First two courses from the Incubator are now out of beta!
Today is an exciting day in the Incubator and for all Duolingo language learners! English for Dutch speakers and English for Turkish speakers are graduating from beta today! Courses out of beta are considered stable based on feedback metrics. Ultimately the decision to graduate is up to every team of volunteers. Thanks to all of you who beta tested and provided feedback during the beta phase. If you see errors or sentences that should be changed please continue to report them! It will only further improve the course for future learners.
And most importantly- a special thank you to all of the community volunteer contributors that helped create these courses. A cheers to the English for Dutch speakers team and English for Turkish speakers team: Lavinae, krill, Rhynn, KaiEngle and Selcen_Ozturk, Baris_Obdan, goobles, solri, suejhe.
You can find these courses in your settings: https://www.duolingo.com/settings/direction
So I think now they will focus 100% on keeping the progress of the Dutch/Turkish FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS!! course. (Sorry about the caps, but I couldn't help it!)
Thanks guys, your job has been wonderful, and the best thing is that you do this as a volunteer, I think not many people would do that.
You rock, seriously! :-)
We definitely have better feedback metrics than Turkish and Dutch courses, but our Russian perfectionism doesn't allow us to say that it is enough. :)) We will wait till we get the essential functionality for our course. It takes time for Duo team to implement it. And when it is available, it will take some time for us to improve the course using them, so I don't see us leaving the beta in the near future. In any case, for users there is no difference if it is called beta or not.
That makes me wonder though, does the role of the contributors change once a course leaves beta. For example, will the teams handle feedback reports indefinitely until they decide to move on, and another team comes in, and so on?
Theoretically there should be a cut-off point, but I'm not sure it can happen when a course is dependent on translations that can be suggested every day.
Brilliant! Fantastic! Superb! Excellent! .... get my drift?
Well done to the Dutch and Turkish teams - its a feather in your caps. Congrats!!!
Now for the reverse courses. I love the current Dutch course ... but I am really looking forward to the Dutch for English speakers course. It will be awesome to have that going! I know there is progress there for I have seen it on the Incubator progress thread.
I'm going to copy something here, which I've posted in another thread earlier this week in response to a user contemplating why we have almost 200k Dutch learners learning English:
"Actually, there has been a government initiative and trial that involves the implementation of tablet-based teaching in Dutch primary schools. One of the subjects for which a tablet can be used is language education and one can imagine that Duolingo is one of the chosen methods for this. :) Thus, many of our users are, I would guess, between 7 and 11 years old.
In addition, we also have a lot of users who belong to an older age group, the retirees if you will. The Dutch media, for one, is notorious for implementing 'borrowed' words everywhere. In order for the older generation to be able to understand news reports, commercials etcetera nowadays, some knowledge of English is useful. My grandparents are for this very reason using this website also. :)
Finally, there is also a group of high school students using this programme to ameliorate their English knowledge and skills. Of course, the Dutch aren't born with their knowledge of English (!), which is still a foreign language, and Duolingo helps them improve their grades and career opportunities (f.i., many choose to study abroad and when holding down a job in the Netherlands it is pretty much assumed you have a knowledge of English as well). This is also the reason why you'll find young professionals refreshing their knowledge of English too."
I hope this is insightful. ^^
We definitely have an audience. Also the fact that everyone assumes that the Dutch are fluent in English, means that there's so much more pressure for us to actually know and thoroughly study the language. :)
I too imagine the Dutch for English speakers course, the reverse, to be more popular. Yet, this does not make the English for Dutch speakers course any less legitimate...
Moreover, not everyone enjoys learning English and some may still not have had the opportunity to. Needless to say, not every Dutch person speaks English. ;)
In addition, to judge from some sentence comments I have seen, there seem to be quite a few people like me who already know German, English and possibly French very well and want to learn Dutch. Dutch is a very close relative of German (the two languages really parted ways only after the Reformation), but also very close to English and with quite a few words from French. I am constanly amazed how fast my progress in learning Dutch is even though I am doing the course the wrong way round.
The idea of using it for young children makes a lot of sense - since according to the EU stats, by age 15 about 3/4 of Dutch teens have a working knowledge of English and virtually none (3%) lack basic skills.
