Duolingo does Japanese


Duolingo Japaneseって、Big Newsですね!

If you’re unfamiliar with Duolingo, it’s definitely worth checking out; it’s a really clever platform that, at the upper levels, actually turns the community of learners into a crowdsourced translation powerhouse.   The app can be downloaded from itunes for free and, to my knowledge, doesn’t ever ask learners to purchase anything.

They have been offering courses for learning a few languages and slowly adding to the list, but they’ve just announced that they’re moving forward with Japanese as a target language for speakers of English.   There’s a great article about the project on the Duolingo website, and I also saw a nice write-up by the Japan Times.


礼問答 (レイモンド)




Brazilian Portuguese

I don’t know if it counts as a Bob Dylan New Year’s resolution but, over the last while, I’ve added Brazilian Portuguese into my language learning mix….

As one of the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil has figured more prominently in the news over the last few years.  With Brazil hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 (in 12 different cities), and then Rio de Janeiro hosting the Olympics in 2016, i’m sure that we’ll all know quite a bit more about the country by the time these events are over in a few years.

Closer to my day-to-day life working on a university campus, it’s also worth noting that the Brazilian government is currently in the middle of an ambitious program called “Science without Borders”; by 2015, the scheme will see 100,000 Brazilian university students (undergraduate through post-doctoral) head overseas–the Canadian government estimates that as many as 12,000 of those students will come to Canada.

I could come up with a few more ‘reasons’ to learn Brazilian Portuguese, but the truth is that it simply sounds cool to my ears.  If I can learn enough to have a decent conversation then I’ll be happy.   I don’t have a particular timeline in mind— just hobby/fun.

I’ve been checking out Brazilian movies and music through my local library, and I’ve enjoyed getting started with Duolingo‘s Brazilian Portuguese beta-offering.  We’ll see how it goes!

Brazilian Portuguese

“crowd-source” decoding of an ancient language

Interesting story on CBC radio this morning about Dr. Jacob Dahl inviting the power of crowd-sourcing to help decode an ancient language spoken 5000 years ago, by people known as the “Proto-Elamites”.

The story reminded me of the work that Duolingo is doing.

If you want to lend your hand to the effort and learn some proto-Elamite cuneiform in the process, give it a try!


Cuneiform – http://cdli.ucla.edu/

Duolingo invites to give away

I’ve been beta-testing the new Duolingo crowd-source platform for translation-based language-learning for a couple of months— are you interested in giving it a try?

As far as I’m aware, I don’t stand to gain anything from the exchange, but they just announced that current users could give away 3 (three) invites.

Want one?   (update: all gone! ) Please leave a comment or send me an e-mail (raymond /at/wordsummit/dot/com).

From the TED video description:     Duolingo will be a revolutionary product in which millions of internet users from around the world will work together to translate the internet and learn a new language at the same time. All for free.”