(Bi)weekly Incubator Update: Tracking Progress from February 19th to March 5th

Swahili in beta!
English speakers can now learn Swahili on Duolingo! Congratulations to the course team and to Team Duolingo!

Yet another biweekly edition!
This post comes with a one week delay, making it a biweekly (once in two weeks) edition.

PHASE 1 Progress: Total 22 courses

Swahili for English - 80% | 80% | 80% | Beta *

English for Thai - 99% | 99% | 99% | 99% (+0)

Italian for Portuguese - 92% | 94% | 94% | 97% (+3) 28-Mar-2017

Czech for English - 83% | 84% | 84% | 85% (+1) 7-Jul-2017 ^

Spanish for Italian - 71% | 72% | 71% | 72% (+1)

Swedish for Russian - 70% | 70% | 70% | 70% (+0)

French for Chinese - 50% | 50% | 50% | 50% (+0)

Russian for Turkish - 47% | 47% | 48% | 48% (+0)

Korean for English - 43% | 45% | 46% | 47% (+1) 30-Apr-2017

French for Turkish - 46% | 46% | 46% | 46% (+0)

English for Bengali - 41% | 42% | 42% | 43% (+1) 15-Apr-2017

Klingon for English - 35% | 35% | 35% | 36% (+1) 1-Aug-2017

English for Tagalog - 31% | 32% | 32% | 32% (+0) 31-May-2017

Indonesian for English - 29% | 29% | 30% | 30% (+0)

Hindi for English - 28% | 28% | 28% | 28% (+0) 1-Sep-2017 ^

English for Tamil - 18% | 18% | 18% | 18% (+0) 1-Jul-2017

Japanese for English - 0% | 0% | 15% | 15% (+0) 15-May-2017 ^

English for Punjabi (Gurumukhi) - 13% | 13% | 14% | 14% (+0) 12-Jul-2017

Spanish for Arabic - 12% | 12% | 12% | 12% (+0) 31-Dec-2017 ^

Yiddish for English - 10% | 10% | 10% | 10% (+0) 7-Jul-2018

High Valyrian for English - 8% | 8% | 8% | 8% (+0) 1-Jun-2017

English for Telugu - 6% | 6% | 6% | 6% (+0)

Haitian Creole for English - 0% | 0% | 0% | 0% (+0) 30-Apr-2017 #

Course - 3 weeks ago | 2 weeks ago | a week ago | Now (Progress delta); Estimated Launch Date (provided by contributors) (Date delta)
Date: The course team has modified the date since the last edition of WIU

'Estimated Launch Date' only when provided by the course contributors

Mean - 0.57% | 0.35% | 0.78% | 1.22% (+0.44)
Median - 0% | 0% | 0% | 0% (+0)

* This week's Leader Extraordinaire!
^ The Hindi, Czech, Spanish (for Arabic), Tamil, & Japanese teams' progress is as per their own calculation
# No reliable data for the progress

Progress Visualized:

Here's what the contributing teams have said during the last week:
(For Phase-1 and Phase-2 courses by default, and for Phase-3 courses per request).

BrandenRyan from Team Swahili wrote a week ago:

Tangazo la Kumi na Sita

Ukitaka kula nguruwe, chagua aliyenona

Course Update

You've read it right! The Swahili-English course has now been released into a limited Beta mode! What does that mean exactly? Well, the course is now in Beta for web-based learners to go through. We are currently in the stages of working on the audio recordings for the course, but in the run up to some exciting stuff (more to come on this, but not from our end!), the course is now in it's limited Beta mode for the public. So, with this limited Beta mode, please be aware that there are NO AUDIO EXERCISES - yet! This was not necessarily how we originally envisioned the course to be released, but trust me - the voice exercises are on their way.

We'll need all of your help to make the Swahili-English course successful. Now that we have the watchful eyes of the entire Duolingo community, we're looking forward to any and all error reports to fix up some of the translations and errors. When you have a team of mixed backgrounds, some of the translations sound right in one language but not the other, and vice versa! While we've been working to fix some weird or unnatural translations, there are still a number that need to be edited. We appreciate all of your hard work in advance!

As previously mentioned in an earlier Course Update, the Tips and Notes sections are vitally important for our course. We hope that they make sense, but if there are questions, please post in the Swahili discussion forums. The Tips and Notes sections will serve to help introduce grammar points before lessons and give helpful examples. Additionally, we're hoping to add more exercises to the skills in the event that some lack some "meat" as well.

This update's proverb literally translates as - If you are going to eat pork, choose the fattest pig! This essentially means Go big, or go home! We're hoping that you'll all enjoy the Swahili-English course in full!

Na upendo na amani,

The Swahili-English Team

BrandenRyan from Team Swahili further added a week ago:

Tangazo la Kumi na Sita na Nusu

Vyanzo Vyote ni Vigumu

Course Update

We're calling this update #16.5 just to add on to what we said in the last update!

