Hawaiian and Navajo courses are live on Duolingo!
We’re very proud to announce the launch of two important Duolingo courses today.
While there have been efforts to document endangered languages, the missing element for preservation is the ability to teach these languages to new generations. That's why we’re working with language teachers from the Navajo and Hawaiian communities to help them create the courses. Colonial policies have nearly led to the extinction of these languages. In Hawaii the use of the Hawaiian language was once outlawed in schools and government offices. Now less than 2% of the state's population speaks the language.
These courses would not be possible without the help of students, educators and activists at the San Juan schools district in Utah and the organizations, Kanaeokana and Kamehameha language school network in Hawaii. We thank these partners and contributors for bringing these courses to life!
Charlotta Lacy and her students at San Juan High School, Blanding, Utah, contributing to the Diné Navajo language course.
Both courses are currently in beta, meaning they are only available on the web for now (Android and iOS coming this week!).
The courses are intentionally very short in this first release; ~10 skills each. Releasing the course this early allows us to try something new: We hope that this early release is useful to learners, helps motivate native speakers to apply to contribute and allows us to collect valuable learner feedback much earlier.
We want to know what folks think of the course so far and what they'd like to see in upcoming skills! As learners share their feedback over the coming weeks, contributor teams will use this information to improve and expand the course. The courses will soon include challenge types with native speaker audio.
All are welcome to support this project by signing up for either course and submitting your feedback via the “report” button within each lesson.
We can’t wait to hear what you think!
<3 The Duo Team
I am signed up for the Navajo course. I am only 2 or 3 skills in. I am so impressed though. I've participated in newly released beta courses in the past and even just in these first few skills, this course is a lot smoother.
Thank you very much to both Teams Hawaiian and Diné Navajo. It is a lot of work building a course. And it is a lot of work to care for so much heritage.
As for skills I would like to see, cultural skills. I don't know anything about Navajo and Hawaiian cultures. To have a language but not access to the cultural narratives behind it is to have a map without a key. Of course, language itself holds part of that culture in how and what language attends to. It gives us clues to what is important, controversial, sacred, similar, and different. The narratives fill in the spaces between the clues. We get a painting instead of just supplies. :)
A GREAT way for Duolingo to do this would be for them to develop Navajo and Hawaiian stories. Even though the learners would be working with a somewhat limited vocabulary, it could really enlighten all of us as to the heritage of these two beautiful cultures and languages.
I feel like stories was meant for these two languages. Especially since they have such interesting stories to tell. I also learn really well with stories so I really want to see this happen. If I knew enough of either language I would see what I could do, but I'm learning for a reason. I want this so bad.
Well - there is also nothing stopping those that have the insights and proficiency in these languages to start to create these resources, of stories, and to publish at the very least, links to them on Duolingo. (If not to create discussion posts for a specific story here, in these Discussion Forums. ) Providing they are available at no cost for the learner to access, and do not expose the learner to inappropriate material. I see Duolingo supports sharing of links to resources such as this. Providing they are language learning rich and ideally, I would suggest - start off with some very simple basics.
However this is also - In My Opinion. I am not seeking to represent Duolingo is expressing these ideas.
I have wanted to learn Navajo for so long - I did find a you tube channel with some lessons, but lie got in my way (again). So looking forward to heading through this. Stories are great: I have never learnt Spanish, I've done one lesson on here, purely to have started the course and I don't do it very often, but I'm already halfway through the second set of Spanish stories : stories are definitely a brilliant way to learn, especially for those who really can't face weeks of typing boy, the boy in yet another language...
Well done DL for hosting these and THANK YOU ahéheeʼ to the contributors. We are ready to help preserve and grow your language and learn from your stories, legends and sagas (there will be a more appropriate word, ut I haven't learnt it yet :o) )
I studied some Diné Bizaad some years back using a book and cassette tape set called Breakthrough Navajo, so I am familiar with how to pronounce the words, which really, really helps. Also, it lets you hear just how musical the language sounds like. Hard to get that from reading the words as they look intimidating. I hope the course can get some native speakers to pronounce the words. Meanwhile, there are some very good Youtube videos on Diné Bizaad pronunciation!
Great news, but the link to the Hawaiian course is wrong. Here's the correct one: https://www.duolingo.com/course/hw/en/Learn-Hawaiian-Online
I'm looking forward to taking both! :)
Arabic is being made. My heritage is Moroccan, Irish, and I'm also Jewish, so, I've been wanting Arabic for a long time (though the dialect is unlikely to be mutually intelligible with Moroccan Arabic.)
More technically, my Moroccan family is probably Amazigh, given my grandmother's surname, so learning Tamazight would be amazing. Another endangered indigenous language.
So far, I've been happy with the Hawaiian course! It's fun for mildly exploring the language, definitely not for learning it. I have just one complaint. Often, I want the translation of just a single word, but when I hover over the word, I get a translation of the whole sentence, which is not what I need.
I hope more small, dying languages get released this way, it's a good way to gather excitement and give people exposure while a solid course is in the pipeline.
I don't comment (ever) but I feel compelled to do so here because I am a Hawaiian language teacher and (amateur) scholar with many years of experience with the language and culture (hailing from Hilo, Hawaii). I am very excited about Hawaiian on Duolingo and have been waiting for it for a while. I also suspected that the start would be shaky and that I would be reporting a lot of buggy sentences. My problem is actually with the section called "Polite Exp(ressions)" - put simply, it is too Christian. The entire first three lessons concerned phrases that NO ONE uses. I was raised in a Hawaiian church in Keaukaha and I can tell you that coinages like "Ke akua pū" are new and further, in English, NO ONE says "Blessings" either in greeting or parting unless they are Christian. Further, the lesson is a cycle of the same five phrases over and over again. This is rectifiable but having so much Christianity within an hour of usage makes me think that this will turn off the vast majority of language users around the world who may be interested in Hawaiian but are not interested in Christianity. I have no problem with this information being shared, certainly, because itʻs part of the language but at this embryonic stage, it is likely to send all the wrong messages. Hawaiian practitioners are not Christian first, though many Hawaiian speakers happen to be. Duolingo, you need to rectify this, because it is likely to cause trouble for you, for your users and for the Hawaiian community, many of whom are NOT Christian (it being an imported religion). Ke aloha nō (that is a more likely parting greeting, as well as "ā hui hou!")
