Coming October 9th: the Duolingo Language Incubator
On October 9th we will introduce the Duolingo Language Incubator, a way for the community to create language courses. With your help, Duolingo will soon be available in every language -- Chinese, Japanese, Russian... maybe even Elvish. All 100% free.
At first, you'll be able to build courses to learn English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese from any other language in the world. And before the end of the year, it will be possible to create courses in all combinations of languages.
Duolingo: for the people, and soon, BY the people.
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This is awesome news! One question, will there be more advanced lessons as well, for the languages you already have available? For instance, in Spanish, there are only 1571 words, and for German, possibly 2000, and according to my question here, how fluent are people once they graduate or finish the course, not a lot are totally fluent. So in other words, will there be a way to increase your language skills to the next level even after one has one the current "skill tree"?
You'll mostly need to improve your vocabulary somehow - from my experience, 1571 is way not enough
Most people say you'll need 2,000 to 2,500 words to be fluent in any western language (I don't know about asian languages) And of course you are nowhere near fluent if you don't speak, speak and speak!
Advanced skill trees would be nice. I don't want to go out on a limb here, but some branching from the main tree to give a thorough grounding in special interest areas at a lower level of ability would also be great.... for example, a branch which gives you a firm grasp of vocabulary and phrases for a niche subject like (say) Formula One racing, would allow you to listen to native commentary, read the papers and websites and join in on forums and chat to natives with a similar interest, which I think might give you the confidence to jump into the wider language community that more quickly.
I don't really know how easy this might be to code (my gut says: far too complex to be easy), but I would love to be able to work my way through a certain subset of things first, and have the examples for other things using those skills. And I'd like to see vocabulary separate from grammar to some degree... I could see three lines, Vocab and Grammar and... Syntax? I mean "Animals"/"Clothes" and "Past Tense"/"Imperative" and "Prepositions"/"Conjunctions" sort of sets.
So say that I went over and drilled on the Past Tense - because for me this is always one of the first tenses I strive for, because it assists in reading fiction (as Present Tense does not). Then my example sentences could be in the past tense.
Or say that I got a firm grasp of Family Members and Animals, so when it moved to Prepositions all the example sentences would have a good variety of people and creatures to be placed near each other. This sort of reinforcement is something I thrive on.
But even having just a side set of vocab related to a certain subject would be nice, as you say. I'd like to have a set of Fantasy vocab, and maybe one of Cooking/Recipe vocab. Having some sample recipes to read would be awesome.
I think Duolingo is great for someone like me who wants to read and write German rather than talk it. Furthermore, I have found that practising with Duolingo and keeping my German Skill Tree up to date has improved my German much more since I have completed the entire German Skill Tree - that is when learning really commences!
I'd say it's impossible to be fluent using only duolingo. It's a great way to start, but no where near where you should stop. I recently put my hopes of learning German aside to study Spanish, since I will most likely be staying in my area for a few years (mostly a Spanish-speaking area). Also, Spanish is much more commonly spoken in California than German. Duo offers me the chance to get a firm grip on my Spanish skills, but I would be nowhere near as good as I am without the help of my friends who are helping me. I already have short conversations with them in Spanish. The thing is, while Duo is amazing, it can only take you so far. You still need to speak (like, actual conversations) with native-speakers, read, and write constantly to become fluent.
And also, to those of you interested but don't know where to start when it comes to your language learning, especially now that there may be way more languages coming sooner than we thought, here's a tip that I've found useful:
Pick a language that is heavily spoken in your area. At first I chose German, but no near me spoke German. My reading skills were decent, but in the end, I was making slow progress. So I set it aside and learned Spanish. My friends helped me in a heart beat and now I can even roll my R's! I also believe learning your second language is the hardest. I've never actually had to learn a language before.
I've found duolingo to be a good tool in helping me learn German - but there is a lot more that it can't teach you. For example, it doesn't include slang or regional variants of certain words. These are things that you could learn from the internet but are generally better to learn in the language's homeland. The other thing I find here is that you get used to hearing the voice that is used - which is quite electronic and sometimes very different to how people would actually speak. In that drawn out way what I'm basically saying is that real world experience would be the next step after completing Duo.
I agree, there's no substitute for real world experience. However, Duolingo has helped me further along in learning Spanish than anything else I've tried so far. Maybe this new feature will allow users to help each other learn more slang and other non-traditional aspects of languages.
I have a book called Hide This Italian Book (http://www.amazon.com/Hide-This-Italian-English-Edition/dp/9812466533) which is small but goes over a lot of idioms, slang, even how to talk dirty. It's the kind of stuff not taught in typical textbooks, etc. I'd love to see Duolingo add modules for this kind of knowledge.
http://www.fluentin3months.com/speak-like-the-irish is a wicked clever article on exactly that. It also points out that the way you pronounce/structure things may show where you are from ...but is that necessarily a bad thing?
If listening comprehension is a problem then find TV and music in your target language. 30mn a day with that does wonders for your vocabulary and comprehension, and current pop music will be very basic and similar to the language that's currently in use. Traveling to the country is still a great idea to solidify your knowledge, but you can get a long way before that.
Oh yeah I know - I listen to a lot of German bands already and have a few tv series and films just in German. It is good for that but I find it's very easy to slip out of that frame of mind when I'm in England because the rest of the time out of studying I am surrounded by English speakers.
