Incubator Stories: Meet KaiEngle & Wilvandal
This week, we'd like to introduce you to KaiEngle who has been contributing to the Dutch for English speakers and English for Dutch speakers courses and Wilvandal who has been contributing to the English for Chinese speakers course.
A huge thanks to these two community members and all the contributors in the Incubator for helping bring free language education to millions of people around the world!<h1>Meet KaiEngle</h1>
Contributor to the Dutch from English and English from Dutch Courses
Where do you call home? Suburbs of Washington D.C.
What are your interests? I'm a fresh college graduate genuinely interested in translation - so far I've been working with a one man translation business translating anything from patents about band-aids to tractor manuals. I love traveling, music and languages.
What's your native language? English, but I have also spoken Dutch since childhood.
What languages do you know? English, Dutch and German. I'm learning some Norwegian, and I'm pretty familiar with Italian. I can passively understand French because of high school classes mostly.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? A nice place where I can focus, music, EN - NL dictionaries, Tatoeba.org (good for sentence ideas), my Dutch mother...
When do you translate on the Incubator? When don't I translate on the Incubator? :) I do it when I can basically, but it's usually later in the day.
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? Well, honestly, probably helping to develop an English course for Dutch speakers! I never thought I'd be able to use my language skills to help so many others learn or improve a foreign language.
Why do you think learning a language is important? There are countless reasons if my intercultural communication classes taught me anything. Indeed, the world is becoming increasingly globalized and, especially due to the internet, people often come into contact with people from different cultures who speak different languages. Personally, I have also witnessed languages bring people closer together, which I think is very important. My dad learned Dutch to be able to communicate with my mom's family, and to be able to speak it with us kids! Myself, I've formed close bonds with people using other languages. I still keep in touch with an Italian friend, who I got to know through speaking German - in Austria no less!
Anything else you'd like to share with the Duolingo community? Don't let the fear to make mistakes hold you back in language learning, or in anything else for that matter (yes, even in math!). Don't get discouraged by your mistakes, learn from them! I probably would not be where I am if I hadn't taken as many chances as I have despite fear, which is also why I think the posts about initial conversations in a new language are great.<h1>Meet Wilvandal</h1>
Contributor to the English for Chinese speakers course
Where do you call home? Taiwan
What are your interests? Where do you work? I work as a translator. I enjoy the beauty of languages by reading.
What's your native language? Chinese
What languages do you know? Chinese, English, Japanese and French. I can communicate with native speakers in English and Japanese, but my French is like a new born baby.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? All I have is a bottle of water, which is tasteless but essential ; )
When do you translate on the Incubator? Generally, I do translating during my work break. This is because I still have to study for exams! I try to make good use of every minute so that I can make my life full of accomplishments and joy.
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? Being a translator of five languages.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself with the rest of the community? Learning languages is so much fun, so don't get tired of it ; ) All you have to do is begin the adventure now and stick with it!
To get involved in the Incubator apply here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/apply
Great interviews you guys! :)
I'm really looking forward to trying out the Chinese for English speakers course (the reverse) sometime in the future. My Chinese is rather nonexistent at this point.... ^^"
KaiEngle, I personally want to thank you for your many contributions to our course, your feedback on our sometimes slightly awkward English translations ( ^^") and valuable input both in the incubator and on the forums.
So.... congratulations on your promotion to course moderator!!!
Really well-deserved! Looking forward to working with you without all the hierarchy.... ;)
You're welcome! Being part of this team has been a very rewarding experience! Looking forward to the egalitarianism as well ;P
Hmm, hierarchy. This is interesting. Are there any special powers course moderators have besides removing and adding contributors?
Maybe Incubator contributors should do an AMA, so users can learn a bit more about the process from the perspective of the veteran incubator moderators/contributors.
P.S. I have a suspicion that Chinese (Mandarin) for English speakers is likely to be developed internally. Japanese and Mandarin, are really unique languages with no alphabet, I think it is simply too complex for general contributors to create.
Hi there Dessamator- English for Chinese speakers was created by these wonderful Contributors: http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/en/zh-CN/status and English for Japanese speakers was created by these also wonderful Contributors :) http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/en/ja/status
Thanks for the notice. I did realize those courses have incubated successfully I meant the reverse courses, which have yet to begin incubating. I hope the teams manage to swiftly complete the courses. We will really need to communicate with one billion people in the future.
I was joking, it's actually very democratic. As Z.Shan suggests, it's more about responsibilities than rights. ;)
I'm not sure anymore whether these are informal requirements we established as a team or formal incubator-application rules which were set at the very beginning, but ideally a contributor should work on the incubator at least about 2 hours, three times a week. In contrast, a moderator has to be around for at least some time on a semi-daily basis. Moderators manage the courses and the applications, divide tasks and make sure that the team works, both literally and figuratively, having the ability to 'hire', and check on the progress of, contributors and get them removed from the course, if need be, plus the responsibility to resolve disagreements. We also take the lead in training new contributors and write instructions.
Like I said, every team has its own dynamics and the task division will differ per team. All I can say is that I'm sure moderators feel very responsible for their courses, the work of their teams as a whole and that of their contributors in specific. :)
Thanks for the detailed description. I imagine that developing a course from geographically displaced locations is probably a challenge. It also requires commitment or structure from the part of the contributors.
