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https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

Why is omitting accents not considered a mistake?

I'm not necessarily complaining about it (it does point out when you forget them, after all), but is there any reason why you can go through entire lessons will all hearts intact while omitting every "special character"? It seems like the kind of thing you would want to hammer down into people when they're first introduced to the language - I don't know about the Romanic languages, but in German, vowels with an umlaut are considered entirely different letters.

4 years ago

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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I think it's because the frustration of getting kicked back in lessons would be more damaging to learners' motivation then it would help them to improve their language skills. And honestly, I'm living abroad right now in a community that's a complete mix of people from different countries, and when I've tried to text them in their languages, I've actually gotten teased a bit for taking the time to write the accents and everything out because they themselves don't even bother. They're important, but as long as you're generally aware of them and you get used to seeing the word like that, your brain will pick up on it and it won't be a serious crutch in your learning.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Persikov

I have also been both admired and scorned for Facebooking and texting with accents. But they are essential for writing at work, even casual emails or handwritten notes. This seems like a great place for Duo to give a "fix error" option, where if you fix the accents correctly you don't lose a heart. Because they aren't a big deal, but they are part of the language.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rappa88

I'm portuguese and learning spanish and I have barely improved on the accents, exactly because it doesn't force me to. Most of the times I'm using Duolingo, is in the middle of working and studying, and as such, I am barely ever 100% focused. So I am not using the accents because I'm not focused and not learning them , because Duolingo allows me to never even try to learn them

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sigmacharding
sigmacharding
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I understand your views and agree but please cut us dyslexics some slack! Spelling and learning new langueges are hard enough as it is :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

Oooh... that is a good reason.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rappa88

But you should think you are a minority, and while it may be beneficial for you, it may be detrimental for a lot of people. While I think the option to leave things as they are should be available, for cases such as your own, I also think there should be the option to count accents as mistake

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I actually wish there were a way to use the Duolingo app without any typing whatsoever, for this exact reason. There really needs to be an option to always use the word 'tiles' for want of a better word. My good friend is seriously dyslexic, despite having what can only be called the gift of the gab, and therefore cannot even begin to benefit from Duolingo. Although I have no problem spelling or reading myself, I think it is a load of rubbish that you need to have good literacy to be able to understand foreign languages, but there's very few materials that I know of that agree with me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

I think I heard of a language learning program that teaches you to speak specifically, though I didn't look into it. Literacy is seriously overrated.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BobbieL
BobbieL
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There are actually very good reasons that most language-leaning programs tend to use a lot of text. First, a lot of language learners want to be able to function in text as well as speaking. If you intend to visit a new place, you're probably going to want to be able to read basic signs, for example, There are also a lot of people learning for academic reasons.

There are actually even people who study ONLY the ability to read a language. Larger universities typically offer some language classes with something like "for reading" in the title, that are designed for beginners. This is extremely important for people who intend to become grad students, since some grad programs require you to be proficient at reading one or more of a particular set of languages to make sure that all the students they take in will be capable of reading research materials from other countries.

Materials focused on teaching almost anything are largely in text because that's an extremely convenient way to convey a large amount of information while allowing the learner to take it in at his/her own pace.

I really don't think that anyone with a real interest in languages and language learning actually believes that you must be highly literate to learn and understand other languages, as you imply. That would be a ridiculous claim, because there are lots of people in the world who are bilingual or multi-lingual and completely (or at least functionally) illiterate.

There are language programs that only try to teach by audio (though some of them are only intended to be supplemental to more broadly focused materials). Most of the reason that so many programs make heavy use of text is that it's what the people who buy these things want to pay their money for.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I think I actually disagree completely. I know everyone wants to be able to read and write the language they learn, I'm not arguing that, but I would argue that it is not and never will be the primary motivation to study, at least for the vast majority. Being able to speak and listen is 50 times more valuable, and finding out that all that time you spent studying the written language is next to useless when you first actually encounter someone native can be a very rude awakening.

Besides anything else, unless you are talking about Chinese or Japanese, once you understand the basics of the spoken language, it is a trivial effort to learn to read it because it's 99.9% likely that you were literate in the first place, you just need to 'update' your existing ability, even if it is a completely different alphabet. It's arguably more straightforward doing it that way round, because you won't be butchering the words that you already know by reading them with foreign reading assumptions.

