To whom it may concern I think you should add a slang branch on the skill tree so you can talk to another person normally and more relaxed

August 6, 2013


I'd hate to see this implemented anywhere but near the end of the tree. If given too early, I can see it being misunderstood and misused throughout the rest of the lessons.

Elles travaillent avec les hommes.
- Why isn't it accepting "les mecs" here?

Since Duolingo has this game aesthetics all over (the hearts, the coins...) the Slang lesson could be like some sort of "Bonus level"."You got X coins" or "you have unlocked the third tree" or whatever, congratulations, you are rewarded with the optional "bonus level" in which you can learn and use the slang sentences/words. This would serve a double purpose, it separates the slang from the normal lessons (the green owl could even warn the user for good measure) and it gives the feeling of achievement.

The problem with slang is that it is very regional. Sometimes a slang word is used only in one region. For example the word "yal", which means "girl", but only in Puerto Rico. Sometimes a word is perfectly normal and acceptable in the whole Hispanosphere, but has a slang meaning in one region. An example of that would be the word "concha", which means "shell" in regular Spanish, but in Argentina it is a slang word for a woman's genitals.

So you cannot escape strong regional differences when talking about this subject. The Spanish that you learn on here Duolingo is international Spanish. You can use it anywhere in the world and people will understand you without difficulties. However, slang is different everywhere and it would be very hard to neatly implement.

If you want to learn about slang for each region, I would recommend this website: There you can select the region that interests you and read about slang from there

Oh and I forgot to mention that slang is generally considered to be very vulgar. Every language has some "rude" words, it's part of how we humans express ourselves. I consider it a part of human nature, so I don't object to using profane language. However I've met some latinas, who had different thoughts on the subject, and on one occasion I literally got slapped for using the p-word (in Spanish). So be careful with it, just saying.

I would love to see a skill at the end of the tree for swear words. As an Australian I can immediately spot a foreigner when they fail to use the "f" word a few times in every sentence :D

I'm with you, but to be honest, I think at some point we need to be taught what to say and what not to. In the German courses there have been sentences that seem innocent, then you look into the discussions and bam you find out you're actually insulting someone. But you're right, a lot of slang is vulgar, but not all of it. I'm sure there is plenty of PG slang, too, though most of it will be in dialects, I'm sure.

Expanding on your idea, a skill on common beginner mistakes would be interesting. I have in mind stuff like Americans who are just learning Spanish saying 'nunca mente' to mean 'never mind,' for example, or confusion about what 'embarazada' means.

That's actually a really good idea! It will help a lot of beginners from making mistakes so they can progress further, sooner. Perhaps even more lessons on phrases? Not basic phrases, but phrases that will actually leave you talking like a local (that's almost as good as slang, yes?) Just lately I found out that "Das ist mir Wurst" ("That is my sausage") means "I don't care" in German. This certainly could be taught if it came with an explanation!

That's not quite what I had in mind, but for advanced students a section on common idiomatic phrases would be really nice and help a lot with confidence.

For German, there won't be as many regional differences. The only major German-speaking community is in Germany itself and peripheral countries, while Spanish is spoken in various countries all over the world. There are some differences between North and South Germany, but they're very minor. (Like the differences in English between the east coast and the west coast). I think that for German it would be a bit easier to add a lesson about slang.

Either way, my experience is that you learn slang fast enough when you speak a language a bit, and start to talk with natives.

Well I'm not a native speaker myself so I wouldn't be able to confirm or deny that, but from what I've read Germany has about 35 different dialects and is the official language of three different countries. But I can understand what you mean, Spanish is spoken in many different countries and perhaps would be harder to have lessons for slang.

Well, due to DUO teaches American English, the slangs in English would be those than American people uses...

Slang within Spain varies intensely by region. When you toss Latinoamerica into the mix, this is a well nigh impossible task. Just like with other languages, Spanish slang also varies by generation, age, class, and situation. So tough one.

Then there would be several options of bonus levels. Jerga chilena.. Jerga peruana. Or slang from São Paulo. Or from Rio de Janeiro. We could pick which region or country interests us the most. Itd surely add more depth to the trees. And itd make it more fun.

It's funny, because I find trying to impress somebody by impersonating their slang when you are not a native to be one of the most un-relaxing ideas I can think of. Think about it, it's basically as cringe-worthy as your mum and dad trying to be cool :o)

That'd be helpful!

The issue about specific regional slang would be very difficult to overcome. However, I think the easiest way would be to use the common slang found in media. The majority of people will understand the word even if it isn't from their particular area.

Absolutely! Very Important!

While a nice idea, my time is limited and I'd rather invest in the basics. Not only is some slang regional, it is also related to socioeconomic status of the person you are talking to and to the particular setting. You tend to speak differently at a sports event than you do at a business table. Also slang can change rapidly with time since a lot originates from the entertainment world.

