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Problems with the new Hebrew course

Anyone else having trouble with the new Hebrew course? Doesn't seem well designed for users.

September 12, 2016



Could you guys please specify what causes "trouble" and what you consider to be "not well designed"? I think that would be more helpful than just a general phrase. I am learning Hebrew here as well and I didn't encounter anything that I find fundamentally problematic so far...


Hear are some of my problems. The course has no introduction to help you understand what tools you'll need to undertake it - for example, I was surprised that I needed a Hebrew alphabet on my keyboard, and there was no tip about where to find one. It would also be great in an opening section to describe how the course is constructed, the progression of what you will learn, the tools you'll need and where to find them, etc. Also, since the alphabet is so completely different, I needed to spend more time at the beginning on learning the look of the characters and their sounds before launching into words, verbs and sentence construction. I thought the first tip section should actually have been the first section of the course so we could learn our letters, and make sense of verbs, etc. I found Duolingo for Spanish very good, so I was really excited about the Hebrew course and and disappointed in it.


Those issues are all addressed in the FAQ in this discussion forum.


is there a section to learn the characters; it's a syllabic language ? I also want to learn to read it. If I can't read it, how do I learn what the words mean?


There are three such sections. And of course people can learn to read it.


I have only tried one or two lessons so far. I found it hard on my brain but not impossible. It just takes concentration.

Also at the time the mosquitoes were very bad here so I found it hard to concentrate with mosquitoes pestering me so that is my excuse for not doing much Hebrew or Vietnamese so far.

Now it's cold here and the mosquitoes are over for this year, so I'll be able to do Hebrew and the other languages that are harder on my brain.


It would be a big help if individual words were voiced.


It would be, but that's not something the team has any control over. They chose to use voice artists, because the TTS engines available were not very good, so that limits how many sentences have sound and means individual ones don't have any :(

I think the team said they were working with Duolingo to try and work around this, but it's a long term aim, not something they were likely to solve any time soon.

The Memrise course they created does have sound for all the words and is very helpful.


Well, it's good to know they're workng on it.


I shouldn't hold your breath, but yeah, at least Duolingo were/are aware it's an issue.


The course seems to assume the user has a Hebrew alphabet keyboard. Should include a keyboard at the bottom for those who don't have one!



That's not something the developers have any control over.


My husband and I both started this course last night (on iPhone and iPad). I have been studying Arabic a bit, so I'm used to alternate keyboards on my phone. I'm also used to figuring out different letters and a right-to-left reading style.

My husband is not familiar with any of this. So, I found that while I wasn't terribly impressed with the way that the letters are taught, at least it wasn't as difficult for me as for him.

My suggestions:

  1. Make sure to note that for the writing exercises an alt keyboard will be required.
  2. In the first lesson, the words for dad, love, and "is coming" all use combinations of 4 different letters. Actually give the names and pronunciations of the letters and show the letters individually. That will help for identification and pronunciation.
  3. Either in the lesson itself or in a tool tip, note that Hebrew reads from right to left.

I found myself comparing it to the Arabic that I know with thought processes like "Ok, the thing that looks like an X is comparable to the Arabic alif character." But without that history, my husband was struggling a LOT and got incredibly frustrated.

I did suggest to him that he should go on Memrise and learn the alphabet first. But since this course is in beta, I thought that it would be worthwhile to add these suggestions to the discussion. I'm looking forward to delving more into it, but in the meantime, I think that my husband and I will wander over to Memrise for learning the alphabet first. :-)


The devs created Memrise courses for both the alphabet and the vocab used in the course. I haven't used the alphabet one as I was somewhat familiar with it before I started, but I've found the vocab one enormously helpful.


I found that by coming here and searching the forums. But generally, I don't visit the website, preferring just to use the app. So, there is nothing in the app course that indicates anything like that.

And that's cool. After finding the devs comments, it makes more sense base on some of the limitations that are put upon them. But I thought that if more of us commented that the Duolingo platform staff (specifically for iOS and Android) would be more motivated to make some changes (if they aren't already). :-)


Can but hope, but the last response I know to complaints about lack of a good way to teach alphabets was the somewhat loathed transliteration mode for Ukrainian and Russian, and even that not very popular option was months and months ago :/

Honestly, I'm not holding my breath - Duolingo will respond in their own sweet time. I guess their priorities are elsewhere right now.


Funny, I can read Hebrew fluently, but what I really want to know is how to converse in Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew (which is what I read now) is a bit different; but the important thing is to eventually get to know what in the world you are saying! Forbid I should insult someone unknowingly!!!!


Thanks for the alert to Memrise. There are a couple of courses there on vowels and vocabulary that will actually prep me for the Duolingo Hebrew courses.


I am a little over halfway through the Hebrew course. The biggest issue I have found with this course is the problematic voice recordings. Sometimes, the speaker goes so fast that it is next to impossible for a non-native Hebrew speaker to understand what they just said. I often find that the recording doesn't always match what the answer is supposed to be. I'm almost tempted to turn off the listening exercises, but most of them do help with hearing the language, so I keep them.

If the turtle button was available, it would help immensely. We should be able to get acclimated to the spoken language slowly while trying to figure out sentence structure. Messy voice recordings that are too fast and/or lack any diction often make lessons more frustrating than they have to be.

Outside of the voice recordings, the only other issue I have is when I get penalized in a practice session for a word I was never taught. But that doesn't happen very often.

Thanks for all of your hard work to finally bring Hebrew to DuoLingo!


I have a problem with the voice segment when I use my cellphone. It usually start a few millisecond into the sentence. That means that I don't hear a syllable in the first word, and if it's a short word I sometimes don't hear it at all. I can't always do it on my PC and need to get creative.

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