Spanish: I speak french and English so Spanish is relatively easy to complete. After completing the course, I tried having conversations with people (with friends but mostly uber drivers) and I was surprised how many times i learned it all wrong. I had to read a lot or children book to remedy that.
French: As a french speaker, I went through it as a meta course just to see. It was very awkward. The correct answers are always cringe worthy. Some of them even wrong.
Japanese: This is very different from the languages I speak. But after completing the entire suite, I still can't look at a japanese text and read it. I can't form a sentence on my own because it never teaches you how. I can't count to ten because it only gives you numbers randomly. I know a few colors. I know words, but those words make no sense on their own. I also had to follow youtube lessons to make any sense of what I learned.
Duolingo is cool at making it look fun to learn. I don't think you'll learn to speak any languages with it.
That immediately destroyed any trust with them. When you put out educational material, it has to be correct. That has to be the foundation.
EDIT: Also it felt like the whole game was written from an "Indo-European" perspective. For example, in Turkish there is a word "bir" (read [biɾ]) which literally means "one" which is sometimes used akin to indefinite articles (a/an). But they're not exactly indefinite articles, and sentence usually makes sense without them and when you speak fast you omit them. But in Duolingo they taught as if you should translate "the X" without "bir" and "a/an X" with "bir". That's not even remotely close to the truth (and made me get all "article" questions wrong). In Turkish definiteness is mostly denoted with accusative case. There is no single language construct similar to "article", you infer it from other kinds of information. For example "dolaba bira koy" : "put A beer in the fridge" vs "dolaba biraYI koy" : "put THE beer in the fridge". You add +I accusative suffix to "bira" (beer). This was not even mentioned in Duolingo. It also makes sense that they don't mention this sicne this is probably super advanced nuanced speaking, but then be consistent and don't teach that "bir" distinction to beginners as well.
For instance there's no single way to translate "I ran" in French, it could be "j'ai courru" or "je courrais" depending on context and depending no the lesson Duolingo will favor one or the other, leading English speakers to write puzzled comments like "I thought the imperfect was 'I used to run' or 'I was running', why is it 'I ran' here?" And the answer is "it's more complicated than that, but Duolingo won't teach you that".
And there are no hard rules. In that sentence you can't just put +I to make it definite as I described above "ayiyi cikabilir" << this sentence doesn't mean anything. I think this is something your brain has to pick up implicitly while you're speaking/listening, I'm not sure if someone can discretely provide you a set of rules that always works. Just like in German you cannot translate "the" > "der". This is like Duolingo saying 'the'='der' and rejecting 'das' and 'die'.
So, it is not fine, it is wrong. And the wrong thing is not that Duolingo has a bug, it is that it has made-up grammar rules, which users still have to learn. If they never learned this rule, they'd be as well understood.
(I know you were replying to commenter discussing French, but I'm guessing something similar is going on)
Any decent language learning course should try to immerse you in the target language as soon as possible, forcing you to actually think in the language instead of your own. There are many ways to do this, for instance making you answer questions. Instead of telling you "translate 'the cat is black' in French" they'd show you a picture of a black cat and ask you "Quelle est la couleur du chat?" and you'd have to answer "Le chat est noir". No English involved, like in real life. The problem of course is that such an approach is hard to correct by a dumb algorithm, especially as the concepts being taught become harder.
Very interesting! In Russian, the accusative suffix would play exactly the opposite role. While there's no real way to say the beer without additional context, you can say:
поставь пиво в холодильник / put the beer in the fridge
поставь пива в холодильник / put SOME beer into the fridge
not a native speaker, just living and studying russian in moscow
Yup, pretty much that. Or like that one time when we went binge-shopping on craft beers, but there was only enough space in the fridge for a couple of bottles; so that was a normal request about an hour before we were to watch a movie. Which is pretty much the exact situation you described :)
I'm a native speaker, and I wasn't even aware of partitive case. They never taught us about it, even though a mind-numbing amount of time was spent cramming the name of the usual six cases into our heads.
I only got more interested in linguistics after moving to the US, and, sadly, only took one class in college on it.
Thanks for noticing this, I just learned something!
As a side note, I also mixed up genitive and accusative cases.
That's not to excuse Duolingo obviously.
In my opinion you could go even further an say that they have an English bias.
If you want good content, you need good editors, and they are neither cheap, nor easy to find.
The reason why companies try to save money with editors is that they don‘t „scale“ (one dev and a designer can program an interface that can be used for 20.000 different questions, but you need a lot of people to come up with those questions)
I got all the questions correctly, but:
- Given capitalization I was forced to use word order that didn't come naturally. Mind you, what the app requested isn't _wrong_ but it's certainly not the only way to do it. If they were enforcing a rigid wrong order they were incorrectly marking as failures usage that I would argue is more natural, at least given my particular background (Southern). I went with it, but I was adjusting to the app.
- They repeated the sentences and some vocabulary a lot, so if you had any gaps or couldn't remember one particular word you might get three questions wrong, which would have a large impact on your placement.
- There's something inherently weird about the vocabulary, Duolingo-style. This doesn't go well with the previous point.
Overall it felt rigid and random. In any case Duolingo does not correlate at all with fluency. Duolingo correlates well with being trained in Duolingo.
I came here to say the same thing. Spanish from one country is "wrong" in another one. A lot of people doesn´t understand that it´s just not your flavor of the language. It´s almost the same that If I, that speak Spanish, commented how wrong is Portuguese because is similar to Spanish but not the same.
Maybe the mistake is to announce the course as Portuguese instead of, for example, "Brazilian Portuguese".
At the moment I'm supplementing duolingo by nattering away to my father in French and asking the half-French guy at work how to say various things, but if the app is teaching me things that are plain wrong, I'll have to either find another app or start taking real life classes, which is why it would be useful to know what else is broken.
My chronological progression of picking up French via apps/courses (lots of trial-and-error):
2. Michel Thomas audio course - this has its critics but it gave me a much more solid, if limited, foundation on grammar.
3. Lingvist - I was lucky to find this early. Added around 2000 words to my vocabulary (yes they claimed ~5000 - that was inaccurate; conjugations and plurals are counted separately). Today you need to pay $23 / month to get the same number of words.
4. Clozemaster - it offers a lot more words, so I got a paid subscription. Got disappointed really fast though because its automated method to offer mass sentences really shows its flaws quickly: there are many errors and nonsensical cloze placement. I got tired of flagging.
5. Assimil - seems good, but without any gamification or anything I can play on my phone while waiting, commuting, etc., this soon dropped off the radar.
6. Speechling - this one should not have the problem of Clozemaster or Duolingo, because they have a human teacher correcting your speech. I imagine their sentences are more carefully curated as well. I started the trial, but dropped after a while because I found I just couldn't allocate the time to sit in a quiet place and record myself for an extended amount of time. Yes, it's a genuine "it's not you, it's me" thing. I really like their recent features and will probably try this again during a less hectic life period. Hongyu (the CEO) is super responsive too, which is great.