I wonder if the skill is that way in part because one of Duolingo's partners for the course, Kamehama Schools, also has a religious affiliation?
"...We also envision that our learners will be grounded in Christian and Hawaiian values and will be leaders who contribute to their communities, both locally and globally."
I don't know if Kanaeokana, the other partner organization, also has a religious affiliation.
I just finished the Hawaiian course.
The 9 skills were too tempting, so I had to do it in one sitting. I suspect there will be a lot of other people following the same route, which may or may not be a good thing. Exposure to the language is certainly an amazing achievement, but the number of people who may rush to complete the tree and then abandon it is a bit concerning. I, too, may become one of those people, though I hope that I won't be.
In my opinion, 9 skills still aren't even a proper introduction and I eagerly await any further expansion of the tree. An introduction to numbers would be nice in the near future, or maybe a skill on food? I don't want to sound too needy, I know this is only a start, but you can probably see where I'm coming from.
Apart from that, I enjoyed the tree. It's an interesting, beautiful language that deserves more international recognition and I'm so glad that the course creators have put their time and effort into it.
OK, people need to calm down about this here. Say it with me.
THE COURSES ARE NOT FINISHED YET.
The small amount that they have completed so far has been released for us to access and give them feedback on how to improve what exists already and to guide their further development of the courses.
THE COURSES ARE NOT FINISHED YET.
You can throw stones all you want, if that makes you feel better somehow – OR you could do your part to troubleshoot and give constructive feedback to help improve the courses.
THE COURSES ARE NOT FINISHED YET.
Thank you, Duolingo for giving us a peek at these courses while theyʻre in development.
I am so grateful and interested in this very important project.
One of my bucket list wishes is to see the expansion of resources for teaching of native Australian Aboriginal languages, very much for the same reasons as you have identified here.
Thank you also for this inspiring update.
Thank you of updating us on the courses (albeit a little later than preferred). I will contribute suggestions and corrections to the courses because I support language preservation and revitalization efforts, and clearly feedback is wanted for these courses. I really hope you add audio to Navajo, there are archived weather reports and clips from an official Finding Nemo dub online that show the uniqueness and beauty of the sounds of Navajo, and the spelling is quite different from how an English speaker would think to spell it. Plus audio for tonal languages helps me a lot, regardless of the simplicity of the tonal system.
So I just did 4 of the Hawaiin lessons and I'm not impressed. I have two thoughts: 1. How is "Honolulu" (meaning: "Honolulu") an actual exercise? A place name translated with the same name? By itself. I would nix that one. 2. The last lesson I did DID have a few audio files, so that was a pleasant surprise after reading what I thought meant there would be no audio at all.
But other than that, no major complaints. Obviously the course is very short. I hope they add new lessons VERY soon.
I think thats just a difference in learning styles. I actually like inclusion of names of places even if it is literally the same. I wish all the islands could be taught as a mini lesson, and would love that incorporated more into other languages. Teach culture, and language at the same time.
Having done Navajo quite thoroughly since it was released, it looks like new sentences are already being added.
Mind you, no new words yet, just new sentences using the original words, i.e., sentences for:
"Eat this chili pepper" "My father has two sheep" "The east is orange" etc.
It's a start...
I have wanted to learn at least a little Hawaiian for a long time, mostly to understand the beautiful songs I’ve learned to play on ukulele. I’ve tried watching Kaniaupio-Crozier (apparently one of the developers of this new program) on YouTube—she has a series from the 90s, but none of the books or reference materials for the series are still available, and she of course assumes you live in Hawaii and have some daily contact with at least a few expressions. With no one to practice and only very dry materials, it’s extremely difficult if you don’t live in the islands. I’m excited for the Duolingo roll out—almost any little bit would be helpful. As always, if you don’t like it don’t use it.
Wow! This is fantastic! I am so excited to start learning Navajo, something I didn't think I'd be able to do in my lifetime. I love that Duolingo is working to preserve languages that are, for lack of a better term, endangered. This is such a wonderful use of their resources and addition to the site. Well done.
Was surprised that Duolingo's press release didn't mention Nahua when it said Navajo was the most spoken native American language. According to something, there are over 10,000 speakers of each of the 11 most used dialects, and between 1000-9000 speakers of around 8 of the lesser dialects. I make that about a quarter of a million speakers. The other dialects have become extinct.
Then there are the people who use Nahua in everyday speech -- words like avocado, chili, chocolate.
Considering the US acquired more than 50% of the country of Mexico, Nahua isn't really someone else's language from someone else's country.
Some of the most widely spoken languages in Mexico, aside from Spanish, are Nahuatl, which has almost 1.4 million speakers, Yucatec Maya, spoken by over three quarters of a million people, and Mixtec, whose speakers amount to about half a million. Interestingly, while Spanish is the dominant language in Mexico, it is not defined as the official language in Mexican legislation.
I'd love to see nahuatl, and at least the most common Mayan language, in addition to the Guarani they have through Spanish, but I imagine these will be done through Spanish rather than English, since that is where the most interaction is. Outside of Belize, countries where Mayan is also spoken are all Spanish speaking (Mexico, Guatemala,Honduras, and as far as I know, Nahuatl is spoken only in Mexico.
This was what I thought was going on with the short trees, so it's good to know that they are building on the base that's been established. My personal priority would be to add sounds because both of these languages have phonemes are not found outside their linguistic family
Thank you so, so much for these wonderful courses! These are so wonderful to see, and it is great that you are continuing to develop them. Having audio and pronunciation guides will be very, very helpful, so I am looking forward to seeing those added!
