Incubator Stories: Meet AlexinIreland and GunnyTunes
This week, we'd like to introduce you to two moderators from the Incubator team, AlexinIreland, a mod for the Irish for English speakers course and GunnyTunes, a moderator for the English for Arabic speakers course.
Thanks to these two community members and the entire Incubator community for helping bring free language education to the world!<h1>Meet AlexinIreland</h1>
Moderator for the Irish for English speakers course
What country and city are you living in? Cork, Ireland
What are your interests? Where do you work? I'm a full time linguist (as a hobby :P) Other than that, I am a student in the later years of secondary school. I also like reading, movies, hurling and Gaelic football.
What's your native language? Irish and English (native in both)
What languages do you know? English, Irish, German and French. I'm learning Dutch (can't wait for the Duo course!) and Japanese and hope to learn many more.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? Starbucks, Soundrop, my iPad, a giant dictionary and...food.
When do you translate on the Incubator? Anytime I'm at my computer and have time to translate a few sentences. These days, this really means all the time :P
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? My greatest achievement? The first time I visited Germany and being able to understand most of what the locals were saying after very little time studying German....or when I got chosen to make this Irish course.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself with the rest of the community? I'm an open book :) (Seriously, I'll answer your questions in today's AMA)<h1>Meet GunnyTunes</h1>
Moderator for the English for Arabic speakers course
What country and city are you living in? It's a complicated mix between Cairo (Egypt) and Stuttgart (Germany)
What are your interests? Where do you work? I'm a computer scientist whose main area of expertise is: natural language processing (making computers understand human language), and recommendation systems (like how Amazon and Netflix recommend new items). I'm also an amateur indie musician with 8 years of guitar experience, and 2 years experience of piano and drums. I started my own band, of which I'm the only member so far. I have proudly released an EP. :)
What languages do you know? My mother tongue is Arabic. I am fluent in English as it was the main language of most of my education (starting at 5 years old). I can speak German moderately thanks to Duolingo, which saved my life during my studies in Germany. I also know a little bit of French, and Japanese.
What is in your toolbag for translating on the Incubator? A big cup of warm lemon green tea, some nice music (Camel ftw!), online bilingual Arabic to English dictionaries, and sometimes Arabic to Arabic dictionaries.
When do you translate on the Incubator? It really depends on how much free time I have. At the beginning of the course I had a lot more time as I had no other commitments so it was something about an hour or two every evening. Now I'm not finding time as easily as I've been working on the final steps towards my Master's degree, and preparing to move back to Germany for work. I try to work on the course reports for 30 minutes or so before going to bed.
What's your greatest language related accomplishment? Being able to understand my German roommates after 6 months of intense duolingo action! And of course getting the opportunity to provide Arabic speakers with the same opportunity.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself with the rest of the community? I would like to say that I'm proud to be part of the revolution that is Duolingo. The passion to learn languages, to really get to know other cultures, and overcome our tiny (and silly) differences is what makes us human. :)
To get involved in the Incubator apply here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/apply
Did you miss previous Incubator Stories? Get caught up here: Meet Sofiadcs and Rhynn, Meet bjarkehs and runem, Meet johanneswilm and yonoleo, Meet Libragold and jojomotion, Meet KaiEngle & Wilvandal, Meet jitengore and Damascene, Meet Selcen_Ozturk and Lavinae and Meet Frankyska.
Wait..I never would have imagined Alex was that young. Nonetheless, you're awesome!!
Imagine a hundred years ago. If someone of your age had tried to create a language course for adults back then, he'd be laughed at and ignored. And now here you are doing that and people admire you for it instead. It is truly an awesome time we live in.
Although the definition of when one becomes an adult one hundred years ago was different too.
As a fellow secondary schooler, how did you learn grammar? I figured you'd be a native speaker to undertake the translations. I went to a Gaelscoil and a Pobailscoil (going into 6th year, doing the LC in Irish). I'm fluent but I'm not going to lie, my grammar is holding me back (and is what stopped me from applying to mod the Irish course, which is a shame as I'd have loved to). Tbh at this stage I'm more accurate in French than in Irish and it's really getting me down, especially going into the LC year this September :(
Me too. I was like "Maybe he's older but he looks young". Now I don't feel like such a small kid here (?
I am awed A, your maturity, your helpfulness, your willing to learn, everything... and you are a teenager? xD Excellent!
Gosh, Alex, I didn't know you were so young. (Cue my own quarter life crisis. What am I doing with my life?????) You're very mature. List doing this on uni applications!
Alex, as just about everyone else here has said, I am very impressed! It's incredible that someone of your age has been able to create so much of the course! You've seriously impressed me. I can't wait to try out the course! Good luck for your coming release and thank you for all your effort :)
GunnyTunes thanks for sharing! I'm impressed with how quickly you picked up German! I'm certainly very interested in the Arabic language and I even took classes in it for one year but unfortunately everything dropped out of my brain when I didn't practice after :( Arabic for English is probably the course I am most excited about in the future!
