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  • - Hi everyone, Sal Khan here from Khan Academy.

  • Welcome to our Daily Homeroom.

  • For those of y'all who are new to this,

  • this is something that we started doing a few weeks ago

  • as we started seeing the mass school closures

  • and obviously Khan Academy, we're a not-for-profit

  • with a mission of providing a free world class education

  • for anyone, anywhere.

  • And we realized that as the schools were closing,

  • we wanted to put our resources together

  • so they could be as useful as possible

  • for you, the student, the teacher, the parent.

  • And we also wanted to provide more supports

  • especially since all of us are now socially distanced,

  • so that we can feel connected,

  • so that we could answer each other's questions,

  • so that we can support each other.

  • And so we've been running teacher webinars,

  • parent webinars and we have been doing this Daily Homeroom

  • which is just a way to connect,

  • talk about whatever y'all have on your mind

  • and to have interesting guests.

  • Now before we get into the meat of the homeroom so to speak,

  • I will say what I always say, a reminder that we are

  • a not-for-profit.

  • We are funded with philanthropic donations.

  • We were running at a deficit,

  • even before this COVID crisis hit

  • and now our traffic is about 2.5X, 3X

  • of what it typically is

  • and so our costs have gone more

  • and we wanna provide more supports.

  • So if you are in a position to do so,

  • please think about donating to Khan Academy.

  • I do wanna give special thanks to several corporate partners

  • who have stepped up in the last few weeks,

  • really in record time, to help Khan Academy

  • with this effort.

  • Bank of America, Novartis, Google.org, AT&T

  • and of course there's many other long-time supporters

  • but we still need more help.

  • We're still digging into our reserves

  • in order to stay operational.

  • So now that I've given you my plug,

  • I wanna introduce our guest.

  • You know, we've had a lot of questions

  • about all things academic.

  • How do we keep learning in math?

  • How do we keep learning in the humanities

  • and how do you keep learning in foreign language?

  • And so I have today, Luis von Ahn,

  • a old friend of mine who is the founder, CEO of Duolingo.

  • Many of y'all might be familiar.

  • It's a place, it's an app,

  • where you can learn languages for free.

  • But I don't know, Luis, you're more qualified than I am.

  • Tell me about what y'all do at Duolingo.

  • - Well thank you for having me, Sal.

  • And thank you for this initiative.

  • It's great that you guys are doing it.

  • Well at Duolingo, I mean, we teach languages,

  • that's the main thing we do.

  • You can either do it online in a computer at Duolingo.com

  • or you can download an iPhone app or an Android app.

  • It's free to learn, it's entirely free to learn

  • and you can learn as much as you want for free.

  • And the other thing is that we spend a lot of time

  • making sure that it's fun to learn a language with Duolingo.

  • So it feels a lot like you're playing a game

  • when you're learning on Duolingo.

  • We've worked really hard on that.

  • - And I can see,

  • we're seeing some screenshots now from Duolingo.

  • And Luis, I guess, how were people using Duolingo before?

  • Was it being integrated with your kind of traditional

  • you know, high school classes in languages

  • or is it mainly adults who are trying to learn maybe

  • for a business trip?

  • And how are you seeing the usage change

  • since the crisis began?

  • - Yeah, I mean, we have a ton of users.

  • I mean, we have over 300 million users worldwide.

  • It's all over the place.

  • The age range is from you know, six, seven, eight years old

  • to 90 some years old.

  • There's, as far as we know, we don't know for a fact

  • because we don't really track this,

  • anybody can really use Duolingo, but as far as we know

  • about 25% of our language classrooms in the U.S.

  • Use Duolingo in one way or another.

  • So we do have a lot of student users but we also have a lot

  • of adult users who are just you know,

  • wanting to improve on their high school French or something.

  • Since everybody's been staying at home, we've seen our usage

  • go up quite a bit.

  • And you know, our user base is pretty global,

  • only about 20% of our users are in the United States.

  • And one thing that's been interesting is pretty much

  • every country, as soon as they apply

  • their social distancing measures, we see traffic increase

  • about one or two days after that.

  • And it depends on the country.

  • In some countries it has more than doubled,

  • in some countries it has gone up by 50%, it kinda depends

  • on the country, but we've seen that.

  • The first country obviously where we saw that was China.

  • About three months ago, basically the traffic

  • in China doubled and it's remained like that.

  • So you know, I don't know what that means.

  • A lot of China's back to normal or mostly normal

  • yet our traffic remains essentially twice

  • what it was before.

  • - And what do you think is underlying that?

  • Let's say China for example, I am curious what language

  • are folks learning?

  • Is it all languages, is it English?

  • And then what do you think is the motivation?

  • People are like, "I'm home, I might as well

  • do something productive."

  • Or is there other motivations?

  • - I think there's both.

  • I think there's a lot of kids who had to be in school

  • and now are home and they're trying to figure out how to

  • you know, how to learn whatever they used to be learning

  • and a lot of teachers are telling them to use Duolingo.

