https://www.duolingo.com/Bartleby

Big difference in quality between German and French courses, and problems with reporting

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While it is exciting to hear that new languages soon will be offered, I think it is important not to forget to improve the quality of the ones already taught. After finishing the German tree and most of the French tree, I can’t help noticing an increasing difference in quality between them. When I first started German, there were quite a few annoying errors in the lessons, but I think most of them now are gone, and more and more alternative translations are accepted. In other words, the reporting system seems to be working, and after reporting translations that should be accepted I have received e-mails saying thank you, and that the suggested translation is now accepted.

The French course, on the other hand, seems to be still riddled by errors and many correct translations are not accepted. Some random errors affect only a particular sentence, but there's also persistent general problems. Many hearing questions accept only one answer, even though there are several possible correct answers that sound identical (allé/allée/allés/allées… arrêter/arrêtez… and so on). And everywhere in the course the imparfait and passé composé are treated as interchangeable, which might be a hard thing to fix, but still is just plain wrong. From comments I read, people seem to keep reporting the same errors, without anything happening. I have also not received any e-mail feedback about suggested translations for the French course.

I can’t help noticing that even though twice as many users learn French than German, there are two contributors for German and only one for French. I don’t want to diminish this persons work, but perhaps it’s too much to do for just one person? The overall quality of the French course is not bad, but the German one is much better. Which seems unfair to all the people learning French.

It would also be interesting to hear what people think of the quality of the other courses, which i haven’t tried. (I started the Italian tree, but couldn’t stand the horrible audio for more than a few lessons.)


EDIT:

Lots of interesting response in the comments, thanks! Alas none from the Duolingo team (if one except that a specific error pointed out below apparently was corrected).

As I’ve said before in a post about structural problems with Duolingo -- https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1146708 -- it seems that even when the course contributors respond to reports, it seems to be much easier to get additional correct answers approved, than to get incorrect answers removed. In many cases there’s not even a fitting alternative for that in the report form.

And to be clear, I didn’t mean to suggest that the German course is free from errors, only that they’ve become noticeable fewer.

4 years ago

53 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Dogstaruk

I agree. I can't compare as I'm not learning German but lots of the French errors have remained for months and whenever I have reported anything, I have never had a reply. The problem is that you end up guessing what Duo wants, and not concentrating on what is a good translation. Learners get terribly confused. Thankfully there are fantastic people like Sitesurf who give invaluable support and added learning in the comment sections.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bartleby
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They should employ Sitesurf, to let her (him?) actually correct the mistakes, not only describe them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

I've completed the French and Spanish trees. I think Spanish may have been the first Duo language, given Luis' background, and it seems to have had several developers, so many of the mistakes have been corrected. Overall it seemed cleaner, and when I took the Certificate tests for both French and Spanish I scored a lot higher on Spanish.

French still has a lot of problems with both translations and the audio ... here's the classic (and frankly embarrassing) example:

"Il peut parler français et espagnol" which should be translated something like "He is able to speak French and Spanish". Yet the Duo version is "He is capable of talking French and English." Note "espagnol" is translated "English", not Spanish. You fail if you write "Spanish". Obviously just a mental slip up.

This has been noted for months and still not fixed as of last week: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1514707

I also agree with you about the Italian, I started it and couldn't stomach the weird audio on slow-play. Maybe I'll try German instead.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ApoloRosales

Try French for Spanish, it has a lot of 'mistakes', as a native spanish speaker I usually enter what i think the french sentence means in spanish, because most of the time you could just make a literal translation of the sentence, but it just sounds weird in spanish, and that's the only "correct" option. Sometimes the more correct translation works, but it's hard to know which one to choose, so I end up doing the subject over and over till i've learned all the errors I must get through.

Add this to the regionalisms that exists in spanish and it's just frustrating sometimes.

It's hard and tedious but I have learned a couple of things, http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaseolus_vulgaris#Denominaciones. That's a lot of names for frijoles i didn't know about lol.

