A better way to learn
After going through this whole section (accusative, nominative, etc) I dont feel like I learned anything. This is mainly due to the large amount of translating from German to Engglish, where there is no gender, its always the, an, or a. For these sections I think that our learning should be based mostly on translating English into German so we can actually know, and remember the genders of the nouns. What do you guys think?
I am very happy to hear that. I think a good understanding of German grammar is extremely important for learners of the language, and that is one thing that is woefully lacking in the current Duolingo lessons. Fortunately, I came here with a reasonable understanding of the grammar already (but I'm certainly no expert and I know I have a lot of room for improvement).
The current set of lessons are extensive, and I can only imagine the huge amount of time and effort that must have gone into developing them. They are an excellent start, but, for the time being anyway, they are mostly useful for building vocabulary (at least that's been my experience). I look forward to seeing additional grammar resources appear on the site in the coming weeks and months.
I don't think using this software alone is very helpful. Combining it with good books on grammar and using tables would probably be better. The software is great practice though.
I'm about to start these more technical sections, but before I do, I'm going to make sure I master and review all the previous sections. Before I start the next less-technical section, I'm going to make sure to master and then review all these previous technical sections.
My experience is that most language teaching programs are more interested in using overly complicated language to describe language rules than in actually teaching you the patterns behind those rules. Make sure you've got a basic vocabulary mastered, then start repeating the technical concepts over and over until the patterns finally emerge.
My experience agrees with what you've said, that many programs teach only content and don't go much into teaching the content's organizing form. When I see this (especially here, with such a cool program) I feel a bit sad, because teaching form (such as grammar patterns, everyday-language usage, etc) can be quite easy and fills the needs of the learners interested in mastering this complex subject. I wish that duolingo would start bringing what they teach in the Tips and Questions sections into the lessons in a way similar to how beautifully and simply they've brought the vocabulary into accessible use.
I've studied a bunch of languages and I've found that studying these kinds of things is easiest for me by starting from forming a table. Something like this: http://www.beste-tipps-zum-deutsch-lernen.com/images/AdjektivendungenBestArt.gif
After that I start using those in sentences. It's obviously a bit technical to learn a language like that, but in my case, having studied 5 foreign languages, it's really become the easiest way. I'm not sure how well people generally are aware of the the meanings of things such as predicatives, objects and subjects of sentences, but if you have those mastered I'd say technical learning will be easy for you.
Yes--I'm using Duolingo to refresh and get back to where I was after learning German for five years and then taking a year off. I practice vocabulary often, but I would like it better if, especially in the practice vocabulary section, there was a greater emphasis on learning the gender and plural of German nouns, and the conjugation of irregular verbs.
Everyone learns differently. Also, the questions you get are random. I've had most of a lesson be nothing but "Memorize this word" which requires no answer at all. My guess is you just have to keep doing the lesson if you want too memorize all of the questions. Although, I find that doing the same lesson over and over isn't very helpful, as there are thousands of words to learn, not just the 5 new ones in that lesson. After you get about 65% through all the lessons, you will be confortable enough to know how to say a sentence, at which point you just have to focus on vocabulary.
I agree with Ninjawarrior, I'm a complete begginer into German and Duolingo has certainly helped me greatly. I think the one thing I would change in it would be to make much more English into German translations. Personally those are the exercises that actually force me to think and to grasp the grammar/gender rules - whereas when I translate German into English it's very easy because the German grammar and gender rules are already right.
I think if more than half of the exercises were English to German translations it would be perfect. Otherwise, a less radical idea would be to have a "train" button specifically for English to German translations.