I would love to see more Indigenous languages added - I would love to learn Blackfoot/Siksika, as those are one of the languages spoken in my area (Treaty 7 Territory in Canada. Okii!)
This more than anything has encouraged me to switch to a premium plan to continue to support your efforts in making language accessible to everyone. I hope you are able to continue to engage in outreach to Indigenous knowledge keepers and add more languages to this platform.
Aaaa! Thank you so much for creating this subject. I was looking forward to learning this language when I first saw that it was hatching about two months ago. That made me want to learn the language. I bought books and even remembered some phrases. But now we have this to make it easier. Thank you Duolingo team!
Wait a minute. Some of the contributors are students?
No wonder these courses got released so early. It means these students can get user feedback before the semester ends!
I have no idea how the contributor teams are organized, so I'm just guessing here.
It seems possible that some of the other contributors, some of the teachers in these schools, are teaching courses in website development (developing part of a large website, in this case), after all. If so, it would be less educational to start making the language course the first time the website course is taught and not get user feedback until the third or fourth time the website course is taught...
I realize that Navajo is just the beta form, but without any audio, alphabet explanation, grammar, or pronunciation, I am really struggling to get through the lessons. If I had a background or experience with the Navajo language, I'm sure it would be easier, but I do not. I will wait for audio and more development of the course, and then try again!
At first I was ecstatic to hear this announcement, but I can't help feeling a little disappointed now, seeing the details. If a "course" is only a few skills long and has no audio, how is it even a real Duolingo course? It seems like the only reason the courses would be released in this "intentionally very short" form is that they were pushed through as a publicity stunt for Indigenous Peoples Day. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope Duolingo will add audio and expand the courses as quickly as possible.
I'm excited for these courses...Navajo in particular. I've long been fascinated by Navajo and its intricate structure. Unfortunately, I'll have to come back to it after audio is added. It's interesting to see the words, but pronunciation is critical. A great start, though, and thank you for contributing to the preservation of these indigenous languages.
Great to have these courses and it would be super to have courses come out as short courses rather than sit forever in the incubator. The lack of notes is a challenge though, since Navejo has a very unfamiliar grammar a few pointers at the start would make it much easier to learn from the examples in the lessons.
I really want to start Hawaiian, I did only a lesson but, for me, it's not worth it if is still that short. It's still in its embrional state, so I will wait for the complete tree. At the moment I have other languages to study (Esperanto on duo and Japanese outside duo, German is in standby).
I really feel that the Hints and Tip lessons and the audio are essential to really learning these. I find I really need to hear things to fully understand. I will return to this language tree later when there is sound at very least and hopefully lesson details. I look forward to returning to the Navajo tree when there has been more development on it.
After five days, I reached lever 7 working the Duolingo courses. I interest on the language started around my teenage years when Hawaiians starting moving to California and they open a few Hawaiian BBQ Restaurants. Before Duolingo, I rely on my handy Hawaiian/English Dictionary for 15 years and later my Instant Immersion Hawaiian audio CDs.
The beta version is still a bit rough.
I love the new courses! Hawaiian is a language I've always wanted to learn. I like the approach of releasing them with only 10 skills to start with because it's a great way to get it out there in the hands of the duolingo community to experiment with.
Recommendations: 1. More native audio recordings 2. Cultural skills 3. STORIES. It would be absolutely amazing to learn about Hawaiian myths, legends, & culture in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. I'd assume it would be equally as great for Navajo.
Keep up the great work, Duolingo community!
Just recently started learning a couple of languages on Duolingo ~ one of them being Navajo. I understand that it is still being "beta tested" and that not everything is going to be ready yet. Even so, I am impressed by most of what I have seen thus far and I learning (at least I think so) Navajo at a faster rate than I had expected! Kudos!
One thing: I just started Navajo about a week ago. At no point in time has the beta Navajo course bothered to teach students the Navajo alphabet. Certainly not in my experience on the course.
Yet, a recent session tried to get me to spell the word "Mother" using the Navajo alphabet! I kept hoping that at some point the session would allow me to skip this because I haven't even been taught the Navajo alphabet yet ~ so, I really wouldn't even know how to type the word! Frustrated, I had to cancel the session.
It would be nice to have had a session or two prior to this type of activity in which we were taught the Navajo alphabet
This is terrible news! First duo distracted me from Korean by offering Hindi, then after starting on Hindi it tempted me with Indonesian, and now it's got me doing Hawai'ian... When will it stop!? (I know, Finnish will be lurking just as I think I'm all done...) Oh, the agony...
Finished it! My take: it was very short, more of an appetizer than a full meal, but good way to whet the hunger for more and give feel for the language. Glad it had audio on many of the items. If and when an expanded/revised tree comes out, I'll happily go after completing it.
Team, seriously, without Audio, it’s not duolingo anymore. Are we supposed to figure out the prononciation? I have audio memory, that’s why I learn, but I can’t iluse my gift on the Navajo course. Please do something about it, i can’t progress. Release audio please, come on. Or don’t release the course at all. It’s midkeadib and we build wrong prononciation habits.
UPDATE: I finished the Hawaiian Tree! :D
I also started the Navajo tree, but it doesn't seem even as developed as the Hawaiian tree is yet. Those words are a mouthful, especially without audio!
I've decided that I'm going to finish and gold my other language trees (German/French/Portuguese/Spanish/Vietnamese) and return to Navajo once its tree is a bit more fleshed out!
The only list of languages in Memrise I can find is this:
Korean, Russian, Arabic, French, Turkish, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Mexico), Dutch, Swedish, German, Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Italian, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Icelandi, Mongolian, Slovenian
Do you know where there is a link for Hawaiian in Memrise? I have looked everywhere to no avail.
Riceburns: Go onto the Memrise site. (I don't know if you'll have to sign up as a user to see the courses or not.) At the top toolbar, click on "Courses". At the next top toolbar, on the right, type in "Duolingo Hawaiian". The class is called "Duolingo Hawaiian Vocabulary" but the search engine did not work when I just typed in "Hawaiian" or the full title. You will then see a lot of Memrise Duolingo classes. Keep scrolling down until you find it. Let me know if you are successful.
