When will we see improvement to the Spanish courses?
I keep waiting and waiting but nothing seems to get done. We should have more lessons, more vocabulary, more bonus skills, more everything. What is taking so long? If we got just one new lesson a week or a month at least we would be getting some improvement. Instead, duolingo just sits there day after day stagnating instead of being the dynamic program it should be. Why?
We all know duolingo is the best program out there but it should be constantly improving. We keep hearing that more is in progress but I have been waiting a long time as many of you have and I keep wondering... when?
Please excuse my ranting but frustration has set in. It has been too long.
And lastly, don't hate me because I'm right. :-)
You're very right. I've finished the Spanish tree, and I feel like it's only barely enough to have at least a basic-to-moderate conversation of a limited span. There needs to me more noun-based skills, but at least all the verb tenses are included.
While all the tenses are included, most are barely covered. There are no grammar tips or conjugation charts for most of them (which are very useful even if you're not the type to learn through grammar), and the subjunctive and conditional skills are especially lacking. I understand these are complex forms that many people won't use often, but they certainly need a lot of work.
For what it's worth, a "Strengthen skills" exercise I just completed concentrated on the present subjunctive, with quite a variety of contexts: quizás, quiero que and positive and negative imperatives.
The subjunctive is a hard topic, especially for native English speakers, since the subjunctive has almost disappeared from English. It's possible that Duolingo doesn't emphasize the subjunctive at lower levels, to avoid scaring people away. Once we users have shown our commitment, the course returns to it.
Part of the problem has to do with all languages Duolingo teaches: it is a young start-up with a small staff and no reliable source of income. They have always depended on the kindness of investors and volunteers. And it's free; we have to cut them some slack.
Another part is that their main interest is teaching English (perhaps especially to native Spanish speakers), so more resources are probably devoted to that mission than to teaching anything to native English speakers.
Having studied both French and Spanish, it is easy to see that the French tree has more skills (that is, circles in the tree). However, at levels in the low 20s for both languages, the total numbers of words in the two word lists are about the same, around 2750. It could be that Spanish has more lessons per skill, more items per lesson, more words per item, or a larger pool of items from which to build lessons.
I do some "Strengthen skills" exercises every day, and in both languages, new vocabulary items, grammatical structures and idioms continue to appear. I don't know if they have always been in the curriculum and took a long time to appear (perhaps waiting for me to reach some threshold of achievement), or if these changes have recently been introduced.
By far my biggest problem with the Spanish course is that it is severely understaffed. In particular, when I report a problem with an item saying "My answer should be accepted," the response in French takes a few weeks to a few months, but in Spanish they seem to disappear down a black hole. I can't believe that my knowledge of the two languages is that different. Furthermore, in the item discussions, users say they have reported the same problems years ago, and many problems have been reported many times.
Hmm, i'm working on the English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English trees in parallel at the moment, and the problem with this theory is that the Spanish-to-English tree is in some sense even worse. In particular, there are very close to zero grammar notes on lessons in Spanish-to-English. This is in some sense even worse given that, as you rightly note, Spanish-to-English is the most-studied course on the site.
I don't really get why they don't do more for Spanish given that it is one of Duos oldest languages. Do they have teams that work on the Duo created languages?
Oh my heavens! I was glad to see your comment because I have long felt the same way about the Spanish course. We keep seeing huge improvements to the German, French, and Dutch trees. The English from Spanish course is phenomenal! It will actually teach you more useful English right from the start.
Spanish (from English) takes up a huge percentage of the subscribed users, yet it has not been updated the longest. They also need to work on the subjunctive tenses more in depth, split some of the bigger skills up, and rearrange the skills to mirror the English for Spanish speakers course more.
Perhaps because constant creation, testing, and releasing of new skills in existing courses doesn’t help to fulfill Duolingo’s current business objectives?
Thanks Lee. Very interesting read. Lots of this is written by volunteers? That explains the occasional quality issues.
I don’t know; I don’t work for Duolingo. But it seems to me that Duolingo would pursue that strategy if it did align with their business objectives.
That would suggest that the creation of new “English from …” courses would be of greater interest to them than the further fleshing out of existing “… from English” courses would be.
I've wondered about this for a while, but I think that after Duolingo, you've usually got the basics of the language down, and you can move on to websites like Memrise for more advanced vocabulary.
Isn't the material user-developed? Is the team that developed the course still active? Norwegian just added a whole mess of new material. Another thing I noticed is that the Spanish progress test doesn't work properly. I get a 5 even when I get questions wrong. Duolingo is free so we're at the mercy of volunteers. :)
I have no idea how the test works. I got a score ~4.5 over a year ago when I took the test, and recently got a score ~4.2, even though I've doubled the portion of my Spanish Tree I'd covered (and got to far more complicated questions on the exam).