Applied to be a contributor!
I applied about a week ago to become a contributor for a Finnish for English speakers course. I got a reply basically saying they are thinking about it but unfortunately, there is no sign of the course yet - I'm still hoping! Have any of you applied and have you had any replies?
I'd like to ask (and I don't mean this to be insulting, but rather as a legitimate question), what do you feel qualifies you to teach a language? Are you a teacher in real life? Have you been certified in a given language? Just curious. I help others myself, as many of us do, but I would never consider myself qualified to teach or instruct in, for example, Spanish. Hope I didn't ruffle your feathers for asking this question, but, if you aren't a millennial, you can probably handle it. On the other hand, kudo's to you for wanting to help others, whatever the reason.
Far from being insulting, you raised some important issues for discussion. The author of that response should take their own advice and reevaluate their response.
Personally, I am a native, fluent speaker of English. However, I have forgotten many technical aspects of it and I would need a refresher course before I would feel confident in offering help. Fluency is but one of many prerequisites to correct or inform people, even here as specified by the other response.
Thank you. A previous poster apparently had taken umbrage with my post, in spite of my clear disclaimer. My thoughts are that if we are afraid of talking about something because we might hurt someone's feelings, then we are only hurting ourselves. I always appreciate people willing to help others. But, as adults, we also should recognize that while someone's heart is in the right place, it still might not be "a good fit". That said, almost everybody may have something to offer, and thanks to them. In appreciation, Songve, please have an Lingot.
I spoke, read, and write English my entire life and I am 56 yrs old. I have never obtained a teaching degree because I am not applying for a teaching job.
At the same time, I consider myself very qualified to teach the English language (if I spoke the language of my students). I know I could contribute without any degree or certification because that is not even a requirement to be a contributor.
I am learning German on Duo from two contributors, I believe. I did not need to ensure myself they are qualified - that is beyond the scope of the learning process here on Duo. For that type of learning you would be looking moreso toward a University, and you have paid instructors with credentials a mile long.
But, I do believe also, if we are going to make these requirements then it may be harder to have a lot of languages available. At some point, this site might vanish because of the simple lack of qualified contributors. That's my final thought on this.
Not insulting at all: you raise an important point. My wife is a native Russian speaker and has a Master's degree in English (from a Russian university). She has lived in the United States for more than 15 years and wrote her PhD dissertation in English. She moonlights as the "go-to" Russian/English and Ukrainian/English translator for the University of Massachusetts translation service. Yet, when I nudged her to contact Shady_Arc about contributing to the Russian-from-English course (back when it was still in the incubator), she had her doubts. It is one thing to speak a language or a pair of languages really, really well, and quite another thing altogether to be able to teach it.
I have the hubris to think I could teach English, even though I'm not trained as an English teacher, because I have taught other things (psychology mostly) for 27 years. That experience has taught me how to break down a subject in order to teach it to others. Docendo discimus. My problem is the "from what" part of "English-from-what". To create a course, it seems to me you would have to understand the grammar of both languages really well.
P.S. And she speaks Finnish!!!
From having lived in Italy and taught English as a second language for nearly 20 years, I learned many things about my native tongue that I would not have ever known. For example, how do you explain to an ELL when to use the partitive "any" and when to use "some?" Think about that. Native speakers do it automatically. It's another thing to know the rules about it.
Nice points, especially where you mention that, as a teacher, you have learned how to break down the course in order to teach others. I have taken two years, each, of French and Spanish at the University of Cincinnati, and because of that, I feel more able to work through a typical textbook, whereas someone who had not had any formal teaching, might not. When teaching, contributing, or whatever one wants to call it, it is not so much the 'what' or 'when, but rather the 'why' and 'how'. So I absolutely get where you are coming from. Thanks for the post, and you, too, deserve a Lingot.
Your post sounds so insulting. Why would you need to be a teacher or any of those things you named? Isn’t the big qualifier for this job be that you can speak both languages fluently. All the languages that are on Duolingo were made by volunteers just like this person. I’m sure there is a basic format that Duolingo has developed so all they need is about 4 and sometimes more people to contribute to making the language. If you go back to where you pick languages and click on the language you will see who volunteered to make the language and what percent of it they did. When it comes to making and running these languages it’s all done by volunteers Duolingo is run by volunteers. Meaning the makers of the language, the moderators and things like that. Not the corporate things. People like this person is just one more reason why Duolingo is free and why there are so many languages on this website. Don’t forget about all the languages that are not English based. Also when you look up who contributed to making a language and each language has different people I am almost postive that under their picture and under their name it says what they do for a living. Lastly, anyone could have the ability to teach. If you are a parent then you are a teacher. If you were an old sibling then you were a teacher. If you have hobbies and interests then you could be a teacher. I am sure you yourself have taught many people many things. Like I said Duolingo has the systems down for each language that they are teaching from and then they just need people who speak both languages and have time on their hands. But honestly you should really re-read you comment. It really comes off bad despite your disclosures. Maybe you just didn’t realize how Duolingo is run.
