Duolingo Team Stories: Meet David and Beth
Duolingo Team member, Engineer, iOS Developer
Where are you from? 66% New Jersey, 32% Pittsburgh, 2% Seattle
What languages do you speak? English and a tiny bit of Russian (I'm very excited about http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/ru/en/status).
Why do you love language learning? I love learning languages because learning languages is HARD. I get really excited about the challenge of trying to reprogram this one part of my brain that hasn't really changed since I was 5 years old. Most of language learning is hours of difficult, tedious practice, but when you finally start to say your first sentences, and understand native-speed speech, it's really exciting and rewarding.
What do you have on your desk? What are your tools? My tools are my Macbook Pro, Google Chrome, and Xcode. My desk is pretty empty except for my computer and some Star Wars miniatures that I built myself. Whenever Vicki visits Hong Kong, she brings back a new miniature kit and I spend 3+ hours putting it together :)
Share a language learning tip with the community (if you have one!) Spaced repetition flashcards are the best way to memorize vocabulary (in fact, they're the best way to memorize anything). However, the only way you'll ever learn to actually speak fluently is by having real conversations with a partner. My personal goal is to make Duolingo as effective as a real human partner for conversational learning.
What's your favorite part about working for Duolingo? It's very rewarding to hear success stories about people who found a better job, a life partner, or traveled to new places directly because of your own work. I think it's very rare to find a job where you can have that big of an impact on real people.
What do you like to do in your free time? I spend maybe 90% of my free time playing board games. Just kidding, it's probably only 85%. I also like working on other apps and games as side projects.
Tell us about a common mistake you still make in a certain language. After more than a year of practice I still have trouble pronouncing the "soft L" sound in Russian. It's basically an "L" sound combined with a "Y" sound. The sad thing is, this sound is part of my girlfriend's name, Юля ("Yulya" or Julia), and sometimes I can't say it correctly!<h1>Meet Beth</h1>
Duolingo Team member, Designer, Test Center Designer
Where are you from? Ohio
What languages do you speak? English and a little French
Why do you love language learning? Language learning is exciting. Most of us are taught only one language from birth, that's how we learn to communicate in this life. And learning how to communicate in a totally different way than what you know is really exciting to me.
What do you have on your desk? What are your tools? Lots of pink post-it notes, various devices for mockups and iterating, sketchbooks, tea, dog treats for the office dogs, and a plushie duo.
What's your favorite part about working for Duolingo? The culture here at Duolingo is pretty awesome, we all eat lunch together everyday. There are lots of events for us to hang out and have a nice time, but coming to work everyday and having your ideas heard and respected is really a true testament of the great culture here at Duolingo.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love taking my dog Winston to the dog park to run and play with other dogs. I like reading in the sun on the weekends. Baking when I have all the right ingredients. I love going out for ice cream, and going to the movies.
Tell us about a common mistake you still make in a certain language. In general I'm awful at spelling, usually I can remember all the letters that belong in a word but the ordering of those letters is what gets me.
Did you miss previous Duolingo stories? Get caught up here:
Meet Rémy, meet Karin and Monica, and meet Kerley and Myra And don't forget to check out some of the recent Incubator stories. To get involved in the Incubator, apply here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/apply
Myra, thanks for introducing us to more members of the team! Many of us know the people who stick around on the forums and site most of the time, but it's nice to see some of the people whose work may not be as acknowledged, and yet is still so vital. It's interesting to know more about these awesome people who do so much so that we may be able to enjoy all the features Duolingo affords us. :)
Thank you, Myra! Nice to meet some of you who are not on the site as much. Thanks for giving us a little peek into how Duolingo works (and it sounds like your team is pretty awesome!).
Beth: Me exactly. I can never remember the order of the letters. :P
same here! who cares, just through them all in there (apart from when you are writing for the incubator of course couch couch, thanks spellcheck!)
