Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions we get asked as contributors.
When someone says “how hard would it be to X???”, the answer is usually “very hard” or “we can’t, it’s up to Duolingo” because we do actually think about these things and talk about them amongst ourselves all the time! We’d be grateful if you could point people towards these answers.
When is the course being released for mobile/Android?
It usually takes a few weeks for the mobile versions to be released after a course is released into Beta. This is something that Duolingo itself takes care of, we have no control over this.
Why is there no audio for individual words?
For every course, there is a choice between using a text-to-speech program (TTS) and a recorded audio. For Hebrew, we chose the latter for several reasons - the main one being that there is only one available TTS for Hebrew (Carmit) and it’s not very good. A lot of the pronunciation is a little bit off and it struggles mightily with all context-specific pronunciations. We want the best learning experience possible and we promise you that this is the better option, but in exchange for clear and correct pronunciation we have to sacrifice a few things like the slower speed option (which would be no good to you if the words weren’t said correctly in the first place) and audio for individual words, which the incubator is just not designed to handle and is totally out of our hands.
Our alpha tester Aaron has come up with a great idea which involves using recorded audio for sentences and the TTS for individual words and this is something we will put to Duolingo, but it’ll be a lot of work for them so this is a longer-term goal. This is also the reason some sentences are missing audio - in the thousands of recordings a few things got lost in the post, but this is something we can fix in the middle-term, we are compiling a list of all the missing or faulty audio and get them re-recorded when it is ready.
Why does it mark my answer as almost correct when I leave out the niqqud?
This is a bug which we are trying to fix. At present, we think that this happens only in the listening exercises and are attempting to test this theory. Incidentally, if you report this error, it would be super-helpful to mention whether this occurred in a listening exercise or not. In fact, at the moment, that is literally the only helpful thing you can tell us when you report this error.
The reason it happens is because our original sentence has niqqud. When it asks you to write what you hear, it is expecting exactly that sentence back (as opposed to in translations, where we give it lots of possible correct answers). These exercises are automatically generated and we have no control over this. The current plan is to remove all the niqqud from the course since the vast majority of the pronunciations are context-specific and therefore unambiguous anyway, but we can’t do this right now as the tree is locked and it’ll need to wait for tree version 2.0.
Why can’t we have niqqud for individual words?
Because, again, it’s not how the incubator works, sadly. The way it works is that we have a bunch of words we’d like to teach in a lesson, and we make sentences made entirely out of those words or words taught in a previous lesson. The “translate this word with pictures” exercise is automatically generated. If we put the words in with niqqud, we’d have to use them to make sentences and then we’d have full niqqud everywhere, so it’s an all-or-nothing case I’m afraid.
Why do the first few skills teach sentences and words when they are called “letters”?
Again, this is how the incubator was built and we have no option not to. The incubator was not designed to teach languages with non-Latin alphabets and the only mode of teaching we have is via sentences. We’ve modelled our system on the Ukranian course, where we introduce the letters slowly through simple words. We start you off with three letters, and add one more every lesson. I wish we could do it more gently with flashcards for individual letters and such, but we can’t. We have done the next best thing however, which is create just such a Memrise course.
What is the most helpful way for me to report an error?
“My answer should be accepted” if you think it should have been accepted. Remember to read through the forum posts for that sentence first. Anything else, tick the relevant box AND tell us exactly what is wrong using the freewrite box. REMEMBER that if you do not choose “My answer should be accepted”, we cannot see what answer you submitted. Please bear this in mind when you submit such a report.
My answer wasn’t accepted for the umpteenth time. Why?
We’re in Beta. You are all testers. Thank you for testing. Please use the Report an Error button!
Why is there no on-screen Hebrew keyboard?
This is something we have been discussing with Duolingo since first starting to build the course and the answer is that it’s apparently not super-straightforward to do, although we hope to have one at some point if possible. Again, this is pretty much entirely out of our hands. To be honest, if you’re set on learning Hebrew you should consider downloading a Hebrew keyboard or using a virtual one. See the welcome post for more details.
If I learn Modern Hebrew, will I be able to understand Biblical Hebrew (and vice versa)?
See the welcome post. There are literally hundreds of posts answering this question in more detail if you are still interested, a quick rummage should yield interesting discussions.
I don't understand why DuoLingo doesn't just make the full audio a priority. I hate when people make it talk like DuoLingo cannot do this due to some objective constraint. I'm a web programmer. I know how this stuff works. If it's not implemented that way, then it can be changed, and if they aren't changing it, then that's a conscious choice, they're CHOOSING to prioritize other things rather than this one.
I personally think that the lack of full audio in this and other courses (like Vietnamese) is such a major hindrance to learning the language, that it would be worthwhile for them to make it a priority to record each word individually.
Given how much work and complexity goes into the DuoLingo system, it seems like the amount of resources necessary to implement this (and record the full audio for each word) would be quite small relative to the amount of resources they have already expended recording audio for each sentence.
It can be helpfull to use GoogleTranslate to check your pronounciation. I use it also when an image shows up and I don't know how to pronounce it. In GT it comes with ניקוד and that learns you how to pronounce it. But I can understand if ones level isn't that high as a beginner, it might be a little difficult sometimes. ּBut anyway, I would also find it easier if pronounciation buttons were there for single words :-)
Three years after this comment, and this is still the major issue with this course. Want to see how non-Roman languages can be handled well? Check out Hindi. They do a great job over there.
Sometimes I consider dropping Hebrew. Not because I don't find it interesting, but due to the poor implementation.