7. Glossika - this is what I'm currently on. It's not perfect; their main thing is you hear someone saying X in English and a moment later the equivalent in French. They offer mass repetitions as well, with the same class of problems: occasional inaccurate translations. The reason I picked this one instead of Speechling is not quality: it allows me to listen to mass sentences while doing mindless boring stuff that I have to do anyway (e.g.: doing the dishes, walking to/from the subway station, etc.). This allows me to get French exposure every day, even if not perfect, which ends up meaning more exposure than what Speechling can give me.
8. I'm a subscriber of one more app, I can't believe I forgot to add this one the first time: Kwiziq. They have a very specific target: teach you grammar from A0 (i.e.: the level below A1) to C1. My main problem is that they don't have an "aging" feature. Something I learned fully in A1 9 months ago will be forever marked as "mastered", despite my having forgotten it completely. Nevertheless I continue to be a happy subscriber. It's fun to finish a quick grammar quiz here and there as you're waiting for food, queueing for stuff, etc.
CEO of Speechling here. We'll work on (7). It's trivial to implement. We want the functionality of (7) to be better and free.
Everything else e.g.: Assimil is a workflow interruption, a new habit I have to assimilate, so it becomes a lot harder to do consistently over a long period of time.
After this thread, I plan to move that step up as a check on DuoLingo.
Since then by my estimate I know roughly about 4000 more French words, and reading lemonde.fr is still a struggle. Doing much better with Tintin though.
I've learned languages with duolingo.. and by that I don't mean duolingo will teach you a language.
There's two things that I feel that almost everyone misses.
#1: Using duolingo alone will get you to about an A2-B1 level in comprehension and an A1-A2 level in writing and speaking.
This is just the basics of a language.. enough to understand basic expressions. You're never going to learn a language without further practice and tools. Spending time in books, trying to form your own thoughts. Duolingo is a great start, but if you never progress beyond it, of course you're not going to learn a language.
#2: and most important. When you complete a course you're not done.
I see this all of the time, people just get to the last exercise and stop.
You're not going to learn a language this way because most people can't retain a 2000+ word vocabulary by only seeing a word a couple of times.
There's a reason why your "strength" in categories decreases as time passes.. because it's unlikely that you've actually remembered every single word you were taught.
I've participated in a large number of duolingo related discussion over the years and one thing stands out is that there is a strong correlation between people that think you can't use it to learn a language and people that go straight through the course, reach the end, and stop.
Anyway, it has its flaws, and is far from perfect, but I can't imagine having a better product that does not come with a fee.
To get to A2 you need a real tutor and real communication experience. I used Verbling to find a tutor and I traveled to Eastern Europe over the summer to practice and only after hundreds of hours of practice was I able to communicate in Russian to any degree even approaching A1.
No you don't.
I'm French, I dropped out of school at 16 and picked up English later in life without using any formal method of learning. I started by memorizing enough vocabulary to read simpler English, after which I began reading popular fiction and watched movies with subtitles (in English) until it clicked. My understanding of the language is more based on intuition (sheer memorization of exposure to it through cultural mediums) than on memorizing the grammar rules book. The brain makes the connections as to what seems correct or not based on patterns. I don't think my skills are good enough to write literature but surely communication isn't a problem.
Duolingo didn't exist at the time, but I believe it would have helped me learn faster considering the way it introduces languages is quite similar to how I started learning and it does so in a more interactive, fun manner.
* Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
* Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
* Can describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
No way you need a tutor to get that. Duolingo course seems about right depending on language and language learning experience.
I have more recommendations if you want them.
More complex languages, yes, but for languages like swedish/norwegian/danish where there is very little grammar, I find it's much easier to progress within the limits of their program.
Swedish/Norwegian/Danish do not really have "little grammar", but for an English speaker, there probably won't be any need to explicitly learn the grammar, since it works mostly like English. But on the flipside, they are just as difficult as English for speakers of unrelated languages.
For a period in the UK there was no English grammar taught in schools. This caused me great problems in Russian class (second high school language) as I had no idea there were cases in English and so had no reference for why a case was needed and what it did. The entirety of my English grammar training was learning a poem by rote for homework, which I didn't do ("A nouns the name of anything [...]"). I learnt the little grammar I know from French lessons. So, YMMV depending on the English speaker.
Most English 'grammer' discussed in the Anglophone world (split infinitives WTF? English doesn't have infinitives) is gibberish...
I ran, she ran, he ran, they ran, we ran, y'all ran.
I run, she runs, he runs, they run, we run, y'all run.
I'll run, she'll run, he'll run, they'll run, we'll run, y'all'll run.
I thought I'd run, he thought he'd run, they thought they'd run.
We'll have wished we ran, they'll have wished they ran, he'll have wished he ran.
What exactly do you want to teach here? The only weirdness to the rule is that he and she runs with an "s", everything else is the same.
I love you. You love me. They love him. He loves them.
I want you. You want me. They want him. He wants them.
In Russian the above is far different because the word order can be switched for emphasis.
The only thing in English worth teaching is "I have" vs "I am" and almost every language has that same problem as well (Je suis vs J'ai in French).
The hard part with English is that our spelling makes zero sense, unlike Russian or French. The grammar is really quite straightforward.
Even verb morphology is a bit more complex than you've called out here.
This definitely rings true. I was using it in the hopes it would help me provide some structure to teaching my kid portuguese (and it does to some extent), but by the time the app says a lesson is "complete", my kid is still a long ways away from having memorized it (and he's 5). I tend to complement it with a boogie board and repetition over the course of several days to really nail down new vocab.
I also wish it had some feature to introduce foreign concepts (e.g. gendered articles in portuguese). It's very awkward to try to explain the difference between `the`, english `a`, and portuguese `a` (and the remaining counterparts `o`, `um`, `uma`) for example, and the word matching exercises can get quite confusing.
When I do duolingo, I usually try to do about a two to one ratio of strengthening skills or going back to older lessons with taking new lessons.
I did the first three levels of Ukranian and when I went to Lvyv I picked out a couple of hundred words in shops and restau
Could I speak? No, but Duolingo gets you onto the pitch faster and better than anyone else - it gets you in play fast - so you can start learning the language properly
I spent a while using Busuu instead, which presents something more like a curriculum and lets you formulate your own answers to questions which are then reviewed by native speakers (in return for you reviewing the submissions of others). I found that incredibly effective because I wasn't stuck with putting strange sentences in the right order, I could get creative about how I described a red flag or a holiday I went on. More often than not I'd plug words and sentences into Google Translate, check dictionaries when I wasn't confident about a certain suggestion, and generally refactor the sentences until my gut said I had something that flowed reasonably well. Very intense and deliberate but it didn't take long to start posting to Facebook in Spanish. The only problem was that my writing was miles ahead of my speaking.
That's pretty funny - I was taught in my german class that "ich bin warm" directly translates to I'm feeling hot, but colloquially it means "I am gay". And here, the same phrase in spanish just means horny.
Transliteration is definitely littered with booby traps.
