Beta in Norwegian: how Duolingo is developing free learning

The internet: what a place. The amount of information we have available through the magic of our glass screens is astonishing, helped by the development of crowd-sourced projects that have moved the level of shareable knowledge to new standards throughout the world. Increasingly, the internet – along with today’s offering of worldwide travel options – creates closer communities, a vibrancy of cultures and backgrounds, and our exposure to other languages.

You may have been taught a language at high school or learnt the local lingo while travelling or working abroad, through the use of books, in a class or with the help of acquaintances. The internet is a relatively recent addition to that list, with many online courses, tutorials and communities available, in as many languages you can shake a map at. There is currently huge competition within the market from the likes of Babbel, Livemocha and Busuu, who each have a good selection of languages to choose from. There is also Duolingo, a crowd-sourced language-learning platform and app, who believe that “everyone should have access to education of the highest quality – for free.” And it is.

Duolingo offers a host of courses for different speakers and continues to add more. English speakers are catered for the best, with languages as you might expect such as Spanish, French, German and Italian; but even Klingon (the language spoken by the fictional extraterrestrial Klingon species in Star Trek) is currently in development.

The course of another lesser known language from a far away Viking universe is also in development and now available to start using: Norwegian! Yes, Bokmål is in beta mode, under the supervision of a group of passionate contributors; one of whom is luke51991, otherwise known as Andrew Feinberg from the United States.

I spoke with Andrew about developing the course, learning languages and his connection to Norway…