Weekly Incubator Update: Tracking Progress from August 2nd to August 9th

Race to the finish! (Almost...)
I couldn't help notice the last few strides from the ES<-DE team. What a way to reach the finish line!
This team is the top team for this week in two ways - at the top of the chart and also the leader extraordinaire!

The biggest news of the week
President Obama spent some time with the Duolingo team at the White House on the occasion of the first ever Demo day. The president expressed interest in brushing up his Spanish on Duolingo.

President Obama, this Duolingo community will be honored and delighted to welcome you on board! ¡Qué bien!

Thought for the week
Inspired by the "Duo goes to ... series", Duo goes to the White House. Non-virtually! But it is very likely that Duolingo has had a presence at the White House before this! :)

PHASE 1 Progress: Total 24 courses

Spanish for German - 81% | 87% | 94% | 99% (+5) *

Russian for English - 94% | 97% | 97% | 97% (+0)

German for Portuguese - 78% | 80% | 88% | 91% (+3)

English for Thai  - 91% | 91% | 90% | 90% (+0)

German for French - 90% | 91% | 90% | 86% (-4)

German for Turkish - 81% | 82% | 85% | 85% (+0)

Hungarian for English - 80% | 80% | 80% | 80% (+0) ^

German for Italian - 70% | 70% | 70% | 70% (+0)

French for Italian - 68% | 68% | 69% | 70% (+1)

Spanish for Russian - 66% | 68% | 69% | 70% (+1)

Spanish for Italian - 62% | 62% | 62% | 62% (+0)

Polish for English - 46% | 50% | 53% | 55% (+2)

Spanish for Chinese - 53% | 53% | 54% | 54% (+0)

Vietnamese for English - 52% | 53% | 53% | 54% (+1)

Swedish for Russian - 46% | 47% | 48% | 49% (+1)

French for Chinese - 40% | 40% | 40% | 40% (+0)

Romanian for English - 39% | 39% | 39% | 39% (+0)

Hebrew for English - 30% | 34% | 36% | 39% (+3)

Greek for English - 34% | 34% | 33% | 34% (+1)

Hindi for English - 16% | 18% | 18% | 18% (+0) ^

Catalan for Spanish - 10% | 10% | 11% | 15% (+4)

Klingon for English - 10% | 12% | 13% | 14% (+1)

Yiddish for English - 8% | 8% | 8% | 8% (+0)

Czech for English - 1% | 2% | 5% | 6% (+1) ^

Mean - 1.08% | 1.25% | 1.21% | 0.83% (-0.38)
Median - 0% | 1% | 1% | 1% (+0)

* This week's Leaders Extraordinaire!
^ The Hungarian, Hindi, & Czech teams' progress is as per their own calculation.

Progress Visualized:

Here's what the contributing teams have said during the last week:

Elladus from Team Korean wrote 2 days ago:

Application Essay Tips

Below are some tips for a good application

  • Before you apply, read this on /r/Duolingo written by AlexinIreland. It provides helpful tips on becoming a contributor. (In fact, this post it adapted from his post there. Thanks Alex!!)

  • Some people don't seem to be getting what is a good and bad essay, so I will show examples of both.


Level 1 Spanish, 2 Esperanto, 3 Klingon

Helpful in forums?: No; Good translation?: No

Hi, I am XXX, I am from XXX and I love Korean. I love K-POP and Korean culture. K-POP and Korea are the best! Although I am just a high school student, I think I can do my best to help for the course! So pick me! YEAHSJFA_H!

Why does this have a problem?

Love for Korean... but horrible Korean:Love for Korean just doesn't cut it. Helps, but you have to be able to speak it.

K-POP:Same for K-POP (and personally, I don't like K-POP at all). In fact, that could act potentially as a huge minus. Use it wisely! Don't let it be your main reason!

High school +dedication: This is a bit iffy. We are totally fine with high schoolers and middle schoolers applying as long as they are above 13. If you are a HS/MS student with good English and Korean, determined, passionate, and love Duolingo, language, learning, etc. we might accept you. In fact, if you go to a gifted/good/special high school or a language oriented one, that could act as a plus. However, don't just let that be your main or only reason why you should be a contributor.