We want to encourage the Duolingo community to keep submitting reports on errors on the text exercises. There are instances where articles such as the or a/an are not present in the English translations, for example, so we want to make sure those are there! In terms of punctuation/capitalization - we have to submit individual reports on our end for those to get fixed as we cannot correct those immediately in the Incubator unless we delete and re-write the text exercise, so we are submitting those edit requests as we find them as well.

We are greatly enjoying the feedback that we've been receiving! In terms of the course design - we know that our approach in organizing our Skill Tree is unconventional, but we did address this in an earlier Course Update. Culturally, we wanted to reflect that for Kiswahili, you'll almost always learn Greetings first as greetings are the cornerstone of any relationship in East Africa. Even if you cannot say much beyond greetings, those phrases are the most important in Kiswahili. Similarly, we introduce personal pronouns (I, you, etc.) early, in addition to people, as this makes verb constructions easier to create later. It is from there that the nouns can be taught. Kiswahili is different from a lot of languages in that, due to noun class agreements (of which there are many!), we do not want to teach a collection of nouns in isolation otherwise they will not make sense. The general progression of teaching Kiswahili is to teach basic constructions of Subjects and Verbs first, making a complete sentence, then adding nouns and manipulating nouns and verbs.

The Swahili proverb for this half-update means All beginnings are difficult, but it is from difficult beginnings that we can rise up to challenges and succeed! :-)

Kila la heri! - The Swahili-English Team

nueby from Team Czech wrote one week ago:

Week 85


satdeep from Team Punjabi wrote one week ago:

15% completion of the course

We have completed 15% of the course. Sorry for the slow progress in the last few weeks.

NanaAndrad from Team Italian for Portuguese wrote 4 days ago:

O curso vai sair ou não?

Esta é a pergunta de todo mundo. Temos recebido comentários de apoio e alguns furiosos porque o curso ainda não saiu. Nós compreendemos a ansiedade de vocês e agradecemos pela interação. Afinal, não estamos colaborando por nós mesmos, e sim para que seja útil para outras pessoas. Infelizmente, não foi possível lançar o curso ainda, mas acreditamos que esta (final de março) é mesma a data final. Somos atualmente três colaboradores e faremos nosso possível.

BrandenRyan from Team Swahili wrote 2 days ago:

Tangazo la Kumi na Sita na Theluthi Mbili

Milima Haikutani, Lakini Watu Hukutana

Course Update

The limited Beta course is now also available for iOS and Android on the mobile application! This is awesome news as we did not expect that the mobile application would support the course this soon. But, as we have explained before, the Tips and Notes are very helpful while learning Swahili, so we encourage a combination of using the web-based site with the mobile application for the best Swahili-learning experience. There is considerable excitement around the course launch, and we are working as hard as possible to process reports and fix some translation errors. Again, with regards to making sure there is proper punctuation and capitalization, we have to submit edit reports for each of those exercises and wait for those to be edited from the programming side, so we appreciate the patience in those exercises being edited for consistency as we can only report, not edit those ourselves!

We continue to encourage users to report errors! And if you find any Tips and Notes mistakes, you can post them directly to my profile - thank you to those who have been posting! This ensures that I see the suggestion sooner than if edits are posted in the Swahili discussion forums.

This course update is 16 and 2/3rds because it is a continuation of the last two as a lot has been happening with the Swahili course in a short amount of time! As the number of Duolingo users learning Swahili grows above 10,000, we're excited for the opportunity to connect people to East Africa through language. This week's Swahili proverb means Mountains never meet, but people do, and we hope that people feel closer to the African continent and the Swahili people through the course!

And with regards to audio - Emilian is hard at work to get the recordings done ASAP! Check it out:

Additionally, the reason that we were launched in limited Beta is to coincide with the Design Indaba event where Luis von Ahn, Duolingo founder, is presenting on Duolingo's successes and spotlighting Swahili as the first indigenous African language course. You can find out more in a Time magazine article here, a article here, and a Trib Live article here!


Swahili for English is now in beta!

Previous Update 12-Feb to 19-Feb

Last updates from:
2017: Feb, Jan
2016: Dec, Nov, Oct, Sep, Aug, Jul, Jun, May, Apr, Mar, Feb, Jan
2015: Dec, Nov, Oct, Sep, Aug, Jul, Jun, May, Apr, Mar, Feb, Jan
2014: Dec, Nov, Oct, Sep, Aug, Jul, Jun, May, Apr, Mar, Feb, Jan, 1st.

March 6, 2017


Sorted by top post

Yay for Swahili! :-)

The Time magazine article is interesting. But this quote from Luis in it made me a little sad: We started looking around and realized that we are teaching almost every European language you can think of, but we had no African languages.

There are still plenty more European languages one can think of, too...

