Duolingo Wants To Translate The Internet By Helping You Learn Another Language

Awesome new translation initiative enters private beta today

Get the WebProNews Newsletter:

Duolingo Wants To Translate The Internet By Helping You Learn Another Language
[ Technology]

Duolingo’s premise is quite simple. How do you get people to translate the web for free? Their answer is to turn it into an experience that is part game, part language instruction, and all ambitious crowdsourcing.

Duolingo is the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon professor Luis von Ahn, and it first jumped on everyone’s radar earlier this year. Back then he told TechCrunch:

The solution was to transform language translation into something that millions of people WANT to do, and that helps with the problem of lack of bilinguals: language education,” von Ahn writes. It is estimated that there are over 1 billion people learning a foreign language. So, the site that we’ve been working on, Duolingo, will be a 100% free language learning site in which people learn by helping to translate the Web. That is, they learn by doing.

And today, it looks like the program is in its early stages of actualization. Duolingo has announced that today, November 30th, marks the start of the private beta period:

First wave of invitations for the Duolingo private beta will be sent out this Wednesday! http://t.co/I8BvGiID 2 days ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Starting to gradually roll out private beta today. In the meantime, here’s our awesome video: http://t.co/FdnCTYUm 6 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Having not yet been able to play with Duolingo, it’s easy to explain how it works because it’s such a beautiful concept. Once you choose the foreign language that you wish to learn (Spanish or German, with French, Italian and Chinese on the way), Duolingo gives you foreign language phrases from actual pages around the web. It only gives you phrases that match up with your level – like beginner, intermediate and advanced.

You then go to work translating those phrases. Duolingo helps you out with suggestions if you get stuck on certain words and everyone’s translations are submitted to be voted on so that the community can choose the best translations. The experience also includes some sort of language tutorials for words that you had trouble with.

In theory, Duolingo could help people learn another language while doing something more important – translating the far reaches of the internet. It’s basically crowdsourced translation as a game. Pretty neat, huh?

You can visit the Duolingo site to register for a private beta invite via email. I know I’m anxiously awaiting my chance to give it a try, although I know I must be patient –

People asking me for @duolingo invites: Patience, grasshoppers :) 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Check out the video they just dropped –

Duolingo Wants To Translate The Internet By Helping You Learn Another Language
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • Robert Last

    I heard an interview on cbc.ca/sparks last night (Dec 4 2011) and have been sold on the concept. Please sign me up for Spanish.

  • Liv Andrew

    Would like Norwegian, please.

  • Marcy Bremner

    I heard part of the show on CBC radio. I would love to begin with Spanish. Let’s get started!

  • lucy ann fleischman

    Please sign me up for Spanish

  • Marcelo GarcĂ­a Facal

    In the spirit of no surprises, I am a translator, so I may be biased.

    More times than not, I use Wikipedia in English because it much more thorough. The idea of people learning a foreign language while translating Wikipedia is very noble, but what will come next? What will become of us translators? Because, you see, in a presentation Luis delivered about Duolingo, he mentioned selling this service to clients, which would be making money these hamster-translators wouldn’t receive.

    Think about it: Let’s say Duolingo works and you get respectable quality for free and there’s people willing to buy that service. What would you do?

    If you are not a translator, you may not care, but what is stopping them from crowdsourcing other tasks? Or you think even for a second that you can’t crowdsource the planning of a bridge, the defense of a case or the diagnosis of a patient?

  • Luz MarĂ­a Lavarreda

    Quiero aprender inglés, por favor como uso este método, gracias Luis y todo tu equipo. Bendiciones mil!!!!!!!!!

  • Arlette

    How do you register???…I have the video coming on over and over again…but I didn’t see how to register…I must e the only one??

  • Join for Access to Our Exclusive Web Tools
  • Sidebar Top
  • Sidebar Middle
  • Sign Up For The Free Newsletter
  • Sidebar Bottom