Please note that the courses are intentionally very short ~10 skills each.
I am extremely disappointed by this, although I am not surprised. I suspected this was the path Duolingo was heading: to shortchange minority languages (but use them for the publicity) and try to crank out more volunteer-made courses faster through the incubator at expense of our learning experience here at Duolingo, while investing more money and resources in dominant languages taught in schools with staff-made courses and lab features.
Both the courses don't give you enough to really start understanding the language beyond a curiosity for non-Hawaiians and non-Navajo. The Hawaiian course doesn't even have a unit on numbers. As someone who genuinely wants to learn these languages, the courses were unsatisfying and, to be blunt, felt like fluff, which I resent, because I want to see these languages treated with respect.
Both courses are so short that they do not require anyone to really invest their time before they can declare on the Duolingo forum that they completed the tree and got their Hawaiian and Navajo owls. Compared to the time and effort it takes to complete other courses, this is a joke. It really seems Duolingo just wants the good PR they get from some superficial gesture toward helping these languages by giving us something that's even less educationally substantial than your typical tourist phrasebook.
I'll stop there. I know Duolingo doesn't care and I know Duolingo's fanboys and fangirls don't care. Screaming into a toilet would be more constructive that trying to make my point here.
It is a start. It's really hard to actually create any content for minority languages, and it's good publicity for the languages, and will hopefully spark interest in going further into these languages, and pushing for even better courses, not just from duo, but from everywhere. I know you probably won't actually care, because you're just mad, but this is a step in the right direction. Also don't forget that they said " the teams will continue to add more skills as well as native speaker audio", so this isn't the final form of the courses.
smokey2022, I believe cadethebruce genuinely does care and isn't just mad to be mad. Minorities have been abused repeatedly, bits of their cultures used as gimmicks and shallow moneymakers. That's a reality. Business is usually money first, people second. Money is certainly a factor Duolingo has to consider. Though, I don't think people are so far down the priority list or that the aim is a quick buck on the money end.
You make some good points. Other language companies and app makers have their eye on Duolingo. If they think there will be a rising flood of interest in Hawaiian and Dine Navajo, it is likely they will start looking into producing more resources for learning those languages in order to draw part of the market towards their own apps and websites. I imagine the Navajo course to take similar maturation time as other courses, about 3 years. If by the end of those three years the course is stable and robust and Duolingo has drummed up enough press along the way (one article after another, each feeding anticipation, each documenting the chain of improvements, expansions, changes) we'll have a much bigger success story than a single big splash at the end. Good case scenario, we can expect 3-5 years to see the big pickups in language resource companies that were not paying attention to those languages, to begin putting out resources for them. I think you and I see that potential and are excited for it. Which means that you, me, and cadethebruce all agree that we want good things for these languages. I believe cadethebruce is expressing anxiety that is well founded in precedent through history. Duolingo has an uphill task to do something unusual for a lot of businesses: hold true to trust.
If they think there will be a rising flood of interest in Hawaiian and Dine Navajo, it is likely they will start looking into producing more resources for learning those languages in order to draw part of the market towards their own apps and websites.
A 102-word 'course' is not going to cause a 'flood of interest'. DL is popular primarily because it provides users with useful skills (i.e. the ability to communicate meaningfully and non-trivially in other languages), and these two trees are so short that they have no utility.
People will not be enthused about a language by a course that hardly teaches them anything. I really don't understand the purpose of releasing these courses at all whilst they are both at such an incipient stage, if not somehow to avoid actually providing a proper course up to even the lowest standards of other DL courses.
Still, I sincerely hope that 'over the coming weeks, the teams will continue to add more skills as well as native speaker audio ' is a literal statement of truth, as CadetheBruce has perfectly expressed the post I'd have made if that sentence weren't in there.
It looks like I'm referring to a 102 word course if you just lift a piece of what I said out of context. We currently have a 102 word sample being tested. (I haven't actually looked at the word count. I'm just using the number you mentioned.) The flood of interest comes if/when that sample becomes a full lenght and mature course with a significant enough number of learners. :P
102 is for Hawaiian; Navajo (which I've now completed) is 140-odd. I wasn't seeking to misconstrue your argument; it is merely a very big if/when, and DL is far from reliable when it comes to ifs and whens.
These courses are so much shorter than any other courses that DL has ever released that I cannot help but question the motivation behind releasing them at such an early stage. I hope you are right and my foreboding is unfounded and DL will expand them both into trees of respectable and useful length and scope.
Garpike, I wasn't upset. We need emoji sets here so I could have put the winky-eye-tongue-out emoji. I just wanted to signal to anyone skimming through that they should read my full comment before thinking I was being terribly obtuse.
You are one of the folks I enjoy seeing in the forums. We but heads now and then but it's topic based, not based on our usernames. And, I have respect for that. ^_^
Duolingo's biggest competitor has had a Navajo course for eight years or so, but it's only available to people on the Navajo Nation, which is a good way to lessen the appearance of exploitation.
Duolingo is not really a pioneer here, and the risk that people will do the handful of skills in a day and never return once the course is complete is a real threat to any potential rising tide of interest.
I've been in situations where as a group or company one has the choice of getting something done quickly but poorly or missing a deadline to do it right. The former always has unforeseen consequences including loss of trust from your users. Even once the thing is fixed, people assume it's still broken, and eventually one garners a reputation for sloppy work.
The timing here certainly wasn't coincidental, not just with Indigenous People's Day, but with Luis in the news last week talking about the potential for an IPO over the next two years.
Surely interesting days are ahead.
It is a bit ridiculous that the courses don't even have audio to start out with. Don't forget other courses don't have audio 100% either.
I don't know how the "adding more skills" will work, because we've never done this before. If it's an A/B test that means that half the users won't even have access to the new skills. I don't understand the point of creating 10 skills, releasing them, fixing errors, adding audio, and then repeating the process. Seems much simpler to just send it all out in one go. I get that it's hard to teach the courses, though.