Anyways i'm about to finish the tree and i'll focus on the translation part of it, and keeping the three gold. Cheers!!

Gladly the moderators of the course are always around and I usually get around 2 emails from duolingo everyday, on average.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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I don't know how much folks know about crowdsourcing and how the Phases of courses under development work. So, I'm going to give a little overview for anyone who wants to read it. ^_^

Here is my experience based on what I think I can expect from this crowdsourcing project. (If you've never heard that term , it may affect your understanding of this learning platform, because Duolingo courses are based on the concept and practice of crowdsourcing. Crowdsouce "to utilize (labor, information, etc.) contributed by the general public to (a project)..."http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/crowdsource)
Phase 1: At least three accepted alternative translations per word, some alternative sentence translations, some typos, and a few grammatical errors made by a volunteer who had worked through a meal and forgotten to fall asleep until after the sun rose. Lot's of love invested in the course as a gift to future language seekers.
Phase 2: A few hundred thousand people volunteer (aka anyone who signs up to take a beta course) to up the alternative translations per sentence to between 30-a few hundred. Those volunteers are also proof-readers looking for errors in grammar and spelling etc. and report them using the Report button in the lessons or Troubleshooting in that language's forum. The course isn't offered on Android because at this phase, it is not yet officially a course.
Phase 3: The course is now a course, but a rough one.
Phase 3 + (The + isn't an official designation) When a million or so Duolingoers have completed the tree: At this point, a million or so volunteers have proof-read every sentence and suggested even more alternative sentences. The course is beautiful, it is polished, it is among the best!

More discussion took place about that here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2162470

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AureliaUK
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This raises an interesting point. As Duo starts to take on an increasing number of smaller interest languages, there's going to become a point where there is insufficient demand to take a course and improve it from Phase 3 to 3+. One therefore has to wonder how good a course in, say, Danish or Bulgarian even for English, let alone French or Dutch, speakers can ever become. Is this likely to mean that a boundary is reached where Duo says "We cannot guarantee the eventual quality of courses in X so will not go there."

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
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It has a lot of mistakes but the contributors of that course are very active (jrikhal in particular). I've received at least 40 emails saying that my suggested translation has been accepted.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
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That sentence seems to have been fixed.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

Cool. Nothing like shining a very bright spotlight on it to attract attention! It was still wrong 10 hours ago when I first posted, after literally several months of being in error, so I'm glad it came to the attention of someone who would fix it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bellatrix86

Yaaay, I have received a mail that it was corrected as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hrelinho
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I finished Portuguese tree and quality is dropping when you are getting to the end of the tree. I realized that people in forum detect the problem but they don't report it, and it just stays like that. So people, report the problems in order to make courses more quality :)

P.S in my experience when I reported the problem, in more or less 1 month the errors were fixed. Thumbs up for Ker :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Druckles
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I have not received a "This has been fixed" email since before Christmas. Apparently the moderators fix things depending on the 'level of satisfaction' with the skills. It's my guess that less people at the bottom of the tree means less error fixing.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/saschambaer
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The first quality drop in PT I noticed was the Present Perfect skill, which accepts many plain wrong answers (like "Eu tenho chegado" would accept "I have arrived" and "I have been arriving", but it should only accept the latter). Does it get worse?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MRMsys
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I think a problem is that once an answer gets accepted, it will never be removed even if incorrect.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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Yeah. there are really fewer ways to deal with that. In Russian I only ever correct something if people on the forum notice something is wrong. Or ask something, and I see that the official translation is wrong. Otherwise, there is really too many sentences to keeps track of them all.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yuioyuio
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I only learn Italian so I cannot compare it to other courses that are already out of beta, but i also try to kind of repay Duo by answering questions in the Polish to English course (as Polish is my native language). And when I heard that EN>PL is entering the incubator I was a little concerned about the quality of the courses, because there are still many things to improve in the PL>EN course. Quite a few sentences sound awkward in Polish and sometimes even there is no translation at all (e.g. there is the sentence in English, but no Polish equivalent). Some translations are so painfully literal that they mean nothing in Polish. Not to mention alternative translations that are not yet accepted.

