Duolingo is today rolling out its Mandarin Chinese language course which, in addition to the usual “What’s your name?” questions, teaches questions about business and Chinese social media.
The course teaches the basics of the language, including the four main tones and 1,000 common characters. The course’s designer, Masato Hagiwara, points out that Chinese can be a difficult language to learn and the course was designed with that in mind: “Given that it’s so widely spoken, we wanted to ensure that we developed a course that teaches the language as effectively as possible, especially to those who are beginners.”
The themes of the course include greetings, occupation, food, and health. There is also a series of phrases centered on business. According to Hagiwara:
Since China is a major business and financial hub, many people will benefit from learning business-focused phrases to more effectively communicate in professional settings. Our course provides a set of … authentic business lessons that teach practical sentences such as, “Have you read the contract I sent you?” and “We would like to invest in your company.”
One of my favorite series of questions in the course relates to China’s popular social media apps. For example, you can learn to ask someone if you can chat with them on WeChat. Considering it has around 980 million monthly users (according to its third quarter report), it’s likely anyone you meet in China has a WeChat account.
The course launches today on iOS, Android, and the web.