I do agree with Cade's points about how people can claim they've "completed the tree" when there's only 9 skills (a bit ridiculous) and that Duo doesn't care about the courses, because the quality in general has gone down, and this is just another example.
So don't just say "I know you're just mad". Yes, mad is a part of it, but it's more disappointment and confusion. And really, should we be happy about this? "Oh, wow, I learned how to say [insert number of] words! Yay! Now I just have to wait six more months to learn 20 more words!" Sorry, I refuse to heap praise on Duo. But that's okay. As Cade said, you're just a "fanboy/fangirl who doesn't care".
I see where both sides here are coming from. On one (very selfish) side, I'm thrilled. I don't think I would have done 9 Hawaiian skills if a full length tree was released, I maybe would have done 5 at most. Since I'm not actually interested in speaking Hawaiian at this point, it's great for me.
I hope that these courses will be expanded, with the good publicity these releases brought causing Duolingo to continue investing in them. Maybe this is a new model for these minority languages. Release a "teaser" course, gather support, expand. After all, I really doubt that Navajo would have 30 contributors for this being the end product. Am I being naive? You bet! I hope I'm right, but I'm not sure I would place any money more than $2 on it.
About the Duo fan boy/girl business, I do fall in that camp. For a while, I used it intensively for French, in preparation for a trip to France. At this point, I've pretty much progressed out of it. The stories are fun, there's vocab in the skills that I can pick up, but it's so much better to watch movies, read books, and talk to French speaking people. For the other languages you see on my profile, these are languages I've played with. My goal was never to be fluent in Hungarian, I just wanted to play around with the language, try it out, get a feel for it. Duolingo has nurtured my love and curiosity with languages.
In France, I bought a cute, tiny little book, titled something like Learn Breton in 5 minutes a day (in French). Flipping through it, it's basically Duolingo in a book. Heavy on memorizing phrases at the beginning, gets more complicated, not gonna make you fluent. But the thing is, I haven't really used it. But I have used Duolingo more. Maybe it's because I'm lazy. But all I know is that I love Duolingo not because they're perfect and can do no wrong (far from it), but because I can taste languages without learning a new program, or having to deal with a book. It fits my needs.
I agree that for people looking to really speak Navajo and/or Hawaiian, these courses are disappointments. But many others are excited, not simply because "Duolingo is the best".
Good luck with your language learning!
This is honestly one of the most respectable comments in this thread. You summarized and greatly understood the perspectives of both sides without throwing one under the bus. You hit this problem right on the nail; just because some people complain about a course's flaws doesn't mean they hate Duolingo or aren't appreciative of its motives to provide free access to languages. On the other hand, the complainers should not assume that if a person enjoys these courses, then it must be because they are fanatics or are being overly positive out of defense for Duolingo. No one should try to diminish the legitimacy of each other's arguments because both sides hold very understandable points. In the end, everyone wants what they believe is best for these courses, and we ought to recognize that common desire. Thank you for your comment!
About "After all, I really doubt that Navajo would have 30 contributors for this being the end product," if the teacher and all the students in a classroom are contributors, as well as some other teachers at their school, then 30 is an unsurprising number.
According to https://www.ksl.com/article/46401397/san-juan-high-school-students-help-bring-navajo-to-duolingo , shared by MarcosNY14 in this discussion, that's exactly what's happening with Navajo for English speakers.
The San Juan High School course "Navajo Language" is building the Duolingo course "Navajo for English speakers."
I agree with you and doubt that this is the end product! :)
I also expect that even if these same 30 contributors don't release another batch of skills soon, in the next semester or next school year (I don't know how long the San Juan course takes), another batch of skills will be added to this Duolingo course by the same teachers, new students who started that San Juan course for the first time, and any students from that San Juan course this time who stayed involved after finishing that course.
exactly! Even Spanish which is probably their best put together tree got a massive update earlier this year. I understand the frustration but maybe hopefully they mean what they say and will finish the tree in time and by then the first 10 skills will hopefully have all their bugs worked out rather then them trying to fix 100 skills all at once
Maybe you should stick to topics you actually know about because you clearly know very little about Duolingo if you’re claiming “we’ve never done this before.” Duolingo has been adding skills to a whole bunch of trees. And a lot of courses have started off beta with little to no audio. Duolingo is a free public service but sure go ahead and whine that it’s “just for publicity.” I for one have always felt like Duolingo should release courses before the trees are finished because we sit here waiting a year or more for these courses in the incubator when they were 50% finished 6+ months ago. It seems like wasted time to me that you can’t release anything until it’s 99% done.
Duolingo is a for-profit, private company, not a public service.
Which has had over $100,000,000 invested in it by venture capitalists such as Fred Wilson, and those VCs want a handsome return on their investment. These courses are being released to generate positive PR before the IPO that Luis tells us is due to happen in the next two years.
I got a very different impression. I saw this as a start. Duolingo already said they will be adding more skills. Additionally, these courses received intensive paid staff time, which most courses do not recieve. I dunno what's going on behind the scenes. If I had to guess, doing a limited beta release helped them/is helping them secure further resources for these two courses, and possibly make inroads to additional courses for other endangered indigenous languages. There is so much we cannot see here, including potentially arrived time windows that couldn't be missed without opportunities lost.
Sometimes, there are reasons we are not allowed to look at the details behind the scenes as it would curtail strategies to gain additional resources for courses. (That part I know for a general fact, not necessarily attached to to these courses, but definitely has been relevant to specific courses in the past. But, I'm not allowed to go into those details because of an NDA.)
The release of these courses is very exciting. And, it is so early on, I hope we won't opt for cynicism. Let's wait and see? :)
It may also be a little more than a mere "PR stunt".
Please be aware, I have no insight into what is happening with this project, and am watching on also. Yet in watching on, I am seeking to be supportive to assist the goal of creating , as you have admirably said, "a world-class resource for these two languages".
It may be that they are also experimenting with a new model for how it could be possible to create other resources / courses for the many endangered languages from all over the world. This is something I am also hoping for.
