Weekly Incubator Update: Tracking Progress from January 4th to January 11th

And the great start for the new year continues!

Friendly warning: today's post is long. I mean... really long :)

Delay in publishing
First of all, apologies for the delay in this week's post. It all started with my realizing that this week's progress numbers for a few courses seemed highly inflated. Apparently last Friday, Duolingo's Incubator team made a change to the way the progress is calculated for some of the XX<-IT courses. For these courses, the UI string translations are once again part of the progress metric. And since the bulk of the string translations were already done by the "sister" course teams, these courses got a boost. Thanks to Luis, sandrabruck, & itastudent for helping clarify and confirm this.

I have used a fuzzy logic to reassess the progress for these three courses. Hopefully the numbers reflect the pure "human" progress so that the comparison between courses remains meaningful. Please let me hear your feedback!

Even as the post is delayed, I have used yesterday's numbers from the DuoInc Tracker so that the weekly comparisons are meaningful.

Two new courses
1. The Spanish for German course has entered the incubator. Their reverse course had graduated from beta last month. This course benefited from the reverse and had an initial boost of 17%. I have adjusted their actual progress number for this week to reflect this.

\2. The Vietnamese for English course team have also commenced their Phase one.

Congratulations to both these teams and also to team Duo as always!

In all, currently we have as many as 15 courses in Phase 1 and out of these, eight are for the English speakers. In the coming weeks and months, we will have lots of languages to learn and also lots of laddering options to choose from!

And last but not the least, congratulations are also in place for vivisaurus and hideki who have recently joined the Duolingo team and have taken up course mentorship.

PHASE 1 Progress:

English for Thai - 78% | 79% | 79% | 79% (+0)

French for Portuguese - 56% | 63% | 69% | 74% (+5)

Hungarian for English - 66% | 67% | 67% | 67% (+0) ^

Esperanto for English - 51% | 60% | 65% | 67% (+2)

Turkish for English - 52% | 57% | 57% | 59% (+2) ^

German for Italian - 32% | 32% | 33% | 57% (+2) -->

German for Turkish - 48% | 50% | 50% | 53% (+3)

Russian for English - 47% | 48% | 50% | 52% (+2) ^

Spanish for Italian - 15% | 17% | 18% | 48% (+0) -->

Ukrainian for English - 30% | 33% | 39% | 47% (+8) *

French for Italian - 5% | 7% | 8% | 41% (+1) -->

Spanish for German - (New) 23 (+6)

Romanian for English - 11% | 12% | 12% | 12% (+0)

Polish for English - 10% | 10% | 10% | 10% (+0)

Vietnamese for English - (New) 1% (+1)

Average Weekly Progress: + 1.08% | 2.54% | 1.69% | 2.13%

* This week's Leader Extraordinaire
^ The Turkish, the Hungarian, & Russian teams' progress is per their own calculation.
--> These courses underwent a change in their progress calculation logic on 9-Jan-2015.

Progress Visualized:

Here's what the contributing teams shared during the last week:

Bruno_de_Brito from Team FR<-PT wrote 4 days ago:

Temos um novo contribuidor!!!!

Ele é PastorCelso, esperamos dar um grande salto no progresso do curso com ele no time :D

FrankySka from Team ES<-DE** wrote 4 days ago:

Hallo zusammen! Jetzt fangen wir bald an - wir freuen uns sehr!

DE/ES Team

Oesterreich7 from Team Russian** wrote 3 days ago:

½ finished, one more to go! (08/01/15)

Hi everybody! First of all I would like to thank all of you for your anticipation of our course. As some of you may know, I was added to the incubator about three weeks ago. Being a native English and German speaker and barely knowing any Russian prior to being added, my job is to test this course from the viewpoint of a learner and to help fix bugs. Anyways, enough about me for now, I know what everyone really wants to know is how the course is doing.

As the title suggests, we have reached our halfway point. Realistically we plan on having around 2100 to 2500 words in our course (although 3000 words would be nice) by the time it is released but, for now we are calculating our percentage off of the assumption that the course will have 2160 words.