I actually lived over in Germany earlier this year. Just for 6months but it was a really good way to get used to the language. I must admit I ended up buying series like CSI and Bones in German. The dubbing is very good. My plan is to go back over early next year an intensive course so that I can work over there ^^
From Alexander Aguelles:
The maddening thing about these numbers and statistics is that they are impossible to pin down precisely and thus they vary from source to source. The rounded numbers that I use to explain this to my students I usually write in a bull’s eye target on the whiteboard, but I don’t have the computer skills to draw circles in this post, so I will just have to give a list: 250 words constitute the essential core of a language, those without which you cannot construct any sentence. 750 words constitute those that are used every single day by every person who speaks the language. 2500 words constitute those that should enable you to express everything you could possibly want to say, albeit often by awkward circumlocutions. 5000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers without higher education. 10,000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers with higher education. 20,000 words constitute what you need to recognize passively in order to read, understand, and enjoy a work of literature such as a novel by a notable author.
I wouldn't worry about the 20,000. That's passive vocab. Stuff you can recognise but not actively use. I'm reading German novels (with the occational help of a dictionary) and understanding words and grammatical forms far more complex than I could hope to form myself at the moment. Focus on the 2,500-5,000 and you're there. Using things like Anki (or other spaced repetition flashcard programs) you can (with a little dedication) learn 20-50 words a day. That means within three months it is possible to learn 2,000 - 5,000 words. DuoLingo is great for the grammar, but get hold of a 'top 5,000 words by frequency of use) list and you'll be getting towards being fluent.
(by the way, don't be fooled by my level 3 German.. I've been living and working in Berlin for 9 years and am converstionally fluent - ie I'm comfortable going to parties where people only speak German. I learnt most of my German at work and on the street so my grammar is kinda wonky - hence starting the course from scratch)
The Statistics came from here: http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/2013/02/how-many-words-does-average-native.html
and this is a really fantastic article on language learning (it's focused on spanish, but it's applications are general)
The learn Spanish link was excellent. I liked his discussion about determining what it is that you want out of learning another language. In my case I knew from the outset I wanted proficiency in reading non-fiction. I had no interest in investing the required time necessary to also become fluent in speaking French.
That has changed so that now my focus is on learning French so as to learn more about learning. (if that makes sense to anyone) EG: the previously mentioned Anki can be used to learn just about anything.
Isn't the idea to go and translate real-life texts on Duolingo after you complete this course? Then your vocabulary will grow naturally.
2000 words is enough to be able to explain yourself by describing the words you do not know in terms of the ones you know, or to use a single-language dictionary. Native users of a language have a larger active vocabulary, however, and the passive vocabulary of an educated person counts several tens of thousands. Try this test out: http://testyourvocab.com/
Nice test. Good link. Students who take the test should note the average results from all test takers is skewed higher by higher average scores obtained by people who take vocabulary tests online. Individuals who see their score a little lower on the scale than they might have anticipated can take comfort in knowing that the scale would be much lower, and their results correspondingly higher on that comparison, if it considered all English speakers.
It is worth pointing out that the more obscure words tend to come from fiction rather than non-fiction. If you don't read a lot of fiction you will score slightly lower.
Yep, fun test (although more of a survey than a test). Northern guy has an important point, which they seem to neglect to mention on the site! Also, it really depends on how strict you are being with yourself. I only ticked words where I was certain I could give accurate definitions. I think the results would be very different if it were an actual test (say, requiring you to choose between multiple choice options). But, it intrigued me enough to look up some of those words I was uncertain about!
It's now on the Incubator !!! http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/eo/en/status
Salman Khan certainly knows a lot, but he can't bone up on everything. Why shouldn't he get other people who know their subject to help him? Anyway, I use the Khan Academy mainly to revive my study of maths. So most of the videos I look at are by Sal. I am always amazed how he can explain so much and keep his enthusiasm, whether he taking about simple arithmetic, integral calculus or linear algebra.
My wife is Korean and definitely wants to volunteer to work on the Korean for English learners once the functionality for English to other languages comes live. And we live just down the street from your offices :)
Meanwhile, and until I can start Duoing Korean, I guess I'll get back to my Italian studies!
Oh, and thank you Luis and the entire Duolingo team for your work on Duolingo. it is a great tool and it has helped me stay motivated and to get further in a language than any language course has ever been able to get me.
Luis seems to be a very cross-disciplinary (not cross and not disciplinary) guy. In addition to being a linguist, he is an advanced computational strategist, has advanced experience in user interfaces and plays a role in the Industrial Design department at Carnegie Mellon University. By reading between the lines I have deduced that there are some pretty sophisticated algorithms used to filter and direct the vast amount of data flowing into his user created system. TechnoSurrealist's question on disagreements reminds me of riding on a washboarded dirt road and how my Jeeps shock absorbers smoothed out the ride. It would really be interesting to look under DuoLingo's hood and see how the system actually operates. Marshal McLuhan, Canadian philopher of communication theory, was famous for saying "The medium is the message." I think "the DL learning system is the message." For example, ahve you noticed how you can not cheat? How many fo you have jumped over to another site's translating system to check on a word? Raise your hand if you have done that. I felt guilty until I realized that the effort to "cheat" was in itself burning the usage or word into my memory. Carnegie Mellon ahs a great robotics department run bya guy named Red Whitiker (SP?). I went to see him talk about his robots. The first point he made was that great robots are 95% software cleverness and only 5% mechanical genious. In the "Wizard of Oz" the Wizard appears as a giant head made from smoke and fire and only later do we learn that the Wizard is but a harmless elderly illusionist. However, the Wizard gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Tinman a clockwork heart and gives the Lion a medal, proving that they had what they wanted all along. You may have noticed Luis' system already awards a diploma and the medals. I am just waiting for the clockwork heart.
