1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. I'm Luis von Ahn, co-founder …


I'm Luis von Ahn, co-founder and CEO of Duolingo. I'm doing an AMA on the Duolingo subreddit!

January 23, 2017



Here are some of the highlights from the AMA:

  • Full website rewrite and a forum overhaul with improved search
  • Immersion not coming back (partly because of the rewrite)
  • Japanese hopefully this year along with a way to teach different scripts
  • Mandarin "eventually", Arabic "at some point", Latin "noted", "not sure" about Finnish, currently no plans for African languages
  • 4-5 smaller languages this year
  • New exercise types to teach more advanced listening and reading comprehension (longer passages) in the next couple of months to get complete beginners to B1.
  • Tips notes on mobile this year
  • Tinycards on web in February/March, after that on Android
  • Pay to remove ads on Android
  • More features to Clubs soon


He said Mandarin could be this year too. His exact quote was "No ETA yet, but we should have it this year."


How can duo compete with HelloChinese app which is already popular for Chinese and has much more cool features than duo?


HelloChinese, while good, does not have an option to review all of the skills you've learned so far, so retaining information is harder.

The HelloChinese course is also considerably shorter than a typical Duolingo tree. It has about 45 skills of 3 to 4 lessons. By comparison, the German from English tree on Duolingo has 123 skills; French from English, 81; and Russian from English, 79.


In fact, the shortest Duolingo tree, Turkish, has 52 skills.

I got the number from another user, correct me if I'm wrong.


look for example on Latin or Navajo


If there remain 'technical problems' with writing systems, Mandarin should be a lot easier to implement than Japanese, as it is much less arbitrarily complicated. I was surprised to get the impression that Japanese would be here first; if Duo can handle Japanese then it can certainly handle Mandarin, but not necessarily vice versa.


Thanks, the development must have sped up since his original Mandarin comment.


Nice. Thank you for posting this here.


The rewrite of the website making it "literally 10x faster" apparently, and presumably more reliable for the various common bugs. And also explained that while small languages would be great to preserve, implementation is very resource-hungry due to having to record all the voice clips with a native etc


Well, he's already re-written it, and so far, to me, the website is going faster than ever.


He did mention one African language: "Yes, Swahili is coming in a month or so! I don't know of any plans for other African languages."


Is it OK if I ask a question here? (I don't have an account on Reddit). There are languages like Finnish and Latin which have been requested over and over again on the forums. Is there a specific time when you plan on releasing these languages? I presume that because they are so highly requested, they would attract a lot of learners (including myself), and if you could chose one language which isn't on Duolingo yet, with a guaranteed million learners that will sign up, and a government deal to use it in schools, what language would you pick?

Thanks Luis!


He started answering the questions on reddit - apparently Japanese is coming this year. No mention yet of finnish or Latin.


Best news they've given us in a while.


He acknowledged the popularity of Finnish, he also noted when a user lectured him on the significance of Latin. He also said that Mandarin could likely come this year as well


Well, he said "hopefully" this year, so that's not for sure yet, but I will say that this is far better than I had expected. I can't wait for Japanese! Mandarin Chinese will then also be a possibility, he has confirmed.


I could copy and paste your question onto reddit if you'd like, I'll put your name on it and copy and paste his answer here :)

EDIT: Still awaiting replies, I will contact you when I hear back :)


Would you be nice enough to post a question there? Dear Luis, although we must accept Immersion is gone, users are eager to retrieve years of translation work made using the feature. Is Duolingo planning to grant access to texts in Immersion (even if only in read mode) to retrieve their translations? Thanks!

Thanks a lot in advance (in the form of some lingots for you) :))


I only saw it today. I will post it for you.


Thanks a lot, TseDanyloXD :)


Maybe you could also mention in the question that there are dozens of volunteers for both, some professional teachers, and there should be no technical problems, not even with Finnish since Hungarian has been successfully added. Those were the three criteria they gave here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/18949556


It would be nice to get more people to speak Finnish. Moreover, I can volunteer with translations :)


That would be great if you could! Thanks so much!


He is not committing to an answer on Finnish... He says he "understands people are asking for it" but there are many requests for languages etc etc.


That's another no then!


I don't have a reddit account either, so, when do you plan on getting CLUBS for the web? When are you going to get immersion back on?


Yes, I would like for you to do that, TseDanyloXD


Ok, I'm in GMT time and the answers will begin at 10pm here so I will get back to you tomorrow with the reply :)


Yes! When I was in Mandarin Bilingual, I was hoping DuoLingo would release a Mandarin course. It IS popular, and people want it. Data isn't everything.


Thank you for responding to the petition here https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20374000 I have no Reddit account and so cannot join you there, so I hope that you will be able to reply here.

You will see that despite your reply to me people are still adding their names to the original petition and the French speakers have even translated my post and are adding their names there https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20399748

In addition, we are all still most concerned about the way that our work in immersion has also been removed as not only did they represent years of work on subjects as diverse as Wikipedia articles to complete public domain books such as Dante's Inferno, to give just one example, but they also contained a huge corpus of discussions. These discussions and the comments to amendments in the immersion documents are a valuable resource in their own right, representing, as they do, help and guidance on a whole range of grammatical, lexical and cultural subjects.

There is a further petition here https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20382789 which again politely asks for access to our translated documents.

I sincerely hope that you will see your way clear to reconsidering your decision, even if only to provide us with access to the work which we have done. Many thanks for your time. Gena.


