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How much real-world text can you read?

We've been testing a new feature in which we recommend articles for you to read and translate after you finish certain lessons. The idea is to help you practice what you just learned with real-world articles from the Web.

With each recommendation, we also show you the fraction of documents from our database that we think you can now understand with a little bit of help (such as looking up certain words in the dictionary). It's impressive that after finishing half the tree you can mostly read a sizable fraction of the Web in the language you're learning :)

Our data shows that people enjoy these recommendations, so we just enabled them to all users of the website (translations on mobile are on the way!). If you're just getting started you may not get many articles recommended to you because, well, you're not ready for the real world ...yet.

Let us know what you think!

June 28, 2013



I've been waiting this since noticing a few days ago- very happy to be a tester. I'm glad to have a feature that gives credit for strengthening vocabulary within immersion. It seems that I can only do this sort of thing if I do a lesson first, is that right? I'd like for it to work going straight to the immersion tab if possible, but if not I don't mind refreshing lessons too. So far so good, and thanks for adding this.


I would think as Duolingo grows so will its lessons per language which means the vocabulary list gets longer. So it dawned on me that with these articles that are constantly being translated, Duolingo has a unique opportunity to know which words to teach next. That is, it can keep a running total of every instance a word in another language is used at least in articles and be able to create a most used list of words. Then even though those words have not been shaped into lessons, I thought there could be in a list tab in the immersion (or Vocab) section that keeps a living list, with definitions/translations that changes over time as word popularity changes and as lessons take words off the list, for say the next hundred most popular words, not already in the Duolingo library of words. That way even though we have no lessons for these words its somewhere we can go to A learn which words we'd like to learn next independently and B at least have a place we can continue learning without the Duolingo team doing having to do all that much work and makes it easier for us to do the immersion translations.


Can you highlight a few recommended articles in the immersion section, or recommend them after practice sessions?

I've finished all the lessons, but would like to be given some recommended articles to translate.


Yes, we're working on doing this :)


The three articles that have been presented to me and that I have tried to translate seem to be far above my level. Honestly, I'm extremely overwhelmed and don't feel that I am capable of doing translations just yet.


Try starting with editing. Sometimes a student translator can get so focused on the translating part they make simple mistakes in English.

I did one revision because the English translation of a phrase was written in the plural even though the article, adjective and noun were all singular in the French example. I took the French author to be using the word as a collective noun which meant that it should be singular as he wrote it, so I changed it. Someone came along and changed my revision back to the plural form.

Since the English read equally well as plural or singular collective it didn't make any difference to me. I got a little practice translating and thinking about the appropriate use of singular and plural in both languages. Another free lesson from Duo, this one pretty advanced from where I was three months ago.


I agree with the starting with editing. I started looking through the Immersion tab a few weeks ago, and did some minor grammatical editing within a few documents. After a couple weeks, I can now recognize and translate quite a few basic sentences (though I do spend a lot of my time doing grammatical corrections for others).

My advice to anyone interested in the translating part is to try it-- start with something simple, and start by editing the translations of others. But also read the original text, and try to learn new words and phrases. If you think that you know what a sentence says, translate it! Even if you're wrong, the corrections that others will make will help you to become a better reader and translator.


I absolutely agree- if you feel shaky in a language, or if you're having a bad day and making a lot of mistakes, just read translated articles and say it either looks good or looks bad, and if you don't know, skip the sentence for the moment. I think it's best to find the edge of your comfort zone and keep pushing it, but if you find yourself overwhelmed, pull back just enough to feel that edge again.


@duolearner12345 I'm at a similar spot on my tree as you, and I also thought that the articles were too tough, but I've persevered and after a few, they are becoming a lot easier. I think the articles are relatively tough for me because I haven't been practicing as I learn, and it was a bit overwhelming initially. But, now the articles are a challenge but not impossible.


I didn't think that the recommended article seemed easier than the others. Frankly, I've done better when I've looked for articles where I'm familiar with the subject matter and know how they are usually phrased in English. I think the hardest ones are advertisements because they use so much idiomatic language.


where do I finid this feature? do I need to pass a certain level before I can get recommendations? cause i did a lot of lessons and I never got a recommendation.


The recommendations are very useful.

I have another suggestion to translate more and faster text.

My native language is German, but since im fluent in English Im using the Portuguese-English translation. As a result I have to translate Portuguese to English. But I would be much faster and better to translate it to German. So my suggestion is that every user has to indicate his native language. And then it would be possible to translate Portuguese articles also into German and not just English. Further if there is a native Italian speeker learning Portugese from English, this person would be able to translate Portuguese to Italian. And in the end the whole community could translate more article and also more efficient.


