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One class with multiple languages going on at the same time - is this possible?

I teach a nine week world language exploratory class for 7th graders. I know some of my students have already discovered and enjoyed Duolingo.
I have created a classroom but have not specified a language.

My wish was to have the kids log in and choose a language that interests them and gain a certain amount of XP points by the end of our final week together.

Is it possible to have a class where the students are all doing different lanugages like this?

Or should I make a handful of different classrooms and have my students join the one that interests them the most?

May 10, 2020



Wow, Thomas.Heiss, that is amazing advice, and such a wealth of knowledge you have.

Sheyba2Sensei, you didn't say any details of your class, such as do all the students concurrently study the same language?

I teach regular high school language, but throughout the day I teach separate classes of Spanish, French, and Japanese, and even different levels of them.

I do have students that wind up getting the fire lit under them and so I have the same student for two or three classes a day. It is an easy thing for the student to type in two classroom codes. So your last thought would work best, making a bunch of classrooms and having your students join.

Hope this helps! I am going to sit down with a hot cup of tea and re-read Thomas' amazing post now.



I want to excuse ahead for any spelling / English grammar errors when posting my comments; I have already found some.

Will have to re-read / review the above comments and fix those I find next days.


Thomas, you always write extremely well. :)



isn't the point of school classrooms, that a teacher is able to assign work packages?

AFAIK you can only see a more concrete course curriculum (skills, assigned words,...) and to create assignments when the classroom is locked down to a concrete L1 base/source and L2 target language pair.

Quote: I teach a nine week world language exploratory class for 7th graders

Most Duolingo courses with 69+ skills are meant to be grasped in the mid-/long-term (about one year).
Other courses like German (121 skills) take even more time.

This is what my experience was with the classic Portuguese (from English) course with 69 skills and 406 lessons; now the tree got updated in June 2018 to 91 skills and 463 lessons.

The Italian from English course is not that much different (66 skills, 405 lessons): www.duome.eu/en/it

Your Japanese course got recently updated and is quite long too (131 skills, 731 lessons): http://www.duome.eu/en/ja


If you can, stay away from the even longer CEFR Spanish/French from English courses with 159/158 skills.

My math - based on the EN->PT course experience and my 1st Romance language - says that they easily can take a learner ~1,8-2,3 years to complete them (on a L1 + practice, L1-L3 crown pyramid system; not all 5 crown levels).


For an only nine week long language exploratory class I would want to make sure as a teacher to use the right resources which are focuses on short-term learning.

It is free and there is a ZIP with MP3 audio files recorded by native speakers as well.
I am using the 50languages Portuguese course on Memrise (with a TTS audio userscript) so I can learn words and phrases step-by-step.

  • 2) Specific shorter Hacking / Beginner / Introduction / Learn Basic user-created courses on Memrise: www.memrise.com/courses

Honestly, I enjoyed Ben Whately's "Learn Brazilian Portuguese" introduction course which only has 371 "words": https://www.memrise.com/course/78992/learn-basic-brazilian-portuguese/

There are official (0) 1-7 course series for several languages like Portuguese BR or EU, French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese.
Japanese also has an additional JA-0 course.

  • 3) Maybe to create your own course content and classroom on www.lingvist.com for the school pupils

  • 4) To have a course which uses the elementary words and teach something more practical (phrases, including tenses) with those common words

  • 5) To focus more on RECALLING tests and to enable your pupils that they can put very ease sentences together

In contrast with Duolingo

  • You will have some difficulties to find very short courses (number of skills, length of lessons); even the shorter ones (Hindi?) are IMHO not perfectly suitable for a 9 weeks class

  • students very likely will have some trouble to push forward on their own (purely self-studying) if you do not lead them

  • even within 3-4 months this is hardly possible on Duolingo with the EN->PT course, if you ask me (based on my previous experience) and takes much longer to "get the big language / Romance grammar picture" if a student does not learn multiple hours per day x 5-7 days per week

  • Duolingo just focuses on the reading (left) side in the target language on a much higher ratio (because staff is a bit scared of bad metrics and overwhelming students with real RECALLING tests too quickly), especially on the lower crowns

  • I am not sure if and how seven graders are able to use typing (on the web portal), so they might have to stick to multiple-choice, "fill the word into the blank" and tapping word bank challenges (there is an option on the web, not only on the mobile app)

  • I would imagine that L1 EN -> L2 target language translations are probably a bit too difficult for them, especially with RECALLING of words or having to construct phrases / sentences in the target language?!??

