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Blog - Duolingo

On average less than 1 Article by month

Educator and parent guide: Making the most out of staying at home | Blog - Duolingo

  Educator and parent guide: Making the most out of staying at home | Blog - Duolingo
Read about the language science behind Duolingo, and the ways we're making language learning even more fun, accessible, and effective for our learners.

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Goldilocks and the CEFR levels: Which proficiency level is just right?

Goldilocks and the CEFR levels: Which proficiency level is just right?

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Duolingo Stories: The Journey to Android

Duolingo Stories: The Journey to Android As of this past December, one of our favorite new features – Duolingo Stories – is available on Android! Duolingo Stories are quirky, bite-sized tales that learners can read and listen to, all while checking their comprehension with intermittent questions. With Stories, you can improve your reading and listening skills through texts that are longer than the typical Duolingo lessons. Stories initially launched as a web-only feature in 2017, and bringing them to mobile for both iOS and Android had long been on our roadmap. In this blog post, I will share our process and journey of bringing Stories to Android, including how we did it and the results we’ve seen. My background In June 2018, as I completed my third year of college, I began my summer internship at Duolingo, where I got firsthand experience working on the Android app. Since I had never written a single line of Android code before that summer – ever – I knew it would be a challenging experience, but I was ready to dive in head first and start acquainting myself with new, large code bases in languages I had never seen before. And dive in head first I did: my first project was “Super Duo,” an outfit that users can purchase for our mascot, Duo, to wear in the app. With support from my manager (and possibly a bit of luck), I managed to complete this task on the fourth day of my internship, and then saw the feature in the app by my second week at Duolingo. After graduating in summer of 2019, I returned to Duolingo as a software engineer on Android, and my first project was to work on implementing Stories on Android. Why we ...

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Improving How Duolingo Teaches Chinese—and Other Languages! | Blog - Duolingo

Read about the language science behind Duolingo, and the ways we're making language learning even more fun, accessible, and effective for our learners.

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Doing our homework: Checking in on how well we're teaching

Doing our homework: Checking in on how well we We are always trying to make Duolingo a more effective learning tool. To do so, we first need to understand what our users are learning from Duolingo – and, more importantly, what they’re not learning. Our Learning Assessment team spends all of their time working on this problem. In this post, we will share our approach to measuring learning in the app, as well as some of the challenges that we face and how we are overcoming them. Language learning is really complicated! Learning a language requires mastering many different skills. For an activity as simple as ordering a cup of coffee, you have to be able to read the menu to decide what your options are, listen to the server greet you and ask you what you want ("Hi, how are you? What can I get you?"), and then prepare and say a response ("I’m fine, thanks. I’d like a large cappuccino, please"). The conversation can go on, but the point is: as a language learner, you need to learn a large number of words, learn how to put them together correctly, learn to understand what you read and hear, and learn the culturally-appropriate ways to speak to someone. We want Duolingo to teach you all the skills you need to communicate in a new language, so we work hard to ensure that we are measuring the effectiveness of Duolingo across all of these skills. Duolingo vs. The Classroom Historically, most language learning has happened in a classroom setting, where all students are taught at the same pace and come to the class with similar levels of prior knowledge. Learners on Duolingo, however, are very different! Because of the flexibility of our app, ...

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Improving Duolingo, one experiment at a time

Improving Duolingo, one experiment at a time “Test everything.” This is one of the key operating principles that we follow at Duolingo in order to continuously improve the learning experience for our users. It means we rely heavily on experiments and data to help us make informed decisions about any updates or new features we launch. Experimentation has always been core to how Duolingo operates. On a given week, it’s not uncommon for us to have a few hundred experiments running simultaneously. We conduct experiments for any changes we want to make to Duolingo – from seemingly small ones like updating a single button in the app to rolling out a major feature like Leaderboards. Running as many experiments as we do all at once doesn’t come without caveats, though. A big one is determining how to best gather and synthesize the data points that emerge from each experiment, which in turn gives us a better understanding of which changes we should (or shouldn’t) make. To help solve for this, we developed an internal, company-wide experiments service that has been one of our secret weapons in helping us to constantly improve the Duolingo experience. Since launching this service three years ago (and updating it continuously since then), we have run over 2,000 experiments in total and released thousands of new or updated features. Why and how do we run experiments? Think of any feature that you’ve come across while using Duolingo. Animated skill icons? The result of an experiment. Adding five new leagues to the Leaderboard? Also the result of an experiment. The amount of tears that our owl mascot, Duo, cries in your inbox when you forget to do your lessons? You guessed it. Every experiment we conduct provides us with valuable ...

