I am a bit disappointed in the fact that we won’t be having Cantonese added this month, but I am actually pleased with the addition of Hebrew. I earnestly think a large part of the problem when you guys add beta languages is that people on facebook voting, are not voting for languages they truly care about and are not TRUE language enthusiasts. Look at the past results: Esperanto, Latin, Norwegian…three languages with virtually NO practical use. Norwegian does BUT, LINGQ already supports Swedish. Did you ever hear the joke “A Swede, a Dane, and a Norwegian walk into a bar…and they all communicate just fine”. Even in his book, Barry Farber stated that when he was young he couldn’t affording the Learn Swedish book but the bookstore owner told him any native Swedish speaker would understand Norwegian.
The point I am getting at is that these are not languages that true language learners want to use and the people voting on facebook are simply voting for languages because they seem “cool” yet have no practical application and facebook users may not intend to use them the same way the avid Lingqer would. I know I have barely looked at any of them because of just that fact. However, I am pleased with the addition of Hebrew.
I think the beta languages are truly a great addition and will only grow and material will expand in the future. But for now, until we have a bigger population base, I have some suggestions as to how we could better utilize the Beta language system
1.Perhaps the poll should reset EVERY month, instead of a long running poll like we’ve had. It makes it much more difficult for languages to get chosen this way, and the ambitious LingQ followers will keep up on it rather than just vote and forget about it.
2.LingQ staff should regulate which languages are being added so we are getting the most practical use of the languages. Example: if Farsi is added on month, don’t add Dari the next month; if Hindi is added one month, don’t add Urdu the next month; we have Serbian don’t add Croatian, we have Czech don’t add Slavic; If we have Swedish, don’t add Norwegian. I understand the differences in writing system, but for practicality purposes adding another languages intelligible with another already on just seems like a waste. If a person were serious about learning that language, they would have already been working on the intelligible one.
3.Furthermore, in terms of “dead languages”, they honestly should not be added. There are no native Latin speakers, adding it on LingQ defies the purpose of trying to get native content. Nobody speaks Latin and you won’t hear it anywhere. I have studied Latin, but of course only in its written form. Passively listening to Latin is redundant since there aren’t any Latin speakers or regular users.
4.Finally, judge the abundance of potential material. This is something that I have a hard time with since I am interested in a lot of languages with less than 2,000,000 speakers, but in actuality it is going to be hard to obtain material for more exotic languages. Say something like Navajo or even Hmong. Very interesting languages, but the abundance of material may not be there.
I just wanted to know what you guys thought about these suggestions. I am only throwing them out there because I initially loved the idea of Beta languages, but have been rather disappointed with the direction they’ve been going. I hope in 2012 we can really get some more beta languages up and functioning and maybe even get them fully supported!