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Suggestion: A chance to have only hearing/listening exercises

There are many difficult problems in studying a language. One is memorizing vocabulary. Second is understanding the grammar. Yes, Duolingo provides good exercises for that. But there is a third problem in learning a language. Hearing. Duolingo needs more hearing exercises, because 2-3 for each lesson is not enough. Hearing and listening are problems in learning new languages, especially French and its "liaison".So I am suggesting a way where you can do just hearing exercises when you strengthen skills. It would be an option in the settings, a lingot store item, or anything like that. I wish to see opinions on this :)

EDIT: Wow, I received so much support on this suggestion. I guess everyone wants this! Now all we need is a staff member or developer to see this!

March 14, 2014



I agree. After finishing the Italian tree I realized I was very quick to translate a written sentence, but slow at the spoken sentences. Now, I look away from the screen every time I press the continue button so I can practice my listening skills. It makes a difference.


I do exactly the same, Mariann, I look away or close my eye every single time I hit the continue button, and if I don’t get it for the first time, I cover the screen and only allow myself see enough to hit the speaker button again. I don’t even start translating or doing anything until I’m sure I heard it all correctly and mentally “write it down”, even say it aloud to myself if the environment I’m in allows that... I believe it helps a lot... Having said that... I totally agree with the post, an optional purely listening/speaking exercise session would be fantastic!


Just the other day I was thinking of this, for a teacher at my school heard me talking to myself in French and started a conversation with me. Although I had to stop him and ask him to speak slower so that I could work it out. I was just thinking about how restricting my vision of the written French as the words are read out could help, as you say you are doing. Plus, there's no 'Repeat at slower speed', so it forces you to listen carefully.


Agreed.....but be aware that Duolingo's pronunciation has many flaws. They should be corrected first.


Talking about pronunciation, could anyone place the Spanish accent? It is definitely none of the local accents from Spain, so I suspect it must be North-American Spanish ( if I may)


It's Latin-American Spanish, but it does employ a soft "j"/"sh" sound (like the "s" in "measure") for the "y"/"ll" sound as in "caballo." I can't tell you which countries do that (maybe Colombia and Argentina), but I'm fairly certain Mexico does not.


areas in Mexico with a stronger European influence do. I spent time near Guadalajara and many people spoke with a faint Spain-Spanish accent


Agree, my listening skills are terrible, I hate having to take a minute to translate what i had just heard into my native language. I want to be able to unconsciously understand the languages i'm learning with out forcing myself to understand.


From what I understand, thinking in a language comes in time as you develop a greater vocabulary; also, the more you speak the language, the easier it's going to be to create connections between your words and the meanings of those words. for example, right now you're reading italian, and you're translating it into english in order to understand the italian. you're saying "una mela is an apple" vs. "una mela è una mela". Try connecting the italian/french/german word to it's meaning without using english to describe it. this works best when you visualize a picture of le mela and connect the word directly to the image rather than routing it through another language that has already established that connection. Is what I'm saying making sense? It might be a little confusing?


Learning French is about listening French. If you know what you are listen you will for sure know the grammar of it. I agree that the listening part it is quite deficient and it is needed a spean session as well.


I think "listening" and "speaking" skills are closely connected from a learning perspective. In fact, in terms of communicating with people in their language probably the most important.

I agree that Duo's machine pronuncition system has a lot of flaws but the Speaking exercise part is even weaker. Not only does it accept amost anything, it provides no indication of the quality of the speech.

I've actually turned this off in the Settings because I think it is misleading.


Yes, the speaking part does seem to accept anything, but for me at least, it helps. The act of speaking out loud as I'm looking at the words seems to carve a different groove in my brain, which I hope will help when it comes time to actually get the words from my brain and out my mouth.


Yes, speaking the words is a vital part of learning but since the mechanism accepts pretty much anything/provides no useful feedback, it's possible to be simply reinforcing bad habits (at a bad time for learning).

Listening back to the recording vs the original is better than nothing but how many people are consistently doing that ?

It would also be useful to be able to practise the same sentence multiple times after a 'correct according to Duo' outcome.

In an earlier period with Duo, I'd ended up reading sentences into Google Translate via my iPhone. If the translation seemed 'right' I figured I was getting close!


I agree Jim. I’ve been listening back what I was saying and it does help, but I’m becoming both the player and the referee and as we all know that is always a bad idea... I’ve also tried to play around with my iPhone, just dictating in French in any of the apps that accepts dictation, but it’s frustrating for me, cause sometimes I say a full sentence and it only writes out the very first word - even gibberish would be better, kinda showing that your pronunciation is not good enough for it to accept...


At least there some sort of feedback (if a little disheartening)!

