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DuoLingo as a tool to save endangered languages

DuoLingo is such a helpful and widespread tool for learning languages; so much so that I wish as it continues to develop DuoLingo would put effort aside to making an even bigger difference by aiding in the preservation and instruction of endangered languages.

Many such languages are seeing a resurgence of efforts to prevent their loss, and DuoLingo could be an additional tool for teaching such. Though I am not a speaker yet of any such languages, I feel that it is important to preserve the world's diverse cultures (and therefor the language that belongs to them).

Personally, I would love to see Cherokee, Siksika, Hawai'ian, Maori, or anything in the Pama–Nyungan language tree.

I know there are so so many languages out there, are far too many are loosing speakers by the generation. I would be so happy if DuoLingo could play a part in preserving them, making an even more substantial cultural and global impact than it is already (by aiding in multilingual fluency).

What do you all think? What are the biggest hurdles this would face? What could DuoLingo do more or better to make this happen? How much of an impact do you think it would have? What languages would you like to see preserved?

June 15, 2017



Well, the biggest hurdles for this to happen is those in charge of Duolingo. I myself and thousands of other people have for years spoken for this cause without response, even the CEO of the company has (hollowly) spoken in regard of this, but when it comes down to it it's only about numbers, only languages with big commercial or publicity, or otherwise, value are promoted by this company.

Thats why we haven't seen mayan, nahuatl, cherokee, basque, saami, mari, or anything else interesting, even latin or finnish are breached in the name of bigger languages.

I would recommend Memrise for courses on more interesting langauges.


"I would recommend Memrise for courses on more interesting langauges."

As would I, but I'd go for the objective 'endangered' or 'lesser-spoken' over the subjective 'more interesting', as not everybody finds certain languages as interesting as others.


I agree to that!


I think part of the trouble is that when languages with hundreds of millions of speakers like Hindi and Telegu lose all momentum and contributors in the incubator, Duolingo naturally does a cost-benefit analysis on what would happen to initially enthusiastic contributors for Yu'pik or Cherokee or whatever it might be. It's undoubtedly common to all languages that potential volunteers tend to grossly underestimate the effort that goes into creating any Duolingo course—and setting up a new course in a new language costs Duolingo time and resources. I'd suggest that any applicant for a minor language seek to convince Duolingo of his sticking power, first and foremost.


I feel like a idiot because I use memrise, but it never occurred to me that I could find the lesser used languages there.


There are other places to go apart from Duo. Look here for resources on a variety of lesser-spoken languages:



You know Cherokee and Hawaiian are in Mango languages, right?


I feel like I have to add that Mango languages is only available for free to US citizens with library memberships for free, or $20 a month for the rest of us.

Equality in education at its finest. :)



I'm from Ireland, and my library card allows me to use Mango for free:) If you email them you'll find that they have more countries where library cards are accepted.


First of all, Mango is internationally available. Second of all, I'm in Canada, so it's about $30 dollars for me, yet I don't mind. Last of all, the $20/month is only for homeschool people.


Yes, the commenter above you explained that to me. It's great news- when I checked last year, it was still US cards only.


I did not, and thank you! I'm going to have to get my library card renewed, as I cannot afford a subscription.

Thanks again!


They don't even want to make courses for very big languages like Chinese and Arabic im afraid this is never going to happen


If there's a big enough audience then it may be a good idea, although I do feel like the only people who learn such languages are those who really have language learning as a hobby, rather than people like me who learn more for communication/family reasons. Just my thoughts.


It's probably true that there will be a smaller audience for those languages. I do feel, though, that a lot of casual linguists or language hobbists are currently using DuoLingo too.


I know there's a lot of linguist hobbyists here, I have seen them. I just feel like they're the only audience, although if there's enough of them, go for it!


It's kind of a challenge to find bilingual people who are fluent in said endangered language, who are also willing to put a lot of time and effort into developing these courses. Even if someone does apply and tries to help,it takes more time and more people.


I had/have hopes that some of the many programs/groups that are actively working to keep the languages alive would have the people, time, and motivation to develop these courses through DuoLingo as well as their more traditional settings. I am not a part of one of these programs though, so I could be wrong.


I've tried to apply for my own native language in the incubator (not exactly endangered, but small and pretty unknown, although I believe it would have a huge user base.) , but they're obviously focused on more 'main' languages and are too busy to take us into consideration. :(

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