We have exciting news today for our iOS users!
First, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, we’re introducing a brand new feature specially designed to help you meet your goals… beyond January. Players, meet your Coach.
Here’s how it works: You choose a difficulty level or “track,” and each day the Coach tells you how many points you’ll need to earn in order to stay on that track. Once you’ve completed those requirements for the day, the Coach will let you rest until the following day, when you’ll be able to see a brand new goal.
You can also build up a safety buffer for yourself, meaning that if you practice a little extra every day during the week, you can take the whole weekend off and still be on track! As long as you follow the Coach’s daily goals, you’ll reliably make your way through the course at the pace you choose.
Second, we’re introducing the Shop and our virtual currency, Lingots, to iOS. As with the Web version, you earn Lingots by doing awesomely in your language learning journey.
Not all store items will be immediately available on the app, but the exciting news is that we’re launching new items that will exist exclusively for iOS for now. For example, you’ll be able to buy special new outfits for Duo — turns out our designers moonlight as stylists. ; )
Download the latest version of Duolingo for iOS here: https://itunes.apple.com/app/duolingo-learn-languages-for/id570060128
As some of you know, we’re working on redesigning the look and feel of Duolingo across all of our platforms. Our iPhone and iPad apps already have the new cleaner design (which received a lot of love from Apple!), and over the next few weeks the other platforms, including this website, will also be upgraded. Our goal is to have a single, consistent design that makes Duolingo look the same regardless of where you use it.
When we decided to redesign Duolingo, we knew we wanted Duo to come along for the ride. But in order for that to happen, he would need to undergo a few stylistic changes to fit our new vision. Firstly, we laid down a few ground rules: we knew Duo’s color and his species (a very rare green owl) were not going to change. We also wanted to depict him as the same ol’ Duolingo mascot that has been with us from the beginning, but with just a few cosmetic changes.
The most important part of Duo’s reshaping was, obviously, Duo’s shape/silhouette. In icon design as well as character design, if the overall shape is not appealing, then the details within that shape can’t compliment it successfully. This process allowed us to explore lots of possibilities for Duo.
Iterations were made for months, some drastic, some minor. Each day, the progress was shown to the rest of the team. Based on the feedback given, Duo would either undergo another round of sketches, or proceed to a revised draft, where a vector image was made. Sometimes we would need to see him in his completed form to really know if he was the right direction to go.
Once we reached a shape we were happy with, we added movement and even let him pick his best angle at a slight quarter-turn.
We’re very excited to re-introduce you to Duo! We hope you love him as much as we do.
You’ll be seeing him a lot more in the next few weeks as we incorporate him into many more places.
This week, our German-speaking community “weighed in” on the definition of a very heavy word on Facebook.
Sorry… we just couldn’t resist the puns!
But we got QUITE A FEW other good attempts. Here are our favorites:
"Grief bacon" - Google Translate (via Jon Hoos)
"Sadness cushion" - Mike Iven
"Worry pounds" - Irena Pavlícková
"Emo belly" - Petra Ito
"Sadness rolls" - Petra Alexandra
"Sorrow flab" - Anja Meurer
"Heartbreak handles" or "blues flab" - Franky Ziska
"Sausage of sorrow" - Sven Ben Rogers
"Wearing your emotions on your thighs" - Rosie Gordon
"Kummerspeck defines a still sadness enclosed in someone, not being able to talk about it… by eating a lot you try to bring a bit of distance (fat) between your hurting inside and the bad world around you." - Michaela Frötscher
"This is a good candidate for a German word that makes it into the English language without translation, like Poltergeist (rumbling ghost), Zeitgeist (time spirit) or Fahrvergnügen (driving joy)." - Stefan Kutschmar
"There are dozens of old German novels that deal with young women devouring tons of food in order to cope with the loss of a relationship or loved on. Kind of sexist…" - Rodrigo Diaz Linux
Stay tuned for next week’s cultural word, as defined by our community.
Will you be using “kummerspeck” as part of your vocabulary? We hope not in reference to yourself! ; )
This week we asked our native Italian-speaking community on Facebook to collectively define the phrase “fare bella figura.”