I find Google Translate accepts a narrow band of language deviations (for my Australian French accent) . But the most rewarding when successful.

On the up side, the bizzare translations can be good entertainment - usually occurring when you are showing it to someone.

EDIT: Just did a quick test of Google Translate iPhone app and noticed it speaks English with an Australian accent for me... hate it!


I totally agree. Nevertheless, before having more audio exercises: a better french pronunciation is needed! 22toby especially talks about French and its "liasons". Here, the problem starts. The French audio tool is not very good in binding. There are also often totally wrong pronunciations. Recommendation: do not trust the tool too much. Rather use other sources too: youtube, radio stream, ...


I absolutely agree. It is clear from the exercises that I'm pretty good at the written translation exercises, but need major help with the listening and hearing. I'm so disappointed at not having more of that that I am considering quitting and going back to language tapes.


translation is still half of understanding. you have to be able to translate first, before you can speak it. i would consider maybe listening to language tapes on top of Duolingo. You never want to stick to just one form of research, or one form of learning. people learn in hundreds of different ways and the more ways that you can incorporate into your routines, the faster and more effective your learning curve is going to be.


While I totally agree with you, right now that’s exactly the thing I’m attempting to do... ONLY learning from Duolingo until I finish the full tree... Having said that, I AM going to listen to some things - like songs, videos if possible, etc, but not for the purpose of learning per se, but just practicing... See how it goes... After finishing the tree, however, if I feel that it did give me the foundation I’d need, I’ll probably try to learn on from other sources...


The settings menu already has options to turn off microphone and speaker content, so those who aren't able to use them can still use Duo. It seems as though you could possibly expand the process and turn off the other types of questions while leaving the others on.

On a similar note, I'd like to see listening translation questions. Hearing something said in the new language and translating it to the source language without seeing the written words. Just an idea,


Something else that is quite effective is a dictation. As the French is spoken, the student writes it down in French. Afterwards, the student can read it aloud, or translate it. It helps accustom the ear to hearing the spoken language.


Love the idea of dictation, but in both senses. More dictation exercices by the machine, but also learner dictation into DUO (I suspect DUO will need to buy a speech recognition API, somethong like Google translate and Siri are using)


Well... technically speaking... there ARE dictation exercises... when you can hear things in French, and you have to “write down what you hear”...


yeah, I'm on the same page. I would love to see more translation exercises from english to your chosen language! We get so good at recognizing a word, but when the time comes we have a hard time finding/producing that word when we translate the other way.

It would be nice to be able to turn everything off except for the english to french translation exercises and just be able to practice that when we are reviewing.


At the moment the core thing about Duolingo is translations. That is also how it makes the money and what it teaches us. So I think after becomming good at Duolingo you are a good translater, but not a good speaker. Of course you can try other things together with Duoling (instead of stick to 1 system of learning), Pimsleur is more about the speaking and has 3 or 4 levels of French (I listen to it in the car sometimes) and it teaches you fast by repetition like Duolingo. Also TV5 Monde has a part with french Video's and questions about the video's to see if you understand what you can use for practise (for levels A1 till B2 what would be good enough for me if I can understand those, at this moment I still do the A1 video's.).


I'm not sure the making money argument is all that relevant... As far as I know, Duolingo is only making money from the courses teaching English, as the sponsored material is all in English. At the moment, the articles we translate to English are just for fun.


I wholeheartedly agree. Actually, I've just been to France and realised that I can read French pretty well - but when someone speaks it to me, it might as well be a different language. A 'Strengthen Your Skills' listening only option would be perfect.


I think that there should be a section for speaking and listening and a section for reading and writing and the subject tests should be them mixed together to help you.


That's a great idea. I think they should have it set up like a class and given tests after each line or "skill sets" if you might.


I see were you are coming from and I totally agree with you.


Yes, it would be great if we could buy listening exercises with Lingots. We have so many Lingots and not much to do with them except give them to each other.


I like this idea a lot. Especially if we could have it be multiple choice (at least at first), to see if we're getting the gist of things. So often I misspell something stupid and get it wrong, even if I'm (finally) understanding!


I agree. strengthening our listening skills is important. Duolingo should incorporate a complete section of phrases and sentences without written words. We-students are to write whatever it is said. Good suggestion, 22toby


I think it's a very good idea, but they should also get better voice for the speaking. I have trouble with the "write what you hear" part, especially with French. When saying "monkey" in French, the speaker sort of squeals...


+1 I would like that too!


Yes, however not at the expense of the present format please!


I agree with MariannR with german I really need to practice how to pronounce words I can see them in my mind, but sometimes I know I'm not saying it right! a listening and speaking section would be fantastic (I use to use the vocab section to do it but its down)


I totally agree. I've been learning Turkish recently, and a few attempts at conversation made me realize that my oral skills are way behind. The fact that I can only do the reverse tree for now is not helping either.

