How about a course for "First phrases in 50 languages"
Actually how about a course for "first phrases in 150 languages" or 500?
In many of the worlds major cities there are hundreds of languages spoken. (I've seen claims of 400 in London, and as many as 800 in New York).
I'm never going to be as fluent in any of them as my new neighbours are in mine but wouldn't it be great to know how to greet people, say welcome to the neighbourhood, say thank you, wish them a happy birthday, or offer them a cup of coffee in their own language?
I might also want to be able to say, "sorry, that's all I know" and invite them to teach me the next useful phrase.
Start with the most common in your area and gain some extra lingots for every time you get to use each language for the first time face to face (I've a couple of thoughts on how to ensure no cheating)
This isn't about becoming fluent, but being friendly ...and with requests for longer courses in another 150+ languages in the forums this also seems like a good way for contributors to make a start at putting some of their own language into duolingo.
It would be interesting but sounds like something not for duolingo. I think you have found a blueprint for your own website/ app or even ebook. You've even written the basic premise and marketing material.
I'm not exactly with the idea, but I don't oppose it either. There are three things I'd like to mention:
You won't be able to maintain an acceptable accent if you don't delve, at least, a little further into the language. I remember as a kid, my English knowledge was limited to "Hello" and "Sit down please" and things like that, an I still remember my horrible accent when saying those! (Disregarding that I prefer to use "Please, sit down" with a smile nowadays.)
There's also a certain problem with remembering stuff. If there's a net, a language, one very unrelated word can get your mind to remember something you wanted to say. But if it's, like, ten phrases, mind is more likely to forget them. (I think!)
Besides, I'm reminded of a friend of mine who tried to communicate in ASL for the first time. The result was that the second person was excited and signed something back, but my friend couldn't respond, and couldn't switch to another language either. (That ended well because someone fluent in ASL intervened) Point is, if that person gets their hopes up that you know the language then finds out that you don't, I think the results won't be "lovely", at least.
It is a really good idea, but maybe needs some more work?....................... no offence or anything.
Great comments so far. The idea does indeed need more work. That's partly why it's out here. Good points about the challenges of getting an acceptable accent. First challenge is getting something recognizable and of not saying that means something inappropriate by mistake. It maybe that exposure to more of the language helps which might involve repeating more words and phrases. Additional exposure also gives people a better ear for recognising what languages are being spoken even if they don't understand the content. Some of the existing courses provide some of the content I'm suggesting fairly early on but the difference is in seeing what the end goal is and working towards that. Tiny cards and memrise certainly seem good options for first steps approaches.