I've been getting the recommendations and the fraction of documents from the database I can "understand." Although when I opened it up the article was highlighted with all the le/les/tu..., the really basic words, most of the article was words I didn't know. So it looks more like a percentage of words in articles I can understand rather than the percentage articles I can understand.

My percentage is around six or seven, so I thought for people in my level, Duolingo could on the back of every lesson, pull say 5 to 10 sentence from many articles that are made up of say 80 to 90 percent of words Duolingo knows we know (excluding names, places.....) and we could translate at least those sentences.

Then beginners can take care of the easy sentences, more advanced learners can take care of the more difficult sentences and then people at the end of the tree or finished can finish off the articles with not much work, just overview/edit everyone’s work and translate the few sentences left.


It's so funny. I was just thinking about this new feature and wondering if when I get to the end of the tree, will I be considered able to read 100% of the articles?


I'm near the end of German and it told me I was at 94% so you will probably not get to 100%


This is great!! I love it.

Incidentally I was stunned to see that Duo believes I can read 95% of translations (with a bit of help from the dictionary, of course). That is encouraging!

All we now need is the re-activation of the indicator of how many sentences we have translated!


Great addition, though how come the percentage of written french I am suppesd to understand go up so fast? It was at 51% this morning, three lessons later it is at 75. That can't be right.


Those three lessons could have been something that was very important and thus increasing the percentage quickly.


Nah, and it keeps increasing, its at over 80 now which is just silly. for every lesson it rises about 5 %.


I find reading real world text quite difficult. I have been looking at elmundo.es everyday this week at the headlines, and only a few of the articles I have understood the gist of. But I think it is a good idea to immerse yourself in the language.


I could not get the recommended article to open today. I think we should be able to save the recommendations somewhere if we are in the middle of some lessons. The first time I got a recommendation I want on to the next lesson and so lost the article. As we get more advanced it would be good to hear real voices as well so we get used to different accents.


What do you mean you could not get the recommended article open? Did something go wrong? If so, can you elaborate?


I also received a recommendation today, when I tried to look at the article, I noticed that there is neither link or picture for me to click in. Nowhere to click in to see the article.


Can you send a screenshot of what you're seeing? This would be super helpful.


Finally have one screenshot, but could not paster here. Maybe send to you by email? Please let me know your email address.


Hi, can you send it to press@duolingo.com? Thanks!


How advanced do you have to be before you start to get recommendations? (More advanced than I am, evidently.)


This sounds awesome. Exactly how far along do you have to be for this to kick in? I'm about a third of the way done with my Spanish tree, and have finished several lessons since this was implemented a few days ago, but I haven't seen anything of it yet.


How can I re-activate this option? It showed up for me a few times but as I didn't respond, Duolingo stopped offering me to practice learned vocabulary with reading articles. But I find this way of learning really good and would like to use this option further on.


No need to reactivate. It doesn't look at whether you previously clicked on it or not; it only looks at whether now is a good time to recommend things based on what you know.


do we have to be above a certain level before articles are suggested to us?


i have the same question as praer. i barely use immersion since i cannot seam to find suitable articles for me. getting recommendations seam perfect. but i'm not getting them at the moment. how can i see them?


You can access articles to translate whenever you care to by clicking the "Immersion" link on the bar at the top of the website.


but articles recommended to you in particular are not highlighted, right?


wow, lolaphilologist, I so admire you !


Tell that to my husband! we usually have a conversation in which I assure him that "I can quit any time!" We both know that I may need an intervention when the time comes to scale back. Whatever they're doing to make it addictive it's totally working on me.


Haha! Glad to know...I've had that same conversation!


This is very awesome and it help me learn


It is encouraging to see how much I understand of Italian!! I would like to keep the spell checker though... I think it is useful for all of us who are learning Italian (or any other language) and our mother tongue is not English.


This sounds excellent—looking forward to it!


That would be awesome. But since I'm mostly a mobile user, I'm guessing that I'll have to wait. Also, I'm only at level 7 so imagine, I'd have to wait even longer still before I start doing any real world reading :)


At my level I think that I can understand pretty good written portuguese and I can read a text without a problem. Writing, expressing and hearing is another story though, and Duolingo lacks a lot in the two latter subjects.


I feel that I do indeed understand a lot more and have a little more confidence when reading. I know I don't understand 100% of a sentence but I at least get the basic understanding of what is being expressed. Way to go Duolingo.


Is there anywhere you can go to see your recommendations or do they just appear when duolingo thinks you're ready for them?


They appear after you finish a lesson, if they appear.


from where can i read these articles, i could not locate a link on the site


You can click on the Immersion link at the top of the Duo page to get translation examples which are broken down into categories. However, if you are referring to recommended selections which are presented as geared to your current level, I think you just have to wait for that to appear as a pop-up message in your normal exercises.