When the Turkish for English course comes out, I'd love to be able to do some catch-up sessions on listening and pronunciation.

I think that, in general, we need more ways to pick what set of skills our sessions are going to focus on. What good is identifying your weakness if you can't do anything specific about it?


I agree with you. I recently began using Duolingo to supplement my Alliance Français course materials. It's helpful with conjugations, but the (computerised?) speaker misseds liaisons, chops up sentences, and is not always correct. Plus, "she" speaks more slowly than any Francophone I know. That said, Duolingo is still a good resource, especially since it's free.


There are a lot of mentions about Duolingo's inaccuracy for pronunciation, which, given the fact that it is a computer and not a person, so therefore you can't necessarily 'program' perfection, is understandable. Perhaps, rather than look into having more of these 'inaccurate' lessons, we should look to our family and friends. They may not speak the languages that we are learning, nor know how to pronounce the words, but if we play a sentence for them through Duolingo and then repeat it, they can tell us how accurate we are being. Of course, the pronunciation from Duolingo may be off enough that we are still incorrect, but it is better than nothing. However, more listening exercises would be helpful, although maybe a 'Listen to this French sentence and then translate it into English without seeing how it is written' exercise would be good to have as well.


yeah. I dun know if my pronounciation is correct or not. They should really do some listening exercises


I totally agree. But I think it should be in settings. you shouldn't have to earn a better chance to learn.


I am new to duolingo and I have learning difficulty. For me it would be wonderful to have more spoken French. Because I live in France I have much problems understanding the spoken words. I think duolingo is a great way to learn a language


In my time at Duolingo there have been many topics identical to this one,, so they have been aware for a while...wonder why it has never been implemented =/


i can never understand what the lady says anyway


Is anyone interested in a Skype conversation (en français seulement)?


Lol perfect place to put that XD


Until there is a listening/speaking feature, we could try and mimic one (perhaps using Google Translate as an arbiter).


that would be awesome!!!! i am having to do French for school and the main part that i m struggling on is the listening and then writing down what i just heard part!! if this worked i would love to give it a try!! thanks so much for the suggestion!!!!!


Agree - 1 lingot given to you. Another related suggestion - a setting for audio exercise on a per-device basis - currently if I disable listening exercise on my iPhone it's also gone on my iPad / desktop browser; of course if listening-only exercise is available maybe this won't be needed




While waiting for the Duo team to look into this suggestion, there are plenty of listening files on youtube. A friend of mine, who is a FLE teacher in Ireland, runs a facebook page where she regularly posts good free resources: https://www.facebook.com/say.it.in.french Do have a lok if you are on Facebook, and if you wish to transcribe any suggested video, I would gladly go over your transcription and check it. Alternatively, some videos, like this one posted yesterday by my friend, have caption off/ captions on options http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FnV6SDDlc60g&h=gAQGdiqJqAQGkhmlIYSKy9oZ8Sitghm33Ugo85ePRncvpMQ&enc=AZOYtkBdkAjlUXm1YIzq5z0o7bTH7mCjykMEYNxEaXK72d-KYW-O2k7BJhnkPT4fo_7e1vGcVClw4ck3zsQFbjmR&s=1


oh! thank you that is really working 22Toby


Oui, certainement! Et je suis d'accord! Je sais que je me voudrais l'utiliser.

There is a sequence of steps involved to learning a language, and they say that one of the very last of those steps, apart from being able to fluently speak, is gaining the ability to properly comprehend what we hear. I'm sure that comes with time and much practice, however I really think that you've just offered a very helpful suggestion.

There have been some issues with how the prerecorded voice pronounces some terms and phrases, so it would be very important to check/correct any misspoken words and phrases - that way it won't mislead learners. In addition, it probably would work best as part of the options setting, since there is already an option to practice lessons without using the mic. there. c:

Quelle idée très brillante!

~ Also, there's another interesting way to practice listening and comprehension skills in a fun way. One of the activities I like to do, apart from completing lessons in Duolingo, is choose a song in the language I'm learning. I choose a song that I am not familiar with and I have never seen the lyrics prior to selection. Then I listen to it more than once, during which I write down whatever words or phrases I happen to pick up on in a notebook or whatever. I do this more than once, at least until I gather enough words to try to describe what I think that song's about. Then I compare what I know to the actual song. It can be very fun! (:


I agree. French have special pronounciation and liaison, which are truely hard to catch and use only through 2-3 listening. Maybe having some extra listening and hints separated is good( for example, skills on uvular trill← well, it also exists in other languages.. but not in English, so I find it very hard)


I agree! When i have to listen to the sentence, sometimes the audio doesn't pronounce the word correctly; or the word is cut off mid-sentence. Which may lead to me getting the answer wrong. I hope that they improve on the audio a little in the next few months. I would help drastically!


ya! this is absolutely true. A learner needs more listening exercise. However, the levels of exercises so designed as of now in duolingo is fine for beginners. I appreciate the designers and people behind this fantastic work and it would be more appreciated if special exercise for only listening is designed.