One of the girls in the group responded "Non merci, je suis pleine" -- word-for-word "No thanks, I'm full". And got a laugh, because the connotation was not "I'm no longer hungry", but "I'm pregnant".
They also taught me the helicopter joke.
Ha, I do that too sometimes (GT), and when it doesn't work, I do this:
https://translate.google.com/#en/en/Blame%20Google%20Transla... and share it with the person I am talking or writing to.
Just first change the language of the right side text box inf GT to the target language you want, or in the URL above, change the second language code from en (English) to de or es (German or Spanish), for example.
Also, it's interesting that if you toggle the translation from lang A -> lang B to lang B -> lang A, the result is sometimes not the same as the original you first typed in lang A.
e.g. try the above phrase I used (Blame Google Translate) with DE (German) as the target lang.
All that said, GT is still a useful and fun tool. I play around with the audio outputs of the languages sometimes.
That surprises me because Spanish is one of the few languages that what you read is pretty much what you have to say. Each letter has its unique sound and in very few cases the combination of them forces you to make an unexpected sound (for example "que" that would be expected to sound k-u-e but actually sounds like k-e). The entonation is another story but despite of it, your pronunciation should be clear enough to understand you.
Speak too slow or sound unsure and plenty of people will default to English to give you a hand instead of waiting for you to figure it out. It has nothing to do with the phonetic simplicity, although it does help when you compare it to English, for example, which might as well be lawless because there’s practically no connection between the spoken and written form.
Sanskrit is like that too, pretty much, i.e. as far as:
"what you read is pretty much what you have to say"
goes. There is only one way to pronounce any letter or compound letter or word. In fact Hindi is too, except for regional differences in pronunciation, and both are unlike English in this respect, where a non-native speaker often fumbles to pronounce some words right (even apart from accent), because the right way to say a word can be very different from how it looks when written (if you try to build up the sound of the word from its component letters, at least in many cases).
Examples of this are: cut and put, argue and vague.
IIRC George Bernard Shaw made a well-known observation that I learned as a kid in English class; he is supposed to have said something like: in English, going logically by how you say / spell parts of other words, you could spell "fish" as "ghoti", i.e. "f" as in the "gh" of "laugh", "i" as in the "o" of "women", and "sh" as in the "ti" of "nation".
>Each letter has its unique sound and in very few cases the combination of them forces you to make an unexpected sound
In Spanish, the letter combination "ll" (two ells) sounding like a "y" is another unexpected one, as in "amarillo" (yellow) for example.
Click on the speaker icon under "amarillo" to hear it spoken.
"j" being pronounced as "h" is another one, at least for speakers coming from English.
Well, if you're coming from a European language background, Japanese is one of the hardest languages to benchmark on. I mean, there's three writing systems (hiragana, katakana, kanji) for starters! And then unlike European languages, it's not alphabetical and kanji is not even really syllabic - which means, the background you need to get to be able to read texts is huge.
E.g., for Spanish, I can read the newspaper (not understand yet, but just reproduce, look for words I recognize, etc.) without even touching a language course. And if I get the basics, I can see grammatical structure, and given common Romance background, get about 20% of vocabulary for free just from knowing another European language (well, not true for all European ones, but for many it is).
It's like in martial arts you learn kata first, though if you get to apply it later you don't do the same kata, you do something else - but to do it, you have to learn to do kata first.
That's kind of their approach. I agree that in case of Japanese they could do better. E.g. if they explained what is explained here: https://8020japanese.com/japanese-sentence-structure/ - and they have space for such texts, but they are not using it for Japanese - it would save me some frustration and trying to figure out what these weird things are doing inside the phrases. Once you get the principle, it kinda clicks in place. So with the help of some other sources, so far it's not too bad for me with Duo and Japanese I feel. Though of course I don't think it's possible to use it alone without some auxiliary materials.
It's mediocre at teaching you how to write, bad at teaching you to listen, and useless at teaching you how to speak.
I've found that if you just grind through lessons without actually reading the supporting material, you don't learn much at all. If you actually read the supporting material you'll learn a lot more.
Duolingo is best used as a tool in a toolbox of language learning tools. It's good for reinforcement learning, but not great for actually developing an understanding.
As an analogy, you could learn algebra by looking at a lot of examples and working through worksheets of algebra problems, but you're not going to actually understand what you're doing, or learn very well.
I’ve yet to find a single app that beat out a one-time read through of a Japanese grammar guide.
That being said memorization apps can be useful, such as for vocabulary, but I’ve yet to find an app that markets itself as that.
What about Anki?
I also disagree about Japanese, I used to it learn the kanas and I am continuing to learn with it.
I don't understand why there are people that hate on this free language tool so much.
You’re much better off reading an actual textbook.
I personally don’t hate on Duolingo because it’s free but it tends to waste people’s times and gives them false impressions about language learning.
And at least on Anki or Memrise you can select decks that match what you want to learn, such as getting the basics to order at a restaurant or ask for directions. On Duolingo I think I've learned how to say "the bishop sends a pineapple to the queen" before I learned how to say "bathroom".
This is interesting.
I took six years of French in high school + college, and did immersion in Québec. I had not spoken French since then, so a couple years ago when I was planning a trip to France I got Duolinguo and worked through the French course to refresh. I didn't notice anything odd about it. And in France I was able to communicate with people, though one person asked if I was Canadian -- apparently I have an accent.
Did I perhaps learn French incorrectly?
It's quite common for correct answers not to be accepted. In particular, often some technically correct literal translation is accepted but the almost certainly correct colloquial translation is not.
For example: "Tu manges ça"
Literally this means "you eat that" or "you are eating that". However, since it's hard to imagine someone saying "you are eating that" in real life (why would you ever say that?) I interpret this as a question ("are you eating that?") or as a command to a child ("Eat that!" or a bit more literally, "you shall eat that!")
However, the accepted answer was indeed "You are eating that.".
By the way, this isn't even taking into account the fact that "ça" should quite commonly be translated as "this", not "that" -- the distinction between "this" and "that" isn't the same in French as it is in English, and it's totally wrong to assume that "ça" should always be translated as "that" and "ceci" as "this". In fact, I think "are you eating this?" is orders of magnitude more likely to be the correct translation of "tu manges ça" than "you are eating that.".
I've only shared one, but there are a million examples like this on DuoLingo.
There are also some translations that are just objectively wrong: "He reads the menu" should be "il lit la carte", but on DuoLingo it's "il lit le menu". Nobody says "le menu" for "menu" in France. (They do say that in Québec, but nowhere was it indicated that I should be answering in nonstandard Québec dialect. "il lit la carte" was marked wrong here even though it's what you would say in France, the primary French-speaking country in the world.)
Similar to the "ça" == "this" fallacy, DuoLingo seems to believe that any phrase in which "le" or "la" appears has to involve "the" in the English translation. "You help kids" is apparently wrong for "Tu aides les enfants". The expected translation was "you're helping the children". Yes, that's one possible meaning, but "les enfants" isn't necessarily definite here: "tu aides les enfants" can certainly mean that "you help children" (or "kids", see the paragraph below), in general, whereas "you're helping the kids" implies some fixed, well-defined set of kids.