I get this picture in my head of an ancient, wise secretary who works for the Jade Emperor in the Celestial Heaven, oh, about 28,000 years ago. The Jade Emperor has given the lowly secretary the task of translating a conversation between the Rooster and the Dog. Well, this particular secretary, his dog is not so good, so, every time he runs across a yelp or a growl or bark he doesn't understand, well ... into the giant vortex he must go and along the never ending path, He must wander through the elements and across all directions of the compass and perform an audit of the language through the land of the dog and asking every dog he meets what that means ... well, he's never going to forget what ArrrGrrFnmpf means for the rest of his life.
You would have to wait 10 years to get a lesson for the language you want to learn.
I believe vaati112 may mean, will the lessons currently available remain available, or will the existing languages also go over to user created lessons? In which case, I agree, I like the Duolingo system as it exists for the languages already on here, and I hope they will still have them available along with the user-created courses.
Perhaps moderators should be required to maintain a minimum work level in immersion, as this is "helping", and mods might also be required to maintain a minimum level of activity, (not less that "x" amount of skill points accrued each week). Just sayin' :-) Mods might best be assigned on a probationary basis, and unusually skewed percentages of UpVotes and DownVotes that any mod presents in reports on them should be closely watched. I mean, the Mod could be doing something innovative ... or might be feeling a little ... well ... cranky.
Wow, I can't believe this is going to be real. Hopefully it works out for those who want to learn more difficult languages. Luis, will Duo's traditional languages continue to be updated and improved by the Duolingo staff despite these changes? I'm sure I'm not alone when I worry about an inevitable stagnation in the development of the languages currently offered here.
Yes it is. Most moderators are male, Sitesurf wasn't interested and olimo is less active lately (for excellent reasons). Of course you need people to be interested, but maybe Duolingo could try to balance the gender distribution among moderators.
Edit: Sorry for causing any misunderstandings. A further clarification may be found in the comments below.
Thank you for sharing your opinion. My comment "Yes it is" was a reaction to Thoughtdiva's comment that "sexism is clearly still thriving..." It wasn't my intention to call Duolingo or anyone sexist as I don't see much use for calling people names. Culture is way too complicated for that.
You are right in mentioning that one needs capable females willing to become moderators, but that is also what I mentioned in my first comment. I merely wanted to draw attention to the imbalance to leave it up to staff members to decide whether it's an issue or not.
Thank you again for taking part in the discussion section. You seem to have slightly misunderstood my intentions, but your comments have allowed me to clarify my position to prevent any future misunderstandings. Good luck with your learning!
I see. I'm sorry I took your comment the wrong way. I agree that gender equality is important. I mean we can't force people like Sitesurf to become mods, but I'm sure there will be others soon enough that are worthy of that honor. Especially since the course creation tools are coming and there will soon be a lot more mods (According to Luis there will be mods for each language).
Sorry, it wasn't my intention to call Duolingo sexist. Cultures may contain gender imbalances and I think it's useful to draw attention to that. Not with the intention to force a certain point of view on other people, but to show that there can be different points of view on a single subject. Being able to think from different positions helps people to think critically for themselves.
My intention was not to have people agree with me, but to talk about something they might not have thought about before. That might help to start a conversation in which other strong arguments are made. The argument that moderators need to be capable is a good one from which the conversation may continue.
For instance one could continue with a question like "is it more important to have a gender balance or is an imbalance acceptable if the quality of the chosen moderators is certified?". Another question could be "is it possible that some capable moderators are being overlooked because of an unconscious imbalance in attention between genders?".
Those are just some things one could think about and as it may be possible to have more than one answer to a single question. Sorry for taking your small comment about sexism this far. It was a good comment and my intention was to give you something more to think about as your nickname may suggest an interest in exploring different thoughts. Thank you for writing your comment. Hope you have fun learning!
Well, you are exactly right that I like thinking about things like this. Affirmative action is a tricky subject! I also find it interesting to reflect on my own human biases. It's nice that such profound and interesting discussion proceeded my joking comment about myself :)
Awesome! So before we are flooded with all kinds of courses, good and crappy ones, let's gloat with that private, intimate atmosphere of Duo we have now, with only 9 courses, all provided by the almighty Duo staff, and only 10 milion of polite users. It's going to be many more soon, I presume!
I'm confident that the Duolinguo folks already have a plan for this, but on the off-chance that they don't: I'm a volunteer at LibriVox (www.librivox.org), which has a bunch of talented people who read large quantities of text for fun and release it for free. I don't think we have all the languages mentioned here, but we have several native speakers of quite a few (Dutch and Indonesian, for sure).