I hope you manage to complete your course successfully and with minor difficulties. You guys are really creating an innovative product and the incubator teams and their work will definitely be the subject of many research papers, discussions, and innovations in the future.
Actually, moderators don't have that many more rights than contributors do. Moderators can view the incubator applications, but contributors can take part in adding more contributors as well. After all, it's the Duo team's decision to invite more contributors. On the other hand, course moderators do have more responsibilities than contributors; for example, we have to settle the translation style and other consistency rules.
I believe "Chinese for English speakers" course will be our work as well. (That's why I first joined; they can't take the opportunity of hatching the course away from me. :( )
I see, thanks for the brief but clear description of the incubation process. I guessed that those two courses in particular would be developed internally for various reasons:
- Complexity of the language - Latin based languages require knowledge of latin alphabet, ability to pronounce certain words, and a good working vocabulary. In contrast, Mandarin doesn't contain such an alphabet, allegedly has more than 10000 characters, and probably more rules.
- Monetization - based on this interview, Prof von Ahn made it clear that there will be no income generated from community incubated language courses. Given the big market for translating Asian/Mandarin articles I expect that this is one way to get Duolingo out of the red, and make it profitable.
- Technical difficulties - Aside from simply creating the course, there may be other internal difficulties in getting it to launch.
Anyway, that was simply my reasoning. I hope that the community will successfully incubate the course, should Duolingo prefer it that way.
Even though it would only be a step up, transliteration into Latin characters might be an option for a Japanese course. Learning to read Japanese with its original characters would take a long time, but it is not impossible. Overcoming the challenges in developing such a course could be a tremendous learning experience; like a Space Race for language teaching.
I think that solution has already been found a long time ago. The Chinese software developers have probably come up with ways to teach it already. The problem is that for people who don't speak chinese or asian languages our (me and those who don't) mindset is different.
There could be obvious tricks they employ to accelerate teaching it to children that we don't know, or other things. Ultimately, I think that the spoken language is probably not as complex to learn as the written language. If Duolingo could focus first on improving hearing and speaking competence and then writing competence, for example, it may accelerate learning.
I have two ideas: One: You type in Latin and it comes out in Japanese, just like a normal IME. The problem with this is that they will learn the characters extremely slow, so thats why my second idea is to: incorporate games like Tux Math(but for Japanese letters instead of math, of course) and you can get experience just like normal from them.
@KaiEngle and @Wilvandal, we have seen your avatars, we have known your digital footprints on the incubator chat and on the discussion forums all the while.
Although, this feature is still digital, it just seems that now we know you better personally :)
I just sent a suggestion email to Duo staff that they build an official site-wide leaderboard of streaks, skill points and others (secret for now ;D). Hope they'll implement them!
@Wilvandal : Great to see a photo of you. Appreciate your work here on DL - thank you!
I wonder, are these stories being translated into the other languages by the staff? Perhaps we can use immersion to immerse ourselves while translating these incubator stories.
I know Duolingo doesn't have any public storage area for users. So we could use google docs, or wikia (duolingo.wikia.com), or some other public site. This is assuming that the incubator team members give permission to add their information.
Edit: Actually what would be even better would be if all staff posts automatically got added into immersion. That way all language learners (Speakers of different languages) can read it quickly.
Thanks Dessamator! We're definitely interested in translating these, so that other language communities can read about these amazing contributors. We're figuring this out right now :)
Why don't you consider starting another series covering each member of the Duolingo team each week?
That would be a fabulous read as well!
As always, it's great to hear about the people behind the courses! They all seem like amazing people!
Nice to know more about the incubator contributors :D (and hey, we've got some good looking guys and gals making these courses ;p)
Dear community, I quite like this idea of Kristine's putting a spotlight on a couple of contributors each week. Based on my interaction with most of the contributors for several language courses inside the incubator, I can say that all are quite exceptional, very passionate about their course and are capable of extraordinary accomplishments. There is nothing like a "general contributor" whose capabilities are "limited". Volunteer work can exceed the paid workers' work in quality, partly because their motivation is intrinsic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive:_The_Surprising_Truth_About_What_Motivates_Us
Why don't we stay focused and appreciate the great work done by KaiEngle and Wilwandal here rather than diverting this thread to discuss about incubator workings? There are plenty of opportunities to discuss them elsewhere. If you feel the need to know more about the incubator, please consider starting a new thread.
It just seems that any digression causes a dilution in the appreciation and celebration of the work of the two exceptional language contributors/moderators - their title doesn't matter here - showcased this week. my2c
Bonjour Wei ! I'm so delighted that you are getting the recognition that you so richly deserve! Wonderful. ☺
Kudos to KeiEngle also.
I might add that you're much too modest about your knowledge of French.
No, Anijo, ; P My French is really beginner's level, I'll have to work harder! And thank you for moderating French course! You're one of the most valuable persons here.
Reading these is so much fun. It is exciting to see bigger pictures of people we've been conversing with along the way. It's good to see your faces KaiEngle and Wilvandal!! :D
I really enjoyed this weeks Incubator stories. Love hearing about these people outside the incubator. You people are awesome and we cannot thank you enough!