I was honestly surprised at how relatively easy German is. It's very structured, and doing a lot of duolingo helps you see the linguistic patterns!
We are working as best as we can to stabilize the English for Arabic course. The reverse course sure will follow. Hang in there. :)
Ah that's interesting to hear thanks for sharing. I will be patiently waiting :) Thanks for all the great work you've done, have some lingots :)
Thanks for sharing, alexinIreland and GunnyTunes! Seems to be several younger contributors on Duolingo...that's awesome!
Yes, we too have a contributor on our Hindi course, who is probably the same age as Alex and who too is awesome. :)
With all of your talents, if you don't finish our course within the week that it is out in beta, I'd be upset. You better not let me down, man! ):
So since you're an open book, what do you eat when you're working on the incubator?
Which kind of foods/beverages can you like...recommend?
Because, little does the community know, that instead of steroids...we have our own incubator energy foods! ^^
Also...and this is very important, ... tea, or coffee? I'd choose 'tea' if I were you....ಠ_ಠ
I don't think we've met yet. Nice to meet you! :)
It's so cool that you have your own band (is it named 'GunnyTunes'?)!
You should provide the incubator music room with some of your music. ;)
And is lemon green tea your incubator energy beverage? I also seriously love lemon green tea, so you're immediately on my good side (Ha, tea!!). Awesome choice!
I will make it my goal in life to get this course into beta within the week!
What do you eat when you're working on the incubator?
Anything from fruit to cookies to cheese to Celtic fairy dust (sprinkled on a slice of bread)
Which kind of foods/beverages can you like...recommend?
Starbucks Frappe (no coffee!), Swiss hot chocolate (not Belgian!), water or pure unicorn tears. I also recommend potatoes...the whole of Ireland has been based on them for centuries, and we didn't turn out half bad :P
Also...and this is very important, ... tea, or coffee?
I choose 'tea'...I've got enough keeping me up at night with the course :P
These are all very good answers. I approve! :)
I should really try getting my hands on that 'celtic fairy dust' and the 'pure unicorn tears'.... and hey, potatoes are indeed awesome. I'm sure many Dutch approve. ;)
Ahh! My two favorite contributors :D Thanks so much for everything that both of you guys did/are doing!
GunnyTunes was indeed one of the options! :D But my music is too dramatic for that name, I settled on "Earth and Moon" at the end. So.. there's an incubator music room? :o
Also, lemon green tea is the elixir of life! Sharing second place for me are Ginger-Orange green tea, and earl grey tea. These three are basically my water. :)
Here's a link to my critically acclaimed 15x platinum EP album: http://earthandmoonmusic.bandcamp.com/
edit: You can download it for free over here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a128469/the-only-truth-we-know
Lemon green tea +1
Want to know more info about @GunnyTunes's music +1
There are a lot of incubator contributors I haven't had the chance to talk to—that's why the 'incubator stories' series is terrific at helping us to know more about each other! By the way, my personal incubator energy food is 'le riz noir'.
My thoughts exactly! But, maybe that's what I assume of everybody on the Internet. :D
I'm quite jealous to see someone so close in age to me can already be so proficient in so many languages :c I hope to contribute to the Esperanto for English speakers course eventually (and become fluent in French!) but I'm still not proficient enough. One day though!
I run an unofficial poll about every 2 months. The next one will be this month. Look sometime in late July on the discussion forums for an announcement.
Unofficially, yes. (There have been polls conducted by users). Officially, no.
I was out camping the last three days in the Sierra-Nevada with no access to internet. And I missed quite a few things happening in the Duo World. I would have loved to have followed the "Itch" AMAs 'live'. And, I would have loved to get this biggest surprise from the Irish team earlier.
Internet is a huge equalizer, it helps transcend differences in age, gender, nationality, faith and what not. Who would have really known that that Alex in Duoland, who has shown tremendous maturity in dealing with fellow incubator moderators and the entire Duolingo community, who has displayed great passion in making a case for and then leading the charge for the Irish course, who has worked with phenomenal speed with dedication and maturity that fits a 'responsible adult', would be a young teenager?
alexinIreland, you personify the fact that world is getting better each day because people such as you are entering this world to create value and make a huge difference in the lives of so many others. Hats off to you!
GunnyTunes, it is great to know more about you! NLP is an area of great interest for me and I too have been working on Recommender systems. Do you also 'Hadoop'?
Good luck with your Master's Gunnytunes! Do you think you will work on the Arabic for English speakers course as well later?
Thanks for sharing your stories GunnyTunes and Alex. There seem to be a number of very young contributors in the incubator - really inspiring!
I'm really expecting the Irish course! And hoping for an Arabic>English course also :) ... Alex really is young :O I was very surprised...
Hello GunnyTunes and Alex!
@GunnyTunes: So nice to meet you! :D Wow, you picked up German quickly! Congratulations with that accomplishment. :) Thank you very much for your contribution! :D You said you've released an EP? Is there any way we can listen to it? :) Keep up the great work, I hope the best for you and your team. :D Good luck!
