Do you think that 'failing' that English sentence enhances understanding of the Hebrew ?
I have to say that as a native speaker of English, I just experience that kind of unpredictable English requirement (sometimes insisting on the forcedly and artificially literal, sometimes (as here) refusing it, often choking on English English) as just a kind of pedagogically costly friction, pulling me back from focus on the Hebrew into focus on learning a new and slightly quirky dialect of English.
(and possibly also, though I don't know the algorithms, as distortion of the review scheduling, pushing back Hebrew material that ought to be revised more often, and replacing it with material where the Hebrew is well understood but the English requirements are quirky or problematic)
Better not, I think, to err on the side of trying to use (sometimes quaint, and often unpredictable) rigidity in English.
Perhaps better to let learners focus on the Hebrew ?
I don't know. I'm not one of the creators of this course, just a native speaker giving her personal opinion. The course is created by other volunteer users, and is in beta and still developing. And as you correctly point out, there's an algorithm in it that sometimes causes weird things to happen.
You raise an interesting point, to which I don't know the answer. If someone with very little or no knowledge of Hebrew came upon the sentence יורד שלג, they could understandably translate it as "It's snowing" (by the way, I wrote earlier that the sentence is subjectless, that was silly of course, the subject is שלג, sorry). If that were accepted, wouldn't the learner fail to learn that this is just how we say "it's snowing"? I'm honestly not sure either way.
Perhaps what we're bumping into here is just a technical limit of the model. More flexibility in the medium (rather than target) language is good for learners, (avoids frustration and distortion of review schedules) but perhaps challenging and time-consuming for course preparation.
On this particular one, offering "It's snowing" is clearly helpful, but I think refusing "Snow is falling" is clearly not. Both are well formed English, ( the latter is the higher register). Is there another way of saying ורד שלג that would be more written/elegant, and therefore closer to 'snow is falling' ?
The problem is that often we are forced away from natural English into artificial and slightly implausible literalness, and then once we have learned to be literal (and for once it is also natural) we get punished ...
Doesn't seem helpful.
Well, if one is aware that all forms of precipitation such as גֶּ֫שֶׁם rain, שֶׁ֫לֶג snow or בָּרַד hail combine with יָרַד go down, you could say that the English collocation snow falls is its nearest equivalent (נוֹפֵל שֶׁ֫לֶג seem to exist sometimes as a loan translation too).