Would you rather see Duolingo expand their (non-English) base languages or add more?
This is a question I've sorta seen answered here and there every one in a while on posts asking about what people want to have for a new language course. But I want to know specifically the stance you take on this.
By "base language", I mean the languages from which you learn the language being taught. As of now, Duolingo has 22 base languages that you can learn a language from (Codes: En, Es, Fr, Pt, Ru, Ar, It, De, Tr, Zh, Uk, Hu, Ko, Cs, Hi, Ro, Ja, In, Nl, Pl, Vi, El), the majority of which teach only English at the moment. Duolingo is also developing 6 language courses teaching English using a different base language (Tagalog, Thai, Bengali, Tegulu, Tamil, and Punjabi). In total this is 28 languages that Duolingo either has a base for or is planning to incorporate as a base.
In addition to this, English as a base has the most languages that are taught, 22, and 9 other languages that are being developed (that we know about). This is more than even the second largest base language, Spanish, which teaches 8 languages (two of which you can't learn from another base), and recently started developing it's ninth course, Russian for Spanish. this means that the English base has about 3 and a half times as many courses either available or being openly developed as Spanish, which is the second largest base language!
Despite the growing demand for more English-base courses on Duolingo, do you think it's wise for Duolingo to expand their other base languages to catch up with the English base? Should they add more base languages? Why or why not?
Personally I think they should at least add several more languages to be taught in existing non-English bases before they add another base language or another English-base course, my reasoning being that most base-languages seem somewhat small and under-catered, especially compared to the English base. And no this isn't me wanting to do laddering. Most people that spend time in another base language want more diversity in the languages Duolingo offers for the language they are learning in. Most of them have only English, or English and one or some of the 3 other popular languages (Spanish, French and/or German). I would like to see a few bases start looking more like the Spanish base before I see another two X-for-English courses.
I think that there should be a greater investment in getting languages that are unique to a certain non-English base language. I want Galician, Nahuatl, and Basque for Spanish speakers. I would've said Haitian Creole as a unique language for French speakers, but instead I'll go with Occitan and Breton. If they made a course of Tupinamba for Portuguese speakers, I'd learn Portuguese. A Sicilian course for Italian speakers, I think the other Duolingos need something to be proud about, rather than playing second fiddle to the English Duolingo.
Yes, this is what I meant about "more language bases looking more like the Spanish base". If they had a Breton for French course, I'd probably prioritize French over other languages. But I also want to see more things like Russian for Ukrainian, or Japanese for Korean, or Arabic for Indonesian. Geographically and culturally, combinations like those will make sense, and also add a "flavor" to base languages.
Well, it was ORIGINALLY developed by a guy from Guatemala who wanted to make English more available to the rest of the world, so.
Since the Test Centre is one of the income streams they're trying to build, and since so far it only certifies English ability, I think you'll get your wish, and we'll get English taught from a lot more languages. Courses teaching English from Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, and Punjabi are already in the Incubator as part of Duolingo's efforts to expand into the Indian subcontinent.
The greatest increase in overall utility would come from teaching English to more base languages.
My feelings about this, or what I would rather see, are irrelevant.
It really depends on demand and supply. If there is an appetite for a language to be taught in a particular language, then of course it makes sense to act in accordance to demand. For example, I reckon there is more of a demand for an English course for Spanish speakers; than there is for a Ukrainian course for English speakers.
True, but I doubt there was more demand for Esperanto for Portuguese speakers than for Latin or Finnish for English speakers.
I think it also depends on resources. If there is high demand but little to no reliable resources, how can they provide the public with a quality course? Of course sometimes it confuses me why they have five courses for Arabic speakers, four of which are completed, and no Arabic course being taught; they clearly have the means and demand to do it. And I don't think the script is stopping them (it's a little harder than the Hebrew script but it works in much the same way).
The X language for Arabic speakers courses were developed VERY quickly in response to the surge of refugees that Europe is experiencing. They were developed for a very practical reason.
I still think that having the other side of the equation would further help the situation to an extent.
I'm curious why you think it's more important that e.g. Romanians get a Spanish course than it is that Croatians, Georgians, or Bulgarians have anything on the site directed at them at all.
The "2nd" language trees can seemingly wind up almost stunningly unpopular. Spanish for Chinese came out only a week after Hungarian for English, and the Hungarian course has almost 50% more users. And it's Hungarian.
