Japanese has surpassed Irish in the amount of learners!
Nice work, Team Japanese!
Japanese currently has 3.98 million learners, while Irish has 3.83 million
ありがと ございます to Hideki, Moeka518, Kippis, mhagiwara, Jkanero, Ayakita, and ochancoco191 for this course!
It's painful for me to see people patting themselves on the back when I see really basic bugs and glitches go weeks without being fixed.
How about we start measuring the success of these courses by the number of weeks it takes to fix basic bugs?
Also, I'd be curious how many people actually progress to a point of being conversational, in any of these courses. I have used DuoLingo to get to the point of being conversational in both Spanish and Portuguese, and I think this, not the fact that I dabbled in a course, is a testimony to DuoLingo's success.
With the Japanese course, I am much more interested in how many people stick with this course to the point of being able to carry on a conversation, read and write and interact with people online, and go the rest of the way towards fluency (or at least get to where they would be able to do so in the future) through immersion. THIS is the true test of DuoLingo's success.
And this is where the bugs become relevant, because they hinder people's learning, especially at the early stages. They frustrate...and they waste people's time. They are an inefficiency. Little bugs that could take minutes for a skilled programmer to fix, collectively, waste countless hours of the users' times...especially considering the MASSIVE userbase of the Japanese course and the fact that users are going to repeatedly practice the same section. So even a glitch or bug that only results in a few seconds of unnecessary confusion or wasted time, is going to collectively have a huge effect on the efficiency of the course as a whole.
Let's start with the mispronunciation of は in the basic hiragana lessons...it spells out "ha" but then says わ as if it were the topic particle. I don't have a problem with it prononcuing it わ because it's pronounced here, but it's confusing to new learners.
To see such a simple bug go un-addressed for weeks, months even, makes DuoLingo look like abandonware, and I think it reflects badly on the people who develop the site. I'm not talking about the team of course contributors, I'm talking about the people who have the authority and technical skills and tools to fix this bug, presumably, the paid DuoLingo staff.
I'm a paying subscriber. I can cancel my subscription at any time. And I will, if the current trend of no bugs I report ever getting fixed in a timely manner continues.
I really love DuoLingo, but it is incredibly aggravating to see these things go months and months without even the simplest, most basic bugs being fixed.
Who is with me on this?
Are you sure it's a bug? は is pronounced 'ha' in normal words. When は represents the particle は it is pronounced like 'wa' (i.e. the same as the kana わ). To reflect that difference in most (but not all) romaji systems は is written as 'wa' when it is the particle and 'ha' when it is not.
Yes, it's a bug because it occurs in the very beginning when they're teaching Hiragana, and it explicitly has you match は to the Roman letters "ha", and then it pronounces it わ.
Don't you remember this? You're level 7, I'm sure you went through that lesson at some point. I would be surprised if you didn't notice that. I'm like, yeah, for someone who already knows how Japanese works, that's a glitch that is easy to overlook and move on, but I remember thinking: "This is going to confuse the heck out of newcomers."
And this is just one of many such glitches. It misreads 中 and has you match it with ちゅう but reads it out loud as なか. It even pronounces "ちゅう" as "なか" in the matching exercises when you click on it.
Duolingo has said that Japanese was their most requested language, so it's likely that more people that requested Japanese will join over the next few months.
Also, Japanese will probably be up there with Spanish and French on the list of "languages that people start, learn the first few skills of, and then never go on Duolingo again" because of anime and manga culture. Children that like Naruto, Dragon Ball, or similarly popular mainstream anime will learn about Duolingo, start taking Japanese in the hopes that they'll be able to watch without subs, get bored or frustrated, and then quit, but because majority probably won't remove Japanese and take another course or delete their accounts, they'll stay as part of the overall learner count. Since Spanish and French got headstarts of several years, Japanese probably won't overtake them, or even overtake German, but hey, you never know...
I'm going to college next year and will almost definitely major in Japanese. If what you say is true...
Don't get me wrong, I really like anime and manga (and admittedly consume a lot of it). They're both pretty good resources. Anime let me get used to the natural rhythm of the language and every so often, it teaches me new words, grammar, or phrases (like 人間, meaning "human," and the phrase なんでもない, which means "it's nothing/I'm fine"), and hearing words that I already know often helps me remember them more easily. But I really take my study of the language seriously, and though I genuinely enjoy anime, it's primary purpose for me is still as a language tool, so taking classes with so many people that take it so casually will be... an experience.
