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More exercises that require you to translate from English to the language you are learning

I really love Duolingo but there are two features I feel are missing from this to be the perfect language learning/revision tool: There are not enough translation exercises where you are required to translate, say "The woman is with the teacher" in German, or whatever language you are trying to learn. Most of the exercises are about finding the English translation of the German sentence or to choose the English translation out of three obvious choices. This doesn't really push you mentally as much as it could and it would make the memorizing more efficient.

The second missing feature is rather similar and has to do with the ability to review past known vocabulary like flashcards. I would really like to have to specifically work on specific English words' translations, especially considering that it is rather important in German to know whether each word is feminine, masculine or neuter. However when you pick a specific word and click on "practice this word", you are only given two exercises, one of which being to choose the right picture out of three and the second asking you to find the right English translation. Doesn't really make you memorize the word and its gender.

January 29, 2013



That is true, I also feel that translations to the language I am learning from English are the most challenging and useful. I'd love to have more of them. But I guess they are not so frequent because otherwise it would be hard to get through the lesson with 3 hearts. It would be frustrating to get stuck for more than 4-5 repetitions. One solution here would be increasing the number of hearts proportional to the difficulty composition of the lesson or subtracting half-heat for mistakes in most difficult tasks.

Flashcards would be great indeed.


Hey! I've seen that you can change your learning language around. For Spanish it has: "Quiero aprender ingles (yo se espanol.)" <<"I want to learn English (I know Spanish.)" They have it for Spanish, Portuguese (beta), & Italian (beta.) I'm assuming they have the same methods in learning the opposite way, too. Maybe this would help practicing, in my opinion. If you feel you're fluent enough or learned enough to know to translate, I'd say they'd have you translate from English to Spanish more often. I haven't tried it out yet, but I will be sure to when I finish the entire Spanish section..


That is very cool! Unfortunately they don't have this out for French yet. (and unlike android users and people who would like to learn some archaic language, I will wait).


I raised the point about translations from English a few weeks ago, I'd love to see these features implemented more although I have seen more translations from English recently.


I think the flashcard idea is a great idea


I like the flashcards and I have to say that I am getting really good at translating French into English. I am not doing so well the other way and I am finding this to be a real problem.


Agreed. This has been my hang up in German. German -> English is a lot easier than English -> German particularly because the lessons don't clearly distinguish why a certain word is considered Masculine as opposed to Feminine. That's been my biggest obstacle.


In answer to your confusion over word gender in german, this is because there really is no logical or consistent rule as to why some words are considered masculine, feminine, or neuter - you just have to learn them :)


actually, there are lists of rules and guides to the different genders - admittedly as with most rules there are some exceptions!!!! i dont have the link to where i found it but i am certain that if you google it you will find what i have found to be extremely helpful information...


Hello which flash card app do you use? Thank you


I like http://ankisrs.net/, it's the only one I've used


Precisely what I wanted to raise. Translating from French to English is way easier than the other way. Translating from the language you learn is the only way Duolingo can make up for not allowing one to speak it. Not complaining, great great site, but English -> other language is more than needed. The web also has to be translated into other languages you know :)


For the first feature, one thing you can do is practice the reverse pair—doing the lessons that are intended for speakers of your target language who wish to learn English. Though there are thus some English (sound) --> English typing, you get much more of the English --> target language.

On the second feature, check out Memrise, which is much more suited to learning straight vocabulary. It is flashcards, gamified, based on spaced repetition and is a great complement to Duolingo.


I did a lesson yesterday and was really surprised by the number of lines I had to translate into French. (5) Maybe it happened faster than we thought.


Maybe the further you get the more translations of this kind you face? That would be wise.


Agreed - translating into English and the multiple choice questions are much easier; the lessons should give you a bit more practice translating into the language you're learning.


I wish there were more useful conversation tools as well. My girlfriend's parents speak Spanish only and when I call their house, I would love to be able to say "Is (name) there? May I talk to her? Could you please tell her to call me when she gets a chance? Can you tell her I won't make it?" etc.


I completely agree! I love Duolingo, but there really needs to be more translation exercises from your native language to your target language. There also needs to be a flashcard feature.


Thank you for writing this! I completely agree! The old version of duolingo seemed more evenly mixed between translating to and from your home language but this new version-- particularly in Spanish, seems almost 100% translating Spanish into English which is super easy compared to going the other direction. I liked using this app to study the accents by forcing myself to type out the answers without the word prompts and now I can't do that any more. What gives? I find the exercises boring otherwise because I already know how to write in English!! Once they switched to the new system I stopped using it because I felt like I wasn't learning anything.


The primary purpose of Duolingo is to translate foreign text into english. Their practice is geared at helping you succeed from that perspective, not translating english phrases into the foreign language.


I see what you mean, but in order to be successful at translation, they also need to keep their users happy with what they're learning in the courses, so that they'll keep coming back to Duolingo instead of seeking out alternatives. And many people won't be entirely satisfied with a course that doesn't adequately teach translation into the language being learned.


But they want to advertise on the basis that Duolingo is as good as taking college classes. College classes teach the language "both ways." "Learning a language" is reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the second language. If, as you suggest, Duo is concerned primarily with reading, they should be more forthright about it, IMO.


I agree 100% !!!


I couldn't agree more! I always think I'm doing great learning Spanish, until I get a rare opportunity to translate from English and then I realize I don't know the words as well as I thought!

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