  • But there's also people who are just bored at home

  • and you know, it used to be the case that they used to go

  • to a restaurant, now that time is being occupied

  • for something else.

  • And they think that you know, improving their lives

  • is an important thing.

  • So I think a lot of people are doing that.

  • In terms of what languages people are learning,

  • it really depends on the country.

  • In most non-English speaking countries,

  • people are learning English.

  • That's the main language that most everybody is learning.

  • In the United States, the biggest language is Spanish,

  • second is French, then German, then Japanese.

  • And then it tapers off quite a bit.

  • From English, you can learn about 35 languages on Duolingo.

  • But some of the smaller ones, you can learn High Valyrian

  • from Game of Thrones, you can learn you know, Esperanto.

  • You can learn a lot of kind of some of the smaller languages

  • but not too many people are learning those

  • compared to Spanish for example.

  • - Is High Valyrian a fully, fleshed out language

  • that like we could have a rich conversation in?

  • - I think so.

  • I think there's a lot of strange things, I think it has

  • a lot of different words for things like "sword"

  • or stuff like that.

  • - Yes, as we know Eskimos have six words for ice so I guess.

  • - Let me tell you something else which I don't know

  • what this says about the world.

  • When the seasons were on for Game of Thrones,

  • there were more people learning High Valyrian on Duolingo

  • than there were people learning Irish for example

  • or Scottish which, yeah, I don't know what this says

  • about the world but that was the case.

  • - Fascinating, fascinating.

  • And what's your sense?

  • So now there's a lot of parents and adults who you know,

  • I have always had aspirations to get better

  • at certain languages or learn certain languages.

  • What's your general advice there?

  • I guess this advice would carry over even if we weren't

  • in this crisis situation.

  • Where do you think Duolingo's really strong

  • and then what would you supplement that with

  • if you really were trying to you know, get conversational

  • in Spanish or English or some other language?

  • - Yeah, I mean I think, well the first thing to know

  • about learning a language is it takes a while you know?

  • There's a lot of you know, kind of fake news marketing

  • out there that says you can get fluent in a language

  • in nine days or whatever, this is just not true.

  • It'll take years to get really fluent in a language.

  • You can get a lot of progress in a few months

  • but if you really, really wanna get very advanced

  • in a language, it takes years.

  • So the first thing I think you gotta do is build a habit

  • as with most everything else.

  • So if you build a habit you know, spend 15, 20 minutes a day

  • using Duolingo and you do it over a long period of time,

  • you get quite good at it.

  • You know, things I would recommend, once you get to a point

  • where you've done about half the Duolingo course

  • or maybe a little more than that, I would recommend watching

  • you know, you can watch Netflix in you know, Spanish

  • or shows in other languages,

  • I would recommend watching those.

  • A lot of times you can watch them with the subtitles.

  • Now try watching them with the subtitles

  • in the language you're learning, not in English

  • because then you just won't pay attention.

  • But if you watch with the subtitles in Spanish too,

  • I think that's a pretty good way to get much better at

  • you know, after you do Duolingo.

  • But you can't quite start by doing that

  • because it's pretty hard to understand the things.

  • - Yeah, and I remember that I used to watch

  • these Spanish dramas when I was trying to learn Spanish.

  • It is effective.

  • And you've touched on some questions

  • you know, from Instagram.

  • Sanoff_7 asks, "How do you establish a habit

  • "of learning everyday?"

  • You just mentioned the importance of habit.

  • What do you recommend for people who are trying that?

  • - Yeah, well one of the important things, I think,

  • is to do it everyday at the same time, that helps.

  • If you just for example, personally the way I do it

  • is basically as soon as I wake up.

  • Kinda the first thing I do is do my Duolingo.

  • If you pair it with something else, it's like, "Well,

  • "I'll do it right after I brush my teeth," or "I'll do it

  • "right after lunch," and do it at the same time everyday,

  • that seems to really help.

  • Another thing is that it's the first maybe 20 ish days

  • that really matter.

  • I mean, we see it in our data.

  • If we can get you to come back consistently

  • for about 20 days, then you'll come back to Duolingo

  • for very long periods of time.

  • So you just gotta try to stick to it for about 20 days.

  • - I see, and we have some questions for you in particular

  • you know, from YouTube.

  • Reverend Hogwash is asking, "How many languages

  • "does Luis speak?"

  • And you just mentioned that you

  • are still learning languages, so I'll extend that.

  • Not only how many do you speak but what are you trying

  • to learn right now?

  • - Okay, I will say I am relatively good at English,

  • I am relatively good at Spanish, about the same,

  • English and Spanish.

  • I'm pretty good at Portuguese,

  • not quite as good as English but almost,

  • and then I am intermediate beginner in French.

  • The pronunciation is my nemesis for French.

  • - And what are you trying to learn right now?