We had a many great responses - here are some of our favorites!
Patrizio Romano Dell’Anna shared this thoughtful image:
Linda DeMarco wrote: “I have also heard the the term used sarcastically when someone has embarrassed themselves in public.”
Michele Fortunato wrote: “To impress someone.”
… and we should point out that it was Massimo Scoppa's definition that got the most Likes (“to make a good impression”).
Many wrote “to cut a fine figure” which, despite not making a lot of sense, gives us a gist of the literal translation of the expression!
Thanks to all our Italian experts for teaching us something very useful!
If you’d like to be featured, stay tuned and make sure to define the word or concept we post in your language on our Facebook page in the future!
This week we made a big announcement about how we’re going to remain free now and forever. You can read all about it here in our blog post. In short, our incredible community of language learners is already helping translate BuzzFeed and CNN articles from across the Web. This is just the beginning, but we’re definitely on our way!
Here’s a taste of the fun stuff that has already been translated by the Duolingo community. A huge thank you to every one of you that continues to believe so strongly in our mission: free language education for the world. Let’s make this happen together!
CNN translated into Spanish from English:
BuzzFeed translated into Portuguese and Spanish from English:
Ready to give translating a go? Check out the “Immersion" section on the web to get started.
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.
Over the last few weeks, our native Spanish, Portuguese and French speakers learning English have been working together to translate BuzzFeed and CNN articles while practicing their English skills. All of these articles have been published in the international versions of BuzzFeed and CNN.
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.
We are excited for this new phase at Duolingo and hope our community will enjoy translating the notoriously entertaining BuzzFeed articles and the top news content from CNN.
Some words are very difficult to translate into other languages. The meaning can be a feeling or cultural concept that is hard to define. Each week, we select one word that is challenging to translate and ask our community of native speakers to put together a collaborative translation, so that everyone can learn an interesting new word.
This week, we chose the Spanish word, “Empalagar”. We received 365 different responses from the community on Facebook!
The illustration above represents the winning translation, which was created by Lizzie Liz. She received the most likes on her definition (118 likes on Facebook!). Other great responses included:
- "To cloy" (translated by several people)
- "Empalagation" (translated by Fernando Romero Tirado)
- "First, it is when you have something too sweet (for example jelly) and you have so much of it that you can’t eat anymore. Te empalagó. Second, it can also be used when your significant other is too sweet to you, is always all over you, kissing you, telling you sweet things all day and all night (I’m exaggerating here) won’t leave you alone. It has a similar meaning as ‘smothering’ in this context. ‘Me empalagas con tantos besos’" translated by Krysta Ramos.
Thank you to everyone who helped us provide our entire community with a good translation of this unique word. Want to get a shout-out next week? Keep an eye on our Facebook page, and help translate next week’s word!
We asked our native Portuguese speakers to define “Saudade,” a word that has no direct translation in English. From those responses, we crafted a crowdsourced definition for all our non-Portuguese speakers (and here it is below)!
To our surprise, our community responded not only with informative translations but beautiful allusions and declarations, generating interesting discussions about the true meaning of this very Brazilian concept.
Here are some of our favorite responses!
"Saudade, it is all that is left of you. Memories of how happy we have been, memories of how angry you left me sometimes. The things that we have built and destroyed together. Oh, and how many times we had been destroyed and hurt and I pulled you up like all the times you pulled me up. Everything that we have shared, all the saddest times, all the happiest times, all the weirdest times, all the funniest times. Now you are gone, and I don’t have a word to express my feelings; it is not sadness because you gave me happiness, it is not happiness because you are not with me now. I have no word to express myself to you, unless if you know what saudade means." - Aaron Lionel, on the Duolingo forum
"It would be best if the word could just be used in English as is, just as some English words are used in Portuguese. Isn’t the translation for "banana" - "banana?" Saudades is saudades!" - by Alexandre Augusto, on Facebook
"I think that a new word would have to be created…. like "homesick.".. it could be "somesick" or "missome." - Raissa Salum, on Facebook
"Saudade means Gisele." - Max Pereira on Facebook, prompting an interaction with the lady he felt saudades for.