However, if you are just doing it for the resume. Please don't apply. Be honest. Give others that actually want to do this a chance. Also, we know if you are not dedicated or want to do this not necessarily because you want to, and even if you manage to fool us, we will (probably) remove you from the team (yes, you can be removed if you are not active. In fact that is even in the contributor acceptance email).

Typos, grammar mistakes, etc.: Pretty obvious, we want none of these.


Level 25 Japanese, Level 15 English, Level 14 Finnish, Level 9: Irish

Helpful in forums?: Yes; Good translation?: Yes

I am applicant XXX and would love to help contribute to the English for Korean speakers course. I am a native Japanese speaker and have been learning Korean for 10 years.I am a student at the University of Seoul majoring in Korean and Korean literature. I can also speak English due to having lived in the United States until 9th grade. I recently earned my C2 certificate in Korean and English! I use Duolingo every day for Finnish and Irish, and I absolutely love the service. Even though I am a busy university student, I have at least 4 hours a day to dedicate to the course. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope I get the chance to teach English and eventually Korean to many people in the world. Thank you!

Why is it good?

High quality application: Obviously this application is gold, no grammatical or orthographic mistakes for both languages. Can feel passion from the essay.

Dedication: Specifically stated how much time he has. Dedicated user of service and in forums.

Language experience: Besides being fluent in both languages, the applicant has sufficient experience in both (certification, university major, etc.).

Anyway, hope this helped those interested in applying for our course :)

alukasiak from Team Polish wrote 20 hours ago:

Progress Update #5


As you may have noticed, July was a busy month for our team. The course is already well past the 50% mark! We are hopeful that August is going to bring significant progress as well. Let's shed some light on the current state of the course (and the dreadful complexity of the Polish past tense).

For now, it seems unlikely that we will see 4-6% of progress every week, as it was the case in those fruitful weeks of July. That is because we have begun to work on one of the most complex parts of the skill tree. We have also started writing the Tips & Notes sections. We cannot let you face the hardships of learning Polish without proper preparation.

Currently, we are developing the first of the skills featuring past tense. Our progress, as measured in a percentage, is relatively slow, but that does not mean we are adding few new exercises. We are trying to fill the difficult grammar-focused skills with diverse sentences and use as many new word forms as possible. This is to make sure you can put the new skill into practice in an effective way. We are not settling for the required three sentences per new word – some of the lessons we are creating right now contain over 30 unique sentences. The course completion percentage is calculated on the basis of the number of words added, and does not take into account any new sentences above the mandatory three per word.

If you have taken a Duolingo course before, you are probably aware that introducing a verb tense other than the basic present is not a simple matter. The same goes for Polish, where a simple past verb such as ate or went can have 13 different forms. We intend to design the lessons in a way that allows the learner to see a simple pattern behind the seemingly difficult conjugation.

The relationship between the Polish past tense forms and English verbs is not always straightforward. In the absence of a clear context, we have to account for various ways of expressing time relations in English. A phrase using a variant of the Polish past tense form of eat can be usually translated into English sentences with have eaten, ate and had eaten. English to Polish translation can be ambiguous too: you ate might take one of four equally viable forms in Polish. The hints that we attach to each of the forms are meant to clarify the context for their use.

By the way, the scary 13 forms of a past verb mentioned above are just for one grammatical aspect. We are going to work on introducing the other one in the not so distant future.

Speaking of future: although the future tense skills are not going to be added anytime soon, we are already beginning to think about these ones as well. In general, we have a pretty good idea of how the final version of the tree will look like. It feels great to be able to see the big picture with little uncertainty (and still much work to do).

nueby from Team Czech added an hour ago:

Week 5

We are at 226 words, so about 6 percent finished.

jitengore from Team Hindi added an hour ago:

Week 09: 18% complete, beta launch 10-Dec-2015

Thanks so much for your last week's insightful feedback. I have not been able to respond earlier because for some reason I have stopped receiving the notifications from Duolingo. I can see the new comments only when I visited the WIU page (and the other pages that I follow). I will respond to the comments shortly.

