Incubator Stories: Meet johanneswilm and yonoleo
This week, we'd like to introduce you to johanneswilm and yonoleo. johanneswilm contributes to the German for Spanish speakers course, which is in beta, and yonoleo contributes to the English for Spanish speakers and Spanish for English speakers courses.
A warm hello to these two contributors to the Duolingo Incubator! And thank you to all of the volunteer contributors for helping bring free language education to the world.<h1>Meet johanneswilm</h1>
Where do you currently call home? Santiago, Chile and Lund, Sweden, but I'm moving around quite a bit.
What do you do? Any special hobbies or interests? I am an anthropologist and IT programmer. I'm also a certified English high school teacher in Norway, but I haven't taught for years. I freelance as a programmer and every now and then I get to do interviews on Latin american politics for Mexican and European alternative news. I hope to be able to use my anthropology PhD for something some day.
What languages do you know? Danish and German are my native languages. I also know English, Norwegian and Spanish. I started learning some Portuguese on Duolingo a few months ago.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? I tend to check Wikipedia. Sometimes terms on Wikipedia have a link to the same term in another language. That is often useful in the case of complicated and highly technical terms. Also, asking random students in coffee shops about their opinion can be useful. In the case of Spanish, the Real Academia Española does not only offer an online dictionary, but also allows users to write questions about what is permitted in certain cases when the dictionary doesn't give any info.
When do you translate on the Incubator? Morning, evening, mid day... just about whenever I should be doing something else but I need something to distract myself.
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? I have been put on tv and radio in Nicaragua, Peru and Mexico in Spanish (my fifth language) multiple times. I couldn't quite believe they would want me on the air, as I still have quite a strong accent and sometimes I'm fishing for terms in the middle of the interview, but apparently they thought they could still make out what I wanted to say. The first time I wanted to interview a specific young Sandinista, Erick Rios, for my PhD research on Nicaragua. I knew he had a radio show, so I waited outside the station for him. He arrived about two minutes before going on air, and after introducing myself, he suggested we spend part of his show discussing what I was studying and why I was interested in Nicaragua. I didn't have enough time to think it through, so I agreed. I then got to know him better and was interviewed on various technology and politics related issues on his and other shows.<h1>Meet Yonoleo</h1>
Above is yonoleo's dog, Taco :)
Where do you currently call home? Brooklyn, USA
What do you do? Any special hobbies or interests? I design things and write code, I love being a father to my two kids, and I like baseball (go Yankees!), Duolingo and Go (board game).
What languages do you know? My native language is Español. I know Spanish and English. I finished the German tree (all gold!), and I am working on the Italian one.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? Coffee and multiple tabs open to double and triple check what I am about to change
When do you translate on the Incubator? Whenever I have a few minutes to spare. Usually that is early in the morning after walking my dog and before my kids wake up.
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? Thinking and expressing myself better in English -- for everything except numbers and math. I realized a while back that when I think about events from my past, events that happened in Mexico, in Spanish, I remember them in English. I also remember feeling a bit sad during my first year or so in the US because I could not joke about things the way I used to in Spanish. But one day I realized that I was not struggling with that anymore and I have been telling dad jokes ever since -- long before I became a dad.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself with the rest of the community? Here is my crazy idea: I think our brains are all different the same way languages are different. I think the language one person grows up speaking may not be the best fit for that person to structure his/her thoughts and express him/herself. I grew up speaking Spanish and began learning English at age 5 or 6 -- though I was not good at it until I was 16 or so. Then I realized that I am way more comfortable thinking and expressing myself in English. I would never say that English is the best language for everyone, though. What I would say is that learning a new language is good not just to understand other people; it is good to understand yourself too.
To get involved in the Incubator apply here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/apply
johanneswilm & yonoleo, great to know you better! Another PhD scholar and also a TV & radio celebrity. The incubator crowd gets more and more interesting :)
I have quite given up on keeping any of my trees golden. One day I will take it on, you have inspired me! And Taco! Congratulations (woof) to be featured as the first incubator pet! Even before any owl!
I wonder with whom your loyalties will rest if the nations representing your language pairs play against each other at the World Cup?
In 1992, Denmark played against Germany in the end game of the European championship against Germany. Denmark won. That night some idiot burned down one of the oldest houses in the village I grew up in (in Germany, but close to Denmark). Since then I have not been interested in soccer. :(
Ouch! Sorry to hear that. Why can't we people just enjoy the game? I thought such craziness was associated only with cricket.
p.s. Please accept a few lingots as a token of appreciation for your contribution!
Keeping the tree golden is not easy but skills do decay at a slower rate.
When the US plays against Mexico I go for the US. Years of watching Mexican players act like divas just made it hard for me to root for them. I see more passion in the US team. That said, I do celebrate when Mexico wins in general. It is all shades of gray, I guess.
I probably kept my Spanish<->English trees golden only for a week and when I get some time, I will be curious to see how much effort it takes to goldify them!
By the way, I can tell that you are a great and very passionate dad to your kids. It is definitely a great idea to start with Mandarin earlier in life. When I try to speak Mandarin, that becomes a laughing matter for the natively speaking neighborhood kids :)
Both Mexico and the US are in difficult groups this World Cup. Mexico did well in their first match and I hope the US do well today when they meet their two time nemesis - Ghana!
p.s. Adding a few lingots for appreciation of your work.
