Yeah, I don't know exactly why the Welsh Duolingo creators included them on this course but it's probably because they based it on the WJEC beginners' courses, which include place names. And the main reason the WJEC courses include place names early on is mutations.
Place names are probably the easiest way to learn how to mutate initially. Learning the mutation of place names is often a good introduction to the subject and is what helps people move on to more advanced mutation in the future. Of course, Duo doesn't really go into the wheres and whys of mutation, so maybe they stand out here as odd, but in the WJEC courses they're very helpful.
Of course also, what is twice the memory work for some people on here is much easier for those that live in Wales. Again it goes back to the WJEC courses being used mostly in Wales or by expats who are already familiar with the country.
Those are all excellent points. I'd not considered the use of place names to introduce mutations. That point would be well worth making in the introductory notes (for those who aren't on an A/B test and actually get to see them).
Mutations are something that definitely need better coverage within the course, but they are also something that are clearly difficult to handle within Duolingo.
Yeah, the problem often is that teaching or not teaching mutations is seen as a black and white issue: you're either in the teach-them-all-because-it's-right camp or let-them-pick-them-up-as-they-go-on camp.
All mutations aren't created equal, however. If you say te a coffi (tea and coffee) instead of te a choffi nobody will really care, and you'll even sound weird if you consistenly apply this "official" mutation is everyday speech. If you can't distinguish between Mae hi'n marw (She's dying) and Mae hi'n farw (She's dead), then you got problems!
Rather than the all or nothing approaches, I'm up for teaching the essential and common mutation patterns to beginners and then others as and when they're needed later on. Big languages like English have a lot of acadamic research done on them and abound in linguistic experts. For a little language like Welsh, we could really do with more of these people to help us decide what to actually teach and how to go about it.
@kdb119 ... I'm not sure what an A/B test is? I'd be interested to see a breakdown on how many people use the Android and iPhone apps instead of the website. I'd expect a majority?
The apps don't show the introductory "class" notes" at all.
The Android app shows the forum discussions for each question (but no class notes)
The iPhone doesn't show forum discussions or class notes. All they get is the questions with no commentary, official or otherwise.
Actually, one thing that Duolingo doesn't cover at all well (in any course) is the kind of background and cultural information that you might get from a conventional course; the sort of thing the BBC courses used to do particuarly well. Although I think it may have caught people a little by surprise how popular the course might become to people outside and with no historical connection with the UK.
The ability to add a few pictures and/or maps to the notes might be helpful - especially for non-Brits. However, that also goes against the concept of keeping things simple and concise - and the gamification approach. Also, aside from the A/B issue, the introductory notes aren't even shown within the app (not iOS, anyway) - nor are these discussions directly accessible.. That is something that desparately needs addressing by Duolingo.
More excellent points. Couldn't reply directly. Your last point (in your previous reply - some reply overlapping) is particularly relevant to Duolingo. I don't think that people appreciate the fact that, in essence, putting Welsh on Duolingo was a big experiment, which, I feel, has on the whole been very successful. Welsh also seemed to create some unique challenges to Duolingo. ;-)
Your point about the use of place names and mutations makes me reconsider their usefulness and my original suggestion (made elsewhere) that they should be moved later in the course. Their placement now makes a lot of sense and perhaps just a little up-front explanation would remove many of the criticisms.
WRT contacting the course creators; I've had a few conversations in the past with Richard (rmcode) about a number of things/suggestions, which has given me some insight into the challenges releasing Welsh on Duolingo presented.
My impression is that they are all dedicated and determined to improve the course as soon as they are able - and once they have worked out the best approach, which is not always clear. Also, some ways they might have wanted to do things may have been thwarted or at least made less than ideal by the way Duolingo works. They also had a steep learning curve with how to operate Duolingo, plus inevitably some mistakes crept in. They have proven very responsive to fixing any errors they are able to - some things have to wait for a new version. So I think they should be commended for all their efforts.
I've currently paused with Welsh for a few months whilst I've gone back to revise the other languages for a while. Once I resume, I'm hoping most issues may have been addressed by the time I reach them. :-)
@DesertGlass. An A/B test is the name given to the concept where they (Duolingo in this instance) split users into two groups. One group receives one set of features and the other a different set. The idea is to judge the effectiveness or suitabilty of one idea or the other. In the discussions (can't remember which one) someone revealed that Duolingo were holding A/B tests whereby for one group of users the introductory notes didn't appear at all. I don't know for certain if that was true, but it explained some of the earlier comments from some contributors. Others have remarked that Duolingo have used this quite frequently in one form or another. Unless you happen to logon as two different users you would never normally be aware of this; and possibly not even then.
I was aware the iOS app doesn't show the introductory notes at all since that is what I use. The website doesn't work very well with an iPad and becomes quite annoying. However, having not ever used the Android app I couldn't say whether that acted differently.
In fact, some language courses have made a slight attempt at adding notes in the first few lessons of the course; Italian, I think was one, but they are very limited and not very successful.
@DesertGlass: it's a shame the iOS app doesn't have direct access to the relevant discussions.
I suspect you are right, that more people use the apps; which seems odd therefore that they are more limited. However, as someone suggested, perhaps Duoingo see the apps as serving a younger/school age audience.
I cannot imagine how anyone could learn Welsh on Duolingo without constant referral to both the introductory notes for each topic and the discussions, without already possessing some working knowledge of the language.