I've wanted to see DL reach out to make courses to preserve and teach endangered languages for years so I'm happy to see this.
I understand on the one hand wanting the trophy to have a consistent meaning (ideally, over time, trying to get as close to C2 as possible in a given language, but at the very least an A2-B2 level.) I definitely understand the suspicion.
But I've also often thought with, in relation to endangered languages, that if you don't have it to start with, you don't attract many native/fluent volunteers. The courses with 1-3 volunteers don't fare so well. In this case, numbers is a good thing, and I think you have to have something to start getting the numbers. I hope.
And not just speakers, in retrospect. DL when dealing with language families that have different writing systems could also use more educators, programmers and designers to bridge the gap in teaching more difficult languages to people (e.g. English -> Mandarin/Mandarin->English.) There's a definite gap between learning a level one language on DL and learning a level four or five language on DL, and DL might be "the most popular educational app" but it's not exactly SnapChat popularity. Most people I know have still never heard of it as a language resource.
If this were Facebook, I would give you a "Love it"! I could also copy and paste your comment. 100% agree.
Too bad that they are dedicating to do these "express" courses with paid staff, while still waiting for super hyper mega requested courses where there are volunteers for contributors, like Finnish or Arabic. We could also get some courses for Bulgarian, Estonian, Icelandic, Farsi and a bunch of other languages. I hope decent courses are coming in the future... but if you look at the brightside about Hawaiian and Navajo: Better than nothing (?)
I think it's so important seeing this dialogue - it is vital that as these courses are developed they are treated with respect and that knowledge keepers are given appropriate control and authority over the direction courses take. This being said, I personally don't see a huge issue with having beta versions of the courses, as that's something that a lot of other languages have had as well. While it can definitely be frustrating, I understand why it might be slower, especially considering the fact the people involved in developing the course and teaching the language have busy lives with other responsibilities, and it may be difficult to find enough time and people to invest the amount of time needed to make an in-depth course.
Hopefully, some of the publicity around this will encourage folks who do speak Indigenous languages to get further involved in creating new courses (provided they are appropriately compensated and treated with respect and have a fair level of autonomy over the courses and the content they create), and encourage people who do not speak the language to look into what languages are spoken in their area, and learn more about decolonization. Most importantly, it will hopefully act as a resource for Indigenous youth who may not have access to native speakers or elders in their area, or who may not initially be interested in learning their language, in an app that is accessible and exciting (at least for Indigenous folks that have access to internet because governments don't seem to care about living up to their treaty obligations :/ ). It's not perfect, but it's definitely a move in the right direction in reviving endangered languages and making them accessible.
IMO, Duolingo is not a platform where you can become 100% fluent (as in, as fluent as a natural speaker) - I've always seen it as more of a jumping off point, fun refresher, practice resource, and something that is both accessible and fun. The more resources like this, the better, and it's a great way to make Indigenous languages more visible.
Something I am concerned about, however, is ownership. Language (and knowledge, stories, etc. inherent in them) is something that should not be taken lightly - I hope the creators of these courses (the Indigenous knowledge keepers) aren't screwed over by Duolingo in terms of holding the 'rights' to the content they create, and the language itself. So many things have been culturally appropriated from Indigenous cultures across the world with no recognition or compensation, and I really hope Duolingo has created a fair and equitable ownership agreement with the creators of these courses that honours and respects their cultural beliefs and values. It might sound kind of weird to talk about 'ownership' of a language, but that's what we get under crapitalism.
Thanks to everyone engaging in this discussion - I think it's really important and I was so caught up in excitement over this I didn't really think about the potential negative implications. I'm still hopeful for these courses and future ones, but it's good to think about these things.
About "This being said, I personally don't see a huge issue with having beta versions of the courses, as that's something that a lot of other languages have had as well", most if not all of the courses had beta versions available to the public as well.
The difference is that those courses' beta versions were much, much longer than the beta versions for these two courses.
In those cases, during beta testing, the course contributors got feedback from users and fixed errors in their courses - but didn't add more skills, because all the skills for the first stable versions of those courses were already there.
See Phase 2 of the Incubator, at https://incubator.duolingo.com/ , for the other courses currently in open beta testing. :) Here are links to those, because unfortunately the Incubator pages don't link directly to them:
Esperanto for Portuguese speakers https://www.duolingo.com/course/eo/pt/Learn-Esperanto-Online
Hungarian for English speakers https://www.duolingo.com/course/hu/en/Learn-Hungarian-Online
Indonesian for English speakers https://www.duolingo.com/course/id/en/Learn-Indonesian-Online
Klingon for English speakers https://www.duolingo.com/course/tlh/en/Learn-Klingon-Online
Spanish for Italian speakers https://www.duolingo.com/course/es/it/Learn-Spanish-Online
Agree with you that audio is crucial, but I'm not sure how realistic it would be to expect it for Klingon and HV for practical reasons- creating audio for a completely constructed language would be quite a big undertaking. (Even though it is the reason why I have stayed clear of the Klingon course because I have no idea how to pronounce anything; at least for High Valyrian I have more of a chance thanks to Game of Thrones binging).
There's also a bit of me that would prefer if the time and effort expended in creating audio for a constructed language was instead used on providing this for an endangered 'real' language.
Although I am always glad when they add a new language no matter what it is I do not believe they should be adding ones that do not have sound and do not teach effectively. If they can't afford to add sound to a course than I do not believe it should qualify. I would rather they advertise as being more effective than other resources than as being a site that offers a wider range of languages but does not teach much more than basic phrases.
not sure if I'll ever touch either but I see where you're coming from. I guess we just have to hope they mean it when they say they'll add more later... Makes sense though after how quickly they turned those two out.. It would just a few months. I wasn't expecting them for at least a year or two longer...
Almost reduced to tears reading this, because I agree with you and history and language is such a beautiful thing. Our language is part of our identities, part of our story. It's such a wholesome and sacred part of people's lives. Language is part of culture. Culture is a culmination of achievements. Achievements can only be obtained through struggle. Struggle is an embodiment of that person's/people's purpose that forms their history. And history is everything.