Of course, if English education is already working so well, why fix what ain't broke? Especially if the use of tablets with very young learners might have some quite negative effects on attention span and reading comprehension
I hate to sound like a prick, but I can't imagine Dutch for English speakers being much more than a really niche thing. It's a small country where most people speak English :)
At least it doesn't have those hideous vowels from Danish ;)
Edit: One other thought, why would the Dutch media purposely speak in a way that cuts off a portion of their audience? I guess I know the answer, the young have more buying power and attract more advertising dollars, but I couldn't imagine having trouble understanding the media in my own country, it would make me pretty grumpy or worse.
There are several reasons for why we started building the Dutch > English course first. I think these two are the most important:
1) The incubator was still new at the time. Not only was the English tree the only one available to incubator mods and contributors, it was also a safe option. With the experience that we now have, building a tree from scratch is not only easier, but the tree is also of a better quality.
2) By starting with the Dutch course we created a Dutch interface (including Dutch e-mail notifications). Not only did this attract a new group of users but later Dutch users will be able to use the incubator tools (in Dutch) to build their own language courses too.
And finally, mostly in response to Persikov: The Netherlands may be small, but it's very densely populated. We are with many! :) This includes Flemish users from Belgium using our course, users from the Dutch Antilles and even some from Surinam and this diversity in users that we have is so great to see (it's heartwarming, really). Will this course ever be as popular as the English for Russian and English for Turkish courses? Nah, I don't think so, but luckily there's still so much demand. :)
Perhaps I'm easily pleased but if even just one user benefits from using this 'niche course', then everything's been worthwhile. Even when the reverse course turns out to be really popular and beneficial to many more users, I'm happy that there's a Dutch > English course in place to help our fellow Dutch who struggle. :)
I'm not trying to insult you or the tremendous effort that has been put into this program. I love languages and anything that helps promote them and their use. Plenty of people I'm sure have Dutch connections and want to speak to their in-laws, or business partners, or want to be "good tourists". I'm sure it'll be a great resource.
The comment about later creating Dutch interface courses is quite interesting too. I've seen native Spanish speakers trying to learn French on Duolingo but their English skills were not good enough and they kept losing hearts for English errors, and then gave up.
No worries Persikov, I wasn't insulted at all. :)
By all means, it's good to question things. Of course I can't argue that the Netherlands is the biggest country in the world and I agree that our general knowledge of English is not bad at all. Thus, the observations you make are grounded.
I also think that having different versions of the incubator in the native languages will be invaluable. It would dismiss the necessity for users to be bilingual in X-language + English, and could lead to the creation of many more language pairs! :)
In response to your edit waaay up there about the use of English in the Dutch media...it's mostly in fashion, 'cool', 'trendy', etc. .... and used for the very reasons that you've listed ^^" That must be the reason why the elderly are always so very grumpy.. ;)
Perhaps I'm easily pleased but if even just one user benefits from using this 'niche course', then everything's been worthwhile.
I think it is already obvious that the course is far beyond being a niche course. According to the incubator there are close to 200k users. Also, in my opinion people worry too much about use of knowledge.
Sometimes we just create knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Sometimes it may take months, years, centuries or a millennia before the value of something is realized.
The real rosetta stone was just a piece of rock with some information. Until the day that most of the civilizations that knew what it meant disappeared, yet eventually it became more valuable than its creators would have ever imagined.
I'm from Belgium, near Antwerp, where we also speak English quite well. My family moved to the states when I was young (Dad is American), so I have always noticed that, although Dutch and Belgian natives are very good at English, they can also be a bit too cocky about how well they speak it...perhaps overconfident is a better word. My only concern here is that there may be no native English speakers helping to develop the Dutch programme. This has also been a problem with the French programme that I have followed, which is chock-full of grammatical errors in the English sentences. Having studied French as a kid in school, I really appreciate being able to use Duolingo to relearn the language but I have given up on the English translations many times. I hope the Dutch group will do more research. Native English speakers are a necessary part of each group, no matter which direction the language is being taught (Foreign to English or English to Foreign). Of course, it should go without saying that this rule applies in the converse, that is to say, native foreign language speakers must be part of the group. That is obvious. However, the importance of the native English speaker should not be ignored, because this is the person who will double check that the English sentences make sense. Duolingo can go far but should be take care about this point. I have studied translating for many years and do it for a living. This is just my advice, I am hoping to improve Duolingo. I am not trying to castigate or insult anyone.
