Duolingo, the free language teaching tool from Luis von Ahn, the man who created CAPTCHA, has just updated with a bunch of new languages including Hindi. With the update it has become easy for Hindi speaking people to learn English, or other world languages.
“India has the world’s second largest population, and language education is in high demand. Firstly, there are almost 20 official languages spoken throughout the country, so the need to speak a second language (English) in order to communicate cohesively is major,” says von Ahn, explaining the reason behind launching the Hindi version in Duolingo 4.0.
The new version of the app is available for free on iOS and Android from April 24. The app lets you pick the course of your choice after you are logged in. The courses are packaged according to the language you speak and this means there are a large number of combinations to choose from.
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In an email interaction, von Ahn said the platform has been completely localized in Hindi. “However, the courses created are specific to Hindi speakers. The first is English for Hindi speakers, created by bilingual Indians who understand the nuances required for Hindi speakers to pick up skills effectively,” he said. Other users across the world will also be able to learn Hindi with the new version of the app.
The app is very easy to use and the course has been designed in such a way that you can start using the new language in a few days. It starts with the most used words becomes more difficult as you progress, almost like in a game. Even the design is very game driver.
“It is very effective too,” claims von Ahn, citing a study conducted by the City University of New York. “It has shown that 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to an entire university semester of language classes in the US – and university education in the U.S. can be very expensive, especially for foreigners.”
Adding to the gamification of the app, Duolingo 4.0 contains a new feature called “DuolingoDuels” which will allow players to compete against friends and strangers for higher stakes.
von Ahn said with the app he hopes to remove the language barrier that is affecting smartphone growth, as Duolingo will help people around the world access useful apps and websites they wouldn’t before. “People have so many responsibilities these days that making the decision to learn a new skill can be daunting. Duolingo is not only free, it’s fun and built like a game. Now, everyone with a little time to waste can play an entertaining game but with a purpose.”
Duolingo can also be used as a tool to translate phrases.