1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. New language trees

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FredrikVC

New language trees

The world revolves around me. So I would like Duolingo to devote their resources to make new trees teaching all 6,000 languages to English speakers. That seems like a great idea.

Let's ignore the fact that there's no way that I could learn all those languages. But I'd like the opportunity. Let's also ignore the fact that true fluency requires far more than Duolingo offers. It's so much better for me to be able to find the bathroom anywhere in the world than to have true fluency.

NOT!

In reality, I'm not going to ask for yet one more tree for English speakers. Currently, Duolingo offers a tree for English speakers to all of the other languages on the Top Ten Power Languages list, except Arabic. And they are (supposedly) working on it.

What I would like to see is the opposite.

Right now, the most powerful language in the world by far is English. Those of us who already speak English are at a huge advantage to those that don't. What I would like to see, even though it won't help me at all, are more trees teaching English to the peoples of the world that don't have speak English.

And this also means doing it on smart phones. In many of the less developed countries, they're skipping directly to smart phones, and not using computers. The infrastructure (or lack thereof) means that wired internet just isn't available. (If Musk successfully launches his low Earth orbit internet satellites, that may change.)

Secondarily, I'd like to see more trees teaching the rest of the top ten most powerful languages. That's how Duolingo can change the world.

January 27, 2019

35 Comments

Sorted by top post

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WinterSoldier.

Nicely said. What I would like to see is not more half finished language courses (Hawaiian and Navajo) but more stories, more courses for non-english speakers, and more improvements to what we have, maybe get Indonesian and Hungarian out of beta, improve the Swahili course, lengthen the Hawaiian and Navajo trees. Thats what we really need to do

January 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DragonPolyglot

I agree. I’d like to see Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and Russian being taught across more languages. I also think more languages should have the option to learn French or Spanish at the least.

January 28, 2019

[deactivated user]

    People should definitely be able to learn the major languages! Better to focus on things like French and Spanish and important languages like that then something like Klingon.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SarahBurt8

    aww don't hate on Klingon, there are people who spent their time contributing to it...

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/La_Mariette

    muS muSwI'pu'.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    This is how it works usually:

    First, it needs to have an English-this language tree, and then the reverse tree, and after that, it becomes eligible for this language-another language.

    But it needs a bunch of people fluent in both this-that language.

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/0_0rion

    Ignoring the rant... I agree with you. However, I'd go further and say they need to pause making new trees altogether and devote their energy on fixing and finishing the ones they already have, (besides Latin, that should have been one of the first they did).

    Any new trees or themes are just quantity over quality.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tiffany689929

    Agreed. A foundation in Latin would make several other languages easier for newcomers. I was surprised when I couldn't find it on Duolingo.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    Latin is here, now.

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    but people keep asking more languages. (including me).

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xia267

    Well said. English should not be the center of the language universe.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FredrikVC

    If you mean that too much is taught to an English speaking market, I agree with you.

    One can argue that the reason that classes are designed for English speakers is because they have the money to buy the courses, but the result maintains the English language hegemony, and further increases the divide between those that speak English and those that don't.

    The way to fight that isn't to increase the power of English speakers by making available to them the tools to speak to non-English speakers, but for tools be made available to non-English speakers so that they can interact on a more equal basis with English speakers.

    Having courses for the other nine would be gravy, but the difference in power between number two (Mandarin) to number one (English) is pretty large.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/garpike

    One can argue that the reason that classes are designed for English speakers is because they have the money to buy the courses

    But DL is free. The reasons why most DL courses are for English speakers are probably that DL is mostly run by English speakers, is based in an English-Speaking country and has a user-base that is majority-English-speaking.
    I also imagine that it's not too difficult for DL to find suitably-qualified people to employ who speak another language fluently in order to work on in-house features to- or from-English, but finding people who speak two other specific languages fluently in addition to English is much harder.

