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Japanese is in the Incubator!!!


February 2, 2017



If you are a bilingual speaker of English and Japanese, and interested in contributing to the course development, please follow this link. 日本語と英語のバイリンガルの方で、コースへの貢献に興味がある方は、こちらもご覧ください。 https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20648872


I am not bilingual in Japanese but I hope to be soon!


Another language

can always warm a cold heart

and silence the spam.


OMG. DuoHaiku!!


It's real this time!


It is real and it is SOON



"Our estimated completion date is May 15th. Stay tuned!"
That sounds very ambitious.


We already have all the words and some sentences laid out on a spreadsheet. I'm sure it's doable.


How many words will the Japanese course have?


I'm so happy this course is finally happening, and - regardless of when it is finished - will try it out as soon as it is released. I can't wait! :-)


Presumably there will be text to speech software, right? I much prefer recordings of real people, myself, but I suppose TTS is faster, at least.


TTS also offers the ability to add new sentences on the fly and have them said. Also from a business point of view TTS is cheaper.

Edit: they most likely will use the Ivona TTS, since it is used for all the other courses I know of, and Ivona has Japanese available.


Yes, I know, its advantages are obvious and many, so I can understand the choice for it. I still much prefer real people, though, just because TTS simply makes too many mistakes and doesn't sound as interesting/lively/real. Of course, it does depend on the specific system, which also depends on the specific language, so hopefully it will be fine.

It's not like this is going to dampen my hype too much. Still squirming in my seat over here :D


The Japanese TTS will be all that we need to build a solid foundation. Not only are all the ones that I've been exposed well developed, but Japanese only has about 108 original sounds (compared to 1,000+ in English) so building a TTS for such a phonetically simple language is cakewalk.


Hmm... Couldn’t there be a combination of TTS and human recordings? The only course I take that doesn’t use TTS is Hebrew. I understand their reasoning behind that decision, but it also creates a lot of problems where I have no idea how a word is pronounced. It seems reasonable to me to use TTS by default for every new word and sentence (I remember eagerly waiting for the Romanian course and TTS was done in two days) and then replace TTS sentences with recordings by native speakers when they have time.


Well, I don't know much about TTS programmes, but if the TTS pronounces the japanese with the correct pitch accent, I would be satisfied enough with that.


dariogerussi, if that means there will be fewer mistakes for the Japanese TTS than there are for, say, French, that would be fantastic. It would still mean the sentences are less interesting/lively/real like I said (like, say, the Esperanto ones, which are recorded from a real speaker, are), but the mistakes are my main issue with them, so I could definitely live with that.


@dariogerussi I don't know Japanese well enough to give an authoritative opinion, but as someone who prefers to learn languages on my own by reading, I encountered a lot of issues with Japanese that make me feel Japanese is probably the hardest language in the world to learn using the reading method (certainly far more difficult than Mandarin). I tried using the Chrome extension rikaikun to help me read simple texts, but there are so many words in Japanese that are written the same way but have different pronunciations that it feels impossible to know which one is correct or preferred. Now, from what I've gathered from course contributors, all Japanese words and sentences will be available in both hiragana and kanji and if they send the hiragana versions for TTS, it's impossible to have mistakes (unless stress). We'll see.


I think this has been in the incubator privately for a long time, figuring how to teach Japanese, particularly kanji. I guess the course creator were able to figure it out.


I think it's more that Duolingo itself figured things out so that the course creation could progress. But it seems to be true that the course creators have been preparing for the course a long time, which is why they can now get things done so quickly :)


I was told that the major hang up with Japanese on Duolingo was how the programming already worked on duolingo's end, and how to jive that with Japanese's need for no spaces between words and such. It was my understanding that this was the only thing holding them up. And, they already had a Japanese learner to certain duolingo languages in place, thus the vocabulary and sentences wasn't the issue.


Now once there's an Arabic and Chinese course Duolingo will be free of spam :)


What about Finnish and Latin?


Also Icelandic.


Yes, Japanese was at the top of my want list but Icelandic was definitely second!


None of those languages are on my want list except Arabic, but for some reason Icelandic is always popular.


I've tried poking at it and it is a really interesting language.


I like it because Icelandic is the modern language closest to old English - and also I like looking at Icelandic culture - I can draw many comparisons between Iceland and the similar sized island I live on.