I would also like to mention we have added an amazing new team member to the team: kr_ov. For those who may have noticed some massive fluctuations around the Christmas: don't worry, we've had a few bugs while adding a new Alphabet skill, redesigning parts of the tree and deleting a few blank sample skills on the way. The important part is that everything is back to normal now and you can see our progress by checking Jitengore's fabulous weekly incubator progress reports.

By the way, I hope this answers a few questions about how we teach the Cyrillic alphabet:

  • Duolingo does not have a new type of exercise to teach a foreign script, so we are working with what we have. We would gladly adopt any new type of exercise that may appear in future.
  • We do teach the alphabet as it is easy to learn. It also takes some practice to become reasonably fast. So, if you have some time to learn it now, please do so. :)
  • As for typing Russian, you can install a keyboard. On a desktop: google and download a phonetic keyboard (Mac has one available in the basic package, FYI). On a tablet or a smart phone, a standard (ЙЦУКЕН) will do.

I would now like to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about applications. Firstly, I would like to thank all who have applied or are planning to apply to the Ru-En course, and don’t worry, we do read them. I would also like to talk about writing applications. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to show off. It would be nice if you would include the following: who you are (the personal aspect is always nice), what you know (eg. teaching experience [how much], and your experience in both languages) and last but not least how much time you can offer. We look forward to your applications. :)

Anyways, that has been all for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And don’t worry, the Russian course is coming. ;)

Team Russian

Ahem... ahem... Oesterreich7, thanks for the kind mention of this Incubator tracker :)

ckhadung from Team Vietnamese wrote 2 days ago:

First language course from Southeast Asia!

Xin chào mọi người!

We are proud to be the first language from the region to appear in Incubator. Our hope is that our attempt to teach Vietnamese will bring Vietnamese language onto a higher level of recognition as well as increasing cultural understanding.

As you may know, Vietnamese language use Latin alphabet with additional diacritics for tones as well as certain letters. But what is unique about learning Vietnamese is that you (English speakers) would find many connections from Vietnamese language to both Chinese language and Romance languages. To me, it is like a "bridge" between western and eastern cultural legacy. How cool is that? I guess you have to find out yourself ;)

Our team aims to bring you a "knowledgeable" language course, in which it should not focus too much on grammar and structure systematically. Instead, we try to make you flexible with the way the language is used daily and reduce the dependence of studying grammar. (Really, when one speaks a sentence with absolutely correct grammar, it sounds "weird/awkward" to Vietnamese). Of course, we do not completely skip grammar, but at least you know what to expect ;)

It will take some time to finish this course. Want to shorten the time? If you know any Vietnamese, please encourage him or her to apply and give us a hand. If you are Vietnamese native speakers, or just happen to know Vietnamese well enough, please consider to apply as well.

Apply at

Requirement: both essays must be "long enough", stating the reason you want to help and your brief background.

Xin cảm ơn.

SergioRuido from Team Ukrainian wrote yesterday:

Also, Anrui from Team Swedish wrote yesterday:

Gott nytt år!

I hope that you’ve all had great holidays and that you’re ready to take on that New Year’s resolution to master Swedish. We are here to help you keep it!

It’s been a while since our last update and a lot of things have happened since.

First of all we have entered Beta, which has kept us busy with reviewing suggested additional translations and improving current sentences. We have managed quite well with keeping our metrics low and at the moment our average reports per 100 users is down to 1.88 which is great!

But working on a course on Duolingo is not only about the Incubator. Another important aspect of our responsibilities involves managing the forums and answering all of your questions, which is why I am proud to present our newest contributors, Zmrzlina & Lundgren8. They has been invaluable in giving informative responses and we are very happy to have them on board.

We are also very happy to inform (if you haven’t noticed yet) that the course now is available on the Duolingo app, both for Android and iOS. You should check it out!

Lastly, I have a message to all English native speakers out there who speak fluent Swedish. Our current team only consists of native Swedish speakers and although everybody’s English is great, we still lack someone with a perfect feeling for the English language. If you feel like this could be you, you should apply through If you’ve already applied, but it was a while ago, you should try again.

