Duolingo

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Re: Duolingo

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-03, 18:04

linguoboy wrote:I really can't imagine seriously using Duolingo to learn a language except in conjunction with other materials.

I don't think I've ever used it any other way. I wouldn't even use it for fun. I honestly can't name a single aspect of it that I think is fun.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Karavinka » 2018-02-03, 18:11

linguoboy wrote:
Naava wrote:I've been learning Welsh for ages in Duolingo but I feel like I'm not going anywhere. I can count to ten and say that I like vegetables, but I keep forgetting everything else. I think the problem is that at first I tried to get as many levels unlocked as possible because doing the same level again and again is boring.

Wyddwn i ddim dy fod di'n dysgu Cymraeg!

I've been testing out the Welsh lessons and they're frustrating. One problem is the lack of standardisation in the colloquial variety, so it rejects acceptable forms belonging to the variety I'm most comfortable with (e.g. ŷch, rw). It's got to be even worse if you're learning a northern variety.

I really can't imagine seriously using Duolingo to learn a language except in conjunction with other materials. By itself, it just isn't near enough.


I'll keep that in mind, and if I ever start Welsh, then I guess Duolingo is either the first resource or just out of options altogether I guess.

From what I've experienced so far, it's a decent resource if you aren't enthusiastic and want to kill some time here and there about the language you feel "eh, all right." The slow pace and the repetition won't be particularly agreeable if you are excited and want to progress fast; but if it's a language that you don't mind building up slowly while you're busy doing other things, it's serviceable. I think I accidentally started with the right mindset, i.e. "eh" with Swedish.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-03, 18:19

Karavinka wrote:From what I've experienced so far, it's a decent resource if you aren't enthusiastic and want to kill some time here and there about the language you feel "eh, all right." The slow pace and the repetition won't be particularly agreeable if you are excited and want to progress fast; but if it's a language that you don't mind building up slowly while you're busy doing other things, it's serviceable. I think I accidentally started with the right mindset, i.e. "eh" with Swedish.

Yeah, that sort of describes where I'm at as well. I haven't felt seriously motivated to learn a language in a long time and it's managed to nudge my interest up to the point where I'm actually trying to learn words again, so that's a good thing. I'm already looking at apps that might be more useful for the next level up from "eh".
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Naava » 2018-02-03, 19:22

linguoboy wrote:Wyddwn i ddim dy fod di'n dysgu Cymraeg!

I got interested in it like two years ago but I don't know how much you can call it 'learning'. :P

I've used Duolingo to keep my interest alive until I have time to find better resources. I agree it isn't a very good place to learn a new language. Many of the courses seem to be copied from other courses, there's hardly any grammar explained, and some of the words they're teaching are... interesting. (Why do I need to know how to say "I am a dragon"? Is it a common spontaneous transformation for the Welsh people? Do they often wake up and find out they've turned into dragons during the night? Or can they turn into dragons at will? I hope it's the last one, that'd be cool.)

Tbh I'm not sure how much I can blame Duolingo for teaching me how to say 'dragon' when the "real" textbooks for learners of foreign languages teach random words, too. One of the Swedish words that I learnt in school and that I'll never forget is en begravningsentreprenör, an undertaker, and after a few lessons of Russian, I knew how to say "I live in a cage". They didn't teach that but they gave me all the words and grammar I needed to form the sentence... :lol:

Anyway, my goal is to learn some vocabulary with Duolingo so that when I (hopefully) have time to start learning Welsh, it doesn't feel so difficult. I hate learning words and that's one of the biggest reasons why I don't speak more languages than I do. Even if I'm interested in a language, there's always the vocabulary to be memorised and then I go like 'meh' and go to do something else.

linguoboy wrote:One problem is the lack of standardisation in the colloquial variety, so it rejects acceptable forms belonging to the variety I'm most comfortable with (e.g. ŷch, rw).

There was a "dialect lesson" (add eyerolls here) and I think I saw rw there. I also think they accepted it in other lessons, but I'm not sure. Kinda strange if they don't, because they accept words like 'veggies' instead of 'vegetables' in English...

vijayjohn wrote: I wouldn't even use it for fun. I honestly can't name a single aspect of it that I think is fun.

It has languages! Languages are fun!

Karavinka wrote:From what I've experienced so far, it's a decent resource if you aren't enthusiastic and want to kill some time here and there about the language you feel "eh, all right."

This. I'm already studying at uni, I don't have time to study even more in my free time.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby voron » 2018-02-03, 19:51

Naava wrote:One of the Swedish words that I learnt in school and that I'll never forget is en begravningsentreprenör, an undertaker

I did a few Swedish lessons from a book many years ago, and all I remember now is "Jag kan inte talar svenska", "Jag älskar dig" and ... "handelsförbindelserna" (trade relations).