    You complain about the 'hegemony of English' as if it were a bad thing, and preventing one language from being paramount in a globalised world would somehow result in a better situation: it would not. International lingue franche have long existed and if it weren't English it would simply be some other language that everyone would want to learn on economic grounds. It is inevitable that people who want to communicate and trade with each other will gravitate towards a single language over time—this is not a fault to be corrected, but a reality that must be worked within. As nations and economies wax and wane, the paramount lingua franca shifts over time: this is a natural consequence of social and economic dynamics on a macroscopic scale.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

    Yes, but I think what FrederikVC is supporting is not the domination of English as the dominant lingua franca but rather enabling disempowered people to engage with trading partners, study online, participate in international thought processes and collaborate in projects which currently are in English (of course they are not all in English).

    If the dominant language of a region (online or otherwise) changes over time, so does the necessity for as many as possible to become fluent in that language too. Otherwise they too will become alienated over time - English speaking or not.

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/patbo

    How about just doing both? They are not competing for the same resources. People who can create an Icelandic course for English speakers are different people than those who can create an English course for Somali speakers.

    Teaching English is important because its status as a lingua franca is reality, but it will always stay a second language for the majority of people. Speaking the first language of someone can be very valuable, so teaching the other languages is important, too. And in fact, I don't think we should accept either that English native speakers stay monolinguals just because everyone else is supposed to speak their language anyway.

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fauzan836172

    I think Duo already has a policy, that a course teaching English to the requested language's speakers should exist first. I think thats a great idea as Fredrik said, since it opens up a host of opportunities for them.

    My ideal for Duo course includes the most spoken/used languages, which is why I eagerly await an Urdu course to be approved, after Arabic is stable. My ideal includes a language or two from each region of the world. I have seen many other language sites teach mostly Latin-script or Western languages and brag the number of languages available, while completely ignoring Asian or Eastern languages. I was one of the most happiest users when courses like Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, etc. and even indigenous ones were announced on Duo.

    I continue to keep faith in Duo for the sake of diversity and inclusion, despite its hitches. I do not support those that whine and bemoan the lack of whatever language they want every now and then. They should understand that there is a process for everything, and Duo is also headed by humans, who are very much error-prone. Every course needs worthy contributors, time and effort and thus cannot come from thin air. We must be patient for more. We should be grateful that Duo provides us a diverse host of options as non-English speakers don't even have such opportunities in the first place. I would like Duo to focus on adding and polishing (not rushing) more of the top spoken or diverse language courses. This greatly enhances the Duo's reach and popularity across the globe and hence invite more contributors for lesser-spoken languages (as most speakers of such languages are likely to know the major language of their region too).

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WinterSoldier.

    @Fauzan, we have a Hindi course, we probably won't get a Urdu course anytime soon.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ajaybhadauriya

    But if u know Hindi well...u can easily understand Urdu.....it's almost 90% similar....they r mutually intelligible languages...

    April 16, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    Maybe more than 90% similar, but the script is totally different, and it's even (a bit) different from Arabic script.

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erika10915

    Saving indigenous languages is a pretty noble cause as well, but obviously duolingo will never have the capabilities to save them all, I'm still glad they try. I do agree there should be more resources for people to learn English.

    Many of us English speakers, particularly us American ones have missed out on receiving a good foundation on learning multiple languages and I'm so thankful duolingo exists to get me on track to learning so many.

    January 27, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sean405747

    I really wish I was already fluent in Swedish so that I could help make an English course for Swedish speakers. (Seriously, no courses for Swedish speakers?!) Of course, the odds are that I will finish my Swedish tree and be a fluent writer before an English for Swedish tree will be made.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ycUvuSap

    There should really be a pakkoruotsikurssi on Duolingo. (Swedish for Finnish speakers) It would be very popular among certain age segment in Finland.

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FredrikVC

    It's possible that such courses exist, but are marketed primarily in Sweden. It's less likely, and also important, that courses be available for Mandarin in Swedish.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    You can access any language from any language, I don't think it's more available in one country or the other (if it was what you mean).

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

    I think that courses such as Japanese for Arabic speakers could be made very quickly and with very little effort compared to making a course from scratch just by translating the English words (and Tips & Notes) in the Japanese for English speakers course to Arabic. This could also be done to make reverse trees (Arabic for English speakers could be derived from the English for Arabic speakers course, but with different Tips & Notes).