One can imagine language pairs not involving English that would seem to have a large built in market: Arabic for Indonesian? But I think it's a safe bet they'd be faster in coming if more than 1.68 million of Indonesia's 260-odd million people had signed up for the English tree. At the moment every language with an English course with at least 9 million users has a minimum of 3 courses live / in the incubator, but no language with fewer than that has even a second course under way. This situation assuredly won't endure indefinitely. The three largest base languages without a 2nd course right now are Vietnamese, Romanian, and Hungarian. I wouldn't be surprised if the first "2nd courses" for languages not having one yet are French for Vietnamese and German for Hungarian.
I imagine in the not too distant future we'll have Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Latin, Japanese and possibly Korean for at least the European "major" base languages (could be a while to track down the right contributors between Chinese and Arabic, for example; even the UN doesn't bother trying to find this interpreter combination) and a smattering of additional ones, but I would be reasonably surprised if even a Spanish or Portuguese (with the 2nd and 3rd most users) gets e.g. a Hungarian or Danish course in the next five years.
Neither, I would rather see expansion of some of the most popular courses. Paragraphs to read or listen to and answer questions on with a goal of making achieving B2 status on one site
I'm relatively new to Duo so I didn't have immersion as an option without the backdoor hack to get in. I assumed that meant it was on its way out what is really disappointing is they didn't replace it with anything better. Clubs are as far as I can see a joke and while Bots are a good addition to starting language skills they aren't going to take someone further than they can get in the current course.
yeah, it was a option to read and translate passages. It was good to put what you learnt in to actual useful sentences!
What is the "backdoor hack to get in" that you mentioned? Do you think they'll bring back immersion? I really enjoyed it.
If you went to duolingo.com/translations/upload, you could create Immersion pages whether you had it or not.
In his AMA, Luis said he removed it because literally less than 1% of all users used it, even factoring in OS availability and activeness, and since they're working on switching to a "10x faster" version of the site right now, it would have been more work than it was worth to move it.
I am going to be greedy and say I want more courses for English speakers.
Honestly I can understand that. (cough cough, still no Arabic or Chinese for us, cough cough)
Luis said in his AMA that Chinese should be in the incubator by the end of 2017 and Arabic should follow soon after.
I hope he keeps his word this time. I was a little disappointed when 2016 ended and there was still no sign of Arabic.
He said in the AMA that Japanese would be out soon, along with four or five smaller languages this year, as well as a website update. Soon after that, we got Haitian Creole, then Japanese, and some users are being A/B tested in the new site.
Everything he's said would happen so far has happened so far, so I'd say he's kept his word. I hope one of the "smaller languages" is Finnish/Latin/Icelandic, which doesn't seem completely unlikely.
I wouldn't mind some additional courses for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French. These are the main languages that I use for laddering without getting TOO confused.
I would also welcome some of the more exotic courses (like presently German for Turkish or Swedish for Arabic), but I would probably get stuck at some point without at least completing the [base language] for English course first.
Yeah, the Italian and German bases could benefit from having at least two more language courses each. They're languages that many people like to learn in addition to a few more "exotic" languages. I think they each only have 3 courses at present. Spanish has a lot more available than Italian and German combined.
There are also smaller languages that people want that would make more sense being learnable from a non-English base; Breton for French, for example.
Indeed, German and Italian would be the most sensible bases for a host of minority languages / ("dialects"). I'm sure Portuguese for Italian and German and Italian for German will get here soon enough. I'd be thrilled if I had the same confidence for Sardinian, Friulian, Bavarian, etc, etc. Regrettably, none of these idioms have anywhere close to the vitality of a Catalan or a Guaraní :(
As far as I know, Duolingo's courses are all made by volunteers, and as such, which new courses are developed depends primarily on the interest from people motivated and proficient in the languages the course involves. It would be strange if the site's admins did not accept all meaningful volunteer contributions made, so I don't think more courses from English means less courses from other languages or vice versa.
Plenty of volunteers isn't enough. They all need additional Duo resources to launch unfortunately. If Duo could accommodate every language that had a dozen bilingual volunteers they would have hundreds of courses by now.
I don't know specifically one of the Q&A with Luis said that was the issue. I would guess it's in uploading the data. You would think that they would have templates made to make it plug and play but look at how poorly Google translate does.
Volunteers for the courses need to design the course based off a curriculum that they must pull from other sources, mainly books (the Hindi and Indonesian teams both said flat out they were using literary sources when they started off; the Hindi Team even posted a picture of the books they had for reference). This is one reason the Yiddish course is taking a long while to launch; lack of reliable external resources.
I would like to see more languages for Spanish speakers and other non-English speakers. Yes, I like laddering, but I really want to see more diversity in what Duolingo offers.
English speakers already have a cornucopia of languages to pick from. More languages is never a bad thing, but I think what Duolingo needs is more for non-English speakers.