That makes Japan first. At least for you.


It does :) I've been learning Japanese for just as long as I've been learning German face to face (a few years now) and I can definitely see the difference with my German being much more advanced (probably due to Duolingo) so I can't wait to make the same improvements in Japanese :)


I would love to see Latin on Duolingo.


I certainly wouldn't mind Catalan for English speakers, Galician, or Occitan.


Hold the Jopara, avoid (well reasoned) diatribes from Paraguayans.


If people are interested in learning Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji in preparation for this course, I created some Memrise courses to accomplish that.

Hiragana - http://www.memrise.com/course/1096566/sgjl-01-remembering-the-hiragana-in-3-hours/ Katakana - http://www.memrise.com/course/1100073/sgjl-02-remembering-the-katakana-in-3-hours/ Kanji - http://www.memrise.com/course/1091255/sgjl-03-remembering-the-kanji-ko2k1-pt-1/

The Kana courses take about 3 to 5 hours each. The Kanji course covers 555 most common Kanji (75% by frequency) and takes about 30 hours. All three courses have video lessons.

Wishing good fortunes on this becoming a great and popular duoLingo course.


I just started with Memrise Japanese a few days ago because I got impatient waiting for May. I don't know if I was using your course or not, but I really like Japanese 1. Once Duo adds Japanese, I will do that too!


Great! Now a Mandarin course is fairly possible.


Luis very vaguely said it's possible in his reddit AMA. I wouldn't expect this year, but next year yeah.


True, but I wasn't expecting JP this quickly, either. I'm riding the hype train for now, either way :)


You have forgotten about Cantonese.


Since Mandarin has more than fifteen times as many speakers as Cantonese, the former is much more likely to get added first.

Still, it would be cool to see both on here.


Completion date May 15th? Wow


I'm perplexed. Usually a language spends one or even two years in the incubator, and now Japanese would be done in just three months?


They planned a lot of the course offline before the course was even opened, I believe.


Usually contributors don't have the time (or patience) to fully complete it in a year or two. When the incubator started becoming a thing, and languages kept getting added, the average time was less than half a year. Most contributors then were more motivated and wanted to release the languages sooner :P But now the courses are usually longer and improved (with less mistakes). It still takes forever, sadly


And of course, Japanese work ethics!

  • 2527

Anyone know which writing system(s) they're using?


All: romaji, hiragana, katakana, and kanji. You can choose by the way. (At least that's what we're planning.)


Have you seen the app HelloChinese or ChineseSkill. Do you plan to teach Japanese in any way similar to those? If you haven't seen the apps. They have exercises specifically for Chinese Characters in each lesson to help you learn some, and they don't baby you and have full Chinese Character sentences from the beginning (if you want, they also let you choose to see Just Chinese characters, Chinese Characters and Pinyin, or just Pinyin) I think it is a good role model for how to do Duolingo languages with Chinese characters.


I imagine they'll end up doing this, since even for Russian you're able to turn of Cyrillic and just use the Latin alphabet.


You are? If I'd known that I might have stuck with Russian!


Yah, when you do that course there's a button in the top left that flips between them. I think it's a bad decision to have it default to romanization, but I understand why they have the option.


@ellenkeyne 1. Duolingo only allows so many comments deep. Thats why you couldn't respond directly. Long, but these might help you,. as I used to have the same problem.: 2. For Japanese, I found that using a combination of ScribeOrigins, Scribe Japanese, HumanJapanese and Semper works best. Semper is awesome for vocabulary (the only algorythm that works for me), but does not have audio for everything.

Scribe apps have games that help. Its not free, but I find it works well for me. I find that matching and drilling helps me. And it is visual. They have audio too. Only $8.99 each for the full version, but well worth it. Try it out first.

Semper is an awesome flashcard system that drills differently. It even works for ME! I would learn the Kana first. Then I would go to "specific vocabulary" and browse there. Its free! I find its easier to drill words this way. Once I learn the vocabulary, reading it in context isn't quite so hard. I find the trick is to drill and do matching games (found on other apps.) This way I get used to the letters.

Human Japanese is just different. I like it. It does have a lot of English reading in it, which makes it less stressful.