In a similar way, one out of place German word I remember is "Sehenswürdichkeiten". :P
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Re: Duolingo

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-03, 19:55

Naava wrote:Why do I need to know how to say "I am a dragon"? Is it a common spontaneous transformation for the Welsh people? Do they often wake up and find out they've turned into dragons during the night? Or can they turn into dragons at will? I hope it's the last one, that'd be cool.)

I'm actually going to try to defend this. "Dragon" is a good word to know in Welsh because of its cultural connotations ("y Ddraig Goch" ac felly yn y blaen). And the "I am..." construction is important to learn, but it doesn't really matter what noun you learn it with. They could teach you "Athro dw i" or "Saesones dw i"[*], but that's no more useful as a phrase if you're not a teacher or an Englishwoman. But saying "I am a dragon" is odd enough to be memorable.

It also makes it harder to cheat on quizzes. That's actually what I'm using Duolingo for: I'm skipping the lessons altogether and just trying to test out of them. I've been caught out more than once by guessing the most plausible translation based on the elements I recognise (e.g. "Answer the phone") when they've actually gone with something wacky (e.g. "Wipe the phone"). If you think of the purpose as more to help you learn words than phrases, it makes sense.

Naava wrote:Tbh I'm not sure how much I can blame Duolingo for teaching me how to say 'dragon' when the "real" textbooks for learners of foreign languages teach random words, too.

Right? One of the phrases TY Latvian had me learn was "My brother has a sharp ax but he cannot cut". And I had a German self-instruction book that taught, "Entschuldigung, Mein Herr, aber das ist nicht mein Handtuch!" (A year living in Germany and I never did get a chance to use that one!)

Naava wrote:
linguoboy wrote:One problem is the lack of standardisation in the colloquial variety, so it rejects acceptable forms belonging to the variety I'm most comfortable with (e.g. ŷch, rw).

There was a "dialect lesson" (add eyerolls here) and I think I saw rw there. I also think they accepted it in other lessons, but I'm not sure. Kinda strange if they don't, because they accept words like 'veggies' instead of 'vegetables' in English...

I just went back and tried using it. It was marked as a "typo" (and this is for the test that includes the "Dialect" lesson).

It's really random what variants are accepted and which aren't. I got dinged in the Korean test for using "grandma" instead of "grandmother". So I err on making my translations overly literal rather than run the risk of being "wrong" for using a natural rendering they didn't think to include. (At least it does seem to accept basic AE/BE variants like pants/trousers, color/colour, glasses/spectacles, etc.)


[*] Another good example of dialect intolerance; I would say "Athro yw i".
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Re: Duolingo

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-03, 20:09

Do they really have lessons now?
Naava wrote:It has languages! Languages are fun!

That's true. It will never have enough of them for me, though. :P Someday, they should start making a Papuan language available, like Waris! :twisted: Hell, they could just write an essay on the Papuan languages, and that would already be pretty impressive.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-05, 3:12

I understand where Vijay is coming from. My reaction to passing a placement exam isn't "That was fun! Let's try another!", it's "Jeebus Gad frickin' FINALLY!" It usually takes me getting frustrated with barely failing enough times that I finally get all bloody-minded about passing it, no matter what. I want a feeling of accomplishment, but what I wind up with is exasperation.

I really am getting tired of the arbitrariness of the translations. Two examples from the Chinese module (which I just started): rejecting "from 10 until 6" for "from 10 to 6" and rejecting "93" for "ninety-three". What made the latter enraging was that it would've accepted "90 3". (Clearly some numbers are equated to their equivalents in digits but not others, which is just lazy-ass programming.) Another particularly egregious example from the Korean module: only accepting the plural interpretation of a word not marked for number (늑대가).

That leads to another gripe, which is that in order to force unique English interpretations of its contextless sentences, the programmers sometimes do violence to the grammar of the languages. The overuse of explicit pronouns in pro-drop languages isn't the worse example, because there are instances where this would be grammatical. But in order to show number, the Korean examples way overuse the plural marker 들--to the extent that I even see it used with inanimates, which I learned was ungrammatical. (Although perhaps this has altered under influence from English-based "translatese".)

Even worse, in the Chinese lessons, they treat 了 a past tense marker, using it everywhere English would have a preterite or perfect tense. And I mean everywhere, even in conjunction with explicit indications of time like 昨天 "yesterday". Again, we were taught this is completely ungrammatical. But maybe Chinese-speakers are accustomed enough to hearing English-speakers make this mistake that the sentences still make sense to them? There were times when I was tempted to add change-of-relevant-state 了 to a translation to make it more idiomatic, but I deliberately left it off because I knew the app would mark it wrong because the English equivalent was present tense.

