Time to vent...
Every now and then I just want to complain. This morning I refreshed Past Imperfect, where I waded through a mountain of long, complicated sentences the I had to translate into Italian, using grammatical forms I'm not familiar with yet, based on hints that don't match the words they want me to use in the end. Generally to refresh a lesson I need to be sure I have 5 minutes of uninterupted time so I can concentrate. For Past Imperfect I need to be sure I have a half hour of time, the patience of a saint and a driving need for martyrdom. Sometimes I feel like I have to translate the complete works of Shakespeare into Italian with nothing but a Tagalog dictionary. Could I have some shorter sentences and a few clues that match the current lesson? (Huff, huff) Tonight I spent 15 minutes refreshing Sports. It ain't happening. I'll come back to that section when I have an hour to sort through this nonsense. Do you get stuck like that?
Grrrr. I have been having extra problems with Italian for it's use of unhelpful hints and bad English. And when the Sentence discussions were still accessible I found multiple discussions where people have been asking the same questions for the last two years with no help.
I feel like duo abandoned their original courses and are sometimes lucky when they find a mod or two who will be on top of those courses for them. Italian seems to have fallen through the cracks. It really needs some cleaning up, a little fixin' and some overall TLC.
(This might have come across as overly harsh. I have had a bad Italian day today as well)
I have noticed that I have good days and bad days when practising Italian. I'm not sure if that's because sometimes Duo will give me easier questions, and sometimes it gives me really difficult stuff, or if it's just me. I do notice that sometime the hints are different to what it wants you to put, and sometimes it doesn't explain at all the order of words or why certain words are used in certain places (Mio figlio non dava mai da mangiare al suo gatto - still gives me nightmares)
It could definitely use some refreshing, but on the whole I'm enjoying the course and for what I pay for Duo (nothing) the amount I've learned so far has been great.
I definitely understand your frustrations though, don't worry, you're not alone.
I still have no idea where it mentions feeding the cats. I need to start a notebook with these phrases for when it asks me to translate from English. I also want to be able to type in separate paragraphs, which is a different complaint.
Now that, I can help you with.
You need to learn a few easy formatting codes.
If you double "enter" after a sentence then you get a new paragraph.
If you double space after the period then you get a new line.
If you use an asterisk at the beginning of a new line and then a space and then some text you get this:
- Ciao, ragazzi!!
If you use a right facing arrow (caret) and a space and some text, then you get this:
That's very interesting.
If you enclose a word or phrase with a single asterisk on each end (with no spaces before/ after) then you get italic.
Double asterisks before and after will give you bold letters and words.
And triple asterisks before and after give you bold and italic...
Thanks! I'll have to try that out.
Even if I can't use it much, it's nice to know a few tricks.
"Dare [qualcosa] da mangiare a qualcuno" => Literally: To give [something] to eat to someone = To feed someone.
Why does that sentence give you nightmares? Maybe I could help you with that.
I'm finding the same with the subjunctive skills at the moment. I don't think that's a problem with the course, though - I think it's just that new tenses are difficult when they work very differently to English.
Learning a language is difficult, and some bits are harder than others. I've found that it's necessary just to accept that the difficult stuff is difficult, and there will be some lessons that take half an hour, and for the moment I'm going to get more than half the questions wrong. It'll improve the more I work at it, even though it doesn't feel like it at the moment.
"It's necessary just to accept that the difficult stuff is difficult"
Well put. That should be printed below the Duolingo logo.
Once you stop trying to convince yourself that there must be an English-equivalant way of thinking and learning, you just accept that you're going to have to memorize things, first, and understand why , second. Or, maybe never.
The subjunctive is also the hardest for me, but I don't get discouraged. I make sure I study the correct solutions to what I get wrong and keep plugging away!
Once you get up into the higher levels of Italian, the support lessens and the confusion rises.
It is then that you need to find some outside source of information on what exactly is going on.
How about this one-page guide?: http://www.fluentin3months.com/italian-imperfect-tense/
The imperfect tense is a killer. The problem there is that many people have complained to Duolingo that their translation should be considered correct, and now certain sentences allow multiple answers-- some of which are not even using the imperfect tense.