Meanwhile we have continued on our dialog within the team and would soon increase our pace.

TL;DR Duo went to the White House. Meanwhile at the incubator, team ES<-DE has almost raced to the finish. Is it now a time for Finnish?

The next update is expected on Sunday, 16th of August at 3:00 pm UTC.

Previous Update 26-Jul to 02-Aug

Last updates from the recent months: 2015: Jul, Jun, May, Apr, Mar, Feb, Jan.

August 9, 2015


O.M.G Go Team Russia Go!!!

August 9, 2015

This stall right at the finish line happens to a lot of courses. It often lasts for a month or so. There's a lot of activity that doesn't get counted by the percentage complete. My guess is that they're still hard at work, and they'll be in beta around the end of August, or sometime in September.

August 9, 2015

Agreed. Come on Russia! Woo!

Finishing my German tree this week (maybe even today). I guess I'll have to work more on Danish and Irish until Russian is ready.

August 9, 2015

Россия! Россия! Россия! Let's go Russia!

August 10, 2015

Is it now a time for Finnish?

I want to believe that you know something more than we do :)

August 9, 2015

Yup, happy to see jiten firmly on board the Finnish train! B-)

August 9, 2015

No insider info on that... :( But, nevertheless I have a strong hunch that Finnish might be next.

I can also predict some movement from phase 2 to phase 3. Which course(s) could that be?

August 9, 2015

I can understand that for a seasoned course contributor the whole lifespan of a course within the Incubator is very interesting. But for us mere users, the excitement lies in a) the adoption into the Incubator and b) the graduation into beta! :-)

August 9, 2015

As courses move from phase 2 to phase 3, that frees up some time for the contributors as well as staff and then it becomes more likely for new courses to start their journey beginning with phase 1. I too am an eager and selfish "mere" user :)

August 9, 2015

See, I hadn't thought of that... :-) Does Duolingo consider the courses to be mature and finished once they reach phase 3, then, even though hard working contributors continue to add branches and hunt for strange sentences literally for years after that (like in the case of the French for English tree)?

August 9, 2015

Good point! Nope, the work is never completely over, but the responsibility is considerably reduced once the course is out of beta.

August 9, 2015


August 10, 2015

Can we finally dare to hope? :)

August 9, 2015

Now you're starting to hope?! :-p What were you doing until now -- pining? :-)

August 9, 2015

Banging my head against a brick wall in exasperation? :P

August 9, 2015

I guess in that case, hoping is certainly the healthier option! :-p

August 9, 2015

For the past couple of months my heart has always started racing every time I got an email. But instead of a message from the Duo Team, it has always been something like a National Geographic newsletter or other not-so-exciting stuff. So I've been hoping for a long time too... I've unsubscribed from so many email lists so that I wouldn't get a heart attack etc. :P

August 9, 2015

‘Oh,’ said Gaffsie, feeling ill at ease.

‘Yes, by mercilessness,’ the fillyjonk continued rather breathlessly. ‘By something one can’t ask anything of, nor argue with, nor understand, and that never tells one anything. Something that one can see drawing near, through a black window-pane, far away on the road, far away to sea, growing and growing but not really showing itself until too late. Mrs Gaffsie, have you felt it? Tell me that you know what I’m talking about! Please!’

—Tales from Moominvalley

August 9, 2015

Polish for English speakers +2!!! GO GO GO Polish!!! :D


August 9, 2015

The Polish update is both terrifying and intriguing!

August 9, 2015

jadłem, jadłam, jadłeś, jadłaś, jadł, jadło, jadła, jedliśmy, jadłyśmy, jedliście, jadłyście, jedli, jadły

zjadłem, zjadłam, zjadłeś, zjadłaś, zjadł, zjadło, zjadła, zjedliśmy, zjadłyśmy, zjedliście, zjadliście, zjedli, zjadły

"ate" in two aspects. See? No need to worry, Polish is easy!