But this is IMHO where the real fun in a foreign language starts.

  • CEFR Spanish/French trees use a longer time the "Present tense" and just focus on new vocabulary: Obviously they don't even try to give away the "big language picture"


There are other learning sites and challenges like the #add1challenge and 90 days speaking focus where students try to track their progress over defined intervals.

Used resources might differ for several languages.

An approach like this and a focus on speaking (not that much reading+writing) should probably be more interesting for a short-term course with fixed deadline.


Quote: Is it possible to have a class where the students are all doing different lanugages like this?

So is this the final goal of the exploratory class that EVERY pupil learns a different language, at least several groups of pupils learn more than 1-2/3 languages?

If you ask me: Having to start with a foreign language totally from scratch, just with self-studying, on your own is not that easy in the beginning.

It will probably take a much longer time than 9 weeks that students learn "how and what they need to learn" and all the grammar language basics and technical terms.

I wrote in my other comment that even after 3-4 months I felt I was "nowhere" (with the Duolingo Portuguese course) and I asked around if I should switch to Spanish and maybe buy a book like "Oi Brazil" or signup for an online (real + guided) college course and it did not push me in the first 3-6 months into the speaking direction.

The other question is: How many target languages do YOU speak and are able to teach as a teacher?

Wouldn't it make much more sense and fun for the pupils when you could guide them through a 9 weeks fast-paced language introduction course?

Like you would not push them only into using Duolingo exclusively and gaining XP points on their own, but instead you had:

  • A) your own curriculum (or using one of 50languages, RoughGuides or other Introduction courses)

  • B) add group exercises, quizzes

  • C) add those valuable language experiences which students are usually missing when they go for a "self-study approach" (chatting, speaking, reading an easy article together)

  • D) being able to answer open questions in their target language because you already have multiple years of experience in it

The last point IMHO gets very important if you decide to pick up a Memrise "Hacking / Introduction / Learn Basic" course or one of their official 1-3 course series (there are seven series):

Memrise does not explain ANY grammar rules!

Even the "Learn...Basic" course throws several verb tenses (past, future, imperfect, conditional, imperative, Subjunctive, etc. at the learner's head and only reading the Duolingo (web) "tips and notes" www.duome.eu/tips and www.duome.eu/notes (beta) will explain things further.

So you would want to have at least one more experienced group member or native speaker who better knows about this (Romance) grammar stuff to be able to explain what is going on when things suddenly are a bit different than only using the simple "Present tense".

  • E) pupils can see a "bright light at the end of the tunnel" as the course content is limited and they can actually reach the END after those 9 weeks as the course was properly designed with this in mind

This IMHO won't be possible with bigger language trees on Duolingo and I am not convinced that THIS is even possible with the shortest tree on Duolingo you can find.


Excellent thoughts on this, Thomas.Heiss. I would add for you, Sheyba2Sensei -- and you probably already know this -- the point of an exploratory class is to get the students excited about language. They aren't going to learn anything really practical in 9 weeks. Your goal is just to plant the seeds of excitement and motivation in them.

In addition to general linguistics games that you are probably playing with your students, you could use Duolingo to challenge students to look for the similarities and differences between languages. You could have them

  1. compare and contrast first lessons

  2. compare and contrast how the trees of any two languages are laid out

  3. compare and contrast the choice of vocal types for the Text-to-Speech. For example, why might a lower male voice have been chosen for xxx language?

  4. Examine how many contributers and moderators it took to create a course and keep it running smoothly.

An exploratory course sounds like so much fun! What sort of things do you normally do with your classes?


Here are two older threads on tree lengths:



Of course, many courses (tree versions) have been updated in the Incubator since then by the contributors (=volunteers) or contractors (working on CEFR trees).

But for sure there are languages like Hindi, Arabic, Turkish, ... which still meet this shorter tree requirement, if you want to use Duolingo exclusively.


How many different native languages do those pupils speak in the class?
Maybe they could build groups and teach the "basics" to each of them, so at least one in the group knows some stuff and can help the other ones.


Or how about Esperanto as their first language and this explanatory class?

The Esperanto from English (and from PT/FR/ES) course has been updated a few times:



And if there are any other native speakers in the class, it can be learned from multiple L1 source/base languages.

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