Let alone French: there are even cases in which DuoLingo's writers don't seem to understand English. For example, any sentence with "les enfants" has to be translated with the overly formal "children": "kids" isn't accepted, even though I, a native English speaker, would say "kids" something like 99.9% of the time.
(also, as my other comments make clear, the fact that my first French immersion was in Québec probably explains a lot, if you think Duolinguo is more Québecois)
It hasn't done a whole lot for my listening or speaking skills, but to be fair I often disable the listening and speaking exercises since I tend to do the exercises at work while I'm waiting for something to compile.
Duolingo will not make you fluent in a language, but it can give you the basics to build upon.
Human Japanese is great for gentle explanations of grammar, but its flashcards are horrible, so one can't get the spaced repetition needed to remember everything it throws at you. Memrise is fantastic for vocabulary with its spaced repetition, but I couldn't string a sentence together, as Memrise (at least the course I did) mostly ignores grammar. Duolingo is great for practicing reading and writing sentences, checking the comments for sanity if the sentence looks fishy. But it doesn't try and teach anything, just get it wrong until you get it right. Does sentence order matter? Why do we use "wa" here and "ga" there? Duolingo doesn't say.
An app that combines actual lessons with spaced practice sessions would make the whole process a lot smoother.
Looks like fun, but not a tool that would teach you to speak a language correctly.
It can't be expensive to get this right, not considering what Duolingo must be doing in revenue, so why is it that way?
The streak is actually the only thing I really like about it, I want to keep it going because it shows me how long I've been working on it. For everything else I completely agree with you, Duolingo is borderline worthless for actually learning a language IMO. I can make a random list of complaints in no particular order:
- The spaced repetition aspect is ridiculously poorly calibrated, at least for me. Basic words decay way too fast which means that if I actually try to keep the skills "golden" (in the pre-crown era) I keep drilling the same basic skills again and again. Anki or Memrize manage that tremedously better. It's not even that complicated to implement correctly, I wonder why it's so crap. Maybe to keep you coming back and stretch the existing content? Now with the crown system they got rid of skill decay altogether, instead having you drill the same sentences an ungodly amount of time to reach a higher skill level. Also no matter how much I've drilled any lesson the majority of the exercises are asking you to translate foreign-to-native instead of the other way around, which would be more interesting as you improve.
- The actual "lessons" for each skills are so bare bones that they're basically useless. I think they know that since I don't think they're accessible at all in the android app. I know that grammar isn't sexy for most but if you want to learn a language you'll have to bite the bullet at some point, an english speaker will have some trouble learning the nuances of the perfect and imperfect past in romance languages by examples alone.
- Meanwhile, on top of not actually teaching you proper grammar they like to mix concepts in the same lessons, because otherwise it wouldn't be confusing enough. For instance the Portuguese subjunctive course contains examples that are actually imperative but "by chance" happen to have the same form as the subjunctive. Because obviously the subjunctive is so trivial that you have to spice things up by adding a completely different tense in there.
- The actual vocabulary they teach you is absurd. You can do the entire tree and not know how to say basic stuff, but you'll be able to say "the painter opens the power outlet" or "my tiger ate my pillow". Those are real examples.
- Worse than weird vocabulary you also have very confusing sentences. For instance take a look at this: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2121481$from_email=comment&... "Se nós nos encontrássemos mais vezes?" which is translated by "If we met more often?". What does that even mean? It's not even a full sentence. And that's for the past subjunctive lesson, you know, that trivial thing that definitely requires trash sentences like those. And it's been there for 4 years judging by the comments, so the authors of the course stand by it.
- These types of weird sentences are super common and they keep you wondering if you're not getting an idiom of the language or if it's just a super weird sentence. 90% of the time it's the latter.
I don't understand why Duolingo is so popular, IMO Memrise is massively better. It's a lot more focused, it only pretends to teach you words and simple phrases, but at least it does the job. If you want to learn a language buy a good grammar book, a dictionary and drill vocab on Anki or Memrise. Use something like lang-8 to practice your writing. Forget Duolingo.
I do enjoy their "Duolingo Stories" service though, but there's not enough content there to keep you busy for very long and there's no "replay" value.
- "[E] se nós nos encontrássemos mais vezes?"
- "What if we met each other more?" (ie, what if we saw each other more often?)
* Many of the English translations don't seem like idiomatic English. Sometimes I think it is even grammatically incorrect. This has made me worried about some of the Japanese not being super great as well. With other people chiming in about how languages they already knew having this problem, it doesn't look great.
* I agree with numbers. They way Duolingo handles numbers, days, months, etc is to me worse than the traditional way. It took a long time to get decent at numbers, and I screw them up a bit. I don't know any of the days of the week, but I know what day of the week words look like. They only ever include one day of the week word it the word bank, so you never actually have to learn.
* On the subject of the word bank, I think if the incorrect words where more plausible. For many lessons, you don't need the Japanese input. The word bank only provides one plausible English sentence.
* It needs more sentence variety. For example, if a less has "The tea is hot." and "The ramen is cool.", why not also add "The tea is cool." and "The ramen is hot."? I find if Duo selects the same lesson a few days in a row, I start to memorize the answers and can punch them in without needing the input.
* I can form original sentences. I'm not very fast at it, but I think that is to be expected. I don't think I'll get better until I start trying to actually speak to people.
* The bigger problem I have is a lack of vocabulary. Duolingo seems to like to jump around a lot, never getting good enough at any one thing. Even in a situation where you are able to get by if you stick to a script, eg at a restaurant, there are still gaps that would prevent me from doing everything in Japanese. Looking at Memerise, it seems to focus on giving you more depth. For example, Duolingo taught me how to say "How are you?" and respond "I'm fine.". Later I've been able to add "I'm tired." and "I'm scared." Memerise teaches you "I'm fine.", "I'm tired.", "I'm happy.", "I'm angry.", "I'm hungry.", and "I'm sick.". That feels more useful.
* The audio quality is crappy. Sometimes it sounds like the syllables are clipping into each other or something. Sometimes it seems like their text to speech engine got confused about where word boundaries are. I took a brief look at Memerise's Japanese course, and the audio quality is much better.
* About 50% of the time when I try to tap the button to replay the audio clip, it seems to think I want to quit the lesson.
* It would be nice if there was something you could tap to temporarily see Japanese sentences with spaces between words.
* While I expect Duolingo would never do it, I think a few lessons on innuendos would be useful. It would save some embarrassing situations.
- There were several factual errors in their material and important points entirely omitted
- Japanese grammar is very flexible and their tools aren't, so they often mark you as wrong when you were correct
- Their approach to learning Kanji (borrowed Chinese characters) is completely ineffective
These flaws make me wonder if they even had actual Japanese users working on developing the tools for learning Japanese. I can't speak to any other languages, but my experience with Japanese leads me to belive they don't have expertise in many of the languages they offer, instead trying to cram their prepackaged square-shaped tools into a variety of circle-shaped holes. All languages are different and each requires a different approach.
