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Let people translate to their target language?

When translating ...

native speakers ( of the language that the article is in ): - have a good understanding of a text and subtle differences in meaning - may not be able to express this meaning well in their target language yet - but are eager to practice how to do so

language learners ( of the language that the article is in ): - may not have a good understanding of a text and subtle differences in meaning - but want to learn how to understand these - can express well what they understand in their native language

This is how I see the situation when translating a text. In my opinion the current immersion section is already very good for practice, but it doesn't cover all aspects that I've listed above. I think this is one of the reasons that leads to too literal translations and people complaining that they get too less practice in their target language.

I'd therefore like to suggest to allow both sides, native speakers and learners, to participate in the translation process.

This could for example be done as following:

Allow people to do the initial translation of a sentence into their target language. Native speakers can then edit (correct / suggest a better translation).

and / or

Allow people to translate into their target language, then show these translations to native speakers (separately) as a translation help.

=> People get practice translating to their target language and get a correction by a native speaker afterwards. Native speakers ( of the translation target language ) may grasp the original meaning of the sentence much better.

In the end, I think this would be beneficial not only to the people, but also for Duolingo. By doing this you would: 1. produce more (better) bilinguals; more people will be able to use their target language at a higher level with fewer mistakes. 2. produce better translations; people who translate native language -> target language will probably translate more by meaning and use simpler words which they already know. People who translate target language->native language can then use this as a help to understand the original meaning, and as an inspiration to produce a translation that is not too literal but also matches the meaning of the original sentence. 3. lessens the gap for languages where there is a huge difference in numbers of native speakers vs. numbers of learners. For example, I'd guess that there's a lot more content in Chinese, and a lot more Chinese native speakers who want to learn English, than English native speakers learning Chinese. This leads to a lot of Chinese content not being translated to English.

As a summary, I think there are a lot of potential benefits for everyone in letting both native speakers and learners work together on translations. Duolingo is already awesome as it is, I hope this can help to improve the site even more :)

May 15, 2013



These are great ideas. There should be some way to translate into the languages we learn without enrolling to "learn English" through these languages. Of course, this type of practice should be somehow distinguished from "normal" translations when one translates into his/her native (or fluently spoken) language.


Very good suggestion.

If you take the Duolingo English modules in Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese, you can then translate from English into each of these languages. Even if you do not feel comfortable to translate yourself, you can watch how others build the translations, and see where they agree and disagree. So it is quite good learning.

I am finding that the English modules are a very good reinforcement for your target languages and at the higher levels not as easy as one might think, so I am doing all 4 of them and finding them very useful.


@sommerlied: couldn't agree more!


I too would like to be able to translate into my target language (French) as I enjoyed learning that way at school many years ago and it would be a good way of continuing to learn when I have finsihed the lessons. It would be interesting to compare my efforts with native speakers.
I also agree that native speakers are probably more aware of nuances of meaning in the original texts.


I wanted to suggest this, but already done a long time ago : EXCELLENT IDEA!

PS : too bad, that Duolingo doesn't have a tab with posts ordered by "date of last comment", but only by last date of creation, so this post is lost at the bottom of the forum...

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