@Alex: Nice to see you! :D Great interview (for both of you). Congratulations on being featured on the Incubator Stories! :D You are such a great person, always funny, cheerful and helpful. I really admire your dedication to this course - You. Are. AWESOME. ;-D I look forward to try the course out!
Best wishes to both of you!
Hey Sofiadcs, it was one my proudest moments of life thus far. To have my music heard and appreciated by others! It took me around 2 years to record, and has sold a grand total of 4 copies so far, :D but all I care is that someone enjoyed it enough! Here's a link to my baby: http://earthandmoonmusic.bandcamp.com/ Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. :)
edit: You can download it for free over here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a128469/the-only-truth-we-know
Thank you so much for sharing, I'm glad you told us about this! :D I listened to the album yesterday, and I really enjoyed it! I found it very beautiful, it's great! :D I'm going to listen closely when I have more time on my hands - this is an album that really has to me listened to, and not just played as background music, especially because I know that you have put so much hard work into it. :) So I'm going to do this and tell you further about my thoughts on it, if you would like so? :)
Hey Alex! It's nice to be able to put a face to the name of the person we so often have the pleasure of talking to in our chatroom. Hast du selbst Deutsch gelernt, oder hast du einen Sprachkurs belegt (oder Duolingo)? Du solltest mit Franky und mir üben! Anyway, I'm very impressed by your work on he Irish course; it's a great accomplishment.
Nice to "meet" you GunnyTunes. What are you studying in Germany? I'd like to do a masters there as well, but I think I'd be living in Mainz. I've heard Stuttgart is a nice place to live though :)
Hast du selbst Deutsch gelernt, oder hast du einen Sprachkurs belegt (oder Duolingo)?
Ich habe selbst Deutsch gelernt aber ich finde Duolingo sehr nützlich und hilfreich.
Du solltest mit Franky und mir üben!
Ja, das wäre toll!
I was doing the thesis of my Master's degree in computer science as part of an internship in Germany. The topic was recommendation systems.
Germany is a wonderful place to live in, and Stuttgart in particular is just amazing! It is a great city that makes you feel at home as if you were in the countryside, if you know what I mean. That homely atmosphere of friendly and peaceful people. I'm really excited to be going back there in September. :)
Nice to finally get to know you a bit more.. Alex your doing a great job for your young age too! :) I'm a young too lol :p
Good to know about you GunnyTunes. Best of luck with your studies. What else would a language like Irish need but exceptional young people like Alex! Amazing!
I'd never have guessed Alex was such a young lad. Fair play to you, and thanks for your work here. I'm looking forward to trying out the new course.
To both of you I'm so jealous! I wish I had been raised bilingual Y^Y and you've both gone on to do great things with that. I wish good things to your guardians who raised you to be bilingual!
@ alexinIreland bunny high fiiiiive!! I was wondering when you'd show up in one of these things xD Something I love about the relative anonymity of Duolingo (unlike places like fb) is that there are so many people here and we interact without first getting to know a whole bunch about each other and so we go with what we can see from interaction. That is one reason I'm a little nervous about the July 2015 meetup in California. I really enjoy being an anonymous bunny. But, I would also really enjoy meeting everyone. You should see if you can make the trip somehow. Would be great to meet you and exchange a real high five. (I am obsessed with those, btw xD)
bunny high fives back I would love to make it to the meet up...I would need to do a lot of work to get there :)
Comhghairdeachas leat, a Alex. Chuir d'aois iontas orainn go léir, ach is cinnte gur cuma í mar tá sárobair déanta agat ar an chúrsa. ó Fhoireann na Gaeilge.
Weird...I always assumed it was adults, and that a secondary/high schooler like me wouldn't have enough time to do one of these...clearly I was wrong :) Great job to the whole Irish team; I can't wait to start learning!
Thanks a lot for these introductions!
I always assumed Alex was a teenager, since you can't fake that kind of youthful enthusiasm! ;-)
[Feeling old and going back to doing my day job, rather than reading Duolingo discussions...]
Wow! Thank you for all of your help! I cannot wait to learn Irish!-charis
AlexinIreland: You are so young and yet so accomplished! Good for you!
GunnyTunes: I knew you were cool as soon as you said you are a musician! Congrats on your EP!
Thank you both!
Thanks for all of your efforts, guys!
And Alex, I just made a hotel reservation for a night in your hometown for a bit later this summer! We'll be touring parts of the southern half of the country. It will be the first time anyone in my immediate family tree has been in Ireland since my forebears left a little over 250 years ago. Needless to say, I'm hoping to see the Irish course reach Beta really soon or it will be too late for this trip! Keep up the great work!
Great to meet you two! I'm constantly writing how much I'm looking forward to the Irish course. I used to know some literary Arabic but sadly forgot it. I hope to re-learn it one day, it is a beautiful language.
Being a moderator for an incubating course seems like a ton of fun! I guess I'll have to learn Klingon to do that.