I would think that the same software that listens to our voices, during our lessons when we record ... to determine if our pronunciation is accurate, could be used to examine the pronunciations of users. For example, users who had attained a certain language level and number of skill points in that language might be good candidates to provide "DuoVOICES" for users to enjoy. So the software would listen to that user's record functions within the lessons in which the user works. Or, a competition could be held and users could be alerted this was going to occur, and to start putting their best foot forward when recording within lessons. (One would need a good microphone especially, and a pretty good soundcard and would need to make sure they engineered their voice well).
So many parameters and things can be done to prepare DuoUSERS who might have the best accents and pronunciations, to perform to their best ability. And then they could be "listened to" by duolingo's software, and the software could then start inserting those "best pronunciations" into the lessons, and the same feedback form we have now, could provide even more refinement in selecting the best pronunciations and articulations of the lesson material. The software could then merge voices, and sample and resample and create the ULTIMATE computer generated voice, for every language.
Ultimately, some of the finest articulations and pronunciations of many languages could be made available, including the user's choice of a male voice, a female voice or high or low voice and many variations on that theme. Really, when a site has as much raw data pouring in as duolingo has, and will continue to aggregate at increasingly exponential levels, the data will become available to do these things.
The higher the level you go in duolingo, the more strict and demanding the record "listening" functions become. In the lower levels and lower mid levels, the "listener" is set to a lower thresh hold. Very much like Rosetta Stone where one can change settings to increase the accuracy of the listening software, the same thing happens in duolingo, and yes, sometimes duolingo gets some things that seem wrong, but I think there are probably an equal number of logical reasons for this as well as "fault" or error on the part of the software.
I'm guessing that the people who make the courses can program in the orthography so Duo can read it. This doesn't work in irregular languages like English or French, but in those cases, each word can have its pronunciation typed out in X-SAMPA.
Come to think of it, learners should be able to read respellings in X-SAMPA or IPA or something so they know how the word is meant to sound.
Amazing!!! Thank you Duolingo for being the best ever language tool! How will you deal with languages with have different alphabets? I guess on the mobile apps keyboards for those languages can be added but what about the website? Anyway, brilliant stuff. Can't wait to learn Russian! :)
This question comes up repeatedly in some form or another. Here is a copy-paste of how I responded in http://www.duolingo.com/comment/647903 :
I doubt Duolingo would construct romanised courses for Russian, Japanese etc. because (as I have been lead to understand) their business model centres on providing free training for their for-profit crowd-sourced translation business, and real websites are printed in the native scripts. All things considered, this isn't necessarily a major obstacle.
I have been typing in Japanese (as often as the need arises) for over two years. I use a Linux-based application called "Anthy" which converts Romaji to Kana and Kanji (with an arrow key menu to scroll through and select what I intend to write, when there are multiple homophonic possibilities). Pretty much all modern OS's can be configured with similar tools, and instructions for enabling them can be found here: http://www.localizingjapan.com/blog/
I know that Pinyin to Hanzi inputs can be configured just as easily, and I would be very surprised to hear that aren't similar tools for Hangeul. Duolingo could integrate tools like this into the website itself, but I imagine that it would eat up a lot of bandwidth and cause (more) lag for the users; far better to guide users through setting these tools up on their own machines, since they will want to use them for other applications anyway. In any case, the first few lessons on the tree of any exotic-script-language would be devoted to learning to use the input mechanism.
As for variant keyboard layouts, conversion stickers can be ordered from many suppliers for about $1-3 dollars each. You can add and switch between layouts through your particular OS's input options. If I were to start learning a language like Russian or Greek (with its own alphabet and standard keyboard layout), I would probably buy a USB keyboard to convert for the purpose. How Duo will deal with Cyrillic, I am far less certain.
On a side note, I have been using Programmer Dvorak ( http://www.kaufmann.no/roland/dvorak/ ) as my keyboard layout for many years, and I simply can't bring myself to imagine how people type in French or German without these ("`^'éüçß) keys on their keyboard. I know Duo has the point-and-click "buttons", but still...
In Ubuntu Linux 10.04, select the System menu > Preferences > Keyboard. In the Layout tab, click Add. Select country: United States, then Variants: USA International (AltGr dead keys). Click add, then select USA International (AltGr dead keys) in your list and click Move Up to make it your default.
I got the instructions here: http://spanish.about.com/od/writtenspanish/a/dia_ubuntu.htm
If you're using a more recent version of Ubuntu (like I should be...), click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, select System Settings, then Keyboard Layout. There should be something in there, but since I don't have it installed right now I can't check.
This is actually possible to solve for computers with normal keyboards in a modern web browser. Take a look at the input field for Google Translate and play around with the input icon bottom left for a few different languages.
It still means that Duolingo has to implement it properly and can't just steal Google's code, but it is a minor problem compared to how it was a few years ago.
I think it would be interesting to have an Afrikaans and a Dutch course, and then testing against the two languages, as for new learners it may be quite difficult to differentiate between some of the words. :)
Yes, I would like to do Dutch again. We did Afrikaans-Nederlands in our last two years at school, and I would like to do Nederlands again. I am not sure if many people would be interested in Afrikaans though, but one never knows. There are a number of differences between the two languages, but many of the words are the same. I have found that Afrikaans speakers understand Nederlands fairly easily, but Dutch speakers tend to struggle with Afrikaans I really don't know the reason though!
