Learn a New Language While Helping to Translate the Web: 3 Duolingo Invites to Give Away

Every day, people use CAPTCHAs – a basic prompt/test that asks users to re-type in words they see on the screen. It’s an annoying thing for many of us, but it serves an important purpose: separate actual people from potential bots and automated scripts. The tests are simple for people, but difficult for computers.

Luis von Ahn learned that people spend, on average, 10 seconds filling out CAPTCHAs – and decided to put that time towards better use. His company, reCAPTCHA, works like a regular CAPTCHA, but when people go through the test… they’re also helping to digitize books, one word at a time. If you haven’t seen von Ahn’s TED talk about MassiveScale Online Collaboration, it really is worth a few minutes of your time. Jaw-droppingly good stuff.

Recently, von Ahn’s latest project, duoLingo went into public beta. It’s massive in scale, and his goal is an ambitious one: help to translate all the documents on the web, one word at a time. To pull off this feat, he created a structure that breaks the task down into small chunks. And he’s going to get you and me to help him out.

How? By offering people a way to learn a new language, for free. Currently, you can pick between Spanish and German (with French in beta). As you learn new words and phrases, part of the process will involve you translating actual text from the web. As you become more advanced and comfortable with the language, you’ll be translating more text for others. No ads, no subscription fees… absolutely for free.

I signed up for the early beta, and have gotten to see how things work, behind the scenes. It’s an interesting interface, with a reward tree structure in place that many gamers will recognize, allowing you to see your progress.

Up until now, it’s been a pretty private experience… but as of today, duoLingo users each get three invites to send to friends. I’ve only done a few of the lessons so far, but I’m definitely going back and trying to make it a more regular part of my day. I’m hoping that inviting others will help motivate me along. And honestly, I think it’s a pretty fantastic project… and would love to share it with friends.

So if you’re curious and want to learn another language, drop me a line in the comments. //Edit: I’m all out of invites. Sorry, folks!

Check out the official trailer for more info:

TED: Luis Von Ahn On CAPTCHAs And Massive-Scale Online Collaboration

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Do I count as a friend? :)

    zilredloh Reply

  2. As far as I’m concerned, you are always at the front of every line.

    avoision Reply

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