On top of that, however, is that they don't go nearly far enough. In my opinion there's no magic bullet that can teach you a language. Each student learns differently and will need to leverage a large variety of tools. Even if Duolingo's course were good, it would only make up a small facet of an effective study strategy. Vocabulary drilling with flash cards, focused grammatical study, reading genuine material in the language, writing novel material in the target language, and regular conversation practice with native speakers are all incredibly important and distinct topics of study. Duolingo tries to mix a diet version of each into an scatterbrained, ineffectual method of study.
https://www.memrise.com/course/1091685/sgjl-05-core-2k6k-voc... (first of 500 of 6000)
https://www.memrise.com/course/1125407/sgjl-07-core-2k6k-voc... (next 500 words)
The "SGJL" series also does grammar but it was easier to just reread tae kim every so often: https://community.memrise.com/t/course-forum-suggested-guide...
- Vocabulary study with Anki
- Kanji study (RTK order) with a script that shows vocab on my desktop
- Grammar study via Tae Kim
- Listening practice with regular consumption of Japanese music & television
- Reading/writing practice by engaging in Japanese discussions on Mastodon, IRC, 2channel
- Reading practice with Japanese manga and novels
- Regular meetups with friends (native speakers) IRL
- Translating anime and manga from Japanese to English
Soon I'd like to start blogging in Japanese, too, but that's a lot of work. Can also recommend jisho.org as the best Japanese/English dictionary on the web, and djt's bunpou guide as a deep grammar reference resource.
Another great way to learn to speak fluently (mechanics, not content) is to shadow other speakers. I recommend going to someplace like http://news.tbs.co.jp/ (news site). Most of the stories are written and they have the video above. The commentator reads exactly the same thing that is written. Create an understanding of the text, watch the video a couple of times, then try to read along with the commentator. News is super hard, but if you google you should be able to find some readings of children's books, etc as well (I eventually found some when I was looking years ago, so I suspect there is more now).
Finally, I don't recommend RTK order for Kanji. I learned to recognise and write the jouyou kanji with RTK. Then I learned vocabulary. Yes, being able to recognise all the kanji was useful... but it's an obtuse way to do it. Worse, by the time I was learning more complex vocabulary I had completely forgotten the kanji (because it takes years and years to learn a language). Unless you have some strategy for keeping your kanji recognition current, I think it's a waste of time. The RTK approach is awesome, but the order is pants. I recommend doing chapter 1 of RTK and then throwing the book away. Then learn vocabulary, memorising the kanji as you go. Make up stories using the radicals and feel free to revise stories as you go. Once you see kanji regularly, you won't need the stories anyway -- so optimising order to make your stories consistent is a wasted effort. My 2 cents. Other people I know did RTK the RTK way and had no problems -- however, I think all of the people I know either did shodo as a hobby or were really active in studying for the kanji kentei. So they had a way of keeping that knowledge current.
I learn most new kanji naturally as I study with Anki and look up unknown kanji I encounter in the wild. I only idly pay attention to the RTK-order kanji on my desktop status bar. The purpose is basically to have some vocab stuff to glance at throughout the day, it doesn't really settle in but it keeps my eyes used to reading Japanese.
I can second your suggestion to do the first chapter of RTK, though. I would recommend learning maybe the first 100 RTK kanji just to establish a baseline understanding of how kanji work and familiarize yourself with important radicals.
Not just your 2 cents...this is the way they teach in Japan, both to natives and at language schools. They have a kanji ordering that is loosely based on frequency, and the kanji are individually presented for reading(s) and (hand)writing, but the actual learning involves memorizing lists of words. In fact, now that I'm not taking exams in Japanese anymore and I care very little about handwriting, it's more efficient to memorize words. I find that new kanji sink in automatically. It's kind of magical, really.
To overgeneralize a bit, the folks I've met who are most dedicated to the RTK method are the ones who have been "studying" Japanese for years and years with little discernable progress. Lots of people get sucked into the kanji memorization black hole because it's gives the impression of steady, incremental progress to a process that is not incremental at all.
Warning: this is a mess
This command is run by my status bar, which prints each line sent to stdout on my desktop:
Which is powered by sway:
The first half of this is dead on. The second half is wrong.
Duolingo's top languages are in the Indo-European family. (Their most learned language is English, next is Spanish.) Their techniques are perfectly adequate for gaining elementary vocabulary a basic grounding in the grammar of those languages. The most common languages in that language family are positional. You really do need to learn to say "black shirt" in English versus "camisa negra" in Spanish. Saying it in the other order is wrong.
Their tools don't work well for other language families. However they do work for lots of languages that people want to learn.
- Different meaning: Es un pobre hombre (pity). Es un hombre pobre (poor).
- Same meaning: Tienes un excelente humor. Tienes un humor excelente. 
- Emphasis: ¿Ya os habéis mudado a la nueva casa? ¿Ya os habéis mudado a la casa nueva?
In your specific example, "negra camisa", while it is valid it does sound archaic. However this does not mean that ADJ+NOUN are wrong in Spanish. Not at all.
Edit, more on the topic here: http://adjetivos.org/adjetivos-especificativos-y-explicativo...
It's important to look at resources that languages provide- English and Spanish also have immense amounts of media to listen to and read, and obviously a lot of people to talk with. I would say that helps far more than learning simple grammar.
My point is that a particular approach tends to work similarly well across many languages within a language family. Duolingo's method is effective at providing elementary grammar and vocabulary within Indo-European languages. I agree that it does not get you a sufficient vocabulary to read, or the verbal reflexes for speech. But it is an effective approach for an absolute beginner.
Everything that I've heard about it says that it is basically useless for various Asian languages. Even for absolute beginners. For example my wife used Duolingo with languages like Polish and Spanish. She was quite happy with the results, even though she outgrew what the app can do. However despite these good experiences it took her less than a week to decide that it was useless for Japanese, and move on to a random flashcard program instead.
As an interesting aside, we have objective evidence of these linguistic differences from machine learning. Google Translate originally worked by a form of statistical pattern matching across large numbers of original and translated documents. This worked brilliantly for Indo-European languages, but did badly for various Asian languages. To my understanding for much the same fundamental reasons that Duolingo does.
But yeah, I think they're going to have to do a pretty complete revamp of the Japanese course, and possibly add some more features like handwriting recognition for learning the characters. I did a little of that on my own, putting together a flash card deck that I could type in Japanese in, and used Android's Japanese handwriting input method to enter characters, and found that pretty good for learning kana, but I didn't feel like putting all of the work in for building such decks for the kanji I was learning as well.
I find Duolingo much better for the lessons that are more well developed, and which the software was originally written for, like French. I think that they could eventually get to the point where the Japanese lessons are useful, but now is not that point; they will need both some software updates that make Japanese learning work better, and a revamp of the curriculum.
