China is an emerging superpower and knowing Chinese is becoming more and more important in the global economy.
If you want to learn Chinese, we're creating the top website to do so. Using Artificial Intelligence, our system will know exactly which words or concepts you need to practice. Like the most patient teacher in the world, it will tirelessly present you with new exercises for these words until you master them, much like Khan Academy does for maths.
This results in a tailor-made language course just for you, with which you can progress from absolute beginner to intermediate and far beyond. You only need your computer and an internet connection.
As we're expecting a lot of interest in this site (Duolingo reached 5 million users in 1 year), we will open the site gradually. Advanced-level supporters will get access first, followed by Upper- and Intermediate-level supporters and only then will the site be opened to the general public. So if you want to learn Chinese soon, become a supporter to secure your spot!
All funds will be used towards the realization of this project. The project is not possible without your support. If the fundraiser succeeds, the site will be available for free. If it doesn't succeed, there will be a one-time fee to progress beyond a certain level and all donators will receive free access.
STUDYING WITH THIS SITE
To begin, choose whether you wish to study simplified Chinese characters (used by the PRC), traditional Chinese characters (used in Taiwan) or learn Chinese in romanization ("Pinyin") only, without learning characters. Do an initial test so that the system will know your starting level.
Then, the system will begin to show you phrases and short dialogues with new vocabulary. Complete multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank and translation exercises in order to train yourself to use these new words. If you make a mistake, the system will remember and it will show you more exercises for the same word, until you have mastered it. The same goes for grammar: after an explanation and some examples, you will be asked to solve various exercises until you have mastered this grammar topic. If you find it easy, there will be few exercises. If you find it hard, there will be as many exercises as you need, because the system adapts to you. If you have forgotten something else in the meantime, the system will quiz you on that as well.
If you want to learn words and expressions for a particular situation, you can tell the system and it will immediately start to teach you everything you need in order to master that situation, drawing on its knowledge of what you know and what you haven't learned yet. This way, the course will be truly customized to your needs.
WHY THIS PROJECT IS IMPORTANT
Chinese grammar is not difficult - the Chinese literally say "I go today", "He go today", "He go yesterday", "He go tomorrow" - the verb never changes and there are no irregularities.
Still, very few people manage to learn Chinese, and it's not for lack of trying. The reason lies in the way Chinese is taught. Traditional courses are too demanding, not giving people enough time to get used to the words and concepts they are teaching. They don't offer enough ways to review, so that people forget what they learned and eventually don't understand anything anymore. And they are boring, relying on rote memorization and not helping people learn what they're really interested in. Our project will solve all these issues by providing a course tailored to each person.
I (Judith Meyer), the initiator of this project, am passionate about bringing language-learning to new media. I have already created web-based language courses for Myngle,, Innovative Language Learning LLC (the ...Pod101 podcasts) and Internet-Live-Seminare as well as my project www.learnlangs.com . I also hold a degree in computational linguistics, which is the branch of computer science dedicated to developing language-related software. This allows me to plan the project's technical implementation and I will be able to do some of the web development myself, using Ruby on Rails, jQuery and other modern technologies.
Other than me there's another Rails developer, a web designer and several Chinese language teachers (I speak Chinese but want to be sure not to teach anything wrong). Most of the funds will go towards renting space to work in, paying consultants and paying for web hosting.
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