There are also some problems with the audio, which I frankly do not understand; isn't the tree (I mean English sentences and audio) the same in all the courses that teach English? There are mistakes like "read" pronunced like the infinitive, when it should be past participle, or "lives" as a third person verb when it should be the plural form of "life".

The truth is that people are not really helping because for some reason they prefer to clutter discussions with alternative translations instead of just reporting them. I also wish that there were skill discussions because only today I answered probably five questions like "why is there no a before sth? - because it is uncountable".

I've been on Duo for a little over a month and I haven't received any e-mails yet, even though I raport every mistake I come across. There are also other features missing, like the support button and short grammar explanations.

I am aware that building a course requires a tremendous amount of work and that Polish is still in beta and mistakes are bound to happen. My only reservation is: is it a good idea to start developing a new course before finishing the previous one first?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
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I actually have received e-mail feedback from suggestions I've made for the French course, so I'm sure at least some reports are being dealt with :)

Other than that, my experience is that the Spanish course is particularly solid and the German course nearly error-free. I agree that the French course has a few more errors, but I have no doubt that they're being dealt with, even if the processing of reports is a bit slower than that of other courses.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
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I agree that the Spanish and German courses are very good. Except for the little detail that the German course has plenty of capitalisation errors in the German translations accepted, especially confusion of "sie" (third person female or plural) and "Sie" (polite second person). I have reported several of these but have not received any feedback yet. (It's still possible that they have been fixed based on other people's earlier feedback.)

German and Spanish also have the best synthetic voices. Based on some bugs I have observed I suspect that the sentences are (or can be) augmented with markup to help the voice choose the correct pronunciation. Do you know if this is correct? Maybe you even have access to that in the incubator? There are many instances where the French and English voices get pronunciations seriously wrong. E.g. live is always pronounced as an adjective, and chat is always pronounced like chatte.

When I felt that there was no reaction to the reports on the French course, I got desperate and contacted the maintainer directly. I think the root of the problem may be that he sometimes disagrees with valid reports because he doesn't understand them due to an insufficient feel for the niceties of English idioms.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
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I honestly know very little about the structure, features and make-up of the voice synthesizers used.

From what I've been told, however, fixing the pronunciation of a single word requires making complex changes with or within the installed text-to-speech programme. Incubator moderators and contributors have no access to this programme and because of these issues correcting the wrong pronunciation of specific sentences and words unfortunately takes a long time and heaps of effort.

Working on improving our courses in beta we do list these wrongly pronounced words in anticipation of some way of being able to fix them all in one go. Although this is me speculating, I'd be surprised if the other course experts wouldn't be doing this also.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
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Here is an idea for a specific feature you could ask for: Augmenting sentences with arbitrary comments between curly braces ({}). I am assuming that you can search for substrings in sentences. Then each team can agree on a certain method for annotating problematic sentences, like this:

  • "Where do you live{verb}?"
  • "Est-{word break}il là?" (to prevent the voice from pronouncing it as "estil" with an s)
  • "Sentence with a particularly weird pronunciation.{XXX: What's going on here?}"

For now you just need the software to ignore these annotations. I would imagine that this could save you some work now and a lot of work later on, when you just have to search for your old annotations and update them to whatever standard Duolingo will come up with.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
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Thanks for the suggestion :).

I'll take note of this and ask the relevant computer science geniuses of Duolingo (= Incubator builders) about the possibilities.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
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@Lavinae: There are still plenty of serious errors in the German course. It is far, far, far from error-free.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
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I'm sure there's a decent amount of errors, Wataya. I've seen you and Christian having to manage the German sentence discussions enough to know that there are. :)

However, in my experience, building a course from scratch and watching it grow and comparing the amount of errors I've found, I do feel that the German course is better off than the French one and already quite advanced.