See you in the forums!

jitengore from Team Hindi wrote 13 hours ago:

Beta Week 38: Course progress

प्रिय दोस्तों! पाठ्यक्रम के बीटा चरण का समापन आगामी भारतीय गणतंत्र दिवस (26 जनवरी, 2015) पर करने के बारे में हमारी टीम इस समय विचार विमर्श कर रही है। पाठ्यक्रम के निर्माण हेतु 40 सप्ताहों की अवधि उचित जान पड़ती है :)

Dear friends, currently our team is thinking about concluding the beta phase of our course on the upcoming Indian Republic Day (26th January, 2015). A gestation period of 40 weeks sounds just right :)

साप्ताहिक पाठ्यक्रम प्रगति - Weekly Course Progress.

FrankySka from Team ES<-DE** wrote 7 hours ago:

so viele Bewerbungen!

Wir haben angefangen eure Bewerbungen durchzusehen! Vielen Dank schon mal, dass ihr euch so zahlreich gemeldet habt. :-)

Es wird etwas dauern, aber hoffentlich können wir bald ein paar neue Mithelfer/innen einladen!

TL;DR Two new courses Spanish for German, and Vietnamese for English in Phase 1. New progress metric for all the courses for Italian speakers. Overall progress number continues to be above 2.

The next update is expected on Sunday, 18th of January at 4:00 pm UTC.

Previous Update 28-Dec to 04-Jan

January 12, 2015


Vietnamese for English speakers!? Just when I thought I couldn't love Duolingo any more than I already do, this happens. I think I'm now more excited for this course than I am for Russian, even though I know the same amount of people who speak Russian and Vietnamese.

Anyway, I know I've never commented here to say it before, but I can't express with words in any language how much I appreciate these updates you do. They make me feel more connected to the community as a whole and I admire the amount of work that goes into this post and the courses. So, thank you jitengore, for everything.

January 12, 2015

I too feel very grateful for these updates :)

January 12, 2015

If you know anyone who is fluent in both English and Vietnamese, please ask them to apply for our course. We highly appreciate that ;)

January 13, 2015

I'm only a beginner in Vietnamese (I used the EN for VN course to learn tiếng Việt) but I am fluent in English so I applied... I can probably help with the first lessons and with proofreading and validating English translations. Every little helps!

And obviously, the point of view of a "beta tester" could be useful too...

January 13, 2015

Speaking of which, any insights as to what monument might serve as the image for the course page?

January 13, 2015

The first place that comes to my mind is Hồ Gươm in Hà Nội, it has already been a symbol of Vietnam


January 14, 2015

Any relationship to the tower of hanoi?

The first thing that came into my mind was that this must probably be in some movie, documentary or game. It looks strangely familiar. Anyway, it seems likely that Duolingo will choose that landmark due to its significance.

January 14, 2015

Hm actually it is more about the lake. There is a legend that everyone here knows very well: Around 15th century, when Chinese (Ming Dysnasty) was about to invade again, Lê Lợi was given a magic sword to defeat Chinese. When he became the king, one day when he was boating on the lake when a Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) surfaced and asked for his magic sword, Heaven's Will. Lợi concluded that Kim Qui had come to reclaim the sword that its master, a local God, the Dragon King had given Lợi some time earlier, during his revolt against the Chinese.


January 14, 2015


Sounds like an Asian version of King Arthur's legend. Although it is unclear whether the lady of the lake was a goddess, a fairy or a witch. The original legend of Arthur was probably plagiarized from somewhere else anyway.

Thanks for the interesting story.

January 14, 2015

Here's a lovely picture of a temple gate in My Tho, Vietnam, from Wikimedia Creative Commons; it can be freely reused, cropped or otherwise modified without paying a licence fee:

January 13, 2015

Very nice landmark. I'm sure there is a lot of history behind that simple temple gate.

