We all know that you can pay to get something translated if you want, but what about all the content on the web that nobody is willing to pay for? In a crowdsourcing era, there is no reason the web shouldn't be translated, even if it has to be done for free. Enter Duolingo, the platform that allows foreign-language learners to translate web pages one sentence at a time while they learn a new tongue.
Check out this video for the bigger picture:
This is a great concept. It's ok to get excited, like I did when I first saw it, but don't get too excited too quickly.
Duolingo is a fun way to learn language, but when it comes to the exercises in the program that actually contribute meaningful translations, it certainly is no walk in the park.
They released the website only recently, so I don't mean to be harsh, but here are some things that made my Duolingo experience a little less pleasant:
- The site doesn't seem to match your-skill level with the correct sentences.
- Many of the sentences have proper names, website links, and technical jargon to make translation difficult.
- The sense of progress as you translate is limited (a digital trophy or quick video telling me what I've learned would help).
However, don't get me wrong. I think the service is great, too. Here's why:
- The lessons are well written and straight forward
- It's fun to hover over words and receive an immediate translation
- The design and task flow structure is absolutely beautiful
I'd still highly recommend trying it.
Anyone looking to learn a little English, Spanish, French, or German will get a valuable experience, and I think you get a good feeling when you are able to translate a sentence or two.
It's totally worth it, but just prepare yourself by meditating or taking a little aspirin beforehand...If that's not enough to convince you maybe this is: Duolingo is backed by Ashton Kutcher. Maybe they'll add a "Dude where's my subject verb agreement" feature to some sentences honor him?
Have you tried it yet? Let us know your initial reaction in the comments below.