Yes, surely my view is optimistic, perhaps too optimistic, and maybe my standards are too low, but I don't think it's that bad, relatively speaking. I'm not a native speaker of German like you guys so I'm probably not catching the errors and issues that you are (haha, luckily). As a semi-foreign learner, however, and 60% down the tree, I'm not noticing many errors so far.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
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Of course it depends on your expectations. My expectations of a language course are that it should be error-free to a degree that you perhaps encounter 1 or 2 serious errors per year. (Other language courses do achieve this degree of reliability). I am always baffled how many errors there still are in the course after more than a year out of beta. It doesn't hurt me personally as I'm experienced enough with language learning that I can spot most of them even in languages I don't speak well. A complete beginner's mileage might differ considerably, though.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
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Well, for the sake of clarity, using that definition of error-free or near error-free, the German course doesn't cut it either and I agree with you. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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Right. It becomes hard to learn when you begin to suspect that the learning material itself is incorrect.

I've got to add, though, that as the number of bugs drops, it becomes harder to find them and work with them. In the English-for-Russian speakers course we still have lots of problems, but for the entire first half of the course the majority of the reports we have are false reports with obviously wrong translations, or the ones that are questionable translations into Russian at best (I mean, when you are asking yourself, hey, we are not teaching good Russian here, but should we really accept THAT awkward Russian?)

A lot easier for the first several weeks, when the reports are mostly relevant.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Druckles
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Most of the errors can be found nearer the bottom of the tree :-).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marcocaramori
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It also happened with me on my french tree. The worst part was the past imperfect. And I never got any feedback on my reports. But I really think there should be more contributors, imagine how many reports are comming from 7 million users!!! That must be a lot of work for a single contributor and I wonder how many subscriptions exist on that language. Maybe they could include more contributors?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Garrl
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It seems to me that as you progress further up the tree, the quality drops. Some of the German translations I have encountered were perplexing and just plain weird.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bellatrix86

I can't speak for the German tree but what you're saying about the French one seems partly true. Unfortunately.

I have received feedback for accepted corrections but the last one was in November (I can see this because of the received mails). Since then nothing. And I reported a lot over the last weeks.

Especially when you get to the last quarter of the tree the missing alternatives get more and more. I even reported a real "bug" where a sentence is completely wrongly formatted and is spelled out with the formatting via the Support form - because it was reported many many times over months looking at the discussion - and still nothing.

I don't want to complain. I love DL and I love the French course. But I wished it received a little bit more attention at the moment.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Denny22
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I have recently completed the French tree. I worked very slowly through it and often read the comments posted beneath the sentences that I had got wrong.

Occasionally, I found I had lost a heart due to a Duolingo error. I have always reported what I found, but I have never received an email back in reply. (Except for errors I spotted in 'Christmas'.)

I'm guessing that with so many people working their way through the French tree the number of problems reported must be very high and perhaps too great a work load for one person to sift through.

I have been very grateful to all those who have written careful explanations of why an answer should be accepted, or why the given French and English version are incorrect, but it is dis-heartening (literally) when I am attempting to keep my tree golden to discover that so many errors still need to be addressed.

Like Bellatrix, I too do not wish to complain. I am enjoying the French course warts and all, but it does need a little more TLC.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bill-Roca

Usagiboy7's comments got me wondering about how many suggestions were accepted, so I looked back at some of the ones I saved. I've received at least nine 'accepted, thanks' notifications. May have deleted a few, but I saved at least nine. This is after completing the Spanish tree last fall and the French tree this February.

Here are the ones accepted. I'm guessing there were another 10-15 submitted for each one accepted.

