Suggestion for Duolingo French
Love the course work Is it possible that in the multiple choice question to also show the translation for the WRONG answers? I appreciate seeing/learning the correct answer and am curious about the wrong ones. Most of the time I can understand why the other selections are wrong but not always. Just a suggestion. thank you for the great learnig tool.
The problem is that sometimes the wrong answers don't make any sense, so it cannot be translated. For example, if one of the wrong answers is la garçon sont drôles, what's the translation going to be? If the translation is "they boy is funny", then that's probably the same as the correct answer.
As a computer engineer, I agree with this comment.
You could build a feature that would tell you what your wrong answer meant—provided the wrong answer was still grammatically correct—but how would you get a computer to understand a sentence which conforms to the grammar of no language?
I guess you could build a compiler that could generate error messages similar to the ones you'd see when you make an error in a programming language (e.g., if it sees garçon, it should expect a "le" before it, or something like that), but even still that would be incredibly tricky. It's forever been kind of an engineering endeavor to get computers to understand, parse, and interpret natural language; Google still has a lot of problems, and IBM's Watson was famous precisely for its ability to interpret natural language.
The computer does what it is programmed for, quite true. Indeed it cannot conform to the grammar of the language, but just the same way as it shows correct sentences (that we write), it could theoretically show back translations of incorrect sentences (if we wrote them).
The issue is that sometimes a back translation cannot really evidence what's wrong. The example given by LanguageButcher is perfect: if the gender is wrong, how could we back translate a wrong gender via a language that does not have any?
Already, the system sends messages to learners like "'habitude' is masculine", which is not true, and it is doing it because this noun starting with a vowel sound, the possessives have to switch to their masculine forms. So if you write "sa habitude" instead of "son habitude", you get a confusing message.
On the forums, I try to give literal (and wrong) back translations whenever possible, but we could not add this feature within the system.
I don't agree with answers above, things could get improved if there is the right effort involved, but it's far easier to say "it's too hard" than actually do something about it. I don't blame anyone though, better sites will eventually emerge and the lazy ones will melt away like popsicles on a hot weather, it's a natural process.