I hope they are open to Celtic languages. I would be willing to contribute to a Gàidhlig version.
I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what's going to happen on 9 October. They're "only" releasing the tools for the community to add languages, which is awesome, but it will most likely be months after that before useful courses begin to appear. The initial two months or so will essentially be a beta testing period during which the tools will only be available for making, for example, German=Italian or French=Portuguese while the DL team chases down bugs and other issues. By the end of the year they'll make the tools available for use for every language combination conceivable, but again, that's only the beginning of the process. Once the tools are available, It will probably take months for courses to be developed by the volunteer teams and curated by the moderators (which will have to be vetted by Duolingo). I think that anyone who is expecting an entirely new (to Duolingo) language to be available before late winter or early spring of next year (and even then only in a alpha or beta state) will be sorely disappointed.
Sure, that makes sense. But the sooner the process starts, the sooner the lessons for different languages will be viable...and at least the process will start very soon. Also, it does say the first step will be the ability to learn the available languages from any other language in the world -so I assume there will be lots of very rough attempts at creating lessons from 9th Oct -but they probably won't be accessible until much later, I guess...
Yah, however the system is going to work, being anxious for the next step isn't misunderstanding it. And they've never said anything about how the trees would be released. Assuming they're going to wait for an entire tree to built and double checking it before release would slow down the process a lot, and I can imagine a lot of languages where users would only build the first few parts of the tree, but that's not to say they wouldn't make those smaller trees available as well. They're releasing the tools for building trees, but any talk about how they're releasing those lessons is just speculation.
Esperanto is now on the Incubator !!! http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/eo/en/status
I guess it'll stay as now: one tree for the language XXX learned from the language YYY.
And the incubator, I still guess, will be somewhere users AND (i.e. checked by) Duolingo (and moderators and native speakers/experts of the language) develop it BEFORE tout make it available to every one.
That's what I imagine.
I use Memrise. As mentioned in a previous post it is pretty disorganized. There are lots of courses, some good, some bad. It uses spaced repetition managed by some kind of algorithm.
I'm taking Introductory French which simply presents you with the English word for which you type in the appropriate translation. If you get it right, it plays a sound slice of the word.
The vocabulary repetition is good but is limited to the library selected by the individual who built the course. I haven't the faintest idea whether the French course that I am using is any good relative to other French courses on Memrise as the only way to know for sure is to take the other ones.
I don't care because I'm just supplementing Duo with a little different vocabulary. Someone more with more serious intent might find Memrise a bit frustrating because it is impossible to judge the quality of any given course until you have taken it for a while.
I gave up on Memrise for the longest time because of starting a couple of real losers. Even with my French course, it can be a little strange. I can now use French to refer to meat as being medium, rare, medium rare, very rare and well done. I guess the programmer is equipping me to dine in fine restaurants the next time I'm in France. That is if I go to France, which I doubt, go to fine restaurants while there, unlikely, and decide that I can tell the difference between rare and medium rare meat. Others may well find that is exactly what they want from it.
For this incubator program, I think, I know, there will be a lot of activity among those that want to create Mandarin Chinese language lessons. And it certainly looks at this point like Mandarin will be incubated.
I am going to reach out to the Confucius Institute and ask and encourage several contacts within that program to come onboard and consider being a part of the Mandarin incubation.
Confucius Institute seeks a level of perfect humility within the Mandarin language and I think they would be a tremendous asset to duolingo's incubation of Mandarin.
If YOU know of a Mandarin language organization that you think would enjoy participating in the incubation of Mandarin lesson development, please, consider reaching out to them, send them an invite, bug them on social networks, and yes, spam their email boxes gently and with great humility, ;-)
I think this might be the key to success of this tool. From what I can tell lots of governments and national organisations like to promote knowledge of their home language, and giving these organisations a ready made tool with serious backing from language enthusiasts is something I would guess that will be grabbed at.
Great idea- Chinese is probably the language I want to learn most outside of the ones I've been studying for decades already. I've tried the same approach with Mandarin that I've tried with European languages and, unsurprisingly, it's just not as effective. So far I'm finding the experience to be rather humbling.
Many Chinese persons, including Confucius, have said they are humbled by their own language. Top professors teaching in Chinese universities consider themselves to be students of the Mandarin language, as well as masters and teachers. I consider it to be the greatest intellecual challenge I have undertaken for myself and I continue to be absolutely fascinated with the Chinese language, culture and of course the advent of their global prosperity.
Wow.. congrats on the streak! I have not seen many people over the 600 mark :) It is rather humbling to myself to see such progress on so many different languages! I do hope that you are finding the current progress with the incubator exciting! I know that I certainly do :)
The first step in learning a language is to get to the level where you can eavesdrop on a conversation and hear something other than random sound and to pickup a newspaper and at least devine the subject being discussed. DL is the first stage rocket that breaks the inertia and gets you up above the lower atmosphere at which point any number of tools become available to you. I am all for advanced modules, but DL's real value is using the omniprescence of technology to push you through the initial learning barriers where so many fail.
