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Duolingo to add five endangered language courses

Language learning app Duolingo has announced five new language courses – Zulu, Xhosa, Maori, Haitian Creole and Austronesian Tagalog – as part of its work to help protect endangered languages.

DuolingoDuocon was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Photo: Duolingo/Youtube

The new courses will roll out over the next year

The new courses, which will roll out over the next year, were revealed by company founder Luis Von Ahn during Duocon, an annual language learning event first held in London in 2019.

The five will join the over 40 languages and 100 courses currently available on the app.

“Language is about connection and bringing people and cultures together. What better way to keep the vibrancy of cultures alive than by making languages accessible to everyone?” said Myra Awodey, senior community manager at Duolingo.

“What better way to keep the vibrancy of cultures alive than by making languages accessible to everyone?”

“I’m looking forward to learning Xhosa, our first language that incorporates clicks.”

The new languages were revealed alongside new updates and changes to the app including Duolingo World, which will use machine learning to build text to speech voices for characters, and updates to Birdbrain AI, the app’s personalised learning system, which will have new features to generate the difficulty level of lessons.

Other unreleased courses currently in the incubation phase on Duolingo’s site include two Mayan languages, K’iche’ (spoken in Guatemala) and Yucatec (spoken in Belize and Mexico) for Spanish speakers, Cantonese for Mandarin speakers, and Tamil for English speakers.

A Yiddish course was also released for English speakers earlier this year.

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24 Responses to Duolingo to add five endangered language courses

  1. I used Duolingo every day for more than a year. NOW it seems as if I have lost all of my progress and have to begin all over again.
    Is there any way I can retrieve my earlier lessons?

  2. Appreciate Duolingo expanding its offerings to endangered language, but how is Haitian Creole an “endangered language”? It’s the primary language of 10 million Haitians and millions of Haitians in the worldwide diaspora.

  3. Cantonese for Mandarin speakers is great news. I was wondering if there would be any controversy about adding “minority” Chinese languages, since the government want to encourage everyone to learn Mandarin fluently first and foremost. I’m looking forward to Cantonese for English speakers!

  4. I noticed that the Cantonese course is called
    “Chinese (Cantonese) for Chinese speakers”
    which is a really strange name, but I know that the government like to say that Cantonese is only a dialect, not a real language and Mandarin is THE Chinese language (despite being much younger than Cantonese).

    I hope when it is launched they call it
    “Cantonese for Mandarin speakers” as it should correctly be called.

  5. To Theresa Cleary’s comment (above), learning a new language is most effective with daily practice. It’s unfortunate that she stopped after a year. Her record of learning through Duolingo, is not necessarily lost, though. If she were to sign up again as a brand-new learner of that language course with Duolingo, the course would offer the ability to take a comprehension test or to start fresh. If she did well on the comprehension test, it would prove that she has not forgotten everything, and she will be able to recommence at some intermediate level.

  6. I agree with MM’s comment re the ubiquity of Haïtian Creole or ”Kreyòl ayisyen”, and would point out that Zulu has 12 million speakers, while Xhosa has 8 million, and Tagalog 22 million. On the other hand, languages like Māori and Hawaiian have fewer than 200,000 speakers each, but there are credible efforts, which should be encouraged, to revitalize both of these Polynesian languages. Even though four of the five languages mentioned are not at all threatened, it is still good that Duolingo is expanding its offerings to include them.

  7. I’ve been looking for a source to learn Haitian Creole from for so long. There are so few resources out there. I really appreciate it. Am looking forward to it.

  8. I second the request to add Louisiana Creole French! And I hope they do their research to differentiate between Louisiana Creole and Louisiana French, which are two different languages.

    • *edit* I meant the request to add Louisiana Creole specifically, although it is often called Cajun/Creole French as well.

  9. hello I have recently gotten into language and upon hearing your quest to save endangered languages i imidiatrly thoughy of my relitives from the isle of man and havr been yerning to learn manx for so long to connect with my roots please manx is in danger of going extinct!

  10. Would love to see some Mongolic or Turkic languages like Mongolian, Turkish or even Tuvan! And what about languages from Himalayan nations like Bhutan or Nepal?

  11. Sites like duolingo will help with the preservation and dissemination of languages globally.. Making languages more accessible.

  12. I am very much looking forward to all of these languages on Duolingo, but as far as I know, Maori is the only one of these five that is even remotely endangered. Yucatec and Kich’e may be as well, and I am looking forward to them, too.

  13. Would love to see the Tuscarora language added to Duolingo. It is an endangered Native American language. So glad Maori is being added. Hope it comes out soon.
    Michael Dunn

  14. Zulu and Xhosa ENDANGERED? Are you just making stuff up now? There’s literally nothing endangered about either Zulu or Xhosa, considering they are the two biggest languages spoken in South Africa, and their populations are growing at an astonishing rate.

  15. The only native American indigenous language DuoLingo offers is Dine (Navajo) but you only offer 2 chapters, one of which is buggy. I’ve taken all the Navajo you offer and it’s nowhere near enough to speak even rudimentary sentences (except “I am going to Shiprock” over and over.) I have written about buggy chapter 1 dozens of times with zero response. Please fix it or quit bragging that you teach Navajo because you don’t.

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