Want to be part of a noble effort and learn a second language at the same time? Does a massive push to translate the internet into multiple languages qualify as sufficiently noble? Don’t have fluency in a second language yet? No problem!
Last night I watched TED Talk (links below) by Luis von Ahn, the gentleman responsible for Capcha and reCapcha. When von Ahn realized how much cumulative time was being used by people entering Capchas, he decided to utilize it to assist with digitizing old books. Because old books often have yellowing, fuzzy print, and damage, OCR (optical character recognition) has to be supplemented by human review. reCapcha has millions of humans reviewing! How? It offers the user two words. One, the computer knows. If the user gets that one right, probability is good that the other is also correct. So, one word at a time, millions of people are helping to digitize the world’s libraries. Nifty, yes?
Von Ahn then noticed that in the US alone there are about 250,000 people learning a second language with many paying about $500 to do so. This seemed disadvantageous to the less affluent among us, so his ever-agile mind turned to another project that would benefit everyone, namely, translating the internet. But why not just use machine translators, you may ask? Anyone who has ever used a machine translator for more than the simplest task could tell you why. They just aren’t there yet. So why not, thought von Ahn, kill two birds with one stone using the principles of reCapcha?
And DuoLingo was born. Go to the website and have a look. Here is your opportunity to learn a second language EASILY, QUICKLY and for $Zero Bux.
I am now a Raving Fan. The software is as good or better than any other digital language learning facility I have used, including Rosetta Stone (though I admit I only used the Beta version). It’s user friendly, fun, and efficient. Not to mention that as soon as you feel like spreading your wings, you can translate something real, which makes it even more fun and motivating. Check it out. Give it a shot. What can you lose? DuoLingo.com
If you would like to hear Luis himself present it, here is a link to his TED Talk*.
*What is a TED Talk? “TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.”