No, I think people buy these things because that is what is available and they haven't considered the alternative, because the alternative is as good as non-existent. I never get fooled by the assumption that because something is the way it is, that must be the best way. Really, if you could learn French without being faced with a written orthography that makes English look good, you'd have saved yourself a lot of frustration. And usually, when I confront people with this unorthodox point of view, they say "Oh yeah, I suppose you're right..."

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

Well, I still think literacy is overrated (not unimportant, just not as good at indicating intelligence as people often seem to think), but French is one example where you kind of have to learn both speech and writing if you want to be able to speak and write. Even in languages like Spanish, there's the distinction between learning for an official setting like school or work, and learning so you can communicate in general. A whole lot of people do the former.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stecchetto
stecchettoPlus
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As others have said it would make things a bit more difficult for people who don't have accented keyboards, and a lot more difficult for them for timed practices. Maybe, though, Duolingo could award extra points or a lingot for completing a lesson without making an accent error rather than taking away a heart or half-heart when they do.

What would be really nice is if Duolingo let users input accents with certain key combinations whenever DL is expecting the user to enter text in an accented language, e.g. 'e gets interpreted as é when DL is expecting French or Spanish text. Users can already do that themselves by switching their operating system's input method, but it would be more convenient if DL took care of it for them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

Wait, how do you switch an operating system's input method? That sounds great. Can Windows 7 do that?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stecchetto
stecchettoPlus
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Absolutely. Do steps 1 through 3 here:

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/86204-keyboard-input-language-add-remove.html

If you have a US keyboard I recommend the United States-International layout (the one in the example screenshots).

Once the layout is added you can switch to it using the language bar, which should appear on your taskbar after you add the keyboard layout.

Here's a guide to the US-International layout:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY#US-International

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/louis.vang
louis.vang
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In the application for android, the accents are automatic generated (maybe not in all languages), when you type the letter without accents. In de web application you can choose buttons with the special characters on it with the mouse clicking on it, but this is not implemented in all languages. Implementation of the screen-buttons should be helpful.

Maybe is there some implementation when the webbbased application is renewed like the i pad application.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/queendeeny

I like the system as it is. It points it out to you so you can learn that you need an accent. The positive feedback and the points, et cetera is what makes Duolingo so addictive and the more time we spend the more we learn.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
jrikhal
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Because some users doesn't have the special character on their keyboard (and don't want/know how to configure it), and because in time practice (for example) there Duo doesn't put the "virtual keyboard" of special character.

Nevertheless, I agree that Duo could consider it as an error, at least after having reached a certain level in the tree. But I imagine it would know need to review entirely the +20 000 (some months old statistic) sentences available in Duolingo... A lot of work.

Maybe, as suggested in other discussions, having the ability to choose if you want you're accent mistake to be considered as mistake or typo.

And for example in French ou and doesn't have the same meaning at all, so IMO it's a typo but it should be considered as a real mistake since Duo can't know (when someone doing the mistake) if it was a typo or a misunderstanding/confusion.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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It doesn't take away my hearts, but for the Spanish, it does tell me that I need to pay attention to the accents whenever I don't put one in. I don't know if I'm in a test group or not though. It's been like that the whole time for me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
jrikhal
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Yes... don't know what I had in mind. ;)

I was maybe confuse since, when taking the course Spanish -> English, it doesn't indicate you any typo in the language you're learning from...

So I'll edit my comment.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Oh! Yeah no you're right! In the Span > Eng it doesn't count them as typos. I forgot that scenario. It only happens in the Eng > Span

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
jrikhal
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Yes, Duo doesn't correct you about your native language (well, the language you're learning from).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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For example, in timed practise, in Portuguese, I don't have "ã" in my keyboard, so I'd lose a lot of time by typing Alt+0227 or by clicking the button on screen everytime I should. I think it may be because of that :/

The same happens both in Portuguese and French with the weird c (ç) or the ae/oe in French. As I have never tried German, I don't know how it is with the ß, so I can't say anything

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/louis.vang
louis.vang
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ß can most of the time be written as double s : ss