"Andrian Andronic" has apps that I find work for me as well. They are free, but you either earn flowers or pay to get all the words. Still, its very worth it. He has 6000 words or 5000 phrases for many languages including Russian, Japanese, Greek and Hebrew. I downloaded all of them, but have some stored in icloud. Ukrainian I know is missing phrases.

And the Polish is missing intermediate and advanced phrases, but they will come with an update to the app. I bought the Polish vocabulary one. It was worth the price. He has games that really help drill the words. And he has good speakers for the words.

I use him and Semper alongside duolingo so that I can cement the vocabulary. Semper allows you to make custom decks. I've not done that yet, but will once I get all of duolingo's vocabulary down in my spreadsheet so I know which ones to put in to the deck. So I'm learning new words instead, that may or may not be in duolingo.

Hebrew: Use whatever you can find on Semper and Andrian Andronic (with audio). Thats really the best options. I've not been able to buy and fit the more expensive Hebrew learning options on my phone. Best Wishes!


@Ontalor - I agree! The default to "romanization" in the Russian and Ukrainian got me in trouble as I was so confused! I do better with target language's characters.


@Ontalor, @velvelajade (and why won't DL let me reply directly? sigh):

For me it's the difference between struggling mightily with Cyrillic (and finally giving up), and sticking to the basic lessons a bit longer.

I've had the same trouble with various Greek and Hebrew lessons, and decided to avoid Arabic entirely. I've taken formal Japanese courses more than once, but never managed to learn much unless romaji were used.

For me, most languages are a breeze to study -- as long as they're written in the Roman alphabet. I wonder if I'm a very visual learner and find it very hard to absorb words I have to sound out to read!

  • 2527

That's awesome to hear! I studied Japanese for about two years back in high school and loved the language. I'm good with romanji, hiragana, and katakana. But, I know maybe 20 characters in kanji. I can read 'Tokyo' and 'Japan' and tell which onsen to go into... haha.

If I could give a quick suggestion, it'll be nice in the notes to learn about how to speak more authentic Japanese (like not constantly saying 'watashi wa') and the different levels of formality in speech. I know that native Japanese tease English speakers about these things.

I'm so excited for this course on Duo to give me a refresher on the language!


I am starting to fall in love with you!:)


Amazing news. it was a long wait for somebody to take this responsibility. Thank you very very much..



  • 2524



I almost cried when I saw this post! Yay Duolingo! And good luck to all the moderators and contributors!


Hontou? I've been waiting for this day for so long! I've been learning German face to face for the same amount of time I have been learning Japanese and I can definitely see the improvement my German has received with Japanese as a control group. Now I can study both on what I think is the world's most effective/best value/all the other good adjectives language website!


すごい !!! So happy!

[deactivated user]

    The game is on!


    Nice. If they can do Japanese then they can problably do Mandarin as well - looking forward to the day all of the big east asian languages are available on duolingo.


    If it's still there in an hour we might be on to something


    There are four contributors and a comment on the Incubator page, so I think it's the real deal.


    I'm from the future and it's still there - I still can't believe it!!!


    Wow! Looks like the real deal - excellent news!


    Yes!!! I've been waiting years for this.


    There are no words to describe how insanely happy I am right now!




    I always wondered why Duolingo didn't have Japanese yet.


    Technological reasons. The different scripts caused problems that they've been working on for ages.


    Yes! Looking forward to it!




    Wow! So much faster than I was expecting, especially with that first estimate for a release date! Extremely excited.


    Now I can sleep easy at night ^__^


    I hope this means that the mandarin course might be coming out in the near future (hopefully in less than 2-3 years). If they are going to include kanji in this course, than they would already have a decent base for how to incorporate ideographic writing systems into a duolingo course.


    The Japanese keyboard that comes with Window is very convenient. You can type in Hiragana, and it already has a list of the most common kanji or katakana characters that you can convert it to with just one push of a button. It might take a lesson just to learn how to type with a japanese keyboard, but I don't think it will be useful if we are just learning romanji. I am proposing an idea that to the side of the grammar skills, there should be skills just for learning Kanji.


    YESSS!!! This is wonderful! (^o^)/


    デゥオがカッコ?イイ笑 ;v


    How will the Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji be taught? I am very interested in taking this course once I conquer the French tree, but I am curious to see how the writing part of Japanese will be taught.