You suggested “I am completely devoted to you” as a translation for “Estoy completamente dedicado a ti.” We now accept this translation. :) 9-26-2013

You suggested “el hombre busca palabras” as a translation for “The man searches for words.” We now accept this translation. :) 9-26-2013

You suggested “Is your motorbike already paid off?” as a translation for “¿Tu moto ya está pagada?” We now accept this translation. :) 10-16-2013

You suggested “good day” as a translation for “Bonjour!” We now accept this translation. :) 10-28-2013

You suggested “it is a very good car collection” as a translation for “Es una colección muy buena de coches.” We now accept this translation. :) 11-5-2013

You suggested “I am in the automotive industry” as a translation for “Estoy en la industria del automóvil.” We now accept this translation. :) 11-5-2013

You suggested “mi hermana no tiene ningún ingreso” as a translation for “My sister does not have any income.” We now accept this translation. :) 11-5-2013

You suggested “there is not another choice” as a translation for “Il n'y a pas d'autre choix.” We now accept this translation. :) 3-4-2014

You suggested “I do not want to go through that” as a translation for “Je ne veux pas subir ça.” We now accept this translation. :) 3-14-2014

Notice there were 3 accepted on one day, November 5, 2013. Then a 4 month gap when I was working on French.

I noticed that the person who signed each of these was the only person working on one of the new Beta courses, so I think he was really busy. They probably should have asked for class volunteers to comb through the suggestions to off-load some of the work. Sitesurf and jrikhal would have been perfect for this in French, for example.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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@Denny22,

Only the 1st person who reports the error receives the email. You are competing with a few million people. ;)

If it's any help, I think I've only received 7 emails, and 4 of them came from a brand new course in beta so I only have a couple of thousand people to compete with. The rest were spread out over 181 days. Don't give up!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Druckles
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You say you're competing with a few million people, although there can't be that many people to have even reached near the bottom of the tree. And then consider the number of people who submitted (or were able to submit on their phones before the updates) reports. And then consider the number of people who submitted exactly the same version of the sentence as you.

I doubt the number of people you are competing with is anywhere near the thousands any more. And considering I feel like I submit near a hundred reports a week, to not receive any feedback is no longer unlikely, but bizarre.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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@Druckles, I imagine they still have to go through the reports from the rest of the tree as well, which means things can take a long time. And it only takes 1 person to see the sentence before you did and report it. So, even if there are only 20 people competing, that still gives you a 1/20 chance. (And it is more than 20 people.) I really don't think there is any conspiracy going on here.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Druckles
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I didn't mention conspiracy! Although now that you mention it...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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lol

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Denny22
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Thanks for your reply Usagiboy7. I didn't know that only the first person to raise an alert or concern receives any notification.

So going on what you say, since I have been diligently reporting errors and not receiving any feedback I can take it as read that those errors have already reported.

Then what I find disappointing is that these issues have still not been fixed.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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25 million people leave a lot of reports... Going through each of them probably takes a ton of time when there are probably a few million repeats. But, I am just guessing. I honestly don't know what it looks like from the other side of things. But, I can't imagine it's from laziness. I would sooner consider budget constraints. So, I'm not sure where disappointment comes in. But, I'm sure that when they are able to, the courses will be improved. :)

PS I restarted my Spanish tree two or so months ago. It is already vastly improved from when I first went through it 182 days ago. So, I draw a lot of personal encouragement from that. ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Denny22
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Oh that's hopeful then.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/idril81
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Totally agree. I have finished the German course as well and now I'm crawling down the French tree with rather mixed feelings. Some lessons are quite good, but some other ones are just plain annoying, full with the aforementioned problems. It is one of the most demotivating errors when you loose a heart because a hearing exercise only accepts one correct answer though there are several possible solutions that sound the same. I usually try not to complain, because, well, it is free and it's waaaay better than nothing, or all the alternatives out there. But still, guys, you can do better. You have proved it with the other courses, so please do not neglect French. Or Italian. I love that language, but the audio it has is capable of scaring away even the most motivated learners.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/attcat23
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I have experienced this with Spanish and Italian in particular. I feel like the Spanish course is the cleanest and most developed but when I do Italian, I get really frustrated when I lose points for minor errors that I think should be accepted. I haven't had many issues with the French one although it doesn't seem quite as clean as Spanish. I guess the best thing to do is to keep reporting errors.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
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Spanish: 12 million users. French: 7 million. German: 5 million. Italian: 3 million.

