2 essentials things that the course developers really need to add to the course right away.
Congratulations to all the course developers. I want to give you two suggestions.
1) You need to add a option (a button to be more precise) to the student sees the pronunciation in latin/roman alphabet, like the russian course.
2) You need to add a digital keyboard after the writing empty space, like the esperanto course.
Thank you for creating this course, the community appreciates your effort.
Adding the Nikkud might seem helpful in the beginning, but it becomes something you rely on as time goes on. I originally learned with them and I had a hard time reading without them when I started to try. Modern hebrew doesn't use them so if you get used to seeing them you won't be able to read books, newspapers, etc in the future. I think they are teaching this course the right way, without nikkud. Trust me it gets easier after you learn hebrew a bit more and you will get to the point that you can look at an unfamiliar word and know the vowels pretty easily. Learn the new words by their sounds for now and it will be a huge help to you in the future.
I really agree with this sentiment! Learning Nikkud makes things comfortable faster, but you lose the ability to intuit pronunciation/sounds. Also, the transliteration might help at the beginning, but should also be removed after the first set of lessons, again, relying on them will really curb your abilities later.
Yes, nikkud or an option to write in transliteration are bad ideas. However, a button that shows the transliteration of words into the Roman alphabet is essential! I see questions like - "is the עו in עוגה and the או in אוכל are pronounced the same way?". Many of these questions. They should be answered by DL, with a transliteration button. Not by people in the discussions.
It's nigh-on impossible to add romanisation. There's no way to do it automatically, since unlike the Russian alphabet, Hebrew doesn't map one to one onto the Latin alphabet. You'd end up with this:
אני אוכל את העוגה
'ny 'ukl 't h'ugh
Which is clearly unusable. (Should be more like "ani okhel et ha'uga".)
Even if we did it manually (would take us months), there is no standard widely accepted method for transliteration. A word like חנוכה is spelt by people in a vast variety of ways, all of which we would supposedly have to account for (hanuka, hannuka, hannukah, chanuka, channuka, channukah, khanuka and so on ad nauseam)
I really hope you’ll consider adding romanisation to the next tree. I understand it would be a colossal effort, but it would be so helpful.
I took up Hebrew on Duolingo a few months ago as a complete beginner and it's still a very frustrating experience. It still takes a me a lot of effort to remember where each letter on the Hebrew keyboard is and that diverts my attention from learning vocabulary and grammar.
I like your choice of using real voice actors instead of TTS but sometimes I can't tell what vowel they use, eg. /a/ or /o/. And it’s even worse when a sentence is not pronounced.
I think all of that leads some people to stop learning Hebrew if they're not very motivated in the beginning. And a Duolingo course is supposed to make language learning accessible to as many people as possible and enable them to move on to other more demanding resources.
I’d personally prefer to write in romanisation, but read sentences in the Hebrew script without the nikkud and only turn on romanisation if I have any doubts.
Judging by the comments in this thread, I don't think there is enough will to implement romanisation, but I certainly think it's not technically impossible. The Japanese course will be using kanji (Chinese characters) as well as romanisation and/or phonetic kana, and that is the same challenge as in Hebrew because there is no one-to-one correspondence of characters to sounds. (This can also make learning Japanese frustrating.)
This is what nikud is useful for, it also tells you how many syllables a word has. With nikud you don't need transliteration but you could always copy words with nikud into transliteration websites and it'll give you back the transliteration. Without the nikud you'll get what it'd look like in English without vowels: wtht vwls.
I can agree with this. Sometimes when new words are introduced (Hebrew isn't the only course that does this) there is no sound accompanying the sentence. It would be useful if at least when you hover over a word it plays the pronunciation. That way new learners can learn the pronunciations without the stress of wondering how the hell you're supposed to pronounce this word with no vowels.
That being said, I wouldn't add a latinized version, as it take away some of the joy of learning a language like hebrew (learning the writing system that goes with it).
The word pronunciation will come in time. Keep in mind that the contributors had to hire actors to get audio at all. At least we have it for sentences and every word is pronounced in a sentence eventually. There is no other FREE course like this out there that gives so many words and with most of the audio. I fully expect the rest of the audio to come in time just like it did for irish. The course has only been in beta for a few days so there will be some incomplete parts and bugs. Let's be grateful for what a great course we have now and look forward to these changes coming in the future. Good luck with your language learning.
Duolingo is a for-profit company - that just doesn't happen to, at the moment, act on much of a business plan to actually make a profit.
I think the system for sentences vs individual word pronunciations must be set up very differently. If it were just a matter of getting the voice actors to say the words individually, one figures it might have been done already. Apparently they're exploring using text to speech for that, but it's not simple coding wise given the way the system is currently designed.
Yes, but sometimes you can't recognize the actual pronunciation of a word just by the audio. For instance - I sometimes hear Italian words on a radio show or something, and mistake /a/ for /e/. Or /n/ for either /m/ or /l/. Or /u/ for /o/. In Italian - you can type what you've heard into Google and it will correct you. And then you understand what is the correct pronunciation, because Italian has "real" vowels. They should obviously learn how to figure out the vowels by themselves... I think that a transliteration cheat sheet for every lesson might be a good idea. It's a correct pronunciation guide for the learners, but not too accessible as clicking on a word then getting it's transliteration.
Eh, I can't really back you up here. I have figured out many words I heard in songs or elsewhere. Maybe it took me 10 minutes of Googling and Google Translate, but the point is, it's doable, and the more you learn, the quicker you figure them out. I don't really see the need for transliterations but again it's my opinion. Italian has "real vowels", okay well if someone wants "real vowels" then they'd avoid Hebrew. Hebrew doesn't have those vowels spelled out for you, that's the way it is and to me, that's how I should try to learn it. If developers have the time and want to take the trouble of adding an extra feature, that's fine. If it's too much trouble to implement, I say they shouldn't bother. Hebrew is what Hebrew is. It's not an easy romance language.
The point about romanization/transliteration is mostly about learning new words. At the beginning of a lesson, I get several flashcard "learn this word" things, but by the end of the lesson, I know that ילד is boy and ילדה is girl, but I have no idea how to pronounce them (especially since most of the sentences in that lesson were without audio as well).
Having a written phonetic pronunciation would be handy for each word. (Are Hebrew words pronounced different ways In Hebrew?) This should eliminate all those different English transliterations. (After all, we are trying to learn Hebrew, not English words borrowed from Hebrew.)
As for the keyboard, try stickers or an overlay. It's a different language and a different layout. (The Russian is keyboard is harder!)