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Who has the best words? A linguistic analysis of the Democratic debates

Who has the best words? A linguistic analysis of the Democratic debates Presidential debates are performances. The stage is lined with podiums. The candidates, who are greeted with an applause upon entering from stage left or right, are dressed in clothing designed to help the audience identify their character. Some candidates opt for suits and dresses in bold, saturated colors. Some candidates wear cufflinks. And some candidates use bold ties to distinguish themselves, while others don’t wear a tie at all. What unites every candidate on stage is that they’ve been rehearsing their lines for weeks. The words that a candidate chooses are as deliberate as the color of their tie – and some words are more infrequent than others. For example, only a small portion of the general population may recognize that myocardial infarction is the technical term for a heart attack. When words are “less accessible”, they are also usually identified as more advanced vocabulary words for second language learners according to the standards set forth by the CEFR, or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Using a more sophisticated vocabulary isn’t necessarily detrimental; just like in college application essays, strategically employing technical terminology can help signal that we have deep domain knowledge or expertise on a particular subject matter. And the stakes become even higher when competing for the highest office of the United States. The CEFR provides a common, internationally-recognized standard for discussing language proficiency. Each level progressively indicates a higher level of proficiency. At Duolingo, we use CEFR levels to describe the potential difficulty of content presented in our language courses and other learning content such as Duolingo Stories and our Spanish and French Podcasts. One tool we leverage for identifying the difficulty of our learning content is ...

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How machine learning helps Duolingo prioritize course improvements

How machine learning helps Duolingo prioritize course improvements Duolingo's fun, quirky sentences can usually be translated in many different ways. For example, the German sentence Hilfe, das Pferd frisst die heilige Kartoffel! ("Help, the horse is eating the holy potato!") currently has 72 accepted translations, with "eats" instead of "is eating", "this" and "that" instead of "the", "sacred" instead of "holy", and so on. In fact, the average number of acceptable answers to a Duolingo translation exercise is more than 200, and some longer sentences can have as many as 30,000! Our teams work hard to try to make sure learners can put in any of these answers and be marked correct, but getting them all on the first try is close to impossible. That's why we ask for learners' help finding the ones we missed, using the "Report" flag that appears after you check your answer. Each report learners submit shows up in the Duolingo Incubator backend for our staff and contributors to review, and if they decide an answer should be accepted, they add it to the list of answers that will be marked correct. Smash that report button...after you check your spelling and take a look at the discussion, that is! Once a course has matured and the biggest holes have been fixed, it can become harder to find the problems that remain, as hundreds of thousands of well-meaning learners continue to send in reports without noticing they made typos or other errors. These days, about 10% of the reports we get are correct and require a fix; most of the remaining 90% contain some kind of mistake. To help our contributors find that one-tenth as quickly as possible, we built a machine learning system that makes correct reports stand out. Words, words, words Example reports (sent in by English speakers learning Chinese) that our system thought ...

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How we’ve improved the Duolingo learning experience this year (and a sneak peek toward 2020!)

How we’ve improved the Duolingo learning experience this year (and a sneak peek toward 2020!) At Duolingo, one of our guiding principles has always been continuous improvement – improvement of everything from the technology behind the app to how effectively we teach languages. If you’ve been a regular user of Duolingo this past year, chances are that you’ve noticed some pretty big changes we have made to the learning experience with the introduction of new features and updated course material. As we inch closer to the end of 2019, we would like to highlight some of the major improvements we have made to our learning experience this year, and look ahead to what we’ll be focusing on in 2020. In this post, we’ll cover updates including: Rebuilding Duolingo’s courses to align with the CEFR Bringing Duolingo Stories to mobile Launching the Duolingo French Podcast Bringing back spaced repetition at the skill level Testing the addition of Smart Tips Testing new types of exercises, including audio lessons! CEFR course alignment Among the biggest changes we’ve made this year was rebuilding some of Duolingo’s most popular courses from scratch, ensuring that the course material aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is the most commonly used language standard worldwide, and it was developed to provide a common basis for talking about language education. The CEFR defines what a learner should be able to do (the so-called “Can Do” statements) at different levels of proficiency in their new language, i.e. “the learner can order food” or “the learner can talk about likes and dislikes.” If you’re an English speaker learning Spanish or French (or a Spanish or Portuguese speaker learning English), those courses now cover all the A1- and A2-level content. We are also working on ways to effectively teach B1-level material, including ...

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Scottish Gaelic: Scotland in Full Colour

Gaelic is Scotland's ancient living language. Spoken for at least 1,500 years, it is woven into the culture of Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. However, like the majority of our planet's 7,000 or so languages, Scottish Gaelic is classified by UNESCO as endangered. In this blog post, we'll discuss reasons to learn Gaelic that range from connecting with the culture of Scotland to playing a role in Gaelic’s recovery and revival. Back from the brink Gaelic was once the principal language of the Kingdom of Scotland, stretching from the Northern Highlands to the Southern Borders. However, following the upheaval of the Jacobite Rebellions in the 17th and 18th centuries, the language was heavily persecuted. The infamous Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries resulted in large swathes of the Gaels being sent overseas, often under great duress; these emigrants took their language to Canada, where they founded Gaelic-speaking communities who still maintain their language and culture today. Back in the British Isles, however, the Education Scotland Act of 1872 effectively banned Gaelic in Scotland's schools. Some of those caught speaking the language faced physical punishment. Despite everything, Gaelic hung on in Scotland, where it is now spoken by just under 60,000 people. And the seeds of Gaelic’s revival have been sown: in 2005, the Scottish Parliament passed an act aiming to secure Gaelic’s status as an official language of Scotland, and since then the number of speakers under 20 has begun to rise. Around 5,600 children are currently being educated through the medium of Gaelic. Surveys show the majority of Scots view the language favourably, and a growing number of people are learning Gaelic worldwide. Gaelic now has its own television ...

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