March 6, 2017

Though there are many interesting European languages missing, I like that Duolingo has started to include African languages. "No African languages" is not a very flattering way to describe a language learning site in my opinion. The whole site is still very Euro-centric, but on its way to something better :) I just wish moving their focus to other continents won't mean they'll abandon European languages altogether, and that we'll eventually get the missing ones, too.

March 6, 2017

Yeah, while it's silly to say Duo teaches "almost every European language you can think of", Duo is dominated by European languages and there are five other continents in the world that have tons of native languages, only a few of which are on Duo. So it seems fair for the others to have a turn. African languages shouldn't be neglected, especially given the history of America and Europe with respect to Africa. I'm sure we'll get Finnish, Icelandic, Latin, etc. eventually. And from a purely language nerd perspective, African languages are cool and different, and some of them have tone levels and click consonants and other neat stuff!

March 6, 2017

Out of all the 42 languages on Duo (that is, including reverse courses and Spanish as base), 22 of them are European (if we still count EN, ES, PT, YI and EO as European regardless of where the native speakers are from) and 15 from Asia (including the 8 English courses). After that it's few and far between. We actually have more from "none" (Klingon and HV) than from the third continent: Swahili from Africa, Haitian from North America, Guarani from South, and nothing from Oceania.

Although I would add that it's probably easier to get a large language here and most of those are from Europe, Asia or Africa. That's including Quechua, Nahuatl and what have you.

March 6, 2017

Also, do American English, Latin American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese really make Duolingo Eurocentric...? ;-)

March 6, 2017

@chilvence: Sure, I know what you mean, but those current policies have nothing to do with Europe as such.

If Duolingo were truly Eurocentric (which would be odd for an American company), it would offer courses in (and from) British English, Castilian Spanish, and Portuguese from Portugal.

March 7, 2017

Well... yes. The language policy of every country in North and South America is very deeply Eurocentric and there is no glossing over it. It's come a long way from its native book burning and child abducting past, but still...

March 6, 2017

@sarefo: Yes, that's what I wrote in the post you replied to....

March 8, 2017

I think it's probably just a difference in perception. I don't really consider 'American English' to be an American language, even if it is distinct from British English (I don't even really consider them that different to be honest). Much like I don't consider Afrikaans to be an African language, even if the clue is supposed to be in the name. As the saying goes, you can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man.

For me, they are all European languages regardless of geographical location - albeit ones that have been influenced by their disconnection from the source and their contact with other languages. The way I slice the cake, the only true 'American' languages are the native ones.

March 7, 2017
  • 1091

Actually the Spanish on Duolingo is Latin American.

March 7, 2017

I will also add that in general there is simply more demand for European languages and there are understandable reasons for that, one of the main ones being that even though Chewa/Nyanja has more speakers than Swedish, more people have heard of the latter. That's not to say 20:1 is the right ratio of European and African languages but responding to demand is not unreasonable.

March 6, 2017

They do need more African languages, I agree...

Might I suggest Amharic?

አማርኛ ቀጣዩ የአፍሪካ ቋንቋ ቢሆን በጣም ጥሩ ነበር።

March 6, 2017

You will say Amharic should be the third African language when they get Afrikaans

March 11, 2017

Yes, I will.

March 11, 2017


September 13, 2017

[deactivated user]

    Any news from the English for Thai Speakers Course? It has been six months without an update and no reason given for staying at 99 for so long.

    March 6, 2017

    The Swahili course is great! Thanks so much to the team for their hard work! I love that the greetings are at the beginning. Between Brandon's updates, in which he always includes traditional Swahili proverbs, and the traditional greetings, I feel the course incorporates a strong feeling for the Kenyan & Tanzanian cultures. A+ Asante sana!

    March 6, 2017

    Great work Team Swahili, finding ways to work around your challenges.

    March 6, 2017

    Hooray for Swahili! Now, I will finally be able to make the A-Team joke. Well, after a few months at least.

    Congratulations Team Swahili!

    Also, kudos to Klingon for gaining another percent. You'll get there!

    March 6, 2017

    Great to see Swahili in Beta. Congrats! This is one of the languages I've been looking forward to the most.

    March 6, 2017

    Yes, another Inc update.

    March 6, 2017

    Is anyone else disappointed that Hindi has been on 28% for the last 8 months?

    March 9, 2017

    Most of these courses barely moved 1-2% in the last 5+ months

    March 9, 2017

    The ambiguous parts of your assertion make it a fact checking challenge.

    If I assume that it would not be fair for you to include in "these courses" the ones that were not even in the incubator 5 months earlier (as of early October 2016), there were 19 overlapping courses to look at. Of those, 10 moved at most 2 percent, and that makes your statement just survive the check.

    The 9 that moved faster averaged about 16 percent, the median being our Korean friends at 19 percent.

    April 7, 2017

    Kiswahili ni poa. :)

    March 8, 2017
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