"Based on what the Germans say (“heimweh”), you not only miss something/someone, but it hurts. Or “sehnsucht”, when you not only miss, but you kind of keep looking for them.” - Juliana Borges, on Facebook
“There are words describing a similar feeling in many other languages: one example is “banzo”, that was the word used by the African slaves to express the feeling of missing their families/homes/country.” - Marcus Stolarski, on Facebook
Thank you to all 180 people who helped us!
Would you like to get featured? Follow our posts on Facebook - we’ll be posting another word, in a different language, soon!
We don’t do redesigns often. But when we do, we go all the way.
If you haven’t noticed, we regularly add new features to Duolingo and refine existing ones — a virtual store, speaking exercises for new languages, and Language Certificates are just a few of our recent improvements. But since launching 15 months ago, we hadn’t taken a step back and rethought Duolingo as a whole.
When Apple announced iOS 7, we took it as an opportunity to craft a totally new visual design for our iOS app, and we’re excited to announce that it’s now ready for everyone. Here’s a glimpse of that latest update, available in the App Store now.
There were two major factors that motivated this redesign. The first was aesthetics — we wanted our app to have the modern, simplified, and vibrant look that users expect from iOS 7. The second was user experience — we wanted the app to be easier for new users to pick up quickly, and to better explain Duolingo’s learning mechanics with animations.
Right away, you can see that we’ve given each skill a new, custom illustration. Skills also behave a bit differently now. As we’ve talked about before, Duolingo uses spaced repetition to calculate exactly when you should review vocabulary for maximum memory benefit. This means learners should first focus on finishing all the lessons in a skill, and later come back to review them at just the right times. In the new design, skill icons help you do exactly that, showing how many lessons you have left when you’re learning a skill and a strength bar when it’s time to review it.
We’ve also added new animations throughout the app. They’re fun to use and also give you a better spatial sense of where you are and what you’re doing. For example, opening a skill and starting a lesson literally dives down into the skill and again into the lesson.
We’ve also completely revamped our end of lesson screens to give you a better sense of your progress. Now, every time you finish a lesson, we show you how close you are to leveling up and your progress over the past week. Once you’ve learned a skill, we show you your skill strength — how well we think you know a particular topic.
This is just the start! We’re constantly testing new features to make Duolingo a more effective and enjoyable learning experience, and we already have a few features in the works that we’ll be releasing in upcoming app updates. We’re also developing a redesign for Android and the web, so all our platforms will have a more unified look and feel. We hope you enjoy the update. Try it out, and let us know what you think.
Last week we took a break from the projects we usually work on to host our first internal hackathon at the Duolingo Galactic HQ and to explore new ideas together. For 27 hours straight, small teams of up to 3 people worked on whatever they wanted as long as it related to our mission of bringing free language education to the world. It was a chance to create some of the ideas for products that we always wanted, but never had time to execute in our day-to-day jobs. Duolingo’s engineers, designers, and language experts all worked together to make some awesome stuff, and at the end of the day, we had some amazing prototypes.
Here’s a rundown of what you might see spawned from some of these ideas:
1. Practice listening and writing through watching movie trailers on YouTube. Listen to a 6 second segment and write the translation.
2. Flashcards! An app that generates cards from your Duolingo vocabulary.
3. Review what you just learned. After answering the last challenge in a lesson, you can go back to see the feedback on every exercise (including typos, missed accents, etc.). Questions you get wrong would appear red in the progress bar, so you can quickly view your mistakes.
4. Race head to head with one of your friends. See which of your friends are currently online, request a race, and (assuming they accept) simultaneously get put into an identical timed practice session. As you progress through the session, you can see a live scoreboard of their correct and incorrect answers, allowing you to compete and try to achieve the most points in the shortest amount of time. A winner is announced after both users have completed the session.
5. Practice what you know through chat. A chatbot where you can practice specific words learned in a skill.
These projects, and a whole lot more were made at the inaugural Duolingo Hackathon. We can’t wait to add some of these ideas to Duolingo soon! We plan on making this a regular event, every quarter.
