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Duolingo has been helping people learn languages since 2011, mostly for free, with a premium offering called Duolingo Plus for the most devoted multi-linguists. However, Duolingo doesn’t offer courses in every language, much to the frustration of budding polyglots everywhere.
According to Duolingo, Japanese has been the most requested language to date. Unfortunately, Japanese is a notoriously difficult language to learn, let alone teach, especially online. Despite these challenges, Duolingo has now launched a Japanese language course for English speakers.
Learn Japanese With Duolingo
Japanese is considered “the most difficult language to learn for English speakers, as it requires 2,200 hours of classroom study to reach professional proficiency. Even if you did nothing but study Japanese […] it would take 91 days and 16 hours, or about three months, to become proficient!”
In its blog post launching its new course, Duolingo explains why Japanese is so difficult to learn. This includes the complex writing systems which uses a mix of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji; the flexible grammatical structures; and the ever-changing order in which words are spoken.
So, in order to teach Japanese effectively, Duolingo threw away the rulebook. Thus, you’ll learn many of the characters, including 88 basic kanji characters, with new ones feathered in gradually. As with Duolingo’s other courses all of the Japanese lessons are based around various themes.
The result is a course which should give you a basic understanding of the Japanese language. So much so that, upon completion, Duolingo thinks you’ll be able to pass JLPT N5, the first level of “the most popular Japanese language proficiency test in the world”. Or at least that’s the theory.
Teaching Japanese Is Difficult
Duolingo deserves credit for taking on the challenge of teaching Japanese. When, as English speakers, you have to learn a whole different set of characters to begin with, your teachers are facing an uphill battle. I’m not sure I have the mental acuity to learn Japanese. How about you?
Do you use Duolingo? If so, what languages have you learned? How far through the course did you get? Are you likely to try learning Japanese on Duolingo? What other languages would you like to see added to Duolingo’s lineup? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Pedro Szekely via Flickr