It's not only useless for learning the kanji, it's useless for learning the rest of the language is well. Long strings of kana are harder to read/parse (even when you don't recognise the kanji, you can parse to something like <noun><grammar><verb><grammar etc. just based on the structure and see where the parts you don't understand are, which is much harder to do with just the kana form), and there are multiple times where after learning the kanji I've thought "Oh, _now_ that thing in Duolingo makes sense.
It's also easier to remember when building off the other kanji, and lets you build understanding. Say you know that 姉 is "older sister" and 妹 is "younger sister" -- you can make a pretty good guess that 姉妹 just means "sisters", even if you can't actually pronounce it. You can't really do that when all Duolingo has taught you is "older sister" is ane/あね and "younger sister" is imouto/いもうと and not the kanji form, and you certainly won't see how they are connected when "sisters" is introduced as shimai/しまい. Learning the kanji steepens the learning curve for sure (which is why I suppose Duolingo introduce very few), but it gives you a _much_ better understanding and I felt more comfortable manipulating the language.
This is what I discovered:
1) It can't be your one learning source. You get the essence of the language but you'll never become fluent.
2) It's very good at keeping you engaged. It gets an A from me on that.
3) The web app is stricter and will force you to learn better than the Android app
4)On the Android app you can get thru the challenges without learning a thing. You can just guess.
5)Your mindset should be to learn as opposed to getting thru the challenges.
6)Grammar is important so make sure you read the text they post on the web app. The phone app does not have it.
7)Find someone to speak the language with you ASAP. Speaking is the fastest way to fluency.
8)They've started to monetize the app so ads are a problem now. And ad-free is expensive.
9) It's many times better than the in-class teaching I got in junior high. They should replace the 1st few semesters with the app.
I've found I end up looking at the comments frequently and just hoping that someone was kind enough to plainly explain the grammar at some point. Failing that, I end up asking fluent Spanish speakers random questions like, "Are adjectives gendered and pluralized in Spanish?" Which works up to a point, but when you start asking about things like "gerunds" and "past participle" you end up having to explain what those things mean in the first place (using English) and then ask the question again about Spanish.
Would love to see an app that focuses less on implied methods of teaching and is more willing to dive in to grammar lessons.
He's gathered a vast amount of material for French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and more on his website, https://fluent-forever.com. I've used his pronunciation trainers for Spanish and Japanese, and it's obvious the enormous effort he's put into all of his materials. Wyner obviously loves his work.
Learning a language has no shortcuts - only different methods with varying levels of effectiveness, i.e. fluency gained per hour of work put in. I can say that of all the apps and methods I've tried, from Pimsleur to Rosetta Stone to Duolingo and Memrise, Fluent Forever is by far the most effective one.
I used it to learn Spanish for a few weeks - his approach of learning pronunciation first, then basic vocabulary, seems counterintuitive at first, but it really, really works. Which I found out to my pleasure when I went to Spain on vacation with my friends. Even though they'd studied Spanish all throughout high school, both my pronunciation and my fluency were miles above theirs. I couldn't employ advanced tenses, but as he explains in the book, it'd be impossible for me to fluently internalize more advanced grammar before the simpler forms for any language, anyways.
I've moved on to Japanese for now, since I have a much longer trip there coming up. This will take much, much longer (it's a Category V language versus a Category I language), but so far it's been just as effective at teaching me pronunciation and hiragana/katakana (their phonetic lettering system).
I highly recommend the book - it's practically free at that price. Compare it to the $300 you'd spend on Rosetta Stone and don't hesitate.
That said, DL's Irish course is useless for anything except a little vocab. There's tons of incorrect answers, or things that only work in certain situations, or direct translations from English nobody would say, or things that are mistranslated, etc etc.
For example, words ending in ation in English, will end in ación in Spanish. Further, these words are also 'ar' verbs.
Conversation -> Conversación -> Conversar
I've found it quite helpful, especially in conjunction with Duolingo. At some point, I realized what I learned via Language Transfer was applying more as I progressed in Duolingo.
For most people learning a second language, one of the fastest ways to learn can be the most painful way for some of us to learn. Rote memorization. Bor-ing. Methods like Assimil and Glossika and others use this as their core method, with some tweaks.
By memorizing grammatically correct phrases, you will know that you are saying something correctly. I've heard saying that some incorrectly things is literally like I just wrote - your brain processes based on patterns and when you say it in the wrong subject-verb order or even phrase cadence, the person listening gets confused and sometimes irritated.
If you are musically inclined, this can be song lyrics. Or you can hire someone to translate things that you would like to say from your native language into your second language.
You must memorize phrases because memorizing single words without the context of an enclosing sentence can create bad habits that have to be unlearned later.
Like learning violin, mastering the fundamentals are important before you can learn to play music. For learning a language, the two most important things are speaking with the right accent and speaking like a native speaker would in a given situation (which is usually grammatically correct but smooth).
I've tried to use Duolingo for Japanese, with very little success on its own. Paired with my own studying, it was only a bit more helpful, but not more helpful than flashcards.
Another app, LingoDeer, was better, because it had a curriculum and more unified lessons, and I could swap between Kanji/Katakana/Hiragana at will to learn one at a time. (Whereas DuoLingo will bring you to 15% understanding of Hiragana before dumping you into Katakana).
I find the "you are 53% fluent in Spanish" notifications laughable, though. I'm maybe 10% fluent, on a good day, when listening, and about 20% when reading. Though assigning a percentage to fluency is a bit weird anyway.
So...yeah, I think you kinda get out what you put into learning a language, and Duolingo is way closer to putting in "nothing" than it is to putting in "something". One shouldn't expect to get much out, if you're just doing little memory quizzes a couple times a day. But, I can do it without needing a lot of free time, and maybe it'll help some day when I am able to spend a few months in Mexico, so I can immerse myself in the language, to really learn it.
I have come to the conclusion that people in those countries are either very dumb and have little to talk about, or these numbers aren’t really correct.
I’m not sure which it is yet ;)
Conversations out loud might be a different story.
This is the biggest limitation of duolingo. In most languages, reading is the easiest in the reading/ writing/ listening/ speaking hierarchy - a good way to learn vocab, but learning to cope with the sound of the language at full speed is generally where the biggest challenge lies. I would seriously recommend listening to language learning podcasts over duolingo once you get past a beginner level.
Source : am also an intermediate French learner. French people talk fast.
 ... but writing correctly in French is freaking hard as European languages go, because of the spelling rules...
That said, I've cumulatively taken about 6 years of Spanish throughout middle school, high school, and community college.
As this article points out, they are adding an impressive amount of new content. The new "Stories" feature is cool (I think it's still under the "Labs" section). So is their podcast, which is an NPR-style story that alternates 1 paragraph in Spanish, then the next paragraph in English.
I recently picked it back up again (couple of months ago), and tried doing both Japanese and French. I find the French one much more helpful. The Japanese module is still in beta, and it shows; tapping on one word to look them up if you don't remember them doesn't work well in Japanese but it works fine in French.
And yeah, I found the Japanese curriculum pretty lacking, and the kanji really hard to learn in this format.