Hmm.... cough spellcheck now cough. Do I affect your spelling, Franky, because you made a one-letter mistake about a "threat" a few months ago, remember? ;)
*And through. You're killing me...the agony! :D
well I was not coughing… I was clearly couching. Also known as sofa-ing. You know, the kinda stuff you do to distract people…. XD
oh no! Definitely not like Tebowing - not my thing really, haha! Well I was successful with my couching strategy though right? Now we are talking about something completely different :D
Nice collection of verbings/verbage!! But! O.O Have you ever tried battle-shipping? (No, it's not related to fandom "shipping". It is however this bunny's favorite way to study.)
Basically, two people sit directly across from each other on their laptops to do their work (sometimes similar work, sometimes unrelated work.). It looks kinda like two people playing Battle Ship :D
My Italian friend, whose first language was Italian, came to live in England aged 7 and had to RE-LEARN Italian when she went home! She still has to get her kids (Italian) to help her with spelling (especially double-consonants) And She is a Language Teacher!
So I guess I don't feel so bad, when I constantly make the same spelling mistakes, because by making them you actually really learn to stop and think! - Even the very basics like 'ragazza/ ragazzo' I have to slow down to think 1 'g' , 2 'z's. lol :)
I think most users may not notice this but Beth seems to have a Google glass device. Now we know why Duolingo created apps for Google wear devices so quickly, it was probably a scheme to get a free Google glass. :)
Pretty sure there was a partnership between Google and Duolingo (possibly ongoing). Check out the Google IO 2014 keynote video. I think all partners get glass for free.
Thanks for posting Myra, it’s awesome to get to know more about the people behind the code.
David: Spaced repetition always works. I love it. Which boardgames do you like to play? And by the way, Apple FTW.
Beth: Reading in the sun is the best. Especially when you're reading in another language :D And don't just bake when you have all the right ingredients! It's substituting (and then eating) that makes baking fun!
Ah! I always get so nervous substituting but I have done it. You are so right about eating the baked goods after they are made though, and now I can't wait for the weekend to read in the sun, and possibly bake!
What do you like to bake? My personal favourite is cheesecake (especially lemon). Agatha Christie makes for wonderful light reading in the sun.
Thanks for the author recommendation! I love baking cakes actually, cupcakes sometimes, but mainly cakes, vanilla and chocolate. I love eating cheesecake but haven't attempted baking it yet.
I love chocolate cake! Have you ever had Costco's chocolate cake? I know it's cheating (not baking) but it's heavenly! Have you heard of America's Test Kitchen? They have some cookbooks with really easy cheesecake recipes.
I have heard of America's Test Kitchen! I will look up their cheesecake recipe tonight, and no I've never been to Costco, but I'm sure I can find their cake mix online and order it to try. This has been so fun chatting with you about baking and reading thanks for the follow! Have a great night :)
@Myra, I just learned that your name means "ant" in Swedish! xD That's adorable! I love ants!!
@David, i just stumbled across your Twitter account yesterday! Small world :D Thank you for helping to program Duolingo. This website has honestly changed my life! Btw, you weren't the person who got a bazillian pages of website feedback from me several months ago (with blue and green arrows)? Or maybe that was Beth? I was super happy to see the apply link in Immersion go from grey to blue! (It's the little things tend to make my days :)
@Beth Way to go with the Test Center! I really love how DL is really shaking up the commercial language learning world. Education gate-keeping is one of those things that steams me like a tea pot! So I was so excited when I first learned about the Test Center and how it would make it even easier for people to access this resource that is all too often mandatory for people seeking jobs and places of study. Thank you for putting in the hours to make and improve it! I know that Duolingoers, (who are among the most awesome crowd on the planet) can be a prickly crowd when it comes to the introduction of new features but also changes to them. I hope you know that from the tip of my cotton tail to the top reaches of my fuzzy bunny ears, that your work is amazing and important and if we didn't care so deeply about it there would be zero fuss. I hope you'll forgive us at our worst and know that youve played an important part of getting to see us at our best. :D (and that message also really goes out to all of the programs and and designers as well.)
Thanks David and Beth! I've applied to be a contributor on Tuesday already.
Good to know more about you David & Beth. Duolingo on Google glass sounds like a great combination - good for a tourist, good for a learner!