So ultimately I can see why people view it more as an app for learning vocabulary items than useful phrases. It certainly has expanded my active and passive vocabulary in several languages where I haven't been doing anything else to accomplish this. But it reminds of all the reasons why grammar-translation went out of style as a paedagogical method outside of Classics.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-05, 5:30

I am so tired of how much time and effort those goddamn placement tests take that when I added Russian and Turkish, I vowed not to take any more placement tests until they'd at least added another language I'd sign up for. Then I signed up for Swahili and Chinese and still haven't taken the tests for any of them. :P (And I'm still waiting for Hindi, Indonesian, and Arabic! They have been taking FOREVER with Hindi). I've had patience with a lot of different language-learning methods so far in my life but not that much for this one.
linguoboy wrote:I really am getting tired of the arbitrariness of the translations. Two examples from the Chinese module (which I just started): rejecting "from 10 until 6" for "from 10 to 6" and rejecting "93" for "ninety-three". What made the latter enraging was that it would've accepted "90 3". (Clearly some numbers are equated to their equivalents in digits but not others, which is just lazy-ass programming.)

C'mon, linguoboy, you can always report the error and then suddenly get an e-mail in your inbox one random day three years later, while you're just minding your own business, saying "93 is now acceptable as a translation of 九十三!" and not telling you that there are now 500 new errors in the system! Oh wait, did they take that feature out?

I wonder whether the audio works for me now.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-05, 17:34

vijayjohn wrote:I am so tired of how much time and effort those goddamn placement tests take that when I added Russian and Turkish, I vowed not to take any more placement tests until they'd at least added another language I'd sign up for.

I finally managed to test out of the next batch of Korean lessons right as I was about to go to sleep last night. Like all my victories, it felt Pyrrhic. I'm also pretty damn sure that a fluent bilingual like Karavinka would not be able to do it on the first try, which is problematic to say the very least.

vijayjohn wrote:C'mon, linguoboy, you can always report the error and then suddenly get an e-mail in your inbox one random day three years later, while you're just minding your own business, saying "93 is now acceptable as a translation of 九十三!" and not telling you that there are now 500 new errors in the system! Oh wait, did they take that feature out?

Cheers, VJ! Did not know that was an option...
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Re: Duolingo

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-05, 17:51

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:C'mon, linguoboy, you can always report the error and then suddenly get an e-mail in your inbox one random day three years later, while you're just minding your own business, saying "93 is now acceptable as a translation of 九十三!" and not telling you that there are now 500 new errors in the system! Oh wait, did they take that feature out?

Cheers, VJ! Did not know that was an option...

I sure hope it still is. They know better than anyone else how often things like this happen.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Karavinka » 2018-02-06, 5:26

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I am so tired of how much time and effort those goddamn placement tests take that when I added Russian and Turkish, I vowed not to take any more placement tests until they'd at least added another language I'd sign up for.

I finally managed to test out of the next batch of Korean lessons right as I was about to go to sleep last night. Like all my victories, it felt Pyrrhic. I'm also pretty damn sure that a fluent bilingual like Karavinka would not be able to do it on the first try, which is problematic to say the very least.


That actually made me curious. I'll try if I can this weekend.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby voron » 2018-02-06, 12:59

linguoboy wrote:I'm also pretty damn sure that a fluent bilingual like Karavinka would not be able to do it on the first try, which is problematic to say the very least.

I once did the placement test for Russian and it placed me on Level 10 (out of 13 I think? or perhaps 12, can't remember).

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Naava » 2018-02-06, 14:28

I started to learn German. I've never studied it before but I knew all the words in the first lesson so I took the test, passed it, and now I'm 15 % fluent in German.

:ohwell:

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Re: Duolingo

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-06, 15:16

Karavinka wrote:That actually made me curious. I'll try if I can this weekend.

I would love to hear your critique of some of their sentences.

Yesterday I had a real winner: 용은 네 눈물을 마실 것이에요.

The next one after that was legit 'Translate: 'Duolingo is odd sometimes.'"
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Salajane » 2018-02-09, 16:11

vijayjohn wrote:I have no idea yet why Arabic is still at 0%, but Hindi is at 90% and Indonesian at 71%! Yay!

All three of those are languages I want to add. :P

Indonesian is at 79% already.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Salajane » 2018-02-22, 12:08

Which Duolingo course is better: Irish or Welsh? I want to dabble in one Celtic language on Duolingo and don't know which one to choose.
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Re: Duolingo

Postby Naava » 2018-02-22, 12:46

Irusia wrote:Which Duolingo course is better: Irish or Welsh? I want to dabble in one Celtic language on Duolingo and don't know which one to choose.

Choose Welsh and then we'll both be learning it. :P

I tried Irish but imo it was a bit confusing because they didn't explain the orthography or pronunciation (or if they did, I missed it). They'd also chosen to use real speakers for audio files, and even though that was cool, it meant that you couldn't hear how most of the words and sentences were supposed to be pronounced. I don't know if they've changed it, it's been a long time since I last did anything with Irish.

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Re: Duolingo

Postby Salajane » 2018-02-22, 13:04

I've started Welsh. :D Thanks for the recommendation!
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Re: Duolingo

Postby kevin » 2018-02-22, 13:11

Welsh is what I tried for dabbling on Duolingo with no other resources. It was an utter failure. Though I'm not sure if Irish is any easier if you start from zero and use only Duolingo.


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