I did find an interesting way to practice my hiragana and katakana, though. I created a slide deck using Tinycards (Duolingo's flash-card app, I found it a lot easier to set up and use than Anki even if it's less powerful) in which I would have to write the kana using the handwriting input method for Japanese. I found that actually trying to write out the characters was way more helpful for remembering them then just clicking on the right one out of a list.
However, I couldn't figure out a good way to get Duolingo to give me a list of the kanji I was supposed to have learned by now to use that with kanji, and figured it would be too much of a pain to go back through all of the lessons, write all of that down and then create the flash cards manually from that.
I've quit with the Duolingo Japanese lessons by now, I think I want to wait until they're a little more fully baked, and even then I'll probably need some other outside resources to study along with.
I think Duolingo in its current form is a good way to stay practiced with a language and learn some vocabulary and grammar, but only for some of the languages. However, even for those languages, you will need some other resources to really develop fluency.
The nice thing about Duolingo for, say, French is that I can kind of mindlessly do it every day to keep my skills up and improve my vocabulary, and then do smaller bouts of studying using other methods to improve actual fluency.
But with Japanese, Duolingo just doesn't work very well, and just learning kanji with WaniKani would miss all of the rest of the context, so I'd need something to pair with that for learning the rest of the language. Any recommendations on good resources for learning the actual spoken language to go along with WaniKai?
BunPro is pretty good. It's fairly light on its own lessons, but will point in the right direction for material on each grammar point (both online and in the Genki books), and then has a spaced repetition framework for practice/memorising. It also ties into WaniKani fairly well, so that once you've learnt a kanji in WaniKani it will stop showing the furigana so you get kanji practice at the same time.
There's a WK deck if you really want to use their content.
> DuoLingo will bring you to 15% understanding of Hiragana before dumping you into Katakana
Personally that's how I prefer to learn -- I got to being able to read about 50% of the hiragana without too much effort then went straight to WaniKani, and found I was making much more rapid, reliable (i.e I feel like I'm actually _reading_ them, not just being able to remember the meaning/having to think about it) on the remaining 50%, and I've mostly learn the katakana through context/use -- but of course YMMV.
I am far from fluent, but I could get by in nearly all situations.
I'm learning Swedish now, and it's getting to the point where new languages are easier and easier to pick up. My partner is further than me, and knows a shocking amount of Swedish just from the Duolingo app.
Also learning Esperanto (I don’t think it’s teaching me enough) and Greek (no idea, only half way through the course, but I can now touch type Greek on an English keyboard).
Years ago, I had a project for an app that proposes collaborative language learning quizzes. Sometimes, I think I shouldn't have abandoned it because existing software still doesn't exactly provide what I want.
I tried Dulingo for a bit but found it mostly annoying as I prefer the structured way I've been taught and learned in the past. Maybe it's just how I enjoy learning though.
I had a trip to Kiev a bit ago, and decided to take some lessons while there. I hated it. I couldn't keep up with the class, felt like I was learning nothing and wasting money.
Different learning styles work best for different people.
I always leave feeling as though this app/product is a giant waste of time.
I've been doing Duolingo for French for the past few months, trying to dust off the couple of semesters of French I took in college and get a bit beyond that to maybe get to the point where I can get by. Yes, there is a bit skewed towards things like family relationships, clothes, the house at the beginning; things that might be important if you're living somewhere but possibly less important if you're just visiting. But they are always adding new content, and as the original article points out they just did a revamp to give access to a lot of newer content they hadn't provided access to before.
I don't know; a language generally has a huge amount of vocabulary, as well as grammar to learn, and you need to learn it in some order.
The main thing I do find lacking is that it's pretty much all translation or transcription of simple sentences, or word matching. I do find these helpful for learning vocabulary and grammar, but they aren't going to lead to fluency. The article does mention that something that they are working on is longer listening comprehension exercises, which I think would help out with that a lot.
I study French, German and Russian at uni, and for doing translations, or even just writing letters or speaking, this is not good enough. You want to be comfortable in a language, and that comes with a rock solid grammar foundation, as 'dull' as it seems.
As many have said, Duolingo should be a tool amongst many. It has actually been really helpful for drilling through particular problem areas where I get a case wrong here or there.
What they really need to do is get listening and reading comprehension out there; working alongside some people who really never understand grammar explanations, they can often work it out in their head after reading through a passage with a few examples, it makes it personal to them and they can see the 'point' of the rule.
Also they need to get a better vocab tool, memrise/anki style. Sometimes I just wanna practice shopping items because I'm on the bus to get 'groceries' and I wanna make sure im all sured up.
It's rare for an exercise that makes you write in Italian, even when assembling your own sentences is the basics for those who are learning a new language. Finishing an entire module doesn't make you entitled to write anything.
So I inverted things. Instead of the Italian course, I applied to the English course (which I am already fluent) as an Italian native speaker. This way, I write mostly in Italian, with almost no exercises to write in English (same problem with the Italian course).
Learning has been much more effective.
Regarding something mentioned in the article: what is the point of learning 'entertaining' phrases like 'they are washing the holy potato'. From a pedagogical point of view this is a waste of time is no better than the famous 'plume de ma tante' (look that up if you want to know more).
For any language learner, it's important to remember that the most fun you can have in language learning is experiencing success. That success needs to come from your language acquisition, not arbitrary games.
Learning a language is great!
Saved you a click
If you're looking to do business in Japanese... then you need to be looking at the NHK news app which has beginner resources. If you're looking to do scholarship in German or Spanish or cooking in French then you need to search for vocab resources connected to those tasks.
So far in this thread, there are several comments that could be the grounds for substantive discussion, but don't bother offering the substance. For example: Why does jonbarker recommend Anki for going deeper than "complete beginner"? What does zealsham mean by Duolingo lacking a "structural syllabus" and why is that problematic?
The conversations can be a very valuable part of HN, but not if most comments are at the level of "I still find their spaced repetition lacking" with only the tiniest bit of elaboration. Hopefully I'm not out of place in encouraging something more substantive.
People often respond well to a bit of encouragement, and replies are more likely to be seen than a meta-comment.
Asking individual questions, though, doesn't encourage a different mindset in the way that I hope my meta-comment will.
Also, I take a bit of issue with calling this "complaining". If you think I could have been even more constructive, please point out how. But I'm not just posting a lamentation, here.
Duolingo does lots of AB testing and found that gamification greatly increased user engagement, but I think that they took it too far and lost the forest in the trees.
Everyone learns differently but in my experience you need to hear or read explanations of the second language in your native tongue and then hear that construction in the second language to reinforce it, because the key is lots of comprehensible input.
Can a complex sentence become comprehensible input with just games? Sure, but if someone can explain how the grammar works in English then you can get to that same point faster and without the guess work. That's my opinion, at least, and so far users are seeming to find it effective since reviews have been largely positive!
I think that serious language students will seek out appropriate apps or textbooks, and Duolingo will be a fun option for people that want a mixture of cognitive exercise and entertainment that may also be useful when they're traveling or interacting in a foreign language.
