right that you really can't schedule a start date on a project until the core people of DuoLingo are ready to tackle it, but one VERY important aspect this visibility would answer is, "are there enough people willing to contribute to 'X' language?" Maybe some don't apply to the incubator because they don't think it's popular enough, and I'm kinda tired of seeing all of these "polls" in a forum style. It only reveals one constraint....what do people want (and the sample size is super small, how do you even calculate a confidence variable or probability of its use?). What about the other constraints? Are there going to be enough contributors? They must have something internally that dictates what goes on when. I think the point is to make it visible. I'm not trying to team up on you with Stephan or anything. (I just read yalls conversations below). Sorry for this response; I'm going to post it, only because I've taken the time to write it and don't want to delete it. I feel like yall have already talked it out, so I mean no offence to either of you.


Thanks Stephan, this is a great idea. Please keep pushing for Duo Bulgarian - from the forum posts there would definitely be enough interest and people to contribute to the course




It could be even better if the Incubator application form included a way to withdraw one's application (for example, if someone applied to volunteer a year ago but now no longer has the spare time to do that volunteering).

This way, the system could show the number of applications from potential contributors without including old applications from people who aren't potential contributors anymore. :)


I'm finding it strange, that now one from Duolingo has in anyway contributed to this thread yet. It would be great to know, what groups already exist that haven'nt made it to the 1. Phase yet. And yes - it would greatly reduce the emanount of "Are you planing a course for X" Threads


Also don't forget other criteria.

For example, Duolingo seems more likely to accept half a dozen volunteers and add a course to the incubator for them to work on if they have already worked with each other than if they each applied separately.

There's also the partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps. Duolingo may be keeping some incubator slots open for them, and it can't just order the Peace Corps to start on a language - the two sides of the partnership need to agree on which language the Peace Corps will next add to Duolingo...


I have a Bulgarian boyfriend and would to be able to learn to speak to family/friends

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