Tell us what you think in the comments below!
We’re excited to let you know that Duolingo is now available on the perfect device for learning a new language.
Instead of simply making a stretched phone version, we optimized the new app for the bigger screen. For example, there’s a new side-bar that lets you immediately see your Duolingo stats and your friend leaderboard.
We’ve also added landscape mode, meaning you can now hold your device however you like, even Gangnam style!
Keep learning, and we’ll keep making Duolingo better :)
A few weeks ago we got a very sweet email:
Dear Duolingo Team,
I am Italian and my American girlfriend Kate is in love with Duolingo… she’s learning my own language and she enjoys it so much that I’m wondering if I could ask you to set up an exercise for her that would lead to the big question:
"Will you marry Flavio Esposito?"
She would die if she saw this! Thanks so much for your time and consideration ;)
Who could resist that? Excited to help, we worked with Flavio to come up with a special love lesson that Kate would see the next time she logged in:
And then came the big question:
Would she say yes??? We weren’t sure, so if the answer was “no” we were prepared with our crying mascot:
It was a suspenseful weekend for us (although not as much as for Flavio!), but she said YES!!!
Congratulations Flavio and Kate! We’re honored to have been part of this special moment.
The wait was long, but the Duolingo Android app is now available on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo
As is the Duolingo way, the app is completely free, with no ads, hidden fees, or paid “premium” content.
Instead of simply porting our iPhone app, we worked hard to make a truly native Android experience — it’s fast, smooth and feels like Android.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be adding many new exciting features such as an offline mode, speaking exercises, and availability on tablets, so stay tuned!
With the recent buzz about Duolingo and education, we thought we’d share our plan for becoming the most awesome language-learning tool in the world. Not only are we free, now and forever, but we take our product and the knowledge you gain über-seriously. So we are busting out the lab coats and nerd glasses to (1) find evidence that Duolingo actually teaches you effectively, and (2) figure out how we can use science to teach you even better. We also wanted to keep you in the loop, so we’ll be blogging about it!
A Customized Language Education
Every time you finish a Duolingo lesson, translation, test, or practice session, you provide valuable data about what you know and what you’re struggling with. Our system uses this info to plan future lessons and select translation tasks specifically for your skills and needs. Similar to how an online store uses your previous purchases to customize your shopping experience, Duolingo uses your learning history to customize your learning experience.
This kind of adaptive and net-native approach to education is pretty unique to us. In contrast, most language-learning software has a rigid, one-size-fits-all curriculum. You can get a personalized education from a small classroom teacher or private tutor, but there are many people in the world who want to learn a language and can’t afford these classes. Moreover, with a traditional “semester” course — be it in a classroom or an online MOOC — teachers can only assess what did or didn’t work once every few months; then they have to wait until the next semester to improve. At Duolingo, our language experts and engineers tweak the site literally every day to make it better for you and a million other language-learners.
Measuring What You Learn
In this post, we want to tell you how we can measure what you learn, and how we determine if our daily tweaks actually improve learning. Most of the education world measures learning with standardized tests, and there is already some evidence that Duolingo does a very good job at improving scores for the WebCAPE university placement test for Spanish. We don’t want to have you take standardized tests all the time, though. That would be slow and expensive to do for every little tweak!
It turns out that the skill points you earn from lessons, tests, and translations — combined with how often you have to “peek” at word meanings during practice sessions — provide a good prediction of what your WebCAPE score would actually be:
For the scientifically inclined, these predictions are only off by 66 points on average, and the correlation coefficient between the predictions and real scores is 0.68. For comparison, people taking the Spanish WebCAPE twice in a row yields a coefficient of 0.86, according to the official WebCAPE website. All of these results are statistically significant (p < 0.00001).
How This Helps Us Improve
When we design a new Duolingo feature to help you learn better, we first test it out with a small fraction of our users to see if these metrics (higher skill points and fewer word peeks) improve. If they do, then we can be confident that the new feature will help you score better on standardized tests, too. So if you are motivated to earn those coins, you are well on your way to mastering a new language. How cool is that?
Duo has started preparing for his trip to Rome.