Based on this, I would guess that the problem with Italian is that it hasn't had enough users yet.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CecilieO.

hm, generally it seems like the italian course is the one that recieves the most criticism, and I know of a few errors that were reported in november, and still not dealt with, despite multiple people claiming that they have reported them.

It's also a problem that there isn't enough official/qualified responses in sentence discussions. When the editor/moderators post, they are great. Unfortunatly there are quite a few tricky sentences with multiple people asking questions, and nobody replies.

I hope the duolingo team will keep working to improve the current languages, and make it more visible that they are activly maintaining them as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AernJardos
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Just this week, I received two reports from Duo saying my corrections for Italian were accepted, so that makes me happy. I submitted them about three weeks ago.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CecilieO.

that's good, but I still would like some feedback from someone "official" when f.ex the sentence "Pensiamoci bene" means "let's think hard (of this)" and every other time pensiamoci has been used it has been think about ourselves. The discussion has 15 bewildered people asking why this isn't accepted in this instance, and no real answer :/ Even someone just saying "It's an idiom" would be very helpfull.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stevenjoel266

Yes, I see this type of thing often. A sentence more tricky than "basic" comes up, a bunch of people get it wrong, and then ask questions. No one knows the answer, and no one who does sets us right. Not blaming anyone; maybe there should be a way to "send to moderator" or something, to make them aware of the log-jam.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/0liwia
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I agree the French tree is awful.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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These kinds of posts seem to come up very often for one simple reason. Translation is an art not a science. The simple fact that Duolingo decided to use translation rather than full immersion as a teaching method means that they have made it more difficult for themselves and others. As a sentence can be translated in a multitude of ways that Duolingo can never possibly think of especially because a language is always changing and evolving, so new translations will always need to be added.

I can't speak much about the quality of the French or German courses, but nor can most students simply because the vast majority of learners are not qualified teachers or expert linguists. People also tend to overestimate or underestimate [1,2] things when they attempt to describe them without tangible evidence. For example, chances are that users can't tell how many sentences are wrong compared to right sentences, simply because they don't record this information, and so they claim based on their memory which is fallible, and unreliable [3].

As for error reporting, the same applies, it depends on the time vs amount of data to sift through, and each translation has numerous alternatives, in both languages, and those alternatives also have alternatives.

In my experience the mileage varies, sometimes it may be months before I receive a confirmation that a suggested sentence was approved, sometimes I may never receive it, and sometimes it may be quite prompt.

1 - http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb03/overestimate.aspx
2- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
3- http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Forgetting_Whats_normal.htm

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
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I think I am pretty qualified in this case. I'm a native speaker of German, about as fluent in English as a non-native speaker can be and CEFR level B2 in French. Originally a mathematician and very aware of methodical problems, I have read a lot about linguistics.

The reason I can be so sure there are serious problems with the French course is that the problems are entirely on the English side. There are tell-tale signs indicating that normally no native speaker of English gets to see the error reports for the French from English course. For instance, whenever there is a so-called past subjunctive in English, leaving you a choice between was and were, the supposedly most correct translation is the one with was, and sometimes the equivalent translation with were is not even accepted yet despite numerous reports. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/568144

I have contacted Rémy directly with some of these problems, and things seem to be moving now. At least "espagnol" is no longer translated as "English" in the sentence where that was the case for ages.

