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Duolingo创始人谈语言学习新未来

Duolingo creator: 'I wanted to create a way to learn languages for free'
“多邻国”创建者:创造一种免费学习多种语言的方法。

He'd sold two companies to Google by his mid twenties and now Luis von Ahn has created an app that he hopes will allow anyone with internet access to learn a language for free
路易斯.冯.安早在25岁时就已经向谷歌出售了两家公司,现在他创建出一款只要有互联网就能让大家免费学习多语言的软件。

Luis von Ahn is a man of many titles: computer science professor, entrepreneur, crowdsourcing pioneer to name but a few. He sold two companies to Google while still in his 20s and his latest creation,Duolingo, is well on the way to revolutionising language learning across the world.
路易斯.冯.安是一位拥有众多头衔的人,略举几例,如计算机科学教授,企业家,众包创始人等。20多岁的时候他就向谷歌出售了两家公司,最近创建的“多邻国”也正迅速地改变着整个世界的语言学习方式。

"What I wanted to do was create a way to learn languages for free," says von Ahn. "If you look at language learning in the world, there are 1.2 billion people learning a foreign language and two thirds of those people are learning English so they can get a better job and earn more. The problem is that they don't have equity and most language courses cost a lot of money."
冯.安表示:“我想创建一种免费学习语言的方式。世界上有12亿人学习外语,而这些人中学英语的就占有2/3。他/她们为的是能找到更好的工作,拿更高的薪水,然而,很多人缺乏资金,大多数语言课程花费太高。

Duolingo launched in 2012 and the app now has 40 million registered users, making it one of the most popular ways to learn languages in the world. Put another way, in America there are more people using Duolingo than learning a language through the US public school system.
“多邻国”始于2012年,现在已有4000万注册用户,成为世界上语言学习最受欢迎的方法之一。换句话说,在美国更多人选择使用“多邻国”而非通过美国公立学校来学习一门语言。

So what makes Duolingo different from the hundreds of other digital language learning platforms out there? The fact that it's free is obviously a big draw, but there must be more to it than that. Von Ahn believes its success is down to a combination of clever, intuitive design aspects and constantly evolving teaching methods.
那么,跟众多其它数字化语言学习平台比起来,是什么使“多邻国”如此与众不同呢?很明显,它的迷人之处在于不用花钱,但这并不是唯一的原因。冯.安相信它的成功是聪明才智、直观设计以及不断发展的教学方法结合而成的。

"I think the reason it's been doing so well is it's very enjoyable – there are a lot of aspects that make it a bit like playing a game – but also effective," he explains. "There's an independent study that shows that if you use Duolingo for 34 hours you learn the same as you would in one university semester of language learning."
“‘多邻国’能带给人们愉悦,我觉得这是它成功的因素。有很多部分用起来就好像玩游戏一样,同时对学习来说效果也不错。”他解释道:“有一个自主研究显示:使用‘多邻国’34个小时所学的东西够跟你在大学里一整个学期所学的语言知识相比。”

"We've done a lot of work to improve how we teach and because of our users we are in a unique position to work out how best to teach a language. For example, if we want to know whether we should teach plurals before adjectives, for the next 50,000 users, we'll teach half of them plurals before adjectives, half the other way around and then we measure which of these groups learns better. We figure out in a couple of days which is more effective and then switch everyone to that. We are slowly figuring out the best way to teach a language, and we're doing it scientifically."
我们做了很多努力来提高教学,为了用户们,我们身负重任寻找教语言课程的最佳方法。比如说,要想得知在未来5万用户的教学中是应该先教复数还是先教形容词,我们将把他们分成两组,一组先教复数再教形容词,另一组反之。这样只需几天的时间我们就可以评估出哪组表现更好,效率更高,然后把这种方法应用到所有用户中。我们在科学地追寻语言教学的最佳模式。

This constant datamining and huge user base means the company has an interesting overview of language trends and demographics. This means they can keep an eye on the most popular languages (currently English, followed by Spanish and French)
这种持续的数据挖掘和庞大的用户库意味着公司掌握着语言趋势和用户统计数据,同时也意味着公司能密切关注哪种语言最受欢迎。(目前为英语,紧接着是西班牙语和法语)

For von Ahn and his team, the newest development is the Duolingo Test Center, an in-app language test that came ab0ut as a direct response to customer feedback.
对于冯.安和它的团队来讲,最新的发展要属“多邻国考试中心”,它是对顾客反馈的直接反应而产生的一个应用内的测试。

"What started happening is that we got a lot of emails saying thank you, but in order to get a job I need to certify that I know the language," he said.
冯.安说:“渐渐地,我们开始收到大量的电子邮件对我们表示感谢,而要找到工作我就必须证明我懂那门语言。”

"We started looking at the English language certification market, we realised that it is crazy and archaic – you get certified by taking a standardised test and they cost a lot of money, around $250. You also have to go to a test centre, there isn't one in every city so you have to travel, then there is a delay in getting your score. Most tests are taken in the developing world where $250 can be a month's salary, so if you want to get a better job, you have to spend a month's salary doing it.
“我们开始把眼光放到英语认证市场,因为我们觉得通过标准统一的考试来获取证书简直是不可思议,那早就过时了,而且要花费约250美金。你还得跑去考试中心,若有些城市没有的话还要跑更远的路。此外,考试成绩会被拖延。在很多发展中国家250美元抵得上一个月薪水,因此,要想找到好工作,就得先准备好一个月的工资用来参加这个考试呢。”

"We decided to do something ab0ut it. The Duolingo Test Center will charge $20, you take the test from an app instead of having to travel and you get the score back within 48 hours. We're pretty excited ab0ut it."
“我们决定改变这种现状。“多邻国考试中心”只收取20美元考试费,考试被安排在一个应用上,而且48小时内就能得到成绩。对此,我们兴奋不已。”

This democratisation of language learning is obviously an issue close to his heart. The main Duolingo app will always be free and von Ahn believes that mobile represents the future of education. "A significant section of the world doesn't have access to a good education but many over the next 10 years will own a mobile phone," he says. "We see this as a way to deliver education to everyone.
很明显,民主化的语言学习深得人心。“多邻国”这款应用将会永久免费,而且冯.安相信移动代表着未来教育。他说道:“世界上有些地区教育还不完善,但在接下来的十年里很多人会成为移动手机用户,我们坚信这能将教育普及至每个人!”


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