Duolingo

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dumbzebra
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Duolingo

Postby dumbzebra » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

So maybe it's just because I'm hyped, but I think this is REALLY exciting.

http://youtu.be/cQl6jUjFjp4

So the basic gist is that the website provides you with small sentences of a a language you want to learn. These sentences are taken from pages, like Wikipedia, which you then translate.
You get free language "classes", while in turn, you translate the Internet, and thus make it more acceassabel to other people.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Diadem » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:14 am UTC

That is awesome. I almost regret already speaking English quite well :) Though I would certainly use such a site to improve my German or French if it offers those languages.

What's most impressive is there rate of translation. He claims it would take only 80 hours to translate the entire wikipedia to Spanish with a million users. And a million users is not that much, considering there are billions who want to learn a foreign language.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Triangle_Man » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:33 am UTC

Is this thing for real?

This is actually pretty damn cool.

Come to think of it, it may even be better than current language translators, which seem to capture words but not meaning.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:08 am UTC

That is awesome.

How, though, are they gonna translate (for example) all English wikipedia into a language with a foreign alphabet, though? Other than suggesting you buy a sticker set if the keys line up just the same.

EDIT: I just realised that this could move on to wikimedia commons pretty quickly, after about six months or so where most everything on wikipedia has been translated between the most commonly-spoken languages.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:28 am UTC

It's interesting to me that we had a long trend of replacing human power with automated machine power and now we're starting to harness human power again. Not only this but also ReCaptcha and ChaCha.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Roĝer » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

It makes me wonder which languages they'll include. It seems to me that, just like with Wikipedia, the more languages the better. If this were only used for 10 or so 'major languages' it would only increase the gap between speakers of those languages and others.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Angua » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:56 pm UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:That is awesome.

How, though, are they gonna translate (for example) all English wikipedia into a language with a foreign alphabet, though? Other than suggesting you buy a sticker set if the keys line up just the same.

It's actually not that difficult to get used to using a different set of characters without the stickers - if you have the on screen keyboard up for reference, and make sure you type normally, your fingers figure out what they're doing pretty quickly (as I discovered when learning Russian and Chinese).
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Re: Duolingo

Postby iamevn » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:37 pm UTC

This is actually really cool and I am going to try to see how effective it is when it comes out since I am already learning french in school and some actual application would be really nice.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Diadem » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

One major problem though seems that there is no way to train pronounciation. They say it's as effective as commercial, 500 dollar, language-training software. Probably true. But that software also includes pronounciation lessons. This presumably would not.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Randomizer » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:57 am UTC

Well, if they combined it with text-to-speech algorithm training they could train pronunciation, too. Not sure what sort of activity they could come up with to get people to record themselves talking in their native language, but if they did they could use those recordings in their language-teaching pursuits.

Their twitter from April 4th says they'll have English, Spanish and German, and that other languages will come after. Seems the site's not up yet, though. Darn. Here I was ready to get started and everything. :p
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Shivahn » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:53 am UTC

Diadem wrote:One major problem though seems that there is no way to train pronounciation. They say it's as effective as commercial, 500 dollar, language-training software. Probably true. But that software also includes pronounciation lessons. This presumably would not.


That is problematic, but how problematic would also be language dependent. Japanese? Once you know how to spell everything, you know how to pronounce everything - it would probably be really easy to learn entirely by text and then learn pronunciation in about fifteen minutes later. Chinese? You're fucked.

I'd assume most languages are between those extremes, but there are certainly languages where the pronunciation is not a huge deal and can be learned easily later.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:40 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:
Diadem wrote:One major problem though seems that there is no way to train pronounciation. They say it's as effective as commercial, 500 dollar, language-training software. Probably true. But that software also includes pronounciation lessons. This presumably would not.


That is problematic, but how problematic would also be language dependent. Japanese? Once you know how to spell everything, you know how to pronounce everything - it would probably be really easy to learn entirely by text and then learn pronunciation in about fifteen minutes later. Chinese? You're fucked.

I'd assume most languages are between those extremes, but there are certainly languages where the pronunciation is not a huge deal and can be learned easily later.

i'd assume that if a software is attempting to teach someone chinese, the first thing they would teach you is pinyin...

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Shivahn » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:54 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
Shivahn wrote:
Diadem wrote:One major problem though seems that there is no way to train pronounciation. They say it's as effective as commercial, 500 dollar, language-training software. Probably true. But that software also includes pronounciation lessons. This presumably would not.


That is problematic, but how problematic would also be language dependent. Japanese? Once you know how to spell everything, you know how to pronounce everything - it would probably be really easy to learn entirely by text and then learn pronunciation in about fifteen minutes later. Chinese? You're fucked.

I'd assume most languages are between those extremes, but there are certainly languages where the pronunciation is not a huge deal and can be learned easily later.

i'd assume that if a software is attempting to teach someone chinese, the first thing they would teach you is pinyin...


I'm honestly pretty ignorant about Chinese, but I know that because it's so tonal it's (supposedly) very hard to pick up if you're not used to tones. I perhaps stated what I meant too strongly. You're not completely fucked, but whereas it would probably only take a few minutes to become proficient enough to pronounce the Japanese sentences, Chinese requires such a degree of tonal subtlety that English does not that a new student will require quite a lot more work to be able to even begin to approximate an understandable utterance than if the secondary language were something that's closer to English in form.

