Why is IPA not used on Duolingo?
Even though the audio is of some use it is not always easy to hear by itself. I know this has been brought up in the past in some older threads but its very practical to use. It is very very time consuming for me to have to look up the IPA on a separate site for each individual word to be sure I am pronouncing it correctly or picking up on the subtle differences in pronunciations.
It would be a major undertaking to create IPA transcriptions of every word and phrase in Duolingo. I agree that it would be great to have such a resource, though. Maybe Duolingo would allow people to contribute IPA transcriptions, similar to the way they allow volunteers to create courses?
As a linguist, I agree entirely about the helpfulness of IPA, but it would be difficult to include in the coding. Even technical aspects aside, a lot of people can't read IPA and might just find it more confusing. For someone just getting into learning languages with no linguistic background, trying to explain that /r/, /ɹ/, and /ʁ/ are all different might seem daunting not to mention /ɕ/, /ɔ̃/, and /ɣ/ which look pretty foreign. Personally, I wish more people took the time to look up the IPA especially in the early stages of learning a foreign language so they could produce the actual phoneme instead of trying to guess with a phoneme in the native language. By no means is this meant to be a criticism.
I would like to see IPA, it could be added to the "hover" text of the word, so you would see the IPA of the word you selected as well as the possible translations. Adding this now would be quite a bit of work depending on the software they use to generate word data but at the point where someone is generating the list of translations for each word in the system adding the IPA shouldn't be too hard. Wiktionary.fr has had the IPA for every word I've had cause to look up and I think there is probably an API that can be used to access that automatically when the volunteers are generating the word data.
Having said that it is not very tiresome to look up the word in another window. I don't have cause to look up that many since I find the majority of the TTS audio to be of acceptable quality (at least as good as my ability to pronounce or differentiate IPA phonemes). The extra effort required also makes it more likely that I'll actually remember. I distinctly remember using IPA from wiktionary to verify that there was no difference in the first sound between that in "incroyable" and "impossible". Before doing that I was utterly convinced that one has a subtle N sound and the other a subtle M.
I would consider this feature a nice to have, not an essential. It is probably more useful to bring the existence of IPA to new learners attention than anything else. The most useful thing that gets posted in every thread about pronunciation is generally to look in to IPA. It's a "teach a person to fish" thing.
Probably because most people don't know IPA and don't realize the benefits of learning it.
I agree, it would be great if Duo did it, especially since the synthetic audio isn't all that great, but I won't expect it because it would only benefit a tiny percentage of users.
I'd recommend not to be too intent about learning to pronounce every word used here correctly as you go along. Instead I'd find some good sources for practicing pronunciation on its own, and learn it there before proceeding here. Might even hire an iTalki tutor who specializes in this sort of thing and invest a few hours in forming a solid foundation for yourself. IME it's better to learn pronunciation first, not concurrently with other studies.
There would be some problems applying this to languages which have a written standard but not an agreed spoken standard. Rather awkwardly, that includes some of the most commonly used languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, etc.
Many of the duolingo lessons seem to pick one specific dialect and pronunciation so I dont think that would be a problem.