August 9, 2015
  • 2066

And that's why we need spolier tags in discussions.

August 9, 2015

Ok, you've definitely proven the "terrifying" part to me !

August 9, 2015

I actually giggled and then covered my eyes. Oh, dear.

August 9, 2015

I’m a bit surprised to hear that the past tense is "difficult". I started learning Polish on my own a few weeks ago and I find the past tense way easier than the present tense. At least when you have the infinitive, you can easily get all the past tense forms, which is not the case for the present tense (or at least much more complicated). Choosing between the two aspects can be tricky, though.

August 9, 2015


August 9, 2015

I understand the six subjects and two aspects, but what's the difference between the a(y) and e(i) versions?

August 9, 2015

If you mean jedli vs jadły, they are gender-related. Use jedli if you talk about masculine or mixed group of subjects, and jadły when you talk about feminine ones. The same goes for zjedli vs zjadły.

August 9, 2015

Funny thing is that this isn't only feature of Polish, but Czech has the same. But don't worry even a lot of native speakers make mistakes in this :)

August 10, 2015

Mówisz po Polsku?

August 9, 2015

I don't speak Polsku~~ Żartuję. Pewnie, że mówię.

August 9, 2015

fajnie :D

August 10, 2015

You are spoiling all the fun, man! ;)

August 9, 2015

I'm glad to hear they are doing the grammar explanations so thoughtfully. I've done about a year of Polish and it is by far the most complicated language I've studied. I can't wait to start up again when it's ready.

August 9, 2015

Does Duolingo's headquarters have a list of courses that Duolingo plans to build but hasn't announced and started building yet? ;)

Any of these seems very likely:

(I used a "Have people from Duolingo mentioned it?" criterion here, not the criteria I used in the comments at )

What if the rows at were like this...

Incubation Phase 0 Courses not yet in development
Incubation Phase 1 Courses in development and not yet released
Incubation Phase 2 Courses released in Beta
Incubation Phase 3 Courses graduated from Beta

...and the status pages for the Phase 0 courses had Updates sections too?

For example, MasyhurHil could copy the part about Indonesian for English speakers from his update at and paste it to as an update, in addition to the "Sorry, this course hasn't been started yet. Stay tuned!" there right now. :)

OTOH, Duolingo may have very good reasons to not reveal its pipeline plans so openly so far ahead of time...

August 9, 2015

Funny thing... English for English speakers has an incubator page. Can I learn English?

August 9, 2015

Oh goodness, I hope so. Judging from the insane number of English mistakes I see around me every day, we desperately need an English for English speakers course.

August 9, 2015

Yes. I am fluent in English, but not in English. I WANT THAT COURSE SO BAD!!!!!!!

August 9, 2015

LOL, I didn't find it. But, I've lost XP because I don't seem to know enough English!

There is the homonym problem: their there they're and SO many more!

English for English!

August 10, 2015


August 11, 2015

I don’t understand the concept of "Could you announce the courses you don’t want to announce yet?"

August 11, 2015

For those who are seeing the progress of ES<-DE as 99%, let me tell it's actually 99.94% . So you can imagine how close they are. ^_^

August 9, 2015

99,95 % :D

Still one bug, or hopefully not a bug, I really hope it is not a bug ... and a little check up, so that no one will get a heart attack when seeing our tree for the first time :)

August 9, 2015
  • 1360

I can't wait... although I can, at least until I finish the German tree.

ES←DE, together with DE←ES, will be great for bridging. Bridging is like laddering, but instead of using one poorly known language to learn a new, unknown language, you use two poorly know languages on a similar level to learn each of them from one another. I have no idea if it will work, but it's worth a try.

August 10, 2015

It works. Currently, I am doing English-> French and French-> English along with French-> Spanish. It's a slow process but it's fun.

August 10, 2015

Go Catalan for Spanish! :D

August 9, 2015

Bring on the Vietnamese course - sensational!!