Sorry, Gena, I made the same petition above. I did not see yours till now :((. I hope we will have some kind of answer on the matter. Keep well, sending a hug!


Ana, that IS your petition, I just thought I'd include the link for it here. I hope we'll have some kind of answer too but I'm not hopeful. You keep well too, returning the hug with interest! :-))


:DD Oh, it's raining lingots, Halleluja! (add the well-known tune to it)


would access to completed documents only be open to those who participated in immersion? because i would love to see them for reading comprehension.


I would like to think that if we do get access to our documents, that the resource that they represent would be available for everyone. There is a lot of expertise and advice there as well as the reading comprehension aspect. May I suggest that you sign Letra_a's petition at https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20382789 Thanks, Gena :-))


Nice, and I have no questions for Duolingo. Duolingo is just the way I like it. It is also nice of you to do this, since lots of people have tons of questions about Duolingo.


He said Japanese is coming! Yay!


He said Arabic was coming last year; it didn't...


He didn't say that. he said:

It’s hard to guarantee when the course to learn Arabic will be live, but I’d like it to be in 2016.

  • 2448

Everything is forgiven now.


Yay! Although I'm more of a Mandarin person, this means progress towards Mandarin!


What is an 'AMA' and a subreddit?


AMA: Ask-Me-Anything
Subreddit: A subject on Reddit.


Not quite. A subreddit is more like a topic or forums for a certain thing on the website Reddit.

In more detail, "AMA", as you said, stands for "Ask me anything"; it is like a mass-interview, where people can ask the person questions.


Of course =)
I'll change that.


Thanks for your hard work and ingenious new way to learn a lang. I have benefited so much that I can not tell .


I think this was well needed.


I'll post my question and luis's response on here so all Duo users can see it.

James: with immersion now firmly out of the picture, what can you tell us about Duolingo's future plans for learning new languages? Are there any new updates on the horizon to bots, the store, or the lessons in general?

Thanks for all your time and hard work,


Luis: Yes, we are working on a number of initiatives, including exercises that teach listening and reading comprehension of longer passages.

Thank you for taking the time to reply Luis!


I don't have a reddit account, so I'm going to post this here: Thank you for answering the user questions! Some of the answers I've read so far make me very happy - new exercise types, courses that teach the language skills to level B1, and, above all, there's hope for a Japanese course in 2017! I'm really excited about all these announcements, and look forward to reading more about the great things to come this year. Duolingo is amazing - thank you (and the whole team) so much for all your effort!


What is "B1"?


EDIT: never mind! people already asked, please ignore this comment.

Please, Can anyone ask if they are going to create more bonus skills?

thanks in advance (I don't have a reddit account)


I really like Duolingo, it's easy to use and fun to learn from! I just started again and there have been a ton of updates that I really like and improve the overall feel of Duolingo! Thanks for the hard work!


There used to be a conjugation button when I hovered over the word, there isn't anymore. Why is this? I'm doing French btw


on the French/English flash cards, why isn't "autant que" translated "as much as"? Much more importantly, is there any chance Duolingo will have learning French from Haitian Creole and learning Haitian Creole from English? Duolingo is a great program !!!


I really love the immersion! I feel like it's helping me learn more of the language beyond the course/tree. Are there any plans to involve some other hands-on expansion/practice like this after the rewrite?


A great big sincere Thank You Luis! Duolingo has helped to inspire and find the love of several languages in our family... My youngest transferred to a new school and had to take Spanish classes - which she struggled with, until I introduced her to Duolingo! It's changed her world. Thank you! I travel extensively and after a recent trip to Portugal, I started learning Portuguese on your app as well! Amazing how quickly I've been able to advance, and converse with locals already. And my Eldest (who is a former Miss Teen Canada Int'l) is a water advocate, speaker and singer. She's also is in Ajman, UAE at this very moment and is Truly looking forward to the Arabic App - so she can improve her language skills that much faster. And just a thought, what about Aboriginal languages such as Cree or Ojibwe? We've lost our own language being Métis, and would love to learn even the basics again through Duolingo. Thank you again! Sincerely, The Kohan girls.


How do you feel about this change of Crown system?! I feel that your company is now becoming stupid and super wild arrogant making this decision that don't consult with me and change my way of learning, that is unacceptable! You are making such a big mistake!


duo-lingo is lit already and gives me a new language to learn


I will spend a lot of my life in this site! am very sure! tnx Guys all


I have learned more about German using Duolingo in the month that I have had it, then using Rosetta Stone for the past three years. How far are we able to go in learning German on your system?


I would like to join spanish club but I don't know code . So, I think that it is better if Duolingo can show list of clubs for each language. It would be better to join club for those people who don't know club code.


Reddit now has a subreddit for this. http://www.reddit.com/r/duolingoclubs

You can read that without signing up.


What's the status with luxembourgish? there are already some people who wrote an entire course on it https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19593559


Where is the customer service? Why is Duolingo hiding? I try and try to contact through various ways but ZERO help. You expect people to pay for a premium service and then you walk away from problems leaving people scratching their heads in forums. I can’t even complete one level now because your service is so bad and the quality gets worse and worse. This seems to be less about learning languages and more about you making money. I want my money back now before I take legal action.


Hi Luis, will Duolingo be bringing out an Afrikaans course anytime soon?


I am a paying customer. There is a bug in the app described in the 11 email and topic on the italian forum I posted but now nearly 3 weeks later I have had no response at all why have Duolingo not contacted a paying customer who can't use the App??

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.