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  • Translate the Web, Learn English Free

    Luis von Ahn wants to teach you English, free.

    My brother sent me a link to a TED talk the other day that he was really excited about. I had planned to write about the problems speakers of Latin-based languages encounter with the verb ‘passed’ and the adjective ‘past’ but after watching this video, I’ve decided to save it.

    The TED video is of Luis von Ahn talking about how he wants to translate the entire internet, and teach people English, or any other language, for free. You might be surprised that we’re writing this, since we teach English. But what Mr. von Ahn is doing is more a replacement for expensive software, like Rosetta Stone (which he mentions in the video). I don’t think you can ever replace live conversations with native English speakers as a way of learning English.

    Anyway, the TED talk below explains how von Ahn really plans to help people learn English and other languages for free, through his website, Duolingo. You can watch the video, then try to answer the questions below it. If you want to take a class based on this video, contact us.


    What was his first project?

    Why did the words he showed on the screen cause confusion?

    Who many people were using his CAPTCHA every day?

    How many hours were being wasted by people typing those every day?

    What amazing thing is your brain doing when you fill out a CAPTCHA?

    What does CAPTCHA do now?

    What number is common among humanity’s large scale achievements?

    What does he want to do to the web?

    How much would it cost to translate Wikipedia into Spanish?

    What is his solution to the translation problem?

    What is surprising about Duolingo translations vs professional translations?

    In _____ the student ___ Rosetta Stone _____.

    How do people pay for Duolingo?