Viral content site BuzzFeed plans to launch French, Spanish and Portuguese homepages this month — but to do so, it won’t rely solely on traditional translation or regional editors. Instead, BuzzFeed will use language-learning site Duolingo to translate some of its most popular content.
Duolingo has about 10 million users and has raised over $18 million from investors including Union Square Ventures. It teaches six languages for free through its mobile and web apps. The translations aren’t free to BuzzFeed, though: It’s paying for them.
“From the beginning, our plan to finance the platform has been to have our students translate real-world documents as they practice their foreign language skills,” Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn wrote in a blog post scheduled to go live later on Monday. “We like this model because it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement: students receive high-quality, completely free language education, and organizations get translation services powered by the students.”
Duolingo wouldn’t tell me how much websites are paying it for translation — but apparently CNN is a client as well.
“As part of their lessons, language learners will be presented with BuzzFeed posts that are trending in popularity.
For instance, people learning French might be asked to translate as much of ’24 People Who Are Really Nailing This Parenting Thing’ as they can. Duolingo will show each piece to dozens of people. Once enough French learners see and translate a piece, Duolingo’s systems will shuttle a translated version to BuzzFeed, which will publish it internationally.”
BuzzFeed’s Brazilian homepage will launch October 18, the Spanish homepage on October 21 and the French homepage on November 4. (A U.K. homepage launched in March.) According to a press release, “Native speaking editors will create original content and manage translated content, will study sharing habits and look for opportunities to expand into localized teams in the strongest markets.”
BuzzFeed CEO and cofounder Jonah Peretti recently noted that the site’s traffic has tripled over the past year, hitting 85 million unique monthly visitors in August. BuzzFeed is also profitable, thanks largely to its use of sponsored content.