Listening and speaking improvement for Duolingo
Listening and speaking is a very important part of learning a foreign language.
It would be nice to improve Duolingo by using native speakers pronouncing the sentences used in the lessons.
How to implement using crowd sourcing: Native speakers could submit a recording of a sentence. I suggest two recordings. One at a slow speed pronouncing each word and a second recording at a normal conversation speed.
When doing exercise users could select a voice 1 or voice 2 or voice 3, etc. at a slow or normal speed.
The machine voice could be one of the selections.
Users could choose to listen to the different voices and vote for their favorite. The voice with the most votes would be listed as voice 1 with the next favorite being voice 2 and so on.
Each recording would have a tag noting the country and the region the speaker is from. Such as Chicago, United States or Lima, Peru. It would be nice to let the chooser select a preference for the region they prefer.
I agree that listening and speaking are important skills, but they aren't, IMO, skills which are easy to teach within the Duolingo format. Duolingo is good, but it's not a complete learning system. I'm not sure it's supposed to be! What it does, it does well - teaching basic vocabulary and a solid grammar overview in a pretty thorough way (depending somewhat on the thoroughness of a given tree, but that is not always in Duolingo's power to change).
For native speakers, I'd suggest Forvo and simply finding native speakers on or offline. Ditto for speaking.
Crowdsourcing would require a lot of quality control; I'm sure in terms of getting recordings done, it would be cheaper, but in terms of ensuring good quality recordings, I think that would be more difficult.
Just IMO, but I'd rather Duolingo stuck with what it does well and continued to improve it, and added in new aspects when they had the ability to do them well. Better to have a quality, if incomplete, system, than a system which was more comprehensive but wasn't so good.
Whilst I would agree that Duolingo "listening to me speaking" would be a difficult set-up for it to cope with, "me listening to an occasional Duolingo set test-piece" would be simple. It knows which words I am good with; where I am in the levels and so an option of a listening test is really pretty straightforward. And would cover then the third vital "listening" part of learning a language ( after "reading" , "writing").
How would you see that working? Not a criticism, a genuine question; the way Duolingo works, I don't see how Duolingo itself could be trusted to put together a sentence itself (without human input), so... yeah, like I say, not a criticism or disagreement, I just can't see how it would work. Duolingo knows which words it has and hasn't exposed you to, but to make an actual bit of listening practice for you which would make sense would require the course contributors to make something up, no? Which would suffer the same limitations as a regular Duolingo sentence. Like I say, I'm not disagreeing, I'm just trying to understand how it would work.
(I do think the current listening exercises on Duolingo are a little odd, since they test spelling rather than understanding - it could do with a revamp, or maybe for some of them to request output in the target language and some in the source language, maybe?? Latcarf's reverse tree optimiser is pretty good for that, as an interim solution, though I dearly wish I could make those modifications work on the app! I would also love the option to not see the words on translation exercises. I keep meaning to find a post it note to stick over the relevant portion of the screen...)
I really do heartily agree that listening is a vital skill, I've just yet to see a way Duolingo could teach it properly. Maybe if there was an advanced part of the tree dedicated to it - that would be great. Sentences and variations pulled from all over the tree to produce a longer piece of text, and questions (maybe multiple choice would be the easiest to do, from a technical standpoint??) based around those bits of text. Maybe the texts would be fairly static, but there would be several sets of questions testing you on different aspects? Again, I just don't know how easy or hard this would be from a technical POV.
I would love to see Duolingo add more tasks and skills to the system, I just don't want it unless it's going to be done in a way that's genuinely worthwhile and genuinely adds to Duolingo.
This (very complex) suggestion has been made several times. There are places online where you can do what you suggest. Voting for the best voice would be a blind-leading-the-blind situation, I think. How is a beginner to know which is the "best" voice? And there are many, many dialects of both English and Spanish, even in a single city like Chicago or Morelia, Mexico.
This is a very interesting idea. Slightly to one side of it I find that there is an aspect of learning which I am feeling I am missing. That is pure listening. And comprehension. Whilst phrases are indeed spoken, they are also written and I find that I use the writing overly much. 20 minute tests are also written and there is no emphasis on pure listening as a vital skill
I can, of course, simply not look at the writing which might be one way to organise my brain to learn in that way, but I feel that this is not expected of us.
Duolingo has closely looked into the best way to teach, and it reinforces and supports learning a language in the most effective and fun way, but I find it odd that this is not considered.