And to abuse that for publicity and profit is nothing new, but disheartening and disgusting all the same. I agree with Usagiboy7 though, and want nothing more than good and justice for these languages.
Also, Duolingo is free, and is far from perfect (nothing can be). So I suppose I am happy that they have at least got some content out... I'll look at this as a start and will not hold high expectations. I never expected Duo to be a perfect, thorough, become fluent and understand everything kind of program. I use it in supplement to other language learning techniques. And since these are endangered languages, at least there is this tiny source for it. I've come to find that Duo is more of a language exploring app than an actual language learning app.
IDK, I'm just someone who is excited to have these languages and people represented but also want them to be given the justice and respect they deserve.
I understand that it's frustrating for learning the languages - and also, it's nice to strive to have a uniform measurement of what "earning an owl" means. I like the idea of completing a course being the equivalent to doing two semesters in college (and would like to see labs and other materials boost that to 3-4 semesters one day, providing most of the training you can get except with native speakers.)
However, I also genuinely believe that when they release courses earlier they attract more native/fluent speakers to volunteer, in the long run this should allow the course to advance faster. Living in NºIreland where there the government has basically... not existed... for 2+ years, I've been trying to learn Irish which is one of the points of contention, and DuoLingo has been a big help, even though two years ago I hated the Irish course. Irish is required for some jobs out here, and in some areas, and even though it's supposed to be required to learn most people here do not speak it particularly well. I imagine Hawaiian and Navajo deal with far more obstacles, as it isn't required anywhere.
I guess the TL;DR for me is I will reserve judgment until I see signs that the course isn't getting built upon further. Generally speaking, I've found DuoLingo's moves smart and ultimately better for people wanting to learn a language, even when I haven't initially liked a course (Irish and Hebrew coming to mind, which are both heritage languages for me) they don't remain completely stagnant (Irish and Hebrew seem to utilize audio more than they used to, so I've stuck with them longer this time around.)
DuoLingo has consistently added to trees in the past, but how well it does this is heavily reliant on volunteers. Courses with many volunteers (like Spanish and French) update more often than courses with less speakers like Irish. Announcing the interest and putting the content out there, I hope, will actually find more volunteers for endangered languages. It'll frustrate learners but when those trees update significantly, they will have to re-earn their tree - like the Spanish learners had to earlier this year. Hopefully that will happen quickly if the courses get popularized for Hawaiian and Navajo.
That's why we’re working with language teachers from the Navajo and Hawaiian communities to help them create the courses.
So what was the legal arrangement for the use of that community input and knowledge? Where is the transparency from duolingo on these matters? Or is this just further 'colonisation' and appropriation? Language courses developed with community input should not become locked up within duolingo's corporate structure.
According to Wikipedia:
"Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture...Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural appropriation can include using other cultures' cultural and religious traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and songs."
Uh, that is literally the purpose of this website.
That is "cultural appropriation" light. (Aka so watered down that, it makes cultural appropriation look fluffy. It's a terrible definition.)
The term "cultural appropriation" matters because it highlights unequal and abusive acts of power that have harmful consequences on the people whose culture is appropriated. It's only "adoption" if it's not theft. Semantics matter and Wikipedia is a bit lax on the semantic side of things there.
Cultural appropriation, from a semantics point of view is not adoption. Theft is when someone takes something the people it belongs to people who don't want it shared or in ways that violate the spirit of that sharing. Theft in this sense can be with the intention to "Steal", but doesn't have to be with that intention. The theft can happen from a place of ignorance and still have the negative impacts that an intentional theft would. (Wikipedia doesn't always have super high quality articles. Though bless it for existing. It's still useful. It just doesn't necessarily have degrees in colonialism, globalization, and their combined implications.)
In this case, the contributors are indigenous representatives. They are using Duolingo's technology to express agency in what they do with their own language. I'm pretty sure this isn't a case of cultural appropriation.
Maybe you can reach out to the Native American woman with Navajo as her first language heading this project for her to provide transparancy to you. Maybe she can prove to you she is worthy of sharing her own first language instead of letting it die. You may find the news article below illuminating.
Maybe duolingo can publish the legal agreement that was made with the contributors to the Navajo course? Maybe they can publish whatever agreement they get all volunteer course contributors to sign? Because these courses become duolingo's "intellectual property" (much as I hate that term).
I am so happy about this, and I feel its the most exciting change in the site in years. But my joy at the addition of this language was severely dampened by realizing how much the website has declined overall. you changed a ton of things about the website overall. The lessons are stripped down to a bare minimum, have no images, no pronunciation guides, and teach almost nothing. I really really hate the new changes. its ruined the site.
Although I appreciate what you guys are trying to do, and I'm glad that lesser known indigenous languages are getting attention, I think you guys need to work towards getting audio for these courses immediately. I've used your platform what feels like forever now, and I love it. I'll support you guys no matter what you want to do, but I would highly recommend you guys make sure you flesh out your language courses so you don't get over encumbered with half-assed lessons.
All I'm saying is you guys are in the number one spot, don't screw it up.
This is extremely exciting! I've long wished that a company such as your self would get involved in preserving indigenous languages. I think such a program could be developed for Wolastoqiyik and Mi'kmaq and other indigenous languages. Imagine if we had a duolingo program for those languages - How easy it would be to revitalize them, and pass them on to future generations who might otherwise not have access
In my fifth grade class, I learned a lot about the Navajos. When we started taking land away from the people who are native to this country, we put them on reservoirs where we taught them about our culture. Yes, it's true that the Navajos were forced to learn to speak English and be "more American." (I hope this isn't offensive - I don't like to have feelings hurt - I'm trying to do the best I can!) But probably what you don't know is that the Navajos played important roles fighting for America in World War II, known as "Code Talkers". They used their own language to communicate with each other, and the Japanese were not able to decipher their "code." It feels great to know that we still celebrate and learn about the Navajo culture.