This is an awesome feature. Have yet to use it yet but this is a really good way to keep things interesting.


That is an awesome feature and really allows you to assess how much you are actually absorbing from using the program. Thanks a lot!


awesome, and cool website


Hi! I'm new to Duolingo! I think you guys are doing a great job with this app! However, I just seem unable to get around the immersion part of the web-site. I clicked into a couple of articles, which supposedly would be custom-selected to my own skill-level, but they all seem to have far too many words and phrases beyond my current level. My question is, is this just how it is supposed to be, and I should only keep honing my skills till I reach a decent level where I'm comfortable enough to start translating some text without putting in too much effort, or is it that the system is not working properly, cause I think there's way TOO many words I just don't know?

Thanks for the help, and keep up the good work. You guys don't know how much you have inspired me with your business model and vision!



Try going to the Immersion link at the top of the home page. When you are in it, look for categories that interest you and try to find articles that you already know something about.

Start with short, simple sentences. Skip the paragraphs where it gets to be too much. Using the mouse over definitions provided for each word, checking out dictionaries and searching the internet, all in conjunction with your familiarity with the subject matter will enable you to get started.

A common error that traps students is when the foreign language word looks, sounds and appears to mean the same thing in both languages. There are words that can have a completely opposite meaning from the apparent use, depending on the context. EG: Sanction, in English, can mean to permit, approve, even encourage or it can mean to punish, even to spell out the punishment. You can see if, say, a student was translating English documents back to his native language and came across sanction, he could easily get it wrong. You, with real world knowledge might immediately recognize which meaning an English speaking author would have intended.

I once saw a student translate a couple of sentences to show that three countries had all eliminated all their nuclear weapons in the same month of the same year. That didn't fit with the real world to say the least nor did it fit with the rest of the article as translated by other students. Using other resources, I discovered that even though the word resembled, in looks and usage, an English word which had the same meaning the student took, in French there was another meaning. The alternative meaning could be taken to indicate that the author was using the date to calculate how many nuclear weapons the countries had not how many they got rid of. The student wasn't wrong if you just looked at the two sentences he chose to translate and didn't direct attention to anything else.

Remember, it is just a best effort at translating. No one comes along and condemns your effort. Other students may change it. Often they improve it. Sometimes their edit seems worse. What you want to get out of it is practice translating.

I mentioned in a previous post, look at editing existing student translations for simple errors such as spelling and basic grammar. Students, understandably, often focus on the work of translating, not polishing their English product. We are trying to translate the the web for others to use. Might as well spend a little time to help make it look good.


Carlos, also, every article has a small pie chart to the right of it which indicates how much of that article is translated and checked (black), translated but needs checking (grey), and needs translating (white). Furthermore, below this pie chart is a ratio of sentences translated over total number of sentences. Within the article you can tell under what above status each sentences falls by looking at blanked out sections for what need to be translated, grey sentences for those that need checking, and black for those that have been checked.

So you can use that to pick, in conjunction with articles you are familiar with topic-wise, articles that are either very short and possibly easy as opposed to long articles that more then likely are very technical and higher vocabulary or articles that are mostly grey if your more comfortable checking or articles that are mostly white if your more comfortable translating.

Checking each sentence is good because you can benifit from possibly various iterations of edits and the likely inferred reasoning for each. Although translating is also good because it forces you to think more and you can feel good that someone is going to come behind you and either edit your work or agree that it is perfect. Both of which are easy to do because first of all you can scan the article for sentences that have more of the words you are familiar with and secondly you can just simply hover over any foreign word and see its translation and your job is to rearrange the words to what would make sense in english.


Well. I can hardly believe it, I started Duolingoing Spanish about two weeks ago... been smashing it cuz I have no life grins But... At level 9, I can read an incredible amount of Vikidia (a kids Wikipedia in Spanish). I installed a Chrome plugin so I can hover over words to get a dictionary definition and.. I can hardly believe how incredibly effective Duolingo is. Amazing idea, outstanding implementation guys!



Chrome has an app that translates entire web pages on the fly for you. You can set it different levels of capability. The lower the level the simpler the words that are translated, leaving the rest of the content in the original language. It also has a mouseover feature that enables you to click any translated word to get back it back to the original language.

You can toggle the app off and on so it's not a hindrance to reading anything. If you know the topic of the pages, pretty soon you are reading it naturally without noticing parts of the page are in the other language

By level 9 you could certainly use it at the simple levels without hindrance as long as you were familiar with the material being discussed. I just used it for the first time since I started Duo and was surprised to see easy the simple level is now that I have had some training in French.

The app is based on Google Translate which has it's problems. Even I can see some pretty odd translations. However, the odd translation only affects the target language not the original which is available with a mouse click.

If you are interested the app is called Language Immersion for Chrome.

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