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lilithly
Lilithly
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@ louis.vang seriously ß=ss? I don't think that's a good idea actually...you might forget which words are actually spelled with an ß - plus some words would get a different meaning (and pronunciation). I hope Duolingo at least reminds people, that the word should be written with an ß and doesn't just let it go? it's okay to use ae for ä and stuff, but ss for ß just looks so wrong >.<

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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It's actually a ligature of a long s and a short s, so that's not really incorrect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esset

I have to admit, I still have no idea why it actually exists. All it does is frustrate anyone without the right keyboard, heh...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lilithly
Lilithly
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it is incorrect - I know it can be used like that, but it is incorrect concerning the pronunciation. you write "spaß" like "spass" a and it will sound differently, plus make it look like you had a bad education when you are German. unfortunately many Germans already think that "ß" and "ss" are the same, which is totally not the case and that's why I think it shouldn't be taught like it was right in here. But does duolingo actually consider it right, or does it say something like "you forgot to use ß"? (like when you forget to use an umlaut?) to the keyboard problem: you don't really need that, since duo provides you with the uncommon letters (at least in French it does, don't know about German)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pablobaytart
pablobaytart
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Hm. ß should be a ligature of s and z. That is what the letter is called in German: "esszett". And that comes near to the right pronounciation. but off school nobody in Germany would mind reading ss instead of ß.

to a, o u and ä, ö, ü: an "a" is a whole different letter than an "ä". not closer than "t" and "w". should not be mixed up. someone more awake than me should be ble to give senseshifting examples off the difference. "apfel" is singular and "äpfel" is plural...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Sort of like the difference between 'Anyway' and 'Algebra' eh ;)? Although at least you can write that as aepfel if you need to. It's basically just a nuisance that the standard English keyboard layout doesn't have any satisfactory way of adding accents at an acceptable typing speed. In principle everyone wants to type the extra German letters, but who can retrain their hands to QWERTZ?

I know the alternative is an English layout with dead keys, but that makes typing simple punctuation marks like " intolerably annoying. What's needed is an extra shift key, that you hold down when you want the key you press to have some sort of effect on the previous letter, ie a ligature. So if you typed a, [ligature] + e, you would get æ. Or more to the point, a, [ligature]+" would get you ä.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pablobaytart
pablobaytart
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Chilvence, we are even. I have spent a good part of the 80s trying to tpye with english keyboard driver on a qwertz-keyboard. The : is on the ö-key...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I used to do that on my old desktop computer (Not for DL, which didn't exist at the time). After coming to DL, I tried it on my lap top and the laptop has no idea what I'm doing. (Odd because that desktop was almost a decade old from today and this laptop is a little less than 3 years old.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marliner

I would imagine that the ratio of frustration to learning value is very high, for new learners. Having to repeat the same early exercises many times, for a reason that may seem to be pedantic and trivial, would likely turn a lot of people off early on. Advanced learners may regret not having been forced to learn them later, but it's a balancing act.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buunny
buunny
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I don't think penalizing students for accent marks when they are just beginning to learn a language is conducive to their learning. It would only discourage people who seriously want to get into the language.

I remember my first college Spanish professor didn't take off marks for wrong accents, but my French professor did. In the end, I learned where they went in both Spanish and French. The difference is, one way is easier for students and the other is more frustrating.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IG88
IG88
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Probably because counting their omission as a mistake would make the course much, much harder for many people.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
jrikhal
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Yes, but as already suggested (at least I did ;)), it could be mentioned as a typo during the first half of the tree (or two third, or...) then be counted as a mistake, at least the one like ou vs. , à vs. a, ... (for French).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Penguino
Penguino
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As above contributors have already mentioned, it would be very inconvenient to have accent typos count as mistakes. Most people would probably quit using Duolingo after a couple lessons. It does not make any sense to have that feature!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Typing the special characters is impossible without the right keyboard layout. Therefore, everyone gets a free pass, and if you want to learn to touch type AZERTY or QWERTZ, and or buy a new keyboard, you can as a personal choice.

Strangely, I always know where the umlauts should be, but I really can't be bothered to type them either. Maybe its a side effect of knowing how random the English alphabet is and how we all manage in spite of it...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kory.tofte

kory is your friend

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/abc1112

Okay?...

4 years ago