Is the Spanish course no longer focused on American Spanish?
I have noticed something odd in the Spanish course recently. The verb coger has been introduced. While perfectly fine in Spain, it cannot be used in Mexico (and some other countries in the Americas). It has an extremely profane meaning in Mexico to the point that it is never used except in that profane meaning. (I took a class with a bunch of native speakers mostly from Mexico, and when in talking about dialectical variations the prof said, "En España se puede decir 'Cojo el autobús,' " the class erupted in laughter. So yeah ...
For me, it's useful to know it since I've seen "coger" in various children's books printed in Spain. But yeah, a good dictionary or dictionary app is a good idea since some words that are perfectly fine in one country are vulgar in another. This isn't just between Spain and Latin American but can occur between countries right next to each other in Latin America.
There are probably contributors from various countries and it's likely that it's not vulgar to whomever added it (or they may have a perverse sense of humor). I do know that the Catalan course is mostly from Castillian.
Speaking of laughter in classrooms, a friend living in Spain wanted to say she was like the character Zorro but decided to feminize it with an "a" at the end. Everyone laughed and the professor patiently explained that it wasn't a good word to use. I didn't realize what exactly she'd said until I started watching melodramas set in Spain. Now, I laugh ever time I think about it. We all makes these kinds of mistakes at some point.
As a Native Spanish-Speaker from Ecuador, I can tell that 'coger' is not that bad. At least in Ecuador people won't see you weird with that. But if it's used in teenagers, then it's probably why they would laugh.
If you don't know what 'coger' means, it means to grab something. For the last years, the definition of 'coger' was somehow changed and it involved a sexual meaning.
Now, I don't think it's a bad verb. It's just how other cultures (and millenials) see the word. In my opinion, I think 'coger' should be in Duolingo, because if it's not there then it will be a mistake of the course. Don't let your class laugh like that, lol. People who are using the word 'coger' as a sexual definition are just ruining Spanish.
Que tengas un buen dia amigo, nos vemos.
In my experience, "coger" is entirely sexual in Argentina and Mexico, somewhat sexual in Chile (not used, but understood as sexual) and no sexual in, at least, Colombia.
According to Royal Spanish Academy, it has a sexual meaning in Argentina, Bolivia, Central America, Dominican Rep., Mexico., Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (12 out 18).
I live a few hours from the Mexican border, so I speak Spanish mostly with people from Mexico, and I've never heard anyone say it in conversation.
The fact that it has sexual connotations in a majority of countries makes it even more sensible for there to be some warning somewhere.
This is where it is useful to have a good dictionary! I never knew that, so I looked up the 1476 pages of the Oxford Spanish Dictionary and find it is listed as vulgar, meaning to f--k or sc--w.
I will never ever again be able to go into a Ferreteria in Spain to buy "un tornillo" without worrying if I am using the correct word or not :-) * * and suppose I get the size wrong as well! I could be asking for a long or a short one?
I am devastated for life!
I believe it is still mostly focused on the American Spanish. If my memory serves me well, 'vosotros' is not on the Duolingo course. There are other examples of words being only used in the Americas and on the course, but I can not think of any. I think they try their best to mix the two together so you can learn whichever one you prefer.
The Mexicans (and most Spanish speakers for that matter) I know don't think of 'cojer' in a sexual term. The first time I heard about the sexual connotation was through Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Even so, it appears to be more of a slang - and probably due to context.
Go and use it. If everyone gets a laugh, that should also be a good thing.