Although there's always the possibility that I'll place out of the more basic classes and start off at a level where most other students are more serious and committed to the language, and I guess worse comes to worst, if I don't place out, they'll just come to me for help every so often and maybe I'll be able to share my insights about why I love the language so much, and that attitude may rub off on them.
10 months later... (2018-10-14)
I think people's comments were a bit pessimistic here!
Here are today's learner numbers:
21,729,366 - Spanish
12,680,077 - French
7,177,642 - German
5,031,352 - Japanese
5,028,983 - Italian
3,116,539 - Korean
2,762,523 - Chinese
2,723,159 - Russian
2,265,236 - Portuguese
1,350,208 - Turkish
1,327,025 - Dutch
1,070,121 - Swedish
(Yeah, I know Duo changed the way the learner numbers are calculated to now instead show the number of "active" users, but we still overtook Swedish, Dutch, and I think even Russian before it changed!)
For a while we've been gaining on Italian and have been starting to give them "a bit of competition". The learner numbers were updated within the last couple of days. Now Japanese has passed Italian!
I didn't go so far as to imagine we'd overtake Italian. I guess even my comment turned out to be too pessimistic! :P
Not quite 4 million, but yeah it certainly hasn't gone down to 3 million either! Currently on 3,997,404. ^^
With such a ridiculous rounding error where they can end up with 3 million instead of 4 million, I'm just very glad Duolingo isn't a bank or somewhere even more serious where that could've lead to a major catastrophe! :D
*** Update (21 hours later) ***
It now says 4.01 million. We're now on 4,012,204 (an increase of 14,800 participants for the 24 hour period). ^^
When I checked a few hours ago, at that time it still said 3 million and still hadn't increased at all from 3,997,404. So it looks like Duo only updates the counter every 24 hours.
I'm surprised at how many people want to learn Japanese relative to other languages like Chinese. I encounter Chinese people in my daily life nearly daily. Japanese speakers are rare...I do come into contact with them but usually only if I seek them out...and probably only because I live near an English language school where there are usually at least a few Japanese students.
I encounter both Japanese and Chinese online, but I encounter Chinese far more often these days and over time, the balance seems to be shifting more towards China. Japan was on the web earlier and back in the day it was much more prominent, but I think that was a thing of the past.
And that's just one language, there are many other globally important languages for which I think the lack of interest in the U.S. is a bit puzzling.
I think both languages are interesting and important, but frankly, I don't understand the volume of interest in Japan, especially, relative to the lack of interest in other globally important languages.
It's not really the quantity of people that speak it or how common it is for you to encounter someone who speaks the language, but rather it's about the culture you gain access to. Japanese media has a very strong presence in Western entertainment and thus a lot of people become familiar with it and it ends up sparking an interest in the culture.
To use myself as an example, I could surely make more use of Chinese. My country (Guatemala) is one of the few that officially recognize Taiwan's sovereignty and as a result both countries have tight bonds. I have through my life met quite a fair bit of Taiwanese immigrants and their children.
Similarly, Korea is also a country that has close bonds with mine though this is more due to the fact Koreans are the either first or second (can't remember exactly) most common immigrant group. A lot of Korean also end up as business owners, mostly exporting stuff from Korea so that other fellow Koreans can feel less alienated.
And yet, I decided on Japanese. (I deleted it from my profile because I breezed through the course and ended up annoyed at how basic it is and the fact I had to enter dozens of different error reports on just about any sentence because the machine wanted me to use a very specific combination of kanji and kana.)
Why is that I chose the clearly inferior language in terms of practicality? Well, I just am not really interested in what Chinese and Korean have to offer. Not that I have anything against people who speak those languages, but I haven't gotten anything that hooks me to either. I know there's a pretty popular K-pop and K-drama scene but it's not anything that I've ever really taken a liking to. Not to mention the most I know about Chinese entertainment is that there's a lot of knock-offs of stuff from the west.
However, with Japanese there's a lot of media I have access to: manga, anime, video-games, J-pop, J-dramas, and so on and so forth that I have a much stronger affinity for. Not to mention through this media I have gotten a taste of the culture, which served as a gateway into exploring it further and becoming more engaged.
IMO, that engagement with the culture and the opportunity to connect with it more closely is what matters the most and what will make the difference between having the motivation to reach fluency and dropping the language midway through.