Why would you need to be a teacher or any of those things you named?
As you suggested, being fluent is the primary consideration, along with committing to a certain amount of time per week, and being passionate about language learning (having a high level on Duolingo and active consistent participation in the forums is a big plus).
Here's a reddit post from a course contributor, talking about what they look for: https://www.reddit.com/r/duolingo/wiki/index#wiki_how_to_become_a_contributor.3F
And the wiki article about contributing: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Course_contributor_guide
In reality, however, Duolingo is actually pretty stringent when it comes to accepting course contributors. When the German - English team was looking for a new contributor, they said
You have to be fluent in English and German. Tell us a bit about your skills and background, for example: Do you have any professional experience (being a translator, an interpreter, a teacher)? Have you ever lived abroad? What is your current skill level? Do you use German and English daily at work?
When the Japanese team was [soliciting applications], they mentioned:
Additional positive, "plus" qualifications:
Having lived in Japan and an English-speaking country for an extended period of time.
Being active on the Japanese Duolingo forum in terms of vocabulary and grammar guidance.
Having a background in linguistics and/or language teaching is a major plus.
And the Korean team said
It is a bonus in case you have attended or you are attending a university and took/are taking a course on the Korean/English language or if you have some experience in teaching Korean/English to foreigners. The key words here: experience and fluency.
So it's a mixed bag. Yes they specify fluency, time commitment, and passion. But they also look for real world experience and credentials.
If you bothered to read my post, or be able to comprehend it, you would have noted my disclaimer where I intentionally said that I was not trying to insult, but was asking a legitimate question. I feel that we should be able to ask and talk about things. It is how we get things done and resolved. Sorry if you feel like you were slighted, but I stand by what I said. Yes, I understand that people who speak a language can be helpful, but I also see people who's first language is English making simple grammar errors, so let's not go assuming that just because someone knows how to speak English, for example, he is going to be the best choice for teaching another. And, regardless of the many snowflakes that are out there, I will never be shy about asking such a question. By the way, this site isn't really free, unless you put no value on your time.
Somebody just posted about how they were unhappy that Finnish has not been developed. They can’t believe that there are fake languages on here but not Finnish. I have to completely agree with them. I just told them about your post and to read it. Lastly, that was so great of you to try to do that. It’s people like you that keeps Duolingo so great. Hopefully one day they will change their minds.
You have to remember that Klingon was added as a marketing ploy. It took very little resources for Duo to implement, resulted in a lot of virtually free press coverage that drove a lot of attention (and users) to Duolingo. Other courses are not being held back by these publicity stunt courses in any significant way.
Actually, Klingon probably required more work from Duolingo staff than Finnish would need. They needed adjustment so that apostrophes would count the same way as letters, as they do in Klingon, while in other Duolingo courses apostrophes are ignored like most other punctuation. This required some programming effort.
On the other hand, Finnish probably won't need anything this radical, because similar languages have already been implemented.
Of course, there's still this marketing bit, which is quite understandable.
Hawaiian being the most recent addition to the incubator, it was accepted with only one contributor but eventually started adding new people on the team having six people in total as of now. So I would yes and you could potentially recruit more people but Duolingo has give the go ahead to start the course.
Thank you! For difficult languages, the structure of the Ukrainian course is perfect, unfortunately there is a lot of audio missing and it seems Duo is not accepting much help (even for that) It is hardly recommended to copy that structure, at least, for a first stage. It´s short and "easy".
I'm still trying to figure out what technical difficulties there are with adding new courses... At least with those using the Latin alphabet. From what I heard on many occasions, different translations are saved as a huge list anyway, with new ones being added by people hitting the "my translation should have been accepted" button (and after review of it of course). So who cares if Finnish is an agglutinative language, if the system doesn't need to know anything about grammar but just to safe and check all potential translations?
Could anybody please enlighten me?
There is always some work required by a new course: selecting the first contributors, creating the necessary environment so that the incubator work can start (this could be anything from a few clicks to a long list of manual tweaks, depending how it's set up, no way for us outsiders to know). Then designing the image for the course list, other images (flag, owl, ...), the teaser text in the course list. When the tree is built, they need to add the audio (usually select, order and pay for a TTS engine to create the sounds; contributors can help with the selection, but Duolingo decides in the end). And there is some more work to be done with checking and releasing the course - we don't know what exactly they do, but as it usually takes a few weeks, we can guess it is more than just a few clicks.