Native Vietnamese speaker here, can't test out 53 skills though....
Tenses in Vietnamese are not that emphasized, we can just ignore them all together at times. But in English it is not the case and more than once, I find myself using simple present tense even though the Vietnamese indicated it already happened (just to get the point)
Classifiers wise: If you want to be safe, go with "cái" for most everything. I lost lives for using other commonly accepted classifiers. What is so wrong with saying "chiếc ghế" instead of "cái ghế"? I HAVE LIKE 3 QUESTIONS LEFT
Similarly many synonyms are not at all accepted
- Possessive words: This one we usually omit. It's more than likely "mẹ tôi" instead of "mẹ của tôi". I just don't like having to speak in a robotic way, this should be optional in many cases for me.
- "Mẹ của tôi có một tiệm bánh", I lost a life over "My mom owns a bakery". I mean come onnnn.
Or maybe I really am not that good at Vietnamese after all....
Keep in mind that the course is still in beta (just available in beta a month ago). Feedback is welcome; frustration is unnecessary.
Natives, of course, know more synonyms than students. It's hard to foresee what synonyms natives will use. The key to take these courses is when in Rome, do what Romans do. If the synonyms are not taught in the course, they will less likely be accepted.
Beyond that, Duolingo is a course. It's a limited subset of the language, and will never be able to reflect the entirety of any language, especially in all the dialects, variances, and non-standard use native speakers will naturally use. Especially for a language as diverse as Vietnamese.
Duolingo, is, at best, is an introductory course. It readies the learner for further learning through immersion, real usage, and other sources. It's not the duty of Duolingo to represent a language in all the ways that will satisfy a native speaker, and any extensions of the course beyond the basic are due to the hard work of the contributors going above and beyond the call to make the best course possible.
I don't expect them to represent anymore than the standardized Vietnamese which more or less is the Northerner dialect. I for all intents an purposes do keep in mind Duolingo was never a path to mastering a language. Yet I see things that cab be improved and not misinformed learners of Vietnamese fundamentals.
I'm also a native speaker, and I didn't even get anywhere on the placement test, so don't feel too bad. The issue isn't whether you know Vietnamese as well as you think so much as the disparity between knowing the language and just knowing how to speak it. Vietnamese as it is currently used (and taught) in Vietnam is a vast world away from Vietnam as it is used between any Vietnamese persons to communicate.
First, there's an efficiency in speech that doesn't exist in the "proper" language (ie the version that gets taught) - using your example, in speaking, I'd say "mẹ tôi có tiệm bánh" because, of course, I expect the other person to fill in the blanks (ie of course we're talking about my mom and she owns a bakery but who cares how many), but I know that's not proper language like I know "mom's got a bakery" isn't something I should be using in written English. Frankly, I skip classifiers half the time when speaking, but Duolingo isn't trying to teach my botched spoken language, after all.
Then there's the matter of the variations of the language. Vietnam is a small country, but the culture is still mainly collectivist despite changes being imposed by globalization. That insularity leads to vast variations in the language. Some synonyms might not be known to the creators of the course, and similarly, some just might be ones they don't think of because it isn't used normally where they live.
Lastly, I'm going to make an educated guess and say that your Vietnamese tends toward the Southern dialect. This course definitely veers toward the North side of the equation. Instead of looking at it as not knowing the language, look at it as a chance to learn new vocab. I'm learning a lot of new terms I'll never use again thanks to this! :)
I'm a native Hanoian so my vocab should be as standardized as it gets ;) Still I think the course is langging behind in the sense that Vietnamese has evolved much beyond what being shown and I don't feel the same initiation being taken to capture this compares to other languages. Granted this is in beta still but the frustration consumed me.
I also speak using broken southerner accent out of habit, though I have almost no southerner vocab.
Interesting you say that since it's some of your usage that tips me toward the Southern - not so much vocab but a somewhat casualness that more typifies Southerners. There wasn't enough for me to say with certainty that that you're a Southerner, but some of your usage wasn't typical of Northerners.
In any event, I agree with you about the course lagging behind in language evolution, but that's pretty much the nature of any language course, yes? Don't get me wrong. Some of words that get taught baffle me - eg, teaching train station or ferry as opposed to car (ie automobile), bus, or boat. On the other hand, all vocab is useful. As for odd grammar quirks, the problem there is equals parts the fault of the course being in beta and Vietnamese being quirky where a sentence might be technically correct while absolutely horrifying natives if used (like your "năm mươi bốn" vs "năm mươi tư" example).
