Czech for English speakers update: May 4, 2018

After quite some time without an “official” update, here are a few thoughts on the current status of our course, its mobile release, end of beta, tips and notes, and our future plans.

When is the course going to be available on mobile?

This mostly depends on the number of error reports from our users and on Duolingo’s app revision schedules. For courses that started out on the web like ours, both the course publication on mobile apps and the graduation from beta to Phase 3 have historically been driven by user report statistics (daily number of reports averaged over 100 user sessions). This daily report number bounces around from one day to the next, but generally trends downward as the mistakes are fixed, missing translations added, and the content otherwise improved. Once the number remains below 7/100 for 14 days in a row, the course should be eligible to be added to the next round of updated apps, and once the number stays below 3/100, the beta should be over and Phase 3 starts. Unlike the start of Phase 3, the mobile launch is not automatic.

Our error data feed frequently cuts out, but as I write this, we happen to be in one of the periods blessed with full two weeks of data. Our highest error rate in the last 14 days was about 3.75/100 with 4 out of 14 values above 3/100. Not only are we in the mobile zone, we may be approaching Phase 3 territory.

Both the mobile launch and the Phase 3 start may come soon; let’s see which happens first.

Where is the rest of the tips and notes?

We do understand many users rely on the tips and notes. It takes time to write them, and still more time to rewrite them when their delivery to the users gets hit by interface changes coming out of the blue. If you check our older course status updates, you will find that during Phase 1 the work on tips and notes was held back on purpose because the projected length and width constraints for their rumored addition to mobile apps were not communicated despite our repeated requests. We did not want to have to redo the notes later, but eventually we gave up and began to develop some tips at risk.

And wouldn’t you know it. The recent format change of the tips to two-column format that currently prevents wider tables from being displayed properly caught us and some of our tables by unwelcome surprise. For now, our energy is better used for other improvements of the course than on fitting new tips into their currently prescribed folded noodle format. If we delay long enough, things may change again.

Any future plans?

  • The moment this course graduates to Phase 3, we plan to hit the “create new” button to get going on Version 2, assuming that button is to be found. The planning has already started. We have a growing list of skills to split, expand, and add.
  • To support the course upgrade efforts, we have been preparing an Excel map of the existing course to let us zoom in on the location of any lexeme form in the course, along with the locator of the included lexemes in the frequency-sorted top 38226 Czech dictionary entries (lemmas).
  • These tools will help us prioritize the additional vocabulary with which to populate the expanded skill coverage, move skills and words around, and get the blueprint for the new tree version before executing the changes in the Incubator.
  • One challenge is that bonus skills are dead for courses like ours. Each topic either goes all the way in or stays out. This has implications for inclusion and placement of some of the marginal or obscure grammar skills. For example, the transgressives and the past conditional are too obscure to add as real skills because they are not very relevant in modern Czech. We will have to focus on practically relevant content.

Can the users help?

We think our users might enjoy the opportunity to shape the new (or even existing) version of the course, too. We want to involve them in helping us sort through some of the options and approaches. We do not mind flattering our Norwegian friends by (imperfect) imitation, so a few of us are toying with the idea of starting a series of forum discussions, brainstorming whiteboards, dedicated to moving towards the new version of the course. Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order:

  • New word nominations: Do you like the look or sound of some missing Czech words you wish could be added to the course? For example, the users in this thread mentioned čumáček (little snout), krabice (box), král (king), krtek (mole), krumpáč (pick mattock), meloun (melon), miminko (baby), mrož (walrus), odstřelovač (sniper), punčocháče (panty hose), vzkříšení (resurrection), and zmrzlina (ice cream). FYI, of those only krabice, král and miminko are in the top 5000 Czech words, and only zmrzlina joins them in the top 10000.
  • New sentence nominations: Anything you would like to see in the course? We realize you may not keep track of the available vocabulary, but if the stars align, your wishes can make it in the existing course! (If you do not want a reference to fly over our heads, let us know.)
  • New skills: What grammar- or theme-based skills would you like added? The team has been considering skills including Health, more Places, Tech, Religion, Maths, Materials, Shapes, Grocery/Cooking, Tools, Holidays, Fairy tales, and the following grammar: verbs of forcing, preventing, letting, starting, ending, continuing, and changing states, more adverbs, more conjunctions, fuller treatment of the vocative, diminutives, and word order skill.
  • Skills to split up: What skills would benefit from being divided—here we have talked about Relative, Arts, Nature, and possibly Science.
  • Difficult features to simplify/postpone: If you (almost) quit despite wanting to learn, what made you (almost) do it?

Thanks for your interest!

May 4, 2018


This sounds absolutely amazing; I'm so grateful to all of you for making this course and the developments have been wonderful. Thank you so much!!

The new skill ideas sound brilliant; splitting up the arts would be really helpful (although I might be slightly biased as music is my main focus, and to study music terminology in Czech as part of the tree would be excellent)

I found the modals very difficult at first, but it's getting easier with time, and it's probably just a thing I struggle with personally rather than a course issue. It's irritating that they've changed up all the tips and notes, because that was the one thing I really needed an explanation of, but it wasn't difficult to find some elsewhere on the internet, so it wasn't a major difficulty. Otherwise this course has been amazing and I'm really enjoying it so far! Thank you!

