New Languages (Asian?)
I'd love to the opportunity to learn Japanese, Korean, Mandarian, Arabic, and/or Russian-- will Duolingo be adding either of these languages anytime soon?
I can imagine the method might need some altering given learning these languages also involves learning characters outside our 'standard a through z' alphabet, but if you somehow managed it... :)
I'm sure they will. Well, perhaps they won't volunteer to create an entire course, but people are usually impressed when someone is learning their native language and are eager to help. I'll be glad to help others with Russian :-)
I don't know what these community courses will be like, but I think these won't be straightforward and unified courses as we see for the current languages on Duolingo. I think there will be some crowdsourced courses, flashcards sets, language exchange options and so on. These are only my guesses, though.
busuu is a site which offers a wider range of languages including Arabic, Russian, and Japanese. I tried the site but find you needed to pay a monthly subscription to get any real benefit from it. I only had a look at the duolingo languages so can't comment on the usefullness for other languages.
I used busuu, too. I found written exercises there to be the most useful, and those are free. Grammar lessons are not really very good there, they base the tenses on English ones and there are a lot of awkward lessons like "Past progressive" in French. There are no progressive tenses in French at all!
For an unexperienced user, it may seem that busuu offers comprehensive courses that are paid, but whether you pay or not, those courses are not comprehensive, you still need to use other resources for grammar. Busuu is great for writing and communication practice, though.
I studied French at school (though that was a long time ago) so know the basics. If you are a complete beginner it can be a bit scary having to write something in a new language straight away. You can correct work from other users in your native language in exchange for corrections by native speakers of the language you are learning.
Japanese is a lot of fun. I've studied it for years, and currently using Rosetta Stone to get better. One issue would be for users to have the language glyphs on their computers. It's no big deal on most Macs, but Windows users can encounter problems.
And I'll put my vote in for Russian. :D
I agree. I'd love to see Japanese on this site, but due to Japanese's cruel writing system care has to be taken to make it fun. I've tried two other Japanese learning methods, both have their failings.
One focussed very much on the kanji and offered them in seemingly arbitrary order. So you got a lot of kanji that are common but built up out of components you've never seen before. It also turns out that learning a language based on visuals alone (without knowing the pronunciation) is impossible, at least for me.
The other eschews kanji (almost) completely which works better because you can read the words aloud. But because that means that practice is impossible, it's really hard to find the motivation to study and get better.
So if I'd design a Japanese course, I'd first offer simple words in kana. (I've seen Japanese kid's books that only have kana; they use spaces to separate words like this: むこうに ふねが とまって います。) Then I'd start mixing in kanji and I'd start with the primitive components and later add kanji whose components are already known. Also, due to Japanese's somewhat... individual, fun and easy grammar, I'd make the first lessons more grammar focussed than in Duolingo which postpones a lot to later. For Japanese I feel that would be counter-productive.