Thank you both for your contributions! This is really great! I just told my aunt that she needs to join Duolingo. There are so many people benefiting from these courses and more than just learning a language, but in terms of self-esteem and self-image. So many good things radiate outwards from your time and efforts to make these available to the world.
To johanneswilm I have a lot of admiration for for teachers and and people who study social sciences. I love how the social sciences can build an awareness of people and their connection to language, culture, and location. I'm so glad you're part of this community!
Also, a special thank you to yonoleo as I'm currently taking the Spanish for English speakers course. Also, I love your idea about one language being a better fit for expressing ourselves than another. That really resonates with me and you've said it so well! ^_^
Thanks. I think that it is an idea that is hard to believe unless it is felt. I mean, we think in words with a grammatical structure. To me, language has to have an impact on our actual thoughts. I am glad the idea resonates with you too.
Thank you for sharing a bit about yourselves, johanneswilm and yonoleo! Also, thank you for helping create more language courses on Duolingo!
@johanneswilm and @yonoleo, nice to know more about you!
@yonoleo, you seem to be a really cool dad! And the idea that "the language one person grows up speaking may not be the best fit for that person to structure his/her thoughts and express him/herself" is really thought-provoking! I guess people should try as many languages as they can to find their best fits! ;)
I love this idea too! In my own experience, I definitely feel like some thoughts/ideas are better expressed in English/Thai.. :)
How much or a role would the extent of known vocabulary in the preferred language for thought processing play? Over years, my English vocabulary has grown over that of Hindi and I have come to prefer expressing my thoughts in English.
At the same time, I know of many people who have a richer vocabulary in other languages such as Hindi, Marathi & Bengali compared to their English vocabulary and they prefer to 'think' and express their thoughts and ideas in those languages.
Good point, vocabulary makes a huge difference! :) I think my Thai and English vocabulary are at a similar level, but for example some jokes only work in one language or another.. hmm.. I don't really know how to explain it.. and actually, I don't know how much of it is the language itself vs cultural influences :P
Vocabulary plays a huge part. We think in words. If we only know the words for a handful of emotions, we can never escape those emotions in our heads. Vocabulary truly gives freedom to our minds. I wouldn't be surprised if the brain prefers one language over another in part because it has a wider range of expression through it.
Hey, it's an interesting theory, but I entirely agree. For example, in Norwegian there is no difference between "their" and "your" (for you in plural). Both are "deres". Yet that does not mean that Norwegians have any trouble understanding what the difference between the two is. So it won't always apply. But I agree there is a tendency in that direction.
Thanks for the nice words. I think I mentioned to you that my kids are learning Mandarin. I cannot wait for the Mandarin from English course. People tell me that my son has a great pronunciation and it kills me not to be able to appreciate it. I know he will grow to know many things I don't and won't know and I am OK with that, but this is one thing that I want to share with my kids.
I do think it would benefit everyone to at least familiarize themselves with many languages.
That is awesome! Not many who learns Mandarin can actually pronounce it very well. While the community is waiting for the Chinese course and the other courses, please take a look at this post: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3359935 . There are some free language courses on Spotify that we can listen to. :)
Great to meet both of you!
I've been using both of your courses and I'm really grateful for the work you've put in. I know it's loads of work and not always easy to figure out which sentences and translations to use and include.
@johanneswilm: you seem to have studied and experienced so much and with all that moving around, you must never get bored! ;) I often use wikipedia too and for the exact same purpose. :)
@yonoleo: I still google English jokes and proverbs on a regular basis. Getting used to jokes expressed in a different culture is definitely not easy. Also, I think your idea may not be that crazy. I've gotten used to expressing myself in English (a language I only started using on a regular basis when I was 10) and it seems to fit me better than my native language (Dutch). Perhaps it's practice or an affinity. Who knows. Your idea is surely one worth extra thought. :)
Once again guys, thanks for working on these courses and spending your time in the incubator!
Whenever I learn idioms I store them in a special part of my brain and I constantly look for a chance to use them. Then, I look around to see if people realize that it is the Mexican the one who just said that. ;-)
Nice to meet you both,johanneswilm and yonoleo! Thank you for your contributions to Duo! :-)
I just wanted to point out that I became a moderator for the course long after it was really solid. I am not one of the ones who built the course from scratch, but I do feel good about the little I have been able to contribute. Credit for the bulk of the course must go elsewhere.
I love these introductions for the people who work on programs in the Incubator. I admire all of these individuals for their hard work and dedication. It's something I wish I could do, but I only speak Spanish and English, and those courses are already made. Honestly, the work these people do is incredible, and I'm so grateful for the doors Duolingo has opened for the world.
@johanneswilm, det er bra! Jeg snakker norsk! que de está desnudo, hablo español (un poco)! Das ist gut! Ich spreche Deutsch!
@johanneswilm this picture of you looks a lot like it was taken in front of the limfjord in Aalborg, Denmark. Can that be correct??
haha! Sorry, no. It was taken at Øresund (Swedish side).
Greetings from Copenhagen. :)