Yeah, it must be pretty difficult to pronounce those double-letters for a non-Hungarian... But don't worry, learning the exact pronunciation of English for a Hungarian isn't much easier either (for example those nasty "th" sounds or the schwa, which are non-exist in Hungarian). ;)
While I was in Budapest I helped a lot of people there with their English.I Never had a single problem with any of their pronunciation capability's (I am referring here to their ability to make the sounds). Until you pointed it out was not even aware th was missing(And I am very aware of it's absence from helping in some other languages :) . And once I explained Duh! is sarcastic slang for I already know the schwa was a non issue :).
Hungarian accent is very articulated, sharp (we tend to say a sharp "r" sound, while English "r" is very soft), and usually ignores the fact the English omit/change the last sound(s) of a word sometimes.
I'm not surprised you didn't notice that, though. Most of us (us, Hungarians) have difficulties with English pronunciation (a lot of difficulties), but we tend to learn them in a relatively short period of time. English is somehow a catchy language, when people get used to it, it becomes more and more natural over time.
As a French learner, I can say this confidently that the same cannot be said ever about French language. Now THAT pronunciation is a challenge, honestly. Especially, when you try to hear anything meaningful of fast-speaking listening exercises...
While admittedly my french exposure was limited I never had any of the beginners pain I had with Magyar. I really wanted to speak Hungarian at that time both because of my girl(ex) and I because have never seen a language with more descriptive and imaginative curses and insults. (maybe i just brought it out in her :). I used to love trading colloquialisms.
As far as the r goes i just read an article that made me rethink how I was trying to get students to speak. I keep posting it because it is fresh on mind and thus seems relevant to everything http://www.fluentin3months.com/speak-like-the-irish/...(not spam or anything I am connected to.) I was so focused on American Business Speak when I taught.I really did not consider that if the accent did not interfere with understanding and they were not trying to pass as a native speaker in some certain area it was not really wrong.There are several place in the US where you could not buy an R to save your life. Even parts of NEW YAWK CITY and "Day whan U'se wach ya ka in BAHSTON."
I think it would be great if there were differentiations between dialects, such as British and American English, Iberian and Mexian and Argentinian Spanish, Québéc French and regular French...
Same with Portuguese and Brazilian.. Dutch and Flamish, and so on. This would also help protect regional/national dialects!
I've been learning German and French, but my mother tongue is Spanish and lately it's been getting harder to do the lessons since I still make some mistakes when translating into English. Will it be possible to pass all of my progress into the Spanish version of the courses?
So this is the surprise? Well I'm glad to see that it's getting more interactive. But how do we know who to trust with proper translations? Will there be some sort of fluency test? Like a timed translation exercise before they're allowed to create content in a language they claim fluency in? I guess I just want to know the specifics. This will finally allow me to learn Korean like I've been wanting to do for so long but I just hope it's dependable information. And how will people know not to create duplicate lessons and things that are inappropriate and vulgar? This is a site for people of all ages, is it not?
Guess what? We're going to the beach tomorrow!
So this is the surprise? Well I'm glad I'll be able to go for a swim in the ocean. But how will I know that I won't get eaten by a shark? Or swallowed by a whale? Maybe I'll get sun-burnt? Or get sand in my bathers? I guess this will let me collect some more seashells but they have to be really good ones, not broken in any way. OMG, what if it's a nude beach?! And how do I know you won't leave me behind when you go home?
Wait, I just thought of another thing... What if there's a tsunami?!!!
If you haven't already seen it, check out Luis' response to another comment above. He states that there will be a sophisticated moderation system to ensure quality, and that it will use moderators that are vetted by Duolingo. It doesn't sound like just any rando will be able to claim expertise and be given the keys to the castle.
It seems to be a big leap forward, I've been really anticipating the tools since they were mentioned in reddit AMA.
From my point of view, and what I've seen in the Google Play reviews, many Polish people complained about the lack of English course in Polish. Like tons of them, which isn't strange since that's the most commonly learned second language here. I guess it's the same for many other countries as well.
Looks like someone is going to have a boom of new users? ;)
The Dutch course is still in incubation phase. You could help by applying to be a contributer. I'm sure lots of people would appreciate any progress made to the course (me included!) http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/nl-NL/en/status
I think it would be great to have the ability to create specialized optional vocabulary units, particularly for healthcare specialists, or even travelers who want to be able to express themselves in an emergency. The vocabulary isn't often covered in the typical 1-2k word vocabulary base. There's high demand in the US for Spanish for healthcare, and I think once the way to put in this type of optional lesson or set of lessons, then anyone would be able to put in whatever specialized thing they wanted.
Italian for musicians would be quite popular with musicians all over the world, too- there are about 75 words that I could put in a unit today!
This would be so helpful! And possibly some grammar lessons and specific word practice, might be beneficial for those learning a new language with different speech and language conventions. :)
I definitely can't wait for this! I hope Icelandic lessons get made. I've wanted to learn it for a long time now, but I've had a hard time finding good resources for free. Also, would American Sign Language and other Sign Languages somehow be possible? I want to learn it, but same problem with Icelandic.
I recently joined to improve my Spanish and it really works. As a European, the only concern I have is that it is more Latin American than European Spanish.
Moreover, I have some suggestions: -It would be great if more advanced level courses were also offered as well as language for special purposes, e.g. business, legal, medical etc. -Flashcards will definitely help. -Also, It would be great if you could align your levels with some official language level classifications, such as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, though I know it is a lot of work to do it properly.