January 13, 2015

Hi Trang, first of all: thanks for contributing to duolingo courses - so may people will benefit from your efforts. I am very interested in learning Vietnamese and I have heard that Vietnamese from the North and the South sound very different. Which accent will be used for the audio and how is the audio quality? Are there going to be specific exercises to practice the tones? Thanks again for your hard work :D

January 13, 2015

Thanks pinutzz for your interest in our course. Unfortunately for now we do not have any idea which will be used for the audio and as much as I love to, specific exercises to practice the tones are beyond our reach. But we do have a group on facebook where you will find many Vietnamese and can practice with them. If tones are that difficult to foreigners, we may think of providing some opportunities to give feedbacks on your recorded Vietnamese (for free too of course)

January 14, 2015

For those interested in Bruno_De_Bruto's post he said:

We have a new contributor!!!

He is PasterCelso, we hope to take a big leap in the course progress with him in time. :D

Also thank you, Jiten, for another amazing post! :)

January 12, 2015

Just a little correction;

He is PasterCelso, we hope to take a big leap in the course progress with him in the team . :D

Haha I got confused on that part too :)

January 12, 2015

Thanks! :D

January 12, 2015


January 13, 2015


January 13, 2015

Oh, I'm so excited for Turkish, always!!! But look at UKRAINIAN go!!! Yay! :D

January 12, 2015

We are excited for you! I have done a lot of editing this week on the course and we are still chugging a long to our future completion!

January 15, 2015

Thanks so much for the update on the Russian team's progress Oesterreich7! It's so informative and makes me anticipate the course even more (if that's even possible)!

I'm glad the Team Russia decided to go with the specialist approach (someone who can dedicate a lot of time to one aspect of the course) for new contributors instead of the jack-of-all-trades. Not sure if it had anything to do with the discussion shady_arc, Dessamator and I had.

A big welcome and looking forward to your future updates!

January 12, 2015

Thanks for your kind words. We'll update you sometime in the near future (definitely sometime before the release). Best wishes. :)

January 12, 2015

Hi Jiten, it seems that you missed the update of this line with this week's average:

>Average Weekly Progress: + 2.00% | 1.08% | 2.54% | 1.69%

To be correct for this week, I think it should read:

>Average Weekly Progress: + 1.08% | 2.54% | 1.69% | 2.13%

January 12, 2015

Hi Anacrhon, thanks (and lingots) for helping me make the correction!

January 13, 2015

No problem. I'm always looking forward to the weekly incubator update, so I'm just glad to help.

January 13, 2015

Thank you Jiten!! Another excellent update, as always.

January 12, 2015

Thanks a lot, as usual!

Polish is stuck again.

But I'm so happy the ES<-DE course is in the incubator! This is the best news ever; I'm never gonna thank you enough for your great work ES/DE team!!!

January 12, 2015

At least there's a strong chance of Polish showing growth in the next week's edition (they reached 11% on Sunday). But of course, backtracking does sometimes happen.

January 12, 2015

With all the Polish speakers living in England and Western Europe, I'm surprised there isn't more demand for learning Polish.

January 13, 2015

The demand is HUGE. The "problem" comes from the course contributors.

January 13, 2015

Not entirely, as according to some contributors the incubator is ill-suited for some languages. Also, the Duolingo team should just realize that the current team is dragging their feet and simply ask them to either make some progress or allow other contributors to take over. They seem to have exactly this with the EN<-Japanese course, which seems to be a priority for them.

As stated previously, it may be a mistake in some cases to use the same team for both the original course and the reverse. At best the same liason(s)/team leader(s) could be appointed for both courses, but the contributors should probably be different. They experience fatigue, stress, and become tired with two different courses.

I'm sure the teams creating the courses will always feel defensive about this but ultimately the question is this, if one is in the operating table with their life on the line, would one prefer a surgeon that is operating on two patients at the same time, or one who can fully concentrate on one patient.

Though not a life or death situation, the quality of a course will probably always suffer when the contributors need to divide their attention (especially for teams creating new trees).

January 13, 2015

"according to some contributors the incubator is ill-suited for some languages"

Well, somehow, Russian, which is close but more compicated, is still making progress. So I don't consider this to be a good argument.

Anyway, yes, the contributors stopped working on the course months ago. A new contributor was added a few weeks ago; he made a big fuss about it, but I still see no progress whatsoever. I know I sound bitter, but I just cannot understand why people would do that. If you're not planning on doing anything, just let it go, for God's sake.