I’ve also made a second app that is a subset of the first that only teaches reading, which I creatively named Pocket Thai Reading.
I’m currently re-writing a lot of the content to create a pared down version for travelers that teaches basic grammar and vocab through audio and transcriptions and without learning the Thai script. It takes many hours to learn the script and it is 100% worthwhile if you’re living in Thailand and it’s great for pronunciation, but it isn’t a worthwhile use of time for people that might just be visiting for a week or two.
If you take a look and have any feedback I’d be happy to hear it - I’m actively working on updates! Next update I’m trying to add some different exercises to test comprehension since it’s multiple choice quizzes only right now.
My wife is a fan of the app and recently paid for premium, but I'm personally a little happier (at least for my use case of Spanish) with Babbel, which I pay for. It has a single way forward, so you never have to choose what to work on next, and that single way will bring back earlier stuff just to refresh your memory for you. It also has little grammar asides, which I found very helpful, and which Duolingo lacks.
It takes you into a lesson that it thinks you should review next. Duolingo is meant to implement spaced repetition in that it keeps track of all the times you have seen every word, and it tries to give you lessons that are "due" for repetition according to its algorithm. In the web interface they show you how "strong" each word is in their opinion, but I found that their data on when you last saw a word was buggy.
Anyway, the barbell is useful to keep you up to speed by revisiting stuff once you have finished all the lessons once.
What did we do in this course? 4 weeks of grammar, interspersed with reading, analyzing and translating classical texts, then 4 weeks of reading, analyzing and translating classical texts. 4 hours in class plus 2-4 hours self-study each day. It worked like a charm. The bottom line: if your aim is to read classical texts, read classical texts. And the key here was not that I learned 4-8 hours each day, the key was that the learning was not dumbed down, gamified, artificially made fun. And I have found that this is applicable to pretty much every other language.
Note that recognizing characters is much easier than being able to write them correctly from memory (and you really don't need the latter – even Chinese can't write anymore; look up "character amnesia").
But regarding the writing system, that's where the interesting stuff is IMO, it's a system where words are linked to more to meaning than sound (unlike most other writen languages), which meant it could be used as the writing system for many various regions all around what is now modern China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
Learning a romanized version of a language is not learning a language. Sounds in one language don’t map neatly to English sounds, and beginner language learners who use romanization always have pronunciation issues because their headspace isn’t in the language, it’s in a romanized variant of that language.
What’s the point of learning Chinese or any other script language if you don’t learn the script?
I once learned Chinese in a very intensive course that focused on the spoken language and only taught a few hundred characters. It has proven very useful for my occasional travels in China, being able to interact with hotels etc., having nice enjoyable conversations with my drivers when hitchhiking, etc. For me, my present skills are enough for what I want to get out of the country; for me, China is just one country among many. The few characters I know are enough of a bare minimum to find my way around. If I were keen on reading Chinese literature, then I would definitely go further with characters, but there is value for many people in having simply a minimum command of the language.
But apart from that? It doesn't teach you grammar, so you are repeating and repeating like a parrot, hoping that one day you will know why they say XY in one sentence and YX in another sentence. It's true that babies don't learn formal grammar, but they usually grow up in an environment with full immersion (several hours per day over several years), surrounded by native adults who give their best to interprete, repeat and correct (!) their utterances.
In addition, Pimsleur is very slow but it gives you the illusion that you are learning a lot by keeping you constantly busy. At the end, how many words do you learn in three levels? 400? That's barely A1! Most annoying, 70% (just a guess) of the time, you are just listening to the English speaker ("Now repeat this", "Try to say that",...).
Disclaimer: the guy who runs it is a friend, but I met him through the project.
Context is king in languages.
I think true solutions have to account for the following in language learning:
Video / Audio
Tongue Positioning for Pronounciation
I haven't found a solution that does this....
That's normal. Everybody has the same problem to some degree. Your brain is mapping what it hears to the sounds and sound sequences that it knows from your native language. That's usually a good thing because it helps humans to understand others even in the presence of background noise or speech impediments.
Less probable but also possible: You have a hearing loss which your brain is able to compensate for your native language, but not for foreign languages. Had a friend with that problem. He was not able to discriminate between similar words starting with different sibilant sounds. He didn't have the problem in his native language because he knew from context which word would come.
Have you tried to listen to audio books based on books that you know very well in your native language?
Are there any recommended books/material to learn Spanish that way? Everyone says spanish is easy to learn, but all apps kinda try to teach you by repetitive methods with no insights in to the structure of the language.
I've been able to use Duolingo to bootstrap my way into being able to sort of read French. It's also decent at drills in German, a language I took in college.
I really like Duolingo for drills and for getting a sort of 101-level language map. A lot of the early sentences are absurdly inane, to be honest, but they are useful in the drill sense.
That said, I took a run at Chinese, a language which I see as something potentially really useful, and it was a complete non-starter.
Introducing them all together is helpful. However after some level of proficiency I would like to receive them separately. In a group with unrelated exercises. On a schedule indicating how well I know that phrase.
That said, they have been a painless way to gain a basic foundation.
Also, certain topics end up reinforcing earlier topics. I lost count of the number of times that the stupid "algorithm" would make me go through the exercise of translating "no, nada". At some point, don't I just know this?
Additionally, when you have topics that aren't "gold", it simply selects the first non-gold one to repeat. This can mean that a bunch of stuff at the bottom of the tree gets rusty because you don't get to it while you end up redoing stuff you know backwards.
I made this observation in the forums but couldn't really get any traction on the issue.
At some point they also introduced the stupid heart system, which was pretty much my trigger for just abandoning the whole thing.
Also, I'm really not sure how much this format actually works. Like having completed the Spanish tree, I'm honestly not sure if I really remember anything more than a small fraction of it.
If you look at some of the core languages like German the course has a 'words' tab and it shows you exactly how strong it thinks you know each word and when you saw each word last.
It could be different between languages, and who knows how well it works.. but it's definitely something they seem to be working on and putting thought into.
After about 40 days, I went back to go through some of the previous lessons, given their new Crown update, and realized I haven't seen some of the words at all.
Despite having around 400 words learned so far.
2. It's not bad to forget words during the learning process.
3. Purely personal: SRS reviewing is the ultimate bore, however you design your cards. And making the cards is even more of a bore. It's the opposite of fun.
My background is that I’ve used it while studying Korean. I’m at about 2,000 korean words now, of which Anki has helped me a lot. Each day I review 50 words and add 20 new ones. It sucks but it works.
As you see new words in reading material, etc, you can add it to Anki. That’s supposed to be how it’s done, but there are premade decks also.
The real beauty lies in anki’s customization. You can add pictures or custom fields and style them. You can reverse the deck so you’re seeing one side or the other when reviewing.
Anki is NOT helpful with a word’s context if you don’t know it or don’t add sample sentences. Which is why people recommend building your own deck over time by reading short stories or news, etc, and adding every word you don’t know, rather than using a premade 5k word deck.
If you have any other questions feel free to ask.