    January 29, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/svrsheque

    I think that courses such as Japanese for Arabic speakers could be made very quickly and with very little effort compared to making a course from scratch just by translating the English words (and Tips & Notes) in the Japanese for English speakers course to Arabic.

    there would still be a lot of work left. where would the reverse translations to arabic come from? it is not likely that the set of reverse translations to english are going to be terribly useful for that.

    another potential issue with switching the "from" language is that the course structure (sequence/inclusion of skills and the words and grammar they teach) may target the sensibilities of the "from" language speakers. when the "froms" are this drastically different, there could be issues.

    Arabic for English speakers could be derived from the English for Arabic speakers course, but with different Tips & Notes

    that's a common misconception. reversing a course is nothing like just turning a course upside down. it sort of relates to my comment about the "from" language speaker needs and their impact on the "to" language tree structure.

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

    Absolutely. Having come from a country where internet penetration is only 52% and where the vast majority of those is only Mobile access, it is crucial to empower people in emerging countries with a great Mobile friendly version to teach English language skills.

    Mostly DuoLingo, I'm sure, could do with people volunteering to help in those languages we would really like to see versions with translations to English.

    It would require those that are really very fluent in multiple languages and who have an A1 competancy in grammatical accuracy.

    Any volunteers? Come now, you know who you are. :o)

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    Which country?

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Firetrix

    Although a nice idea I think preserving languages at risk is also a very noble cause as there is no guarantee English will remain the language of commerce.

    January 27, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FredrikVC

    It took hundreds of years for Latin to lose its importance after the fall of the Roman Empire. French was number one for over a hundred years after Napoleon was deposed.

    The importance of English as the most powerful language is not dependent on the power of the United States. There are far more factors involved. English will remain the most powerful language during the lifetime of anyone reading this. And our great-grandkids can worry about learning the next lingua franca.

    January 28, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

    The importance of French wasn't really related to Napoleon.

    October 12, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bvanw

    English has super-strengths, factor X7™, missing in other languages. One, is that English has no pride. Non at all. Pride kills. English is a very humble language, which travels in the gutters of the world just as well as the gold plated boardrooms and ACJ319neo's. We have Shakespeare, King Jame's and his bible scholars, Charles Dickens, Joe Conrad, ee cummings, and ARPA-NET to thank for that.

    We have no real rules, just suggestions and hints. But that's honest. The languages with real language police (say fer example French), or Mandarin, end up blocking full human to human communication channels, to very sad consequence. (Cantonese would have been a better choice, Chinese language police, eh?)

    You can't stop the forward progress of English any more than you can stop the tide. How many actual languages will their be in fifty years? Likely a lot less! What is the purpose of language preservationists? What is the purpose of the British Museum? It did a great job, and then and now that musuem does a sad job. It's pride, it's greed over it's collections, blocks the channels of human development. SO much stuff is hidden there, still. What's show is oft misrepresented.

    Misrepresentation of the past is the biggest problem of language preservationists. We saw that with Latin. The Latin we learn in most schools is not the real language, it is a thing corrupted into a prideful regularity by prideful scholars who put "order" over veracity. The will is the most powerful thing we humans have, but it is very easily corrupted, and in mobs become establishments and peonages: intensly corrupted. Try to find the real Latin of Rome 2250 years ago, its not so easy. The author of the Lord of Rings was a medieval English scholar. A real one, fwtw, he had enough humility as far as i can see. Why do I see that? Becuase he loved his craft, and saw that all that had been done before was very much wrong. Square pegs hammered harshly into round holes, sort of. And his major output in that was his novels for his sons, for himself, they were. Completely dwarf his scholarly works, and they should.

    To my view, the hidden reason for English's success is that it is the best language ever for the communication of emotions. And of course it is humble. Shakespeare made it so ...

    April 7, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eclipsing104

    I agree

    January 27, 2019

    [deactivated user]

      Very well said.

      January 27, 2019

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DEIDREWATS1

      Forgive my ignorance, but what are language trees? Tried to decipher meaning from discussion comments but still didn't catch on

      July 8, 2019
      Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.