January 13, 2015

Well, to be fair, he did say "some" contributors and "some" languages; however, I can see where you're coming from on this. I can't quite remember when the new contributor was added, but if I remember correctly, when new contributors are added there seems to be a three to four week period of 'adjustment' to the incubator that they go through before any progress is seen. This doesn't excuse the slowness by any means, but seeing as we don't know for sure what's going on behind the scenes, grasping for straws is all that we really can do at the moment.

January 13, 2015

Well, the "Game is on" even after 9 months, I'm not sure what game takes 9 months to finish or to even make a single move (maybe hardcore chess).

But as always, for people who aren't apart of the incubator we'll never understand the difficulties associated with creating a course. However, I entirely agree with you. This isn't a problem related to the difficulty of making the course, this is a problem of bad leadership (in the course).

Personally I think Duolingo should adopt wikia's policy when it comes to contributors. Whenever a person creates a wiki (or is an admin), and doesn't contribute or even login for 3 months or so, the person automatically loses admin powers and becomes a regular user. Other users can immediately request to adopt the wikia and take over the leadership.

On the flip side, even courses that finish relatively quickly have the same problem. The ES-PT and PT-ES, had been publicly abandoned by their contributors according to some comments in the forum, and still contained considerable mistakes. Only recently has a new contributor been added.

P.S. According to the, Polish did have some progress yesterday. Perhaps they just need more contributors (and new leadership).

January 13, 2015

As of today contributors will have to click through a link in an automated email each month in order to continue being a contributor. This should make it much easier to get rid off inactive contributors and keep all teams alive and moving, but we will have to see how it plays out.

January 13, 2015

This is excellent news. But it still doesn't eliminate the problem, as all they need to do is click a link to continue, regardless of not contributing at all. So the current situation would repeat itself, they'd just need to click a link 9 times( 9 months). I think an evaluation of contribution is a much better way to gauge a contributor's worth, rather than merely clicking a link.

Another problem with course leadership is that the moderators choose themselves. Basically it is first come first serve (first contributors are automatically moderators). Leading a group or team is not something everybody is able to do. In a wikia environment, for example, the Leader (admin) is chosen only when the community decides to choose them.

They may also have their rights removed if the community believes they are leading the wiki astray, regardless of their past contributions.

As always, thanks for the insights.

January 13, 2015

Well, that would be a nice feature :)

January 13, 2015

This is interesting, according to the metrics, Irish, Swedish, and English for Hindi speakers courses are ready to graduate from Beta. But it seems likely that the Irish will wait for a while until most of their audio issues are sorted out though.

The Dutch course should theoretically also be close to graduation, considering that it was the first new volunteer language tree.

January 12, 2015

There's Hindi for English speakers?

January 12, 2015

Not yet. But I've heard (from somewhere) that it's going to enter the incubator within a month.

January 12, 2015

So, any word yet on Hindi for English? I have been trying to find any info on this, yet there is virtually nothing and no one from Duolingo answered my email.

April 6, 2015

Wow Vietnamese for English!! So cool!

Plus this opens up a whole new realm of opportunity for Asian languages on Duolingo! Good luck, team Vietnamese - you're making history :)

Lately the whole incubator's been getting a whole lot more interesting. So many languages! I see a lot of progress this week, so that's good. I know Hungarian for English is doing their own complicated work at their own pace. Polish also hasn't gone up a percent on this post in a while. But team Polish, I believe, is looking for some new members.

I don't mean to be repetitive of what they're telling us, and I know I'm not really in a position to be saying this, as I haven't done anything myself (yet...) , but... If you DO know Polish and English, and are able/willing to help out with course contribution (you can ask about what that entails), then here's some peer pressure: go for it! :D

And thanks for making this post Jitengore! It's always so helpful to all of us users. :)

January 12, 2015

I applied for a contributor like 6 days ago. Since I am Polish native speaker and I'm studying English at Uni, I thought it could be a good idea to help with Polish for English course. Still waiting for the reply though.

