Good news! Yesterday the creators of Duolingo announced that the site would be opened to the public on June 19th. Just to recap, Duolingo is a brilliant website where you learn languages by translating sentences in lessons and from the web. (More details in these blog posts.) You can also follow other Duolinguians and discuss language points and share things that you’ve learned. It’s been in private, invitation-only beta testing for about 6 months and has developed a lot in that time. They keep adding and improving features, and evidently the Duolingo team feels it is now ready for prime time. The general reaction of the beta users so far has been awe and unbridled enthusiasm, in four languages. There is one discussion going on about how Duolingo makes learning so effortless it’s spooky. It certainly goes against the conventional wisdom that you can learn a language without learning rules, memorizing vocabulary, and conjugating verbs, but so it is. Duolingo works.
So far the languages offered are Spanish, French, and German for English-speakers, and English for Spanish-speakers. Of course they are planning to add more languages, and I gather that Italian, Chinese (whether Mandarin or Cantonese is not clear), and Portuguese (or perhaps English for Portuguese-speakers) are likely next. If that sounds interesting, I have even better news for you. Today Duolingo has given all its beta users three invitations to bestow as we wish. If you don’t feel like waiting another 4 weeks to get in, leave a comment, and if there’s more than three candidates I’ll get out my choosing hat. Heartfelt appeals will also hold sway. I should just warn you that Duolingo is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, so don’t expect to get much else done once you start!
UPDATE: My three invitations are now gone, but if you’re desperate there are people offering invites on Twitter. Search for #duolingo to find them. Good luck!