Imperfect is all about the word "was" or the phrase "used to".
I was speaking to him. I used to speak to him.
Ideally, you want to use it when something happened in the past that now has relevance in the present.
I used to go to school there. I was speaking to him last week about it.
As I mentioned, several English speakers complained to say that "I spoke to him last week" is the same thing as "I was speaking with him last week". And that is true-- in English.
In Italian, though, "Ho parlato" (I spoke) and "(io) parlavo" (I was speaking, or I used to speak) are used at different times, and only "parlavo" is really the imperfetto.
But the program accepts ho parlato as "equal" to parlavo, in either the imperfect or in the "present perfect" lessons.
But the imperfect can be translated in a lot of different ways (unfortunately for us contributors who have to try to come up with all of them). Consider the following paragraph:
When I was little, we went to my grandparents' house every summer. We would drive an hour to get there. We used to swim in the ocean. Once, I was swimming and I saw a dolphin!
All of the verbs in bold would be translated as the imperfect. Thus we have to accept a variety of translations. You can't necessarily tell from the isolated English simple past whether it was a habitual action (imperfect) or something that happened once (passato prossimo or passato remoto). Let's say we have the sentence "I spoke fluently." Can you tell from that one sentence whether it was something I did all the time (being able to speak a language fluently, for example) or just once (managing to speak fluently in a single encounter)? You can't, so we have to accept different verb tenses.
I certainly wouldn't want to face the challenges that the adminstrators have to deal with.
Not having any context to the sentences means that you can't properly judge which translations are accurate.
And, I think, that once an alternate translation is accepted it is adopted for the entire Italian tree, not just for that particular unit. Which means things can get out of control quickly.
You're doing great work; please do not interpret my post as criticism of you guys!!
It's more of a criticism of the insistent English users and the limited tools available to you to control what gets accepted in each unit.
Yes, sentences show up in different sections (and also in reviews), which is one of the reasons why we have to be careful to accept all possible variations.
If it's any consolation to you guys, the imperfect section is a nightmare to work with for us as well, due to the number of ways it can be translated. I was just going through a couple of sentences there that have 600+ accepted translations each from Italian to English and are likely still missing some.
I do remember the end of the Italian tree as having been something of a slog (I've not yet got that far strengthening, however). But it is far from the worst example: if you rotate your Italian flag a mere 90 degrees anti-clockwise, then it's all like that, but all the time and much, much worse!
I agree with WildSage, however, that the Italian course seems to be the least-maintained of Duo's core courses. In general, though, the skills for the various conjugated tenses and moods in all of the core Romance languages feel like they were added as a rushed afterthought; these things are generally the more difficult parts of their respective languages—requiring a lot of practice—yet Duolingo generally gives them very short skills, few sentences and no notes. Hopefully, they'll eventually get Trees 2.0, and these shortcomings will be improved; but as I almost never get any feedback emails from these languages (suggestive of little contributor activity), this might be a long time coming.
I hear your pain. The variability in courses in immense, still given what we paid for it ( zilch) I still know more than i did when i started
Not to mention I can hardly understand the computer voice. The voice for Hungarian is so much better, so I know they have the capability to do better. I depend way too much on reading the Italian words much more so than listening. And sometimes no matter how slow they say it or how loud my volume it, I still cannot make out what it is saying.
That's because the Hungarian voice is an actual person reading the sentences, a fact which it looks like has given them their share of problems, judging from the comments in the Incubator. It's not likely that they would do that for a language for which text-to-speech technology is available, I fear. The voice we have now is much better than the previous one from a couple years ago, though, so maybe we can hope for improved voice-to-speech.
Have you used Memrise? They have actual native speakers in their official Italian courses. I find them really helpful.
I agree. Once in a while I still can't make out pronunciation of some words after a slow replay.
Thanks for the heads up. I was thinking of studying Italian next. Perhaps I'll go with Spanish or Esperanto.