Afrikaans is definitely one fascinating language, and I'd love to learn it! I've been looking for a platform or language learning app where I can learn at least a word or two in this fascinating language. I was very disappointed when I found out that there is no Afrikaans on Duolingo. I wish to learn how to say at least a few introductory words and phrases, but I've had no luck finding any possibility for that.
A friend advised me to try using one from many language learning apps that are available these days. So, I did some research and found out that Duolingo is one of the most popular in that field and decided to try it and see for myself if it is a really good tool for language learning.
I was very disappointed when I found out that there is no Afrikaans in Duolingo. That is the reason why I decided to look into this “problem” a bit more.
If you don’t have much information about Afrikaans, you would probably think to yourself that it's just one of the many African languages spoken in South Africa? However, nothing about the Afrikaans language is that simple.
The Afrikaans language is derived from Dutch, a language in the Low Franconian branch of the Western Germanic outgrowth of the larger Germanic family tree.
This interesting language is not a native African language. What's more, over 90% of Afrikaan's vocabulary draws from its parent language and it’s not spoken just in South Africa. It’s also spoken in Namibia and to a lesser extent in Australia, Botswana, the UK, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe. However, Afrikaans has developed into a standalone language that is spoken by around 20 million people today.
Most people think of South Africa when someone mentions the Afrikaans language. And that is a justifiable association. However, hand in hand with English, it is one of two Indo-European languages included in the 11 languages officially recognized by the South African government.
About 7 million people (14% of the population) speak Afrikaans natively. This lands it third place in demographic rankings, after Zulu and Xhosa. It is also the most geographically dispersed of the official languages.
Similar to South Africa, Afrikaans is spoken by 10% of Namibia’s population and is commonly used as a lingua franca. Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe all have modestly-sized Afrikaans-speaking populations. Naturally, in the age of globalization and perpetual migration, it’s easy to say Afrikaans can be found in many corners of the world, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, and, of course, the Netherlands.
I have seen numerous topics over several years where people are willing to contribute to an Afrikaans - English course. Also, a large number of people are showing interest in taking the course. However, there has never been a word from the Duolingo team on WHY it isn't available yet.
There are many questions there: Why isn't Afrikaans added yet? Is it not considered a unique language by the Duo team? Or is there a problem with representing the flag for Afrikaans?
Then there is the question of how many new users can a course attract? I think that is harder to judge, and perhaps the developers of Duolingo have a better idea of that. However, regardless there will be people asking questions why one language was chosen over another. The fact is that it is impossible to add all languages simultaneously.
So how come certain languages have not been added yet and others (including fictional ones) have? Duolingo's resources are not unlimited so they have to make choices. The only staff knows how they make the choices though there are a few things that can be considered obvious:
The fact that many people haven't received feedback on the status of when/if it is expected for Afrikaans to be added, isn't fair play by the Duo team. However, if they don't know exactly when they want to add it, it's in their best interest not to say anything about when it will be added. Why not? Because if they don't make that date it's going to create a bunch of posts from people asking why it hasn't been added yet etc...
Another reason why Afreekans isn't on Duolingo's list of language courses may lie in the fact that is the familial relationship that exists between Dutch and its offspring, Afrikaans.
Though initially considered to be merely a Dutch dialect, Afrikaans is now a language in its own right. Still, Afrikaans is extremely similar to Dutch, at least in its written form. I think that is the main reason why people can't learn Africans on Duolingo.
Many people are not worried about the fact that Afrikaans hasn't been added, but rather because they haven't received feedback on the status of when/if it is expected to be added.
I think that some kind of transparency about why some languages are and aren't a priority to be added would benefit the community a lot. If the developers say that they don't see it gaining enough support, then people could work on that. If it was "flag issues", then people could work on that. If other languages are higher in the priority list, then that too is understandable for Duolingo users. However, not having a clear route to how and when languages get accepted can be frustrating.
At the same time, this behavior from the Duo team tells me that they aren't planning to add Afreekans anytime soon.
If you're keen on learning Afrikaans have a look at Ling App and/or Memrise etc...
I am glad you asked. There is one very obvious recommendation that can be made here, and that is the Ling Afrikaans app. Ling uses native Afrikaans speakers to help you learn Afrikaans, just like it will sound in the country.
Through the gamification of learning, also makes the whole process much more engaging. You can see yourself progress as you make your way through the different topics and tests that come along with it.
Then there is the chatbot feature that simulates conversations and makes for great practicing your Afrikaans language skills. For an introvert like me, it helps to build up my courage to eventually feel confident enough to use it when out and about.
While these mobile apps do share a common goal of making language learning fun and accessible, what sets Ling apart is the focus on practical vocabulary, sentences, and phrases that you will use in everyday speech.
This one is actually a part of the same family as Ling. Simply Learn Afrikaans is a phrasebook in app form, giving you all the benefits that come with that. You can listen to the words and phrases being spoken by native Afrikaans speakers, along with the Afrikaans and phonetic spellings of the words.
It makes for a great companion both when practicing and when you are in South Africa. It makes use of flashcards and the spaced repetition learning technique that is said to really improve language learning.
It may not be the top choice if you want a deep understanding of the language but helps you start out with pronunciation and basic grammar like word order.
There are quite a few different apps and websites that work great with helping you to learn Afrikaans. Each one goes about its own way to replace the hole made by the lack of Afrikaans in Duolingo. Ultimately, it is a case of finding which option works best for your case.
Like we said before, it is good to make a language learning plan and mix things up if you are serious about learning Afrikaans. If you are just looking for a more casual experience to learn a few phrases before traveling, then apps like the Ling Afrikaans app might be the best option for you.