May 5, 2018

This is awesome -- thanks for the update! I don't know if I can come up with any actually useful suggestions, but it's great to have the opportunity to contribute!. :-)

May 5, 2018

This is a very well written update. Thank you.

May 5, 2018

Thank the Czech team for making this fantastic course! Thanks for the update. Děkuji!

May 5, 2018

This course is the best thing ever! I am native Polish so it's both easy and difficult for me at the same time because are languages can be deceivingly close and the course is in English. I also get to giggle a bit (I imagine it would be quite similar for a Czech or a Slovakian learning Polish), but more often I am amazed by how concise your words can be compared to ours, you basically get the full effect for half of the work. Thank you kind Madams and Sirs!

May 5, 2018

I haven't finished the tree at all, but I am taking this course in a very serious way, since I am moving to live to Prague next month. I don't know if you guys have a skill about perfective and imperfective verbs? If not, please add it in case you want to expand the tree!
There is an amazing book called 401 Czech verbs or something like that, which emphasis is in these both kind of verbs.
If you guys already have a skill about perfective/imperfective verbs in the tree, disregard this comment.

I am doing the tree very slowly, since I want to learn it in a very good way.
I am looking forward to living in Prague (again) so much, so excited! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to have Czech here on Duolingo. I really appreciate it.

P.S. Any chance to organize a Duolingo Event in Prague to practice Czech? :D
P.S. Once I am in Prague, I have in mind to buy the Step by step (Krok za krokem) book. Do you recommend it? People on internet say it's very good. Thanks!

May 9, 2018

We are aware that the perfective/imperfective distinction is one of the top sore points for non-Slavic learners of Slavic languages. In this course, it shows up in increments. Because we predictably teach the present tense first, everything is imperfective up (well, down) to Past 1, whose last lesson throws in a few perfective verbs (in the past tense). Many more perfective verbs show up in Past 2. And the real attempt at dealing with the perfective/imperfective difference comes in the skill Aspect. Of course, outside of the past tense, the perfectives finally flood in in Future 2.

One of the confusing things about this is that we Czechs are sloppy and apparently getting sloppier with the aspect use over time. For example, the sentence Kdo maloval ten obraz?, while using an imperfective verb, most likely views the event as fully done with and from the outside (i.e., not really from the ostensible but curious standpoint seemingly asking who happened to be painting the painting at the time of interest), which means we should really use "namaloval" instead. But many of us don't.

I believe your native language is Spanish. If I am right, you might enjoy this dissertation, although it is written in Czech: Aspect in Spanish and Czech.

And thanks for your interest in our course!

May 9, 2018

Thanks for your work. I have a nomination for a Czech word zavináč for the symbol in email address.

May 6, 2018

nice one!

May 6, 2018

This is very fascinating:

"To support the course upgrade efforts, we have been preparing an Excel map of the existing course to let us zoom in on the location of any lexeme form in the course, along with the locator of the included lexemes in the frequency-sorted top 38226 Czech dictionary entries (lemmas)."

Talk about a systematic way to do things! Nice!

May 7, 2018

Platí toto obsáhlé info i pro AJ z ČJ ? Protože strojový překlad může být zavádějící - prosím, nešlo by to napsat i v ČJ ? Pro ty z nás, kteří se AJ teprve učí, ať víme na co se těšit, jak (v rámci našich zkušeností) "pomoci" a co nás čeká ? Moc děkuji.....

May 5, 2018

ne, my toto vlákno přejmenujeme, aby bylo jasné, že se netýká kurzu angličtiny. tam má nový strom na talíři hlavně kolegyně. bude na ní, jakým způsobem se bude chtít vyjádřit a zapojit uživatele. zatím jí hlavně chybí schopné pracovní síly na údržbu stávajícího stromu.

jestli nás napadne šikovná metoda propojení nápadů uživatelů kurzů v obou směrech, určitě se podělíme. nominace nových vět na přidání do kurzu mi od oka připadá nejschůdnějším styčným bodem. za určitých okolností dokonce stejná věta může existovat v obou našich kurzech.

ten překlad sem ale zkusím dát, a dík za komentář!

May 5, 2018

děkuji !

May 6, 2018

Yes, we need odstřelovač in our learning! I can yell in Czech to my video games! :)

May 5, 2018

Thanks for the update! I look forward to being able to use the mobile app.

May 5, 2018

Czech on Duolingo is so amazing and useful, and it helped me a lot with my Czech learning! Thanks for update and keep up the good work! :)...

May 6, 2018


May 5, 2018

What a lovely update. Thank you! And thanks to the whole team for all of your hard work and excellent communication.

May 6, 2018

i am already looking forward for mobile version.

May 6, 2018

Fairy tales would be a great skill to add! I still remember all the Czech fairy tale movies we watched as kids very fondly.

May 17, 2018
  • 2100

Thank you for the update!

May 19, 2018

For the family or genitive case lesson, the tips list all the possessive pronouns except the third person ones. Would be nice to add

June 3, 2018
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