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Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.
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Duolingo is a free language-learning website and crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that as users progress through the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and other documents. As of May 2012, the site offers Spanish, French and German courses for English speakers, as well as English for Spanish speakers. They plan to add Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese. Duolingo started its private beta on 30 November 2011, and accumulated a waiting list of more than 300,000 users. Duolingo launched for the general public on 19 June 2012. However the bulk of translations produced by Duolingo are not available to the public.
A fascinating new project from Carnegie Mellon University, Duolingo (free) helps you learn a new language by asking you to participate in translating the Web. Users vote on the best translation submitted by other users, and eventually, the translated Web pages can be published so that more speakers of other languages can read them. It relies almost exclusively on crowd-sourcing, which may leave many language learners wondering if it's any good. How much can you trust translations that random people on the Internet write? The answer is: more than you think.
Duolingo has tremendous features that work surprisingly well at getting you to practice a language, and expose you to interesting content and people, and is actually fun and interesting. Among free language-learning tools, Duolingo is PCMag's Editors' Choice.
The language selection of this young project is currently limited to Spanish, German, and English (for Spanish speakers), with French in beta. Italian and Chinese are reportedly coming soon, and you should be as excited as I am for them to arrive.
How Duolingo Works
To get access to Duolingo, you can sign up with an email address and password, or authenticate via Facebook or Twitter. The, just pick which languages you want to learn: Spanish, German, and/or French. You can opt into as many language learning programs as you want.
I started Duolingo with Spanish, a language I've studied in the past but never mastered and have been trying to improve more recently, and couldn't be happier with the results. The Web app is fun to use and gives you real Web content to practice reading and translating.
If you want to study more than one language, you can elect the second one after you create an account (although the option isn't easy to find; I'd rather it were simply an option in the settings).
Duolingo keeps track of your progress and participation as you learn. When you sign in, a home screen shows you a roadmap of what you'll learn. Units along the roadmap appear gray until they're unlocked, at which time they become colorful, and a small trophy icon turns gold when you've completed and mastered a unit.
You can't jump ahead. Each unit is locked until you level-up to it, and if you think you're too advanced for the Basic sections, you have to prove your abilities by taking a test to opt out.
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Sounds great. Will share. Thanks.