Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Duolingo

I think this is such a good idea, I'm spreading the word as fast as I can!

A while ago, I saw a TED talk, I think, in which the speaker was saying how there are millions of people around the world who want to learn a foreign language, and there are huge numbers of websites which are simply not available to most of the world's population, because they're in a language the surfer doesn't understand.

Duolingo decided to put the two things together.  They've created a website which teaches (in my case) Spanish, and presents suitably challenging web site extracts for me to translate into English.  I signed up straightaway, but have only just got to the top of the list.  I started working at it yesterday.  They seem to do German as well, but that's it so far.

You do a little test right at the beginning,  so the site can work out roughly what level you're at, and your translations are compared with those of other subscribers, so the system can decide statistically which the most accurate translation is.  I suspect the process is unlikely to result in works of great merit, but at least the translations should be reasonably accurate.  The folks behind Duolingo did try the system out before launching it, and it does look hopeful.

  • What is Duolingo?
    Duolingo is a service that lets you learn a language for free while simultaneously translating the Web. Learn more by watching this short video.
  • We're still working out a few kinks, so please bear with us while we improve the site. Duolingo is a very ambitious project, and it will take us some time to get everything right.
I did try to add a link to the Duolingo home page, but the site is too clever by half, and simply adds my account to the URL, so I never do get to the home page, just to my own bit.  Not sure what'll happen if you stick http://duolingo.com into your address bar.  Try it.

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