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Teaching irregular plurals

So this is my first post regarding the experimental beginners class I am teaching. I am trying to develop a new curriculum for German at the university where I teach. (More detail here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12923518)

The first questions that I encounter is teaching plurals in German. English is pretty straightforward with plurals with few exceptions like (man,men), (mouse,mice),(foot,feet) and some animals. In German most plurals are hard to predict in how their plural is build (there is a finite set of options though) and Duolingo barely touches this (in one single skill). Duolingo does not teach many nouns anyway (which I think is good when teaching grammar).

But nouns and their plurals have to be learned and I was wondering what your opinions are. What do you think works better: 1. Teaching plurals as independent vocab with individual flash cards for them. 2. Always attaching the plural form to the noun, meaning they are learned with both of them on the same flash card.

Any opinions?

January 18, 2016



I'd say teach the singular and plural at the same time for each word.


Yeah I think that would be traditional way of doing it. Do you have any experience with this? The last time I learned irregular plurals was like 15 years ago with English...


I guess I just learned them as I went for French. XD


Yeah. For now I will make my students learn them together. I'll see if they like it :D


Oh btw. This question does extend to irregular simple past forms of verbs. How does Duolingo treat them in English? It seems like for German, they are mentioned in a skill but not learnable through the "words" feature. I do remember learning them combined in my own school time, but Duolingo obviously prefers to push that towards later lessons. If I make my students have a flash card system, there is no point in having them write the past form on the card before they learn how the past works and going back after learning all past forms does not work with spaced repetition because on one card there will two facts that have been learned at different times.

And even more btw: Improvement of the spaced repetition feature of Duolingo is obviously a something that I would love. For now I have to use Anki parallel to Duolingo. That works fine for myself but I will see how much students like to use two different softwares ...

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