August 9, 2015

Trang and the Vietnamese team need to hurry, Polish is beating them!

August 9, 2015

Yeah, Vietnamese will be my next language to start learning. A friend of mine promised to give me lessons, but supplementing them with the Duo course would be fine.

August 11, 2015

Looks like the Russian course will come second or even third. Rush Russian!

August 9, 2015

Thanks for the update! Perversely, the Polish update has made me really keen to try learning Polish...

August 9, 2015

Go Catalan, Russian and Greek! And Romanian. I heard they're at a hard point that they're working through right now... I wish them luck as well!

August 10, 2015

When will Mayan be added?

August 9, 2015

Translated from lizsue's post below:

"We will start working on Mayan. For me it is a very important language because I'm from Guatemala, but we want to do other small languages. If we do well with the volunteers we have, it will come out in the next eight months," told to The Economist by co-founder and director of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn.

August 9, 2015

That's a translation from the article "Duolingo y Wikipedia, al rescate de las lenguas indígenas" by Julio Sánchez Onofre at . :)

My post merely links to it, I don't deserve the credit. :)

August 9, 2015

Seeing the RU for ENG stuck at 97% really is depressing, but I know it can't be easy to do this, so I will wait patiently!

August 10, 2015
  • 1360

The last few percent always take a lot of time. Expect Russian being stuck at 100% for a week.

August 10, 2015

So are you saying I shouldn't even expect beta to be open until mid-late september?

August 10, 2015

I'd say closer to late August.

August 10, 2015
<h1>DE_PT team, I'm rooting for you!!! :)</h1>
August 10, 2015

...and now English for Arabic speakers ( ) and Norwegian for English speakers ( ) have graduated from Beta. :D

August 11, 2015

Thanks for pointing that out! :-) So only 7 courses in beta at the moment...

August 11, 2015

Good progress this week, slow but steady. This week I started up school and I'm taking Hebrew! I know what you're thinking, that learning in school won't get you fluent. I am trying in this class, so I'll try to prove you guys wrong. In case that doesn't satisfy my language needs, I also have a study hall of 90 minutes which I can use to learn Hebrew when I finish my homework.

August 13, 2015

The loss of 4% for the German > French team might have only been a temporary bug? Because when I look at the incubator page now it is back up to 90,5%. And I think a couple of days ago when I checked the last time, it was the same.

I'm really really really looking forward to do this reverse tree. Have been waiting a long time since I finished FR>DE. And if they actually make their predicted date it would coincide perfectly with the start of my holidays. But I'm not holding my breath because they have been on the same percentage for a couple of weeks now and very often the last weeks are the slowest.

August 10, 2015

The perecentage is really nothing but the number of "finished" words (the ones that have sentences) divided by the total number of words or its estimate (if the developers left the empty English template intact).

It does not mean anything else.

August 10, 2015

Since you're here... :-) And I guess you must love this question: Do you (guys) have any estimate about when your beta release will actually take place?

(I understand if you don't want to say anything specific at this point -- but I had to ask...)

August 10, 2015

How would I know? Probably, some time this month. Only part of it depends on me.

August 12, 2015

Thanks, that's great to hear! We know there are a lot of moving variables in this. But "probably, some time this month" is actually a more positive view than I had hoped for.

Have fun on the homestretch! :-) Your race has truly been a marathon!

August 12, 2015

I know, I know... but it's the only reference point we see. Especially when a team doesn't write any updates (which is completely fine by me, if they don't have the time). And this whole thread here is based on the percentage numbers game. So there's isn't really something else I could talk about.

August 11, 2015

Anyone know how German for French went backwards so much? Did they delete a how lot of stuff? Its annoying to see Russian (the language I really want to learn) progress so slow. Yiddish is also going slowly. But congrats to all the volunteers and all the languages which made progress. And I hope Spanish for German can be released soon.

August 10, 2015

how can Elladus use Duolingo for Finnish if there's not Finnish course yet??

August 12, 2015

I am not... it is just an imaginary applicant =_=

August 12, 2015
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