January 16, 2015

That's great! Have a lingot or two! I'm the opposite way. I'm a native English speaker and I've been studying Polish (I know there are probably multiple flags by my name but Polish (American flag) is the main one I actually use on duolingo). I still know very little, but I'm serious about learning the language and I hope that eventually I will be able to help the team and/or the learning community in some way from my studies.

For now, good luck with your application! :)

January 17, 2015

Wow you quick with those lingots. Thank you! I'm not even sure if they will accept me.

January 18, 2015
  • 1453

Thank you, as always, for doing this!

Fun fact, if you hadn't adjusted the weekly gains for accuracy, the average progress this week would have been 8.87%.

January 12, 2015

Cuối cùng có tiếng Việt cho người Anh! Cảm ơn các bạn! :)

January 12, 2015

Thank you again for your hard work! ;)

January 12, 2015

So... With all the manipulation and self-reporting required to create the progress chart, I wonder if it would not simply be better to post for each course in stage 1 a current expected graduation date to beta.

The percentages don't mean much anymore with all the self-reporting and recalculating. And frankly, all I really care about is graduation to beta. Or graduation from beta for the stage 2 courses.

If teams all publish their expected graduation dates, then on a weekly basis we can compare their announcements to gauge real progress and success. Reasons for delays, etc could be explained.

January 13, 2015

Hmm, for me I actually enjoy the percentages. In my opinion, the dates wouldn't be as useful as one might expect them to be. One would think that they give you a more concrete goal to aim for, that they give the people waiting something concrete to count on. However, since the dates are prone to changing, sometimes drastically and occasionally not for the better, eventually the dates would lose their standing as something concrete that could be counted on. At least with the self reported percentages, the goal is always 100%, and that 100% doesn't change.

The self-reporting is really just a result of how Duolingo calculates the courses' completion percentages, which some of the contributors just happen to find not accurate to what they feel their actual progress is. This way, we aren't relying on false numbers. The direct communication with contributors, and they being the ones reporting the percentages, provides us with the best and most accurate approximation of course completion.

From there, one can attempt to extrapolate a completion date from the rate of change of the percentage (possibly by going through each Incubator update, noting a data point, calculating the average rate of change, and finding a best-fit line or quadratic, or cubic, or whatever turns out to be the best predictor of weekly progress). I understand that would be a lot of work for anyone to do, but since not even the course contributors can give even an approximation to the month of when their course will be completed (only a hope for when it will be and usually a more broad time frame such as "end of this year" or "fall of this year") this would probably be the only way to get a slightly more accurate date at the moment.

January 13, 2015

Many of the teams have said that they have no idea when their course will come out. It's hard to make predictions for the future...

January 13, 2015

Except that you're forgetting one important element, the graduation date is not entirely dependent on the Incubator team, the Duolingo team is ultimately the one that decides when a course is ready to graduate. Between the date it starts and the date it ends things such as obtaining a good TTS engine, a bug caused by the Duolingo team, and some change in priorities may all affect the deadline.

The expected graduation to beta is already posted in the incubator page anyway, and it is more accurate than any estimate the Incubator Team may give because they tend to be biased and base it on their perceptions rather than any accurate mathematical calculation.

January 13, 2015

I didn't forget. By comparison with completion percentages: A few weeks ago the Russian course was posted at over 50% completion, but I read comments by a Russian team member indicating that in reality there were in the 40's. And several courses now self-report completion percentages.

Maybe it is harder to estimate a completion date than it is to estimate percentages. I think as a metric it's no less viable than all the other metrics being used. And it's definitely more important to most users.

It may also benefit the teams themselves, as a date would be a target to reach. Time elements are important to successful goal-setting, and there are a lot of teams whose progress suggests a lack of fire in the belly.

Finally, the date posted by a team could simply be the estimated completion of the team's work -- so as to distinguish progress by the team and progress on backend issues.

January 14, 2015

I don't understand how completion date is a metric. Percents are real. The courses' completion date accounced by the team is an arbitrary number when not supported by progress.

January 14, 2015

Agreed, setting a date is no different than saying "soon". It would be an entirely different thing if the teams consisted of staff members who work regular hours every weekday (and even then it may still be wrong).

January 14, 2015

I am definitely going to learn Ukrainian and Russian!

January 13, 2015
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