I have personally been waiting for the chinese module to come out for a LONG time now. I work around a TON of chinese tourists who speak little to zero english. All the french or spanish tourists speak at least some english so the chinese lessons are seriously going to help.
Japanese is the language I want to see next! I just started using this site and I love it so far. Still not sure what language I want to pick next since Japanese and Korean aren't on here. I'd love to see a Mandarin Chinese (Traditional) to help me increase my vocabulary that I learned while studying in Taiwan for two years.
I am extremely excited - as a non-native english speaker I missed the chance to learn english on duo lingo. I am somewhat worried about quality of these future courses - trees on the other hand. I hope you will set pretty good controls to ensure we can trust and depend on user created content :)
I have a demographic question. Are most people here looking to "play around" with 47 languages or are people here to develop some level of mastery in one, or maybe two languages with high quality and reputable training? And does Duolingo have any quality control concerns(n2m resources) as it adds more and more languages? Swahili, Amharic, Zulu, Afrikaans, Akan, Tongan, Norwegian, ancient Greek? Seriously?
I actually fall somewhere in-between:
There are the four languages I already practice daily, on this site, and I plan to start Portuguese, this weekend. I fully intend to finish the skill trees in all five languages and continue to practice them afterwards.
Add to this that I took three semesters each of Latin and Japanese at university and continue to practice both with some regularity.
Finally, my looming project is Czech. I plan to be spending this August in the Czech Republic, and I would like to freely go wherever I like and do as I please without having to rely upon others' ability to speak English. I am also considering the prospects of attending graduate school and/or working in that country at some point in the future; so, I have personal priorities to motivate serious and continued study.
Thus, I am currently juggling 8 languages, all of which I plan to develop and maintain at working proficiency (or better). At present, it looks like it will be a year or so before I consider adding any more. After that, I will be adding languages to the rotation at a rate of around one or two per year.
As for your question about quality control:
Using the metaphor of international travel, I think of language learners as falling into a spectrum from "tourist" (someone with only superficial curiosity, who might explore for a day or two and learn only a few words and features) to "naturalized citizen" (someone who commits to developing a command of the language that is comparable to that of their* native language).
In my experience, some languages (such as those you listed) tend to be tourist destinations far more often than long term residences. Having viewed the massive size and demographic shifts in my university-level Japanese class, over the course of a year and a half, I can say that even "major" languages have high attrition rates.
The reality of user developed courses is that languages with a greater number of highly motivated students will develop more quickly and thoroughly. Personally, I will be devoting my efforts to helping develop the English-Czech and Czech-English courses. I might also lend a hand with Latin or Cajun French. Japanese is sure to have a good crop of people whose expertise and motivation far exceeds mine, at present; so, I probably won't touch it until after it has left the incubator.
Yes, hundreds of "minor" and obscure languages will probably languish in the incubator, never developing more than a few rudimentary lessons. Nonetheless, their is certain to be a few passionate native speakers or people who have strong motivation to learn, such as i do with Czech, and a few "odd" languages may actually develop high quality courses.
*I'm aware of the apparent pronoun disagreement. I prefer the singular "they" to clunky phrases such "he or she" (or having to defend the argument that "he" has historical precedent as a gender neutral pronoun) and believe that it is well on its way to being standard usage.
I guess everybody will start learning the languages for which he/she has a strong motivation (work, family, friends etc), but Duolingo is here to stay and people will have the option to learn other languages in the future if need arrises ( for example if somebody travels for work or pleasure in another county five years from now, he might spend a couple of weeks before the trip to learn basic things of the language...) Also, given that the popularity of duolingo increases, soon everybody who has access to the internet will know that there is this option, if they need for whatever reason to learn a language (so they might only choose to learn suahili from chinese, why not? There are around 1 billion computers connected to the internet at the moment, i am sure that within this number you can find any crazy language combination needs).
I think that varies as greatly as people vary. I came here to develop proficiency and fluency in translating Spanish and Mandarin Chinese and develop a mastery of translating from or to my native English or either of those aforementioned languages in any direction. I of course love German and learned it as a young exchange student, in high school and in college, so I can't resist exploring the interface here, but, I await Mandarin Chinese with the proverbial "dragon's breath". Rosetta stone is horribly expensive and of course there is no immersion in Rosetta Stone which is absolutely vital to the process of developing proficiency or fluency, IMHO. I think duolingo will surpass Rosetta Stone and really, if Rosetta Stone was forward looking, they would be investing in duolingo and getting a piece of this action.
I use duo on my phone, so it is dead easy to add the different keyboard layouts. I use different alphabets all the time, just to staple them into my memory, eg all my contacts are written in Arabic, Korean, Russian writing etc. Every time my phone rings, I get a revision exercise! Learning other alphabets is really not as difficult as you think, and many of them have optional keyboard layouts designed to harmonize with QWERTY to make it less of a struggle. There is also ample precedent of transliteration software, meaning you could stick to the latin alphabet if you really really wanted to, but that's no fun...
If you want to learn a writing system fast, what you need to do is learn how to write something with personal meaning, like your name, or your cats name, or your lovers name, or your home street or whatever, just spend the time to figure out how to write it as well as you can in the alphabet you want to learn. Things like that have a great power of fixing things in your memory because they mean something to you, and it shreds away the learning curve because you only need to remember the letters in that one important word in order to recognise them in any other word. Short of Chinese, there are very few writing systems you can't master in a couple of days if you put your mind to it. The only time it's hard is when there are letters for sounds you have never used and you have no idea what to do with them, but that's a hearing comprehension problem not a writing one.