If you actually get to the point where you are speaking comfortably with the "natives", you'll pick up the slang in no time at all.

Interesting idea! I'll take it back to the team :)

Thank you! This is an awesome idea.

It is is a wonderful idea, but I think it'd have to be very limited sayings because I think most slang, other than the basics, have to do with dialect. I could be totally wrong, and heck, I hope I am, because I'd really like to know some slang in German.

This needs some thought. A lot of slang (probably the best) is just dirty and so I imagine it's incompatible with Duolingo policy. A lot is ungrammatical, which is fine if you know the difference, not so fine otherwise.

Slang or idioms! They should be learned towards the end of the tree

I think that slang and regional differences are being confused in these conversations. I don't think "slang" per say should be included purely because it changes so quickly and will confuse learners. I DO believe that the regional differences should be at least touched on.There should be multiple units towards the end (for Spanish especially) that are geared towards each of the major regional differences. In Spain, for example, they use "Vosotros" instead of "ellos" for they. So there should be a small section of a tree dedicated to conjugating "Vosotros" verbs, etc. I also think that there should be a part (and there might be, I'm still early on) where cultural traditions and customs should be brought up as well(ie El dia de el muerto). Those could also go into the regional sections.

the issue with slang is that it is very restricted to the place were it is spoken. For example, Argentine Spanish slang is very different from Cuban Spanish slang and so on. I think it is important to master the standard variety of a language first because it will assure us that we will be able to communicate with a wider range of speakers even though we may sound rather formal or sometimes old-fashioned.

Hey, so to join the discussion about the differences between the regions: Why not make some voluntary lessons for the different regions at the end of the tree. My experience is that even simple words like car can differ in Castellano-Spanish (car = coche) and Latin-American-Spanish (car = carro). So if you plan to go to, let's say, Mexico, you can take an extra lesson Mexican Spanish. Those who want to go to Argentina for sure won't need to learn Mexican Spanish, that's why these lessons should be voluntary (my opinion). So if you have completed the standard Duolingo, you can focus on you future region of choice where you want to use you language outside of Duolingo.

P.s if you agree with this please press the up arrow below the body

totally agree!

Sí, es una buen idea. Mi amigo dominicano dice, "Suena" is like saying "Sounds Good"... ¿Verdad?

Hmm that could be regular Spanish. You can use the word "suena", as in: "that sounds familiar" or "that rings a bell". Could it be that?

No, it surprised me too. :)

Having slang is very important but I do agree with "da.big.fella" in that it all depends on the region in which it is spoken. For instance, I am from California, US, and the dialect of English here is much different than the dialect used in, let's say, Boston or New York City.

But this is definitely a good idea and could really help people adapt to the language so that it becomes natural.

I also do agree that it must be one of the final units, as it could become very confusing for the student if they are shown too many ways on how to say something.


thats a good idea !!:)

Yes, I like the idea. All languages have their own set of generally accepted slang (hey people, calm down... there are plenty of non-regional ones being used, I assure you). Expressions and sayings, as well as regular informal language in my opinion, are even more important than general slang (I wanna high-five you for killing it last night!). There are many that could come in handy. Most people do not speak as formally as they write, amirite?

Additionally, if duolingo is hesitant to put slang lessons in, how about a hidden/unlockable/bonus "stage"?

What you're calling 'generally accepted slang' sounds like basic colloquial language to me. Sure, that would be a nice feature to have.

I'm having a hard time enough learning the "proper" way to speak a new language...slangs or whatever would just confuse me more. English slangs gives me a headache.

I suspect that if I ever get to France the natives will have a good laugh teaching me all the swear-words just as Americans delight in tormenting foreigners with impossible to understand colloquialisms , sarcasms, figures of speech, and vulgarities. For now I am content with learning just enough so I can get around without committing a faux pas and proving myself a babbling American idiot.

it's a good idea, but you have to remember that slang varies a lot by location. there are Many many places that speak spanish, and they all have their own slang. The other day i was at a restaurant practicing my spanish, and told my waiter that i wanted to pay the bill, just like i had learned from an audio learning cd i have, and he told me I had said means I want to beat it up. It would be hard to different lesson for each country/region. This sounds like something that may have to wait for the user generated lessons.

I'm intensely curious what you told the waiter. Is is possible that when you said 'pagar' it sounded like 'pegar' to him?

He said it was how i used it, I should have said Paga instead of the infinitive pagar in that instance. We do use Pay in this way in english, too. imagine an angry person fist in palm saying "i'll make you pay for that.."

Slang varies so much from region to region, even in the same language. Slang in English differs whether you're in the hood, the south, or in a specific state like New York or California. It's gonna be really hard for something so all-encompassing yet exclusive.

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