Yes please! My reading and writing skills are far more advanced than my listening skills.


I would really, really love that!


I just wanted to add my voice in urging Duolingo to place equal emphasis on verbal communication. I went to school in France as a child and came to Duolingo to regain the fluency lost in decades of non-use. I find the English translations are often far from day-to-day English, and the French sentences are not very helpful in (re)gaining real communication skills. I also agree with others that the pronunciation of the French often creates challenges in obtaining perfect scores. I am enjoying the experience so far - this is only my 6th day - and understand how difficult this software is to develop. I just hope that they keep working to make it more educational and robust.


What would be great is an Immersion option to translate audio/video clips instead of just text. Then we'd get the to hear more variation in speech patterns as well which would be a big benefit.


I agree with this suggestion 100%. I am pretty sure that most persons learn a new language to have a conversation with someone else in that language (rather than writing down what they have to say :)). The listening only courses will help to sharpen understanding what someone else is saying. This addition is going to boosts duo lingo's effectiveness even more! :)


YES PLEASE!!! It would be great to be able to do only hearing/listening, by far my biggest weakness with any language!


I totally agree with this. I'm very quick to translate from French to English, but it when it comes to listening, I'm not very good. This could be partly due to duolingo's awkward pronunciations. I just hope they add a listening exercise sooner, before my French exam. Please. :-(


Any news on this suggestion!?


I posted this 2 years ago and I haven't received any news yet.


the listening comprehension isn't working for me anymore. what should i do?


Wow, 2 years later and this is still an issue


I see it is two years later and there is no movement on this. Is there a developer looking in on this conversation? Please help!


3 Years later... how do we get a developer to look at this? Am I crazy to say I'd even pay a nominal fee if that helped make this happen?


I have to add my support for this as well. This post is 3 years old, and still hasn't been added. It's a MAJOR flaw. I need to use other to practice my french listening comprehension, which is sad.


I still wonder to this day as well... one can only hope


yes that will be great for me because i m training my listening i it is pretty dificult do the entire lesson just for a couple of listenings please do something for us the elders

thanks staff love you all


This would be wonderful


Can any developer please comment on this? This is a legit flaw in duolingo, and I don't think I'm going to renew to an annual subscription if this isn't coming through. Please just let us know if it's being considered or not at the very least.


I'll add another vote to this. Seems like a trivial and obvious feature to add to 'practice'.


Yes, I completely agree. I can translate written sentences and write sentences so much easier than I can hear or speak French well. Hearing and listening exercises would be a great addition.


I would rather learn to read, write, listen, speak French and that won't happen if I limit myself to liimited ways to practice osmosis.


Make your learning AS EASY as POSSIBLE tres facile and work up from there. If you have to repeat exercises over and over. Let immersion opps eg french radio and tv podcasts sweep over you. You might find the odd word pops in that makes sense and that you feel you have to swtich to a lighter heavier source in order to vary your diet.


I would just practice osmosis!! Just relax and let be!! I don't think any of us will make progress without grammar and there are resources out there to help us eg collins easy french grammar is geared to beginners.


I would rather have Ex pat proficiencies!!


YES, this for Spanish too!!! How do you leave suggestions? I have been looking everywhere trying to say this exact thing (for Spanish)...You have a good idea about it being after you have gotten all 5 levels, they should make a 6th level where you can just do Listening/ Speaking exercises, Articulation is another on of those things that I was wanting to practice, because you only get 2 or 3 if you are lucky in each lessons where you can practice saying the words and see that you are saying it correctly or wrong. It could say the language you are studying or your native sentence then you have to speak the translation. That would do both.


I think it's a great idea! A lot of the time words don't look like how they're pronounced, some languages more than others, and I struggle with listening exercises mostly because they're not very frequent. I hope the Duolingo company sees this forum, it's a really good idea!


I agree. Maybe my suggestions are already made by someone else, but I suggest

  1. Make it possible to hide the written sentence at first, so you have to listen to the sentence first and thén make the sentence visible at your wish.

  2. When hitting the button "Check", make it possible to hear and listen to the answer. Now, one must first open the Discussion to obtain the option to hear and listen the spoken sentence. It would be nice if opening the discussion would not be necessary to hear and listen to the answer.

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