Are you aware that Hebrew was the first non-alphabet language to be taught on Duolingo? That was more than three years ago. Since then the platform got a major update, making sure non-alphabet languages could be taught easier. That is when Chinese, Japanese and Arabic started being taught in a completely different way. Hebrew is still "old school". Hebrew team has stated that they are working on a new tree, but it takes time. And the letters would be taught differently. In order to implement that, you can't just tweak it a bit, it needs a major update. You can't do that overnight. That is why Hebrew has a steep learning curve for some. For me, it's a perfect fit. In the end, nobody is forcing you to study on Duolingo... everybody is free to find a resource they enjoy and benefit the most.
Ukrainian uses an alphabet. Hebrew uses an abjad (consonants with only partial vowels) meaning it's not so simple to convert to Latin characters. Also, there is no major, agreed-upon method for deciding how to transliterate words. חנוכה, for example, can be hanuka, hannuka, hanukah, hanukkah, chanukah, channukah, channuka, channukah, khanuka, khannukah and so on....
It's interesting that you bring up this very example, as a couple years ago I made an experiment with Google result counts to see which versions are the most popular. It's here: http://flux.hu/post/68461823560/
Yeah, it's for geeks, the interesting part is the list in the bottom with the counts.
Transliteration is a doable task; most sounds in modern Hebrew can be fairly accurately represented with their "English" equivalents, even the "dreadful" for many English speakers ח and soft כ - I personally think digraph KH is less confusing than the frequently used for this purpose CH.
Since Ukrainian was mentioned, the KH is the default transliteration of the Slavic X sound (as in Kharkiv or Khrushchev).
Will you guys add a Word button to the course, where we can see, how many words we learnt, and they are all there? I saw this option in some courses, and it's very helpfull, when we make a dictionary for ourselves... Thanks a ton for the Hebrew course, still my favourite language is Hebrew and this is my favourite course in Duolingo!!!!!!!
The nikkud/"almost correct" issue is for some translation exercises - not just listening exercises. I submitted a report on the particular question that gave me that issue.
On a different note, it may be helpful to compile tips (which appear in other discussion threads but not necessarily in an easy-to-find way) on how to switch keyboard languages easily. I've been keeping my keyboard set to Hebrew but using caps lock to easily type in English (albeit in all caps) when needed. Alt-shift will also switch the language (in Windows, anyhow). And (in Windows) there's the language button at the bottom right of the screen. Another person mentioned using the DuoLingo site on their phone, whose language-switching tool they find easier.
Add the extension Duolibro for Chrome. It switches the language automatically depending on the exercise. You don't even need to have the Hebrew keyboard installed for it to work.
About the nikkud issue: if it appears on non-listening exercises, it is probably because we actually did miss out the non-nikkud option. But I think most of the times it appears is on listening exercises and we have to talk with the programmers to fix this issue.
Thanks for letting us know....we think we have a fix for "almost correct" thing with translation exercises which we are applying as we go, but it's difficult to test (also there are some sentences where we've literally just missed off the translation without nikkud by accident) so just keep reporting it and remember to say what kind of exercise it came up in.
Wow, very informative. You guys are the bomb! You're so articulate, too :) Your lesson tips are so well organized—not true of a lot of other courses.
Really looking forward to the audio on the individual words. I totally appreciate the difficulties you're having. It's just ... a really nice feature to have, so I can't wait.
תלחץ על report-my answer should have been accepted . זה מופיע בחלונית של הטעות. תתכונן לקבל מיילים שהתרגום שלך התקבל, אתה תורם ומשפר את הקורס כשאתה עושה את זה! ככה זה בגרסת בטא, יש באגים ומלבד זה הם צוות קטן , אין מצב שהם יכלו לחשוב על כל התרגומים האפשריים גם לאנגלית וגם לעברית לאלפי משפטים.
כן גם אני לא מצליח לעבור את הקורס, גם המשפטים והמילים שהם בחרו מוזרים ונדירים וגם התרגומים "הנכונים" שהם בחרו מוזרים ו\או לא נכונים
לא ברור איך נתנו לזה להתפרסם ברמה כזאת, הם פשוט מטעים ומקשים על אנשים.
במקום ללמד את 2000 המילים הכי נפוצות ושימושיות בעברית, מלמדים אנשים ש"מעוין" = rhombus ומילים כמו "תשמנה"
לא ברור לי איך אנשים אמורים ללמוד עברית מזה.
It looks like the mobile version is up, but with bugs. I was able to do lesson 1 on it just now, but then when I wanted to go to lesson 2 I got a pop-up message saying the course is not available for mobile. Also, on mobile it calls the course "He" rather than "Hebrew". All that said, I think the course is working really well for me on my desktop and I'm super-pleased with it. Thank you!
I don't know the answer to this question.
But all the phone app courses are inferior in multiple ways to the web courses. There are a lot of features that the phone apps just don't have.
This is especially true with a course like this, where it lacks full audio and you need to consult external sites to look up pronunciations of specific words, you're going to be MUCH better off on a desktop where you can have multiple tabs open and switch between them with ease.
@cazort is correct. I tell people to only use the mobile app for review, Not for learning (this has been true for each language I've studied with Duolingo). A useful alternative: use your mobile phone's web browser instead of the app to gain the most productive mobile study experience.
I for one love the fact that the letter lessons already had words. Granted, I had some idea of the Hebrew alphabet before coming here, but learning/revising it this way gave me a sense of accomplishment that I wouldn't have felt if I had only learned the aleph-bet on its own.
You can make your own. When Duo prompts you to "type in Hebrew", you can activate the speech-to-text function (on Android it's a small mike icon), and say your answer. I think these days all OS's have this function, although I haven't tried it on my Linux laptop yet.