I'm also raised as a Texan so probably where that casualness stems from. I personally think sticking to grammar doesn't equal sleep-inducing content + lots of what I have seen hold zero relevance to Vietnamese culture. Being someone who has never been around for a beta, I don't know if this is the usual process with more relevant content being developed over time?
I would like to say that I agree with you about the sleep-inducing thing, but I've taken innumerable language courses in a variety of settings at this point and am not sure there's another way. I love learning new languages, and that thrill the first time you understand something outside the context of the classroom never gets old for me, but the actual learning process is invariably tedious.
As for relevance, that much I totally agree with. I've also never been around for a beta, but even in more mature courses, new content sometimes appear, so I have to believe that there's more attention around such things for a beta program, so if enough of us note it, maybe new, more culturally relevant things will come along. That said, I don't want to complain too much since I get the sense that the mods are a little frustrated with us native speakers complaining instead of making pointed critiques.
I'll have to disagree on the sleep inducing materials. All the Japanese material I have got my hands on are pretty great at grabbing attention. The weird sentences might be fun for a while but I think in the long run things that you might actually hear from a Vietnamese is preferred.
I think what we are doing is the kind of critiques they are open to. No growth comes from sugar coating.
Both are OK to my ears. I am a Southerner whose father is from the North and mother is from the South. However, I tend to use "năm mươi bốn" since it is what the majority of Southerner would use in daily conversations. "Năm mươi tư", on the other hand, is mainly used in the North, especially on national TV broadcast. So what to use really depends on whether you want to have the most natural way of communicating with people around you. I don't want my friends to stare at me like I'm an alien just by saying "năm mươi tư".
This course is primarily focused on the Northern accent which is considered the most correct form of our language. (Well...) Unfortunately, many Southern equivalents of the words used in this course have been left out. I wish the team included more word choices and pronunciations in both Northern and Southern accents as many learners have suggested that they would like to learn the Southern dialect as well, not just the Northern one.
I'd love to hear more of your opinions on this matter.
Also kudos to the team for creating and maintaining this awesome course. Cheers everyone!
It sounds like these would all be really useful suggestions that could improve the quality of the course if given as suggested translations. I've noticed that even the 3 of the original 5 flagship courses that I've taken (Spanish, German, and Portuguese) all have translations that I've been able to suggest, and that were accepted as valid alternate translations.
I'd imagine that there would be a ton more stuff like this in a course in Beta, especially in a language as distant from English as Vietnamese, and as newly launched as this one.
So basically, don't take this as a reflection of your skill, but rather, a reflection that you have something to offer here, that can improve this course for other people!
People in HCMC would properly use Southern dialect. This Duolingo course, however, has been developed to teach you Northern dialect. Despite some differences in vocabularies and pronunciations, we can totally understand what you say regardless of accents. Another good point is the fact that you're a foreigner, we do have something for you guys. Don't be afraid that you have been learning formal words, they are actually not that formal at all.
We will definitely welcome you talking in our language. Cheers!
The dialect issue aside (learning Northern dialect for the south to me is like learning to speak with a scottish accent before moving to the southern united states; still the same language but probably not the most useful way of going about it); the issue of the formality, which I have encountered before with VNese course books, is that you are learning to say and listen for things in a way that isn't what you're going to hear on the street. I'm not opposed to the formality itself but its annoying that I'm getting questions wrong because I'm writing down what I hear people say rather than the strictly grammatically correct answer that duolingo demands. I have this problem with my students who use Duolingo's vietnamese to english course in that they are often getting questions wrong because the vietnamese they type isn't formal enough despite clearly understanding the meaning of the english.
Well, I understand what you wrote. I've been learning English for years, mainly in American accent, so I have much difficulty in understanding what British people say.
I hope the Duolingo VN team considers learners' opinions on whether they should be taught formal or casual words, Northern or Southern dialect, etc. Anyway, the course is still in beta and open to suggestions. Cheers! : )
I'm Canadian and I can't always understand what British people say. And I watch quite a lot of british TV.
I'd certainly vote for the more casual structures to be accepted and it would be lovely if both a northern and southern version of the sound be available, though I can appreciate the logistical difficulties of that.
It seems to me that the most users of this course are likely to be looking for conversational Vietnamese rather than formal Vietnamese. It is certainly my priority.