As to the frequency: There is a pretty good indicator of this. I already know practically everything that Duolingo teaches in the French course but have chosen only to test out of the very beginnings. I have found that I am progressing much slower now than I did in the earlier lessons. Not because they are harder but because I am losing lots of hearts on missing English translations. And very often when a correct translation is missing (also at other times), an ungrammatical sentence is offered as the proposed translation.

We don't need an objective measure. If people get frustrated because they consistently lose more hearts on bugs in the course than on their own mistakes, then there is a problem regardless of the percentage of faulty translations. (The bugs are clustering towards the end of the course.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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We don't need an objective measure. If people get frustrated because they consistently lose more hearts on bugs in the course than on their own mistakes, then there is a problem regardless of the percentage of faulty translations. (The bugs are clustering towards the end of the course.)

I don't see the logic in that. How exactly will users assess if they are failing consistently because of their own mistakes rather than errors in the courses? Unless we have some form of statistical analysis there is simply no way to back that statement. For all we know most users fail because they don't know or they forget, and end up blaming it on the language course.

Also I'm not sure what you mean by a bug in the course. Is a bug in the course a wrong translation, or is it that it didn't account for all possible ways a person may speak or translate an answer? If it is the latter, then as I said before, it is rather impossible for Duolingo to have all possible answers because of the nature of languages. This is simply the by-product of their chosen method of teaching. If it is the former, then I may be inclined to agree that all courses will benefit from a native speaker for each language to update/proofread the answers.

It is odd when people make claims about "quality", and provide insufficient data or evidence to support their claims. As a mathematician (and scientist I presume) I'm sure that you are aware that there is no way of assessing quality without using metrics. Is the frustration high, moderate, or low, are the mistakes,ignorance, Duolingo, or external factors causing the frustration,? These are all metrics that are unaccounted for.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
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I have given you a link to what I consider a bug. Let me follow it for you.

  • Original French sentence: "Si c'était bon, je l'aimerais."
  • Proposed translation: "If it was tasty, I would like it."
  • Not accepted as a translation: "If it were tasty, I would like it."

This is a bug because we are very obviously in the situation often called 'past subjunctive', so was and were are equally correct. Were is better in the sense that it's less ambiguous and it's not just a literal translation but proves that the translator has understood what's going on. It is also better in the sense that some prescriptivists claim that was is wrong, or informal. (They are wrong, but they influence people.) Yet 8 months and numerous reports after the was translation was introduced, the were translation is still not accepted. So it does not look as if it's ever going to fixed by the usual process.

Since non-native speakers and young people with an incomplete grasp of the English language are using Duolingo to learn French, we are effectively teaching that the so-called past subjunctive is wrong. I consider that a bug. And it's a serious bug because this is not the only sentence with this precise problem. I have encountered several of them over a handful lessons.

Unfortunately, there are many bugs of this type. The result for me was that in V. Modal and V. Cond. I typically needed 3-4 attempts to get through a new lesson, instead of normally 1-2. I needed the extra time to learn how to answer the defective questions. Sometimes I am giving ungrammatical answers on purpose because I haven't found a correct answer that is accepted. That's not normal for a course that is not in beta testing.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HeerBlaauw
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I like your observation, though I beg to differ. I've noticed that the lessons in french and German aren't quite the same. It seems like I've learned more words in French than I have with German, and I even started French some time after picking up German. I even looked at the amount of words I did know in French and German, and French dominated tremendously. For example, I've learned words in French like les États-Unis, éléphant, Bresil, etc. while I haven't learned the German equivalents. As for incorrect translations, I cant remember exactly any specific examples, but I remember only a few rare occurences in both of them. I do notice though that I lose a heart if I accidentally spell a word wrong, like "Weihnachten", as I sometimes forget the h.

As for learnability of the languages, I found German adjective conjugation to be frustrating at first, especially with all these rules within prepositional phrases and the Dative case. German has been a struggle for me while I seemed to breeze through French. (Then again, I'm a bit biased towards French since I am proficient in Spanish, which has helped me in learning French grammar, sentence structure, and words).

4 years ago
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