    THANK YOU!!!! Hopefully, I'll be ready for it once it is done. :D


    Yay! Can't wait!!


    Seriously? :o But I don't see it :( !! For now I'm trying English for japanese speakers :D !


    Thanks!! I can't wait! ~


    Some people fan girl over the new Ed Sheeran album.

    Some people fan girl over the new Star Wars movie.

    But I fan girl over Japanese being added to incubator.


    To be honest, this phrase is probably going to be on my grave. XD




    All 3 for me. XD




    ROFL That is so true! You should see the apps on my phone: ScribeOrigins, ScribeJapan = Fave for learning vocabulary.Kanji 1st, Kanji 2nd, etc series is awesome for learning how to write Kanji. I have Andrian Andronic's 6000 Japanese words and 5000 Japanese Phrases (look under his name to find them. Its faster.) Then I have Kana Mind, Match Kanan, Kana, Japanese (blue J icon on black), Takos Japanese, Kana Writing, JPhrases, HJ (Human Japanese), Vocavularist (Japanese, Russian, Korean to English). Plus I have "Reputas LLC" Japanese verbs for children. Its all in Japanese. I haven't used it yet, as I'm not ready yet. I have his German, French, Italian versions as well as Chinese. I'm not learning Chinese yet though. I hope that next year, I'll be able to do simple conversation in Japanese on my forum.


    As my Japanese friend likes to yell at me a lot TENNO!


    I am so excited for this!!!


    How do some People have Japanese already in their language bars????


    They're alpha testers. Some people who signed up for it got early access to help test the course prior to its official release. I was granted access too, but unfortunately one needs an iOS device, which I do not have.


    And it's available now :) I think we can improve our learning Japanese a lot if we use good materials. During my learning process, I must thank to these resources: App: Dictionary: http://bit.ly/Mazii_iOS Learn Kanji: http://bit.ly/iOS_Janki Read news: http://bit.ly/iOS_EasyJapanese

    Website: http://wordgrammar.net/how-to-learn-japanese-effectively/ https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/ https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vsZz_trkiRM9E15qHUptDXQYdPcbuXTWOw_j9fldD7g/edit#gid=0

    And of course Duolingo hope they're useful


    Sweet! But I thought it was super hard to learn Japanese because nobody has a definite translation of it, ( I could be wrong).


    Yes, that's partly true; it's difficult to translate phrases like いただきます and ごちそうさま, but we will try our best!

    [deactivated user]

      I think that is a problem with a lot of non-Indo European languages. いただきます brings me to mind of 잘 먹겠습니다, which literally means "[I] will eat well" (but it is used to express gratitude to someone for a meal before eating)... as far as I know, your average American family just says "Let's eat" or just prays before dinner.

      • 2062

      'ごちそうさまでした' means something like 'Thanks for the meal', right? I don't know very much Japanese, but I want to do this course when it comes out. Also, how many kanji will there be? I've heard 50 from one person and 80 from another. How will they be taught?


      However many Kanji characters will be taught, in whatever manner, one good way to start learning them would be to study and memorize the 214 radicals (relatively simple base characters) and their respective pictorial meanings, since these combine to form the other, larger, more complex characters. You can do so easily enough on Memrise or Tinycards.

      • 2062



      It's not too hard if you really put your mind to it. Japanese is harder than some other languages because it uses three writing systems, uses particles, has agglutination, and has a honor system. Verbs are actually easier since there is no future tense, and pronunciation is pretty easy, especially with vowels. So it's not the hardest language to learn, but it takes more time before you can actually use it correctly (at least for speakers of English).


      There are definitely definite translations for most Japanese words (nobody will argue that ringo means "apple"), but there are plenty of words that have connotations and nuances that English doesn't.

      The grammar and writing system(s) are what people usually refer to when saying it's difficult.


      You make it sound like nobody can translate Japanese. It absolutely has definite translations, if some words/phrases that don't translate directly into English, but... every language has those. You just have to roll with them.


      I'm sorry if I offended people. I don't think that personally.... Someone just told me that it was very hard to translate....


      Is this real life? crying*overjoyed


      All you Japanese learners are absoluetly amazing, keep learning Japanese! You will make it, have faith!

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