If that makes sense.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:59 am UTC

It does. Japanese phonology can mostly be approximated with English phonology. Chinese phonology is less so. It's not too much of a problem in an immersive environment, but (Pinyin) spelling alone will be fairly useless in teaching an English speaker to make understandable utterances.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Randomizer » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:16 am UTC

http://duolingo.com/

The beta has started in case anyone was still interested in this. You have to give them a valid email in order to sign up. So far only Spanish and German are available. I haven't tried it yet, so I can't comment on how good it is.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:45 am UTC

I'm really curious for how well this works. I'm hoping it works pretty well, if only because I've always been disappointed I never got to become very good with German after my three years of it in high school. Knowing more languages is cool- I'm always impressed with all the people that learn English as a second language and can communicate it fluently (many cases on these very boards, no less).

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:54 am UTC

I think this is a fabulous idea, just lie the reCaptcha. It's amazing when you look back and realise someone had to invent these things.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Vanzetti » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:39 pm UTC

I wonder how they will protect the system from malicious translations.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:42 pm UTC

Vanzetti wrote:I wonder how they will protect the system from malicious translations.


They're averaging across translations, so presuming that malicious ones are the small exception, it shouldn't be much of a problem.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Lostdreams » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

Mere weeks later, all russian pornoraphy sites are translated to perfect english and begin taking larger parts of the market share. I may have some investing to do....
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Re: Duolingo

Postby IcedT » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:06 am UTC

Just signed on for the Spanish beta, I'm actually really excited to chip in on a project like this. Here's hoping they expand the number of languages rapidly, too.

Shivahn wrote:I'm honestly pretty ignorant about Chinese, but I know that because it's so tonal it's (supposedly) very hard to pick up if you're not used to tones. I perhaps stated what I meant too strongly. You're not completely fucked, but whereas it would probably only take a few minutes to become proficient enough to pronounce the Japanese sentences, Chinese requires such a degree of tonal subtlety that English does not that a new student will require quite a lot more work to be able to even begin to approximate an understandable utterance than if the secondary language were something that's closer to English in form.


What's interesting about Chinese is that, other than the tones, it's actually fairly close to English in structure. It has subject-verb-object order and lacks a lot of the counter and particle weirdness of, say, Korean. Omissions (like the lack of verb conjugations) can make things ambiguous sometimes but mean that there's just that much less to memorize. So it might be difficult to learn to speak well from duolingo, but Chinese should actually be fairly easy to translate reliably.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:20 am UTC

I enrolled for Chinese when it comes out. I did a bit of Chinese in high school, so I can remember how to pronounce things for the most part.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:29 pm UTC

I enrolled for the French one.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby mfb » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:33 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
Vanzetti wrote:I wonder how they will protect the system from malicious translations.


They're averaging across translations, so presuming that malicious ones are the small exception, it shouldn't be much of a problem.

And malicious translations are different from each other, while correct translations tend to be very similar. If someone spams the whole system with nonsense, he might be able to ruin that, but in that case he has to do so many queries that he gets the same sentences multiple times. Protect duolingo inputs with reCaptchas? :D


Edit: What happens with sentences which need context in order to be translated?

Example english -> german:
"This is a house. It is green" -> "Dies ist ein Haus. Es ist grün"
"This is a tree. It is green" -> "Dies ist ein Baum. Er ist grün"

So you cannot translate "it is green", as long as you don't know what "it" is. Many other languages have similar problems with neutral/masculine/feminine words.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby addams » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:13 pm UTC

Randomizer wrote:http://duolingo.com/

The beta has started in case anyone was still interested in this. You have to give them a valid email in order to sign up. So far only Spanish and German are available. I haven't tried it yet, so I can't comment on how good it is.


How is it working? I know it is still early.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:36 pm UTC

I'm still waiting for my invite.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Duolingo

Postby andy999999999 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:45 am UTC

I came here just to post the same thing. Frickin' weird.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Bharrata » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:44 pm UTC

yurell wrote:I'm still waiting for my invite.


Sigh, same. I'm very pumped for the Chinese since I probably won't be able to take another course in it unless I make it a major.


As far as the difficulty of Chinese pronunciation goes...while it wouldn't be ideal to learn it over the innertubes, it's not that hard. You have the flat tone, dipping tone, rising tone, falling tone and neutral tone. If you have any sort of musical ear it's not difficult to understand or pick up with practice as a native English speaker.

Celebrate the fact you never have to worry about future or past tenses by watching Chinese soap operas or action flicks everyday, that helps immensely. 8)


Anyone know if the Chinese is the Simplified version or Mandarin?

I was told by my professor that if you know Chinese then Japanese becomes very easy to pick up afterwards. Any truth to that?

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:13 am UTC

Just got added ... all I can say is 'screw conjugation'. Unfortunately Chinese isn't out yet, so I'm just blowing some time away on French.

Also, I think the beta ends in 11 days, and anyone will be able to use it.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Bharrata » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:28 am UTC

I'm disappointed with the lack of Chinese as welll...as uh, my last post indicates.


I took it as a sign to begin learning the rudiments of Spanish. I like that they've incorporated a pronunciation function; part of me thinks that when different language groups get to a high enough level Duolingo might pair matching individuals to practice speaking in their new languages - such as a first language English, Spanish learner talking to a first language Spanish, English learner talking to each other and correcting the other when needed. If they're not planning to, they should I think.

I also liked how they separated your knowledge and exercises to be completed into a RPG-style skill tree, allows you the ability to self-map your way through the learning rather than being stuck in only one path.

Anyways, glad it's up, definitely pumped for if/when Chinese becomes available.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby aoeu » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:04 am UTC

I can give a +2 to this site. There are some rough edges but on the whole they have made getting started in or refreshing a language a very easy and brainless task. They have an integrated speech synthesizer too. Currently German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are offered.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby yurell » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:31 am UTC

Bharrata wrote:I'm disappointed with the lack of Chinese as welll...as uh, my last post indicates.


Still being disappointed.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!


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