Come to think of it, that actually sounds like a cool starter exercise for duo courses with exotic scripts... ie. just playing around with an on screen keyboard that talks what you type, so you can learn at your own pace.
This sounds great! I really hope that what they mean by "any combination of language" is both making courses where you translate from any language to any language and where you could learn some languages in parallel (which can be useful for leaning languages with the same roots)
I would like to know 2 things. - I am currently learning German and Italian. Being a native French speaker and fluent in English, I have started to learn in English. When Italian and German will have courses for French speakers, it would be great to switch my courses from English to French, without having to restart all lessons again. Have you planned such an idea for Duolingo? - Will there be courses to teach foreign alphabets (eg the cyrillic alphabet for Russian or the Armenian alphabet for Armenian)?
Thank you for everything you have done until now!
I can't wait! Thank you so much! It's such a great idea, this whole project :)
I have a good book on it called Sanskrit: A Complete Course For Beginners (http://www.amazon.com/Sanskrit-Complete-Course-Beginners-Yourself/dp/0844238252/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1380906057&sr=8-16&keywords=Sanskrit) and would enjoy contributing what I know from that, however I am by no means at any appreciable level of mastery. For that we'd need to find a professor who teaches the language. I think if we could find one, they'd be delighted to give their niche language greater visibility.
Same. I tried studying it in the past, but I gave it up in college because I wasn't understanding the grammatical principles they were referring to in English, so i felt that I didn't have a hope of continueing. I've since learned Italian and am learning Swedish and I've thought for a long while that it would be easier to learn japanese now that I have a better grasp of grammatical terms.
Would love an Gaeilge (Irish) Course. The language needs all the help it can to keep it going. My Granny was fluent and had to learn English when she was seventeen and now 80 years later not a one of her descendants speak it, it didn't take much for that to happen! We need your help Duolingo! Croí na Teanga!
My understanding is that there is no standard Swiss German. When people speak it you know if they are from Zurich, Basel, Fribourg, etc. So if you know where you're going, you might want to learn the specific dialect. Also, Swiss German is not a written language, kids in school learn standard German writing, but pronounce dialect. Where will you be going?
If you want to get a taste of Swiss German in a way that you can absorb it, try a 10 lesson Pimsleur course. They mix the regional accents a little (Basel & Zurich), but maybe that won't matter in your case. Pimsleur is just audio, so that may be perfect for you. They may have lessons for download. Some libraries have Pimsleur for free, but in any case a 10 lesson course is not that expensive. Have fun, Switzerland is cool!
Hi, please could you do an Afrikaans course on duolingo, Half of South Africa learns it in the public schools and I am sure if you created an Afrikaans course loads of them would begin to use duolingo. even for foreigners coming to SA who would want to learn a bit, there are no good free language apps that I can find that teach Afrikaans.
This is good news, as I just started learning Spanish but need to do this from english. Even though my english is also good so I am not having any problem with it. But it will be good if the Dutch language is included as well. I just want to say : this is a TOP site, really one of the best apps ever for me what a great service, making people learn languages so easily and with fun.TOP.Bravo
This sounds like a really great idea, but also a rather scary one. I'm hoping courses will be moderated to keep out any mistakes. I can only imagine what could go wrong if an English speaker builds courses without knowing the difference between "they're," "their" and "there"... D:
Now that this will be crowd-sourced--and I know it's hard to imagine now--at some point there won't be enough common words remaining in a language to be added, and things will shift from adding vocabulary... to organizing the massive corpus of words. Unlike Wikipedia, which grows perpetually with new knowledge, the collection of words for each language isn't infinite and doesn't grow or change all that fast. I hope Duolingo staff are planning for this longer-term reality.
Every other language learning system I've used has had a few thousand words at most. They haven't had to deal with this new problem. Duolingo will have new problems to solve.
This is awesome. I would like to have an advanced skill tree with a bunch of dialogues and conversational stuff to showcase how communication between two or more people in that particular language is done. And I feel that people should just suggest certain languages they want added and have Duolingo make the courses for them. Because the way the setup is currently is alright with me. But if anyone has like additional topics to add or something then it'd be okay to do user created. Just not for the entire language.
Duolingo wants to put every language up, but they don't have the resources to do so at a reasonable speed; hence the idea to let users fill in the content and then have Duolingo hire experts to moderate it. That way you can have entire languages up faster and more comprehensively than Duolingo is currently able to do in-house.
I am looking forward to learning Spanish from French. Being a native French speaker, learning Spanish from English is a bit cumbersome as I tend to switch to French too easily mosty when I am to translate Spanish sentences into English especially when the English translation doesn't come readily. I presume that it is a common problem for non-native speakers of English.
Here you have a big group on Facebook (more than 12.000 members!)
Jen grupego en Facebook (pli ol 12.000 anoj)
The description there has courses links, youtube courses (e.g. Mazi en Gondolando!), dictionaries, events, jokes group, skype group, linux groups, association pages, corpora, and all you'll need to get in this new and fairer world! Well... new for you, cause it's already 126 years old :D