Of course a native speaker is necessary. This is why when we selected contributors we looked for someone who was born and raised in an English-speaking country. KaiEngle is our native English speaker. :)
If you want to know more about our research procedures, feel free to ask. :)
We do not just haphazardly create a course. There's a lot of planning and research(!) behind it. I doubt anyone who's met us in the Dutch forums and done our course would describe us as 'cocky'. :)
Dutch is spoken in The Netherlands, Flanders (the Northern part of Belgium), Brussels (the bilingual capital of Belgium), and said to be the basis of some dialects used in Northern France and Germany. Dutch is also spoken somewhat in the former colonies of Surinam (South-America), Indonesia and the Dutch Antilles (Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten) and more or less in South Africa, where it was standardized into Afrikaans.
This is to the best of my knowledge. More knowledgeable ones...feel free to correct me. :)
I am sorry if you felt I was accusing your group personally. I haven't even looked at the Dutch programme on Duolingo. My comments were only meant to be used in a positive way so that the programme won't become bogged down with as many problems as other programmes have. I have been doing the French programme here on Duolingo and, as I mentioned, it seems to me there is no native English speaker, or at least the English speaker is not able to double-check all of the sentences that have been written. This is particularly more noticeable the farther on in the course I get. When the English is not grammatically correct, the responders lose a heart and then they all go to comment and complain, which undoubtedly takes up a lot of the developers' time and energy. This could be avoided from the get-go if the English answer was correct in the first place. While it is true that English varies from place to place, and so there will always be some variations that will need to be added, there are enough consistencies in the language for a fairly decent and certainly grammatically correct sentence to be produced. This has been my only complaint with the French programme and my comment was merely aimed at giving you this advice so that you would not have the same problem. Ik wens u veel success darmee.
The quality of the English translations in the French course is appalling. (Not on average, as most sentences are fine, but there are still too many seriously bad sentences that keep being reported but not fixed.) It's pretty much inconceivable to me that the Dutch team would make similarly bad mistakes, even if they didn't have a native speaker on board.
there are simply too many reports because people also report wrong sentences or total nonsense (like asadfdf). Therefore it takes time to see the "important" reports. When you see a really fundamental, very obvious error, I would recommend to write on the course creators' streams, with a link to the sentence discussion.
you are welcome! I am happy when I get information about such errors in our course quickly. And when I saw errors in German or Italian courses I let myra or mukkapazza know and they fixed the errors in a couple of days. But please do this only for obvious errors , not for reporting alternatives etc :)
Just so it's clear what I am talking about, consider the English sentence "Hunger is one of the most serious problems that is."
It contains no less than two serious grammar errors. One of them is blatantly obvious to all native speakers and all sufficiently advanced learners of English. The other can confuse some native speakers but is still an error.
(1) The word there is missing. The sequence of words that is or that are does occur in English, but not in this kind of context, where the meaning is that exist(s). It has to be that there is or that there are.
(2) That [there] is would also be correct if it referred to one: Among all the most serious problems, hunger is one that there is. That's not what people usually say, it's clearly not what is intended here, and it's definitely not what the official French translation says.
It has to be that [there] are, referring to problems (or possibly to the most serious problems, though that would also be unlogical). Of all the problems that there are (that exist), hunger is one of the most serious.
These rather extreme quality problems exist mostly in the later parts of the French course, especially in the lesson about subjunctive mood. That's a difficult topic that presumably has lots of erroneous reports. But it still shouldn't take many months to respond to the valid ones. Note the comment saying "I also just reported it, 6 Feb 2014", which was in response to other people who also said they had reported the problem.
I think it caters for the young children (especially if they're starting the classes to learn English, Duolingo will help them even more so) as well as adults tbh. Not all Dutch people know English (my in-laws know tiny bits of English but it's not that great, not to mention my father in law literally knows no English) - so regardless of their ability to understand English as a whole, not every single citizen of that country will be able to understand or know English.
Same applies for the Scandinavian countries - their comprehension of English is also meant to be excellent, but there are still many people who might not know the language.