I don't know Hawaiian history very well, but I do know that Princess Ka'iulani was the last heir to the throne before the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown. Since then, Hawaiian culture has been neglected, and the Crown Princess's efforts to restore the monarchy fell on deaf ears. Duolingo, by adding a course on the Hawaiian language, is helping to ensure that the spirit of Hawaii is not forgotten. Bravo!
I’m in an anthropology of the indigenous peoples of North America class, where ongoing topics have been personhood, colonialism, and language perseverance verses preservation.
I would love to be part of the ongoing story of the Diné language by studying it myself. BUT... without audio, on top of a language being already difficult, being unable to hear it in my head, (I have no clue what sound a’ae’ea is supposed to make, but on top of that if I guess and guess wrong, what’s the point? This makes it impossible to learn.
Please don’t tease us by putting up the written form of a language without SOME audio.
There should be enough living speakers of this language to make audio, even if you have a hard time finding voice actors of professional caliber who speak the language. It’s not like you’re teaching Wampanoag.
"—whatʻs the point?" IMHO a beta test is a start in the right direction. For some folks, like a relative enrolled in this course, these are the beginning steps in becoming familiar with the written language and identifying simple sight vocabulary. This is the spark that draws those interested toward the flame of new knowledge. The interest can grow in this language by exposing more learners to its very beginnings. Possibly anthropology students and other learners can reach out to native speakers to let them know of the program who can become new course contributors. I imagine Duolingo is working hard to meet the needs of its learners right now. Spread the word. Best of luck in your studies.
:D :D Duolingo, we are waiting!!
Please add more DINE BIZAAD NAVAJO & HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE to each course study! I went through the DINE BIZAAD studies fast and thought there was going to be more. Im not trying to be rude here but....
YES PLEASE DO ADD MORE, AND PLEASE ADD MEN & WOMEN SPEAKING THE DINE LANGUAGE SO THAT WE CAN LEARN & KNOW HOW TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE CORRECTLY.
WE ARE WAITING! :D :D
I found the Hawaiian course very disappointing. No vocabulary tips for the lessons I did, and only a few really complicated grammar comments, so I have no idea why there are at least two words for the word "I", and in what situations they're each to be used. You have phrases that are translated as "so-and-so (god and Jesus) be with you", but they don't include the word given as meaning "you" in Hawaiian. Again, no explanation, so it's nothing more than rote memorization. I have abandoned my study of this language because I want to know what the individual words mean and how they're put together, not just learn phrases by rote.
I see a lot of people complaining on here about Duolingo courses not being complete and the fact that Duolingo is making profit off of their product. Personally I could care less how much money they make, well actually, I hope they find financial success. No matter how much they are making off of their courses I can still access them for free, and so can you. As far as the courses not being complete... I know more then I did yesterday.
There are different nuances to providing learning tools for a language from a culture that the rest of society has already stolen from and harmed. Its not enough to just be free, it should be ethical. I would hope that people learning a cultural thing like language, would actually care about the cultures they're learning from. Otherwise, why even bother? There are plenty of non-cultural hobbies you can take up instead.
I don't care if its a publicity stunt either and I also do hope they make a profit. However not having audio is not teaching me the language. It just teaches me the assigned english letter paterns. As a dyslexic I require the audio for correct pronunciation even of english words. This release is especially ironic as it wasn't a written language till 1849.
I wonder if Duolingo has considered going to the Navajo Nation and spoken with tribal leaders about the course. Many older Navajo still speak Dine and they could give feedback and contribute to the course. Also, it could show young Navajo that their culture and language is also "really cool" and they should continue with their tribal heritage.
The Intro level for the Hawaiian course seems stuck on the same few words and phrases no matter how many levels I go up, and all the lessons are essentially the same, but the quizzes seem several levels ahead of the lessons and ask questions about words and sentence construction that have not yet been covered. Is this a bug, or am I using the app wrongly?
Once you've gotten one Crown on a skill, other skills should become available. Crowns 2-5 are intended as optional extra practice of the vocabulary already covered. Sometimes, the sentences become slightly more difficult with each Crown advanced for a skill. However, with Navajo and Hawaiian being mini beta versions of what is to be a larger course, I don't know what one can expect in them at this early time in their development. (Aka I don't know if they've got increasingly difficult sentences added yet.)
(Sorry for of topic comment, but this is important, but I can't get Duolingo's attention on these for months now)
This is official post https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/10727793 to get votes for English for Georgian speakers course.
700+ votes from that post are gone, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/25398737 and Doulingo hasn't fixed this.
espero y no se queden en esos idiomas en peligro de extincion y agreguen a muchos mas que no necesariamente deben ser de los estados unidos, en mexico tenemos bastantes idiomas que estan en peligro, seria exelente que se llegaran a añadir a esta plataforma para que nunca se pierdan estos idiomas tan maravillosos
Mahalo nui loa for giving my first start with formal language learning in Hawaiian. Having lived here two years, your program is a wonderful surprise and welcome gift.
What happens next after completing the first 5 levels of the Hawaiian tree?
Can we reset our stats and start over?
Yes, you can reset the stats and start over if you wish. On the Desktop version of Duolingo, hover the mouse over your username where it appears in the blue bar at the top of your screen. A menu will drop down. Click "Settings". Once the settings page loads, you'll see a menu on the right. From the menu click "Language learning." Under the blue button, there is some light grey text that says "Reset or remove languages". Click that. It will then show you a menu of any courses you're subscribed to and give you the option to delete or reset them one at a time.
Once you remove or rest a language course, it can't be undone. So, be sure that is the choice you want to make. :)
Later there will be a full sized course. But, that is currently still under construction.
It's broken the ice! As a professional translator (Hungarian-English I was looking for experience of something completely different, and that it surely is! As an experienced linguist I would have welcomed some indication of pronunciation – what's the difference between a/á, for example, does aa mean long a – and less pedantic English in answers - e.g. Hello, my maternal grandfather. But more please!