Also, you want to learn it fast and for free? Seriously? This is Dutch we’re talking about here, not Italian, where you just add a vowel to an English word while you wiggle your hand with your fingertips clutched together.
Well, we’ve got good news for you, my linguistically challenged friend. The best combat-proven language learning site on the Internet (shut up, I’m totally not taking bribes from the DuoLingo team!) has released the beta version of the Dutch course for English speakers.
So just to recap, what exactly makes DuoLingo your weapon of choice when hacking away at your language deficiency? You can click here if you want to hear the founder Louis von Ahn explain his brainchild at a TEDx conference, or simply watch the ‘trailer’ for DuoLingo below:
Should you not have been able to watch either video, allow me to fill you in. DuoLingo’s strategy is simple yet brilliant: its greatest feat is that you learn a new language by translating it into English (or in some cases, other languages). But how does that work: translating a language that you don’t know yet? In the most simple way: as you move your mouse over a foreign word, the literal translation appears. To prevent the result from looking just like Google Translate (no offense Google, but you simply suck at translating), it is up to you to make a proper sentence from all those bits. Users can also edit or comment on translations of other users, creating a hive mind which will allow for the best possible translation to surface eventually. In fact, selling these translations is how DuoLingo earns its money, making their language lessons free for all to us. So here’s a win-win scenario if I ever saw.
Users can also upload texts from the Internet at will, provided of course that they do not contain offensive or copyrighted material. This way, language acquiring becomes doubleplus fun, because you can master a new tongue while learning something about a topic that interests you.
Mind you that this particular feature is not yet available for the language courses that are still in beta (at the moment of writing, there are twenty of them), but it is included in those who graduated to a higher level. The course “Dutch for English speakers” has only been in beta for a short time now, so it might take a while for this to happen. However, it already offers all the regular lessons you’d expect from a language course, giving the users enough to work with. So be prepared to fluently utter typical phrases like “Do you like jazz, or music?” or “I am a penguin!” in the glorious guttural death-rattle that is the Dutch language.
DuoLingo is growing rapidly, with new courses being added continuously (sadly, the announced “Pirate for English speakers” course was an April Fool’s joke, but we are still keeping our fingers crossed for future updates, arrrrrr!!!).
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article may or not be taking bribes from the DuoLingo team.
Want to learn Dutch in a more personal way? Take a look at the services offered by InDutch: