(Image Source: Duolingo)

BY LEAH BECERRA

ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY

A new startup, called Duolingo, launched this week with an interesting mission statement: “...learn a language for free while helping to translate the web.” Here’s how it works.

“Let’s say you’re a native English speaker who wants to learn Spanish. We start by giving you a sentence from a Spanish website and asking you to translate it...this way everyone becomes a valuable translator.”

Since the startup relies on crowdsourcing, the lessons are free, and so are the resulting translations. The Verge’s Jesse Hicks says, Duolingo’s beta version was a huge success in actually teaching languages and creating a translated chunk of the web.

“Its 125,000 active users have already translated about 75 million sentences according to the company, and since launching in late 2011 [the developers] have been tweaking the system to keep translators engaged.”

Lessons are part of the process, too. So users aren’t just thrown into translating — never having learned the basics. As far as PC Magazine’s Jill Duffy is concerned, this method of teaching is effective.

“...as language learners develop more skills, they can try their hand at translations, which are pulled from real websites in the language being learned. Other users then vote on which translation is most accurate.”

The New York Times’ Bits blog compares Duolingo to Google’s ‘Translate’ saying that, quote, “language doesn’t come naturally to machines.”

“Google Translate...relies entirely on machines to do the work — and while it usually captures the essence of a piece of text, it can sometimes produce bewildering passages.”

According to Tech.Blorge’s John Lister, this startup does have one downfall — at least for the time being.

“Unlike most language courses, at this stage Duolingo won’t necessarily know what the ‘right’ answer is. Instead it will look at a combination of the pattern of answers people give and public feedback about which answers are most accurate.”

Since full access to the site is still new to the public it’s hard to say what the result will be, but PCWorld’s Ed Oswold believes the startup’s potential lies in its possibilities.  

Currently the site offers lessons and translations in English, Spanish, French and German.

Duolingo Teaches Languages Free While Translating the Web

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Jun 20, 2012

Duolingo Teaches Languages Free While Translating the Web

(Image Source: Duolingo)

BY LEAH BECERRA

ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY

A new startup, called Duolingo, launched this week with an interesting mission statement: “...learn a language for free while helping to translate the web.” Here’s how it works.

“Let’s say you’re a native English speaker who wants to learn Spanish. We start by giving you a sentence from a Spanish website and asking you to translate it...this way everyone becomes a valuable translator.”

Since the startup relies on crowdsourcing, the lessons are free, and so are the resulting translations. The Verge’s Jesse Hicks says, Duolingo’s beta version was a huge success in actually teaching languages and creating a translated chunk of the web.

“Its 125,000 active users have already translated about 75 million sentences according to the company, and since launching in late 2011 [the developers] have been tweaking the system to keep translators engaged.”

Lessons are part of the process, too. So users aren’t just thrown into translating — never having learned the basics. As far as PC Magazine’s Jill Duffy is concerned, this method of teaching is effective.

“...as language learners develop more skills, they can try their hand at translations, which are pulled from real websites in the language being learned. Other users then vote on which translation is most accurate.”

The New York Times’ Bits blog compares Duolingo to Google’s ‘Translate’ saying that, quote, “language doesn’t come naturally to machines.”

“Google Translate...relies entirely on machines to do the work — and while it usually captures the essence of a piece of text, it can sometimes produce bewildering passages.”

According to Tech.Blorge’s John Lister, this startup does have one downfall — at least for the time being.

“Unlike most language courses, at this stage Duolingo won’t necessarily know what the ‘right’ answer is. Instead it will look at a combination of the pattern of answers people give and public feedback about which answers are most accurate.”

Since full access to the site is still new to the public it’s hard to say what the result will be, but PCWorld’s Ed Oswold believes the startup’s potential lies in its possibilities.  

Currently the site offers lessons and translations in English, Spanish, French and German.

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