Duolingo is two things, really. It's a language-learning app, for one. But it's also a giant crowdsourced translation hub, as the very students (users) who learn new languages with the app are the ones helping to translate site and documents all over the web.
Duolingo has just announced that they have increased the focus and intensity of that model by partnering with CNN and BuzzFeed. Duolingo will not translate BuzzFeed and CNN content, and in turn BuzzFeed and CNN will pay for the translation services.
This, according to Duolingo founder Luis von Ahn, is what will help keep Duolingo free to language learners everywhere.
"As you know, Duolingo is committed to providing free language education for the world. From the beginning, our plan to finance the platform has been to have our students translate real-world documents as they practice their foreign language skills. We like this model because it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement: students receive high-quality, completely free language education, and organizations get translation services powered by the students. Today’s announcement that two major publishers are financing our operation by translating their content with us is a significant milestone in keeping Duolingo free forever," says Ahn.
"With over 10 million users, we’re now able to guarantee high-speed, high-volume translations in a matter of hours. By combining the effort of multiple students translating each phrase, our algorithms are able to produce crowdsourced translations as accurate as those from skilled professionals, meeting the quality standards of major publishers."
Duolingo first opened up to the public in June of 2012 after a length beta period. Back in July of this year, when Duolingo finally launched an iPad app, Ahn said that the app had 5 million users. That means that Duolingo has doubled it user base in just over 3 months.
Speaking of CNN and BuzzFeed, the two companies recently launched a YouTube collaboration.