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Questions about Chinese

When Chinese was announced in the incubator today, I was as excited as everybody else. That being said, I do have a few questions about the course:

  1. How long will the course be? I know that the course page says 600+ characters, but how long will the skill tree be? Any specific skills that will stand out?

  2. Will additional skills be added to the course after its release? 3 months doesn't seem like enough time to create a super in-depth course. I'm hoping to use Duolingo so that I can learn to speak Chinese to a degree where I can speak with my 妈妈 and 朋友.

  3. How will the tones be taught? While I understand how tones work, they are a difficult concept to teach outside of a classroom setting. I'm curious to see how they will be taught on Duolingo.

  4. Will the course be taught only with characters, or will a mix of pinyin and hanzi be used?

If any course contributors for the Chinese for English speakers course view this message, a bit of clarification would be very helpful and greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance, and I'm really excited to see how this course will turn out!

September 20, 2017


  1. There will be 80+ skills, including bonus skills such as Internet slangs.

  2. I'm not sure what you mean precisely by "additional content," but chances are we, like other teams at Duolingo, will revise the tree sometime in the future along the way, which may include more words or sentences.

  3. There is an exercise specifically designed for tones.

  4. All sentences will be in Han characters, but the pinyin for each character will be given.

Hope this clears things up a bit!


I can second this.

By the way, we have already started designing the course in-house long before the official announcement, so the overall curriculum and skill structure and is actually almost done and in a great shape. I can guarantee that this course will be far from something that is "rushed" within three months.

Hope this helps!


May I ask whether you plan to support both character sets? Also, is support for 繁體字 going to return to the English-for-Chinese-speakers course? I noticed that the setting disappeared with the new website, but I still see the ROC flag on the 'Learning' menu.


Thank you for both of your responses.

My apologies for the confusion regarding Question 2, but I'm glad you understood what I was trying to ask. I'll edit the wording so that anyone else who sees this discussion won't be confused.

Overall, this information is very reassuring, and I've marked my calendar for December 15th.

Thanks again, and I'm really looking forward to this course!


including bonus skills such as Internet slangs.

Does this mean that the Bonus Skill system will be finally fixed by the end of the year (Estimated date of release) so that any team will be able to create them?

  1. I presume around the same size as the Japanese course, which also only took a few months to create.
  2. I certainly hope so (along with Japanese). I should imagine that both courses would need to have graduated from beta and been ported to the web, first.
  3. No idea, but no effort is made to teach them in Vietnamese, in which they are more numerous and subtle. If DL says it will teach tones particularly, I can only think it will involve some sort of voice-recognition feature (similar to the one in HelloChinese). Mandarin tones are easy; it's Vietnamese that needs such a feature!
    4.I'd guess that, taking the Japanese course as a model, characters will initially be introduced with their pinyin values, and subsequently be given an English definition when they appear in sentences. I also expect lots of 'match the tiles' exercises between pinyin and hanzi.

All this is purely speculative.


I doubt duo can compete with hellochinese on teaching Mandarin.


Duo has huge public brand awareness compared with HelloChinese. I bet most of HC's users are people who looked for a Chinese course on Duo first, and, finding none, proceeded to search for alternatives. I don't think Duo will have any difficulty competing.


Most probably since the course duo provides won't go as deep as an app which fully focuses on a specific language. So after using duo to gain some basics a lot users will go to use hellochinese


Initially, I'm sure you're right. However, I doubt Duo plans to have an extremely short course permanently (or in Japanese, for that matter); it is just the first step to a longer one. Once the first tree is stable, Duo can set loose a pack of volunteers to greatly increase its scope at no cost. If I were HelloChinese, I'd be concerned...


a "deep course" doesn't mean a "long course"


I'm also SUPER excited about the new Chinese course. I was wondering will we get to choose whether we want to learn Traditional or Simplified Chinese?


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