Feedback on the Hebrew Course
If there's another place I should post this, please tell me. I just have a couple of comments on the Hebrew course that I would like to let the contributors know about.
For a person who literally knows nothing about Hebrew, it's difficult to start right in on this course. You have to already be very comfortable with the alphabet, style of reading, and sounds of the letters.
The tips and notes are very helpful, but unless you memorize them before you start the lesson, they don't come to you at the right times. It would be nice if some of the things they say were incorporated into the lesson itself (such as reading direction, phonetics, etc.)
It feels to me - someone with no previous experience in Hebrew - almost like an immersion course, where you're thrown in and expected to follow along and pick up things as you go. Maybe that was done intentionally, but for me, this makes it difficult to follow the exercises.
Duolingo has probably the most comprehensive free language courses on the web, and I appreciate all the contributor's hard work. They are amazing! I hope this feedback helps them move the course from beta to stable.
I posted a similar sentiment not long after the course came out, but you said it much better!
This course was not helpful for me. I installed the Hebrew keyboard and went through the first skill (the 6 lessons in the first skill) a number of times, and felt I learned nothing.
I found the way the material was presented was frustrating and confusing.
I might try again at some point.
Tips for a Beginner:
- Practice Reading Writing beforehand. Use ShalomHebrew or a book.
- Use the Memrise decks.
- Get a Hebrew / English Keyboard overlay.
- Use the Online Hebrew Tutorial. http://foundationstone.com.au/Distribution/OHT20Large.pdf
- Get Hebrew audio downloaded. Either from Book2 or Colloquial Hebrew for free.
- Get a dictionary and use HiNative.
- Take lots of notes.
Hi dancepointe, thanks for your feedback. My name is Nir, I am a moderator for the Hebrew course.
A few comments to what you wrote: first, thank you for trying out the course, even though you found it to be difficult!
I totally agree with your first point. We will try to make the Alef-Bet introduction slightly easier next time. It was identified late in the process and it was impossible to moderate the learning curve. That is one of the reasons why I created the Memrise courses. However, at the end of the day, it's the learner's responsibility to study the letters. Although it's not the case with you, I have seen many users who did not even bother reading the Tips and Notes. That's not the intended way of studying with Duolingo.
Secondly, yes, we are in beta and we never claimed the course is perfect. On the contrary, I have expressed my dissatisfaction many times, here and on Facebook. This just comes to show you our dedication and perfectionism.
Keep reporting things, no matter how big or small, and I promise we'll make the course bigger, better and more productive for you guys/gals out there.
1) The devs have provided Memrise courses to help with this. Duolingo doesn't yet have a good system for teaching scripts, and so the Hebrew team (alongside Russian, Ukrainian and Greek) have had to make do with what they have. It isn't ideal, but in large part it's due to factors outside their control - lack of a dedicated way to teach the alphabet + not having a good enough TTS :-/
2) If you're on the website, within a lesson, you should see "tips and notes" towards the top left hand side of the page - if you click there, the t&n related to that lesson should pop up. I'm assuming you're using the website as they aren't available at all on the iOS app :( I have to say I don't have a clue how that translates to the Android app. However, you should be able to access them from within the lesson while you're using the website, which is handy. (I only discovered this relatively recently myself!)
3) I didn't feel like it's particularly any more immersion or not than any other course, but YMMV on that one.
I thought the same as you, but I went on and I really like the course and the Hebrew language now. I've been studying it on Duolingo since it came out, and I'm an absolute beginner like you.
But at first, it really seemed to me that Hebrew was the language of the devil ! Like "we have two vs, and one of the v can be a b, the other an o, or u. Also two letters for the k sounds, and two ts. And no vowels, except when we feel like it, but then we don't tell you which one it is." And thank god that I speak german and did not have to learn the difference between ח and ר.
I've got a few remarks for the staff as well : 1) I love the course but I will say that I don't think that the course is sufficient without the two courses by the staff on memrise. I'm still learning the words on memrise before I learn them on Duolingo. I thought I would only do that in the beginning but really I can't remember them without memrise.
2) Time practice is incredibly hard.
3) There is a huge difficulty gap between learning new lessons, which are quite easy and from hebrew to english, and reviewing decaying skills (on a computer. Reviewing on a phone is very easy). Maybe make lessons a bit harder ? You can pass a lesson and having seen (and not even heard) a word only once, I can't possibly remember it later. That's why I always go on memrise first.
I really hope that Duolingo will provide new functionalities, maybe with Tinycards, that'll help to review and remember words, as well as the grammar.
So in short : I memrise, memrise and memrise, just like you do now apparently :)
Let me elaborate on some of your dot points:
1) That's why I created the Memrise course, we know the DL is not perfect. However, you choose your progress rate, so you shouldn't be introduced to new words unless you choose to.
2) You don't have to do time practices.
3) We do not control any of the reviewing algorithms, the lessons are automatically generated.
4) Feel free to offer cool new features/words for us to implement in the next tree!
Those remarks weren't directed to you, exactly, but rather to Duolingo through you. I think the Duo approach works well with "easy" languages like italian, etc but not for harder languages (or rather, not without a word revision system like memrise or tinycards). There isn't much you can do about it, I know that. I just hoped that Duo listens to contributor feedback sometimes, and will implement new functionalities someday.
Thank you very much for your course anyways :)
We would like to invite you to learn together Hebrew and bahasa Indonesia particularly, and foreign languages commonly, with this thing you can get to know each other languages and cultures with it from this WhatsApp group, hopefully it can be useful
To learn the basics of the Hebrew (alphabet, pronunciation, etc.) I highly recommend Hebrewpod101.com. They have videos on Youtube and they used to have an offer for downloading an entire set of lessons for free. I don't know if they still do, but I can vouch for the quality of their beginner lessons. Once you've learned basic grammar and some words, then it's just a matter of buckling in and working hard. The Foreign Service Institute rates Hebrew as a category 4 language, as far as difficulty to learn for an English language speaker. Once you know the basics, however, I have found Duolingo's course to be nothing less that EXCELLENT overall.
Shalom Mazzorano, thank you for the memrise course, would you consider include images to the vocabulary since over 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual ? I'm having a lot of progress with memorization using the vectorized images of the app "Drops" (https://languagedrops.com/) and i think that your course which is already great would be even greater with this resource. Thanks in advance.