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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joerottman

Pickiness in the "English for Spanish Learners" tree?

Hello everyone,

I'm a native English speaker who loves DL! I did the Spanish tree, then the English (for Spanish speakers) tree, then re-goldificated the Spanish tree, and am now re-goldificating the English tree.

I'm wondering if any other native English speakers doing the English try have found it especially picky lately. I've been quite frustrated by it. There seems to be longer sentences (than I remember), and DL is super picky about the wording, including sometimes where I find DL answer to be less natural than my own. I've submitted a ton of "error" requests, but nothing seems to be being done.

While its annoying for me, I'm quite worried that it's going to give the wrong impression to Spanish speakers learning English, as it's going to drive them to enter the slightly stilted "Duo" answer that's required.

Has anyone else experienced this? Let me know your thoughts, thanks!

May 10, 2017

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rspreng

If Duo likes your reports, Duo will make changes additions, but in the past it has sometimes taken months. And not everyone agrees on what is the "best" or "natural" translation, even among native speakers, and there is abundant evidence here on these forums. And sometimes a "natural" translation obscures the grammatical pints that Duo is trying to teach in a particular sentence. Duo teaches languages at a basic level, and when we are done here we may sound like eight-year-olds, but that is better than not knowing anything. I think fretting about sounding "non-native" (whatever that is -- I'll never sound like a native Mexican) is better saved for down the road when one is at B2 or better.

Duo currently seems to have its hands full revamping the site, so dealing with reported errors may be a back burner issue for a while.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EpicPowerHero

I don't see what revamping the site has to do with fixing translations. Don't staff revamp the site and volunteer contributors handle the translations, or am I wrong about that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

But if the site is letting native Spanish speakers "get away" with things in English (or flat out showing them examples of supposedly good English) that seem natural to them without even giving them a chance to realize they wouldn't seem natural to a native English speaker, then that's a problem.

Presumably the issue here is a not thoroughly "copy-edited" tree revision (the default condition on Duo it would seem; I have read one of the Norwegian's contributors statements on related matters), and it'll be resolved in time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EpicPowerHero

I haven't done it for a while, but I totally get what you mean about Spanish speakers being forced to use Duo's English. Of course, the course is designed for Spanish speakers and not native English speakers, so are you sure that the fact that you're a native speaker of English isn't affecting it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joerottman

It's a valid point. I just feel like...it's not accepting all possible native answers. I realize it will never be able to accept 100% of them, but at times, I feel like my answers are significantly more native than the Duo answer, and at times I feel like the Duo answer is even non-native. I just worry that we'd teach folks the wrong things!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EpicPowerHero

Isn't the course made by native speakers of Spanish? I'm sure they are all fluent, but it's always possible that they don't get it 100% natural. Now I need to start doing the English for Spanish course again to see what you mean.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b05aplmun.ca

Courses contributors are supposed to be effectively bilingual (at least in writing) in both languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

But for many reasons, some of them are certainly not. In some cases this is plainly intentional. In any case, this certainly does not prevent their missing many a perfectly obvious response, of even the most trivial nature. When I did the French to Russian course, there were plenty of times when the Russian equivalent of "they" (which, like the English, does not mark gender) was missing the French translation with "elles" and other such completely obvious things.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b05aplmun.ca

Spanish -> English has just undergone a major upgrade, which seems to have included introducing a lot of new sentences to some of the older units.

I agree that some of the sentences are longer and I welcome that change, as I am definitely at the point where a good admixture of sentences longer than one clause is a good thing. If I'm right that many of the sentences are new, it may be a while before all the quirks are worked out and all the alternative translations are added. If you see something you are fairly sure is incorrect, unduly stilted, etc., report it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

I suspect that this is, indeed, the explanation. The accounting of all the additions showed it to be quite a significant one indeed, and I've seen a Spanish contributor mentioning they're somewhat shorthanded as far as contributors, so I bet it could take them a while to deal with all the issues. Of course, with longer sentences, more valid translation possibilities inevitably crop up.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tristan_Fairhair

I've noticed this in the Spanish -> English questions in Spanish for English speakers as well tbh. Duo's often rejecting the standard British English form and only allowing the American English one (which isn't great for me, as a Brit trying to learn Spanish) but sometimes it's just not accepting perfectly natural constructions and requiring ungrammatical word for word translations instead. It's quite frustrating and in at least one case it had first been reported a year ago.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NeridaPeters

I used to get quite annoyed with some of the English answers in the Turkish from English tree. The American English just seemed wrong to me. It still does. Now I just ignore it. With the reverse tree, I go to the discussions and if Turkish native speakers are complaining about the same things that I am, I assume that my answers are actually good. In fact, it's very satisfying to be making the same Turkish mistakes as a native speaker. It shows that I am starting to understand the Turkish language. I'm sure that it's not possible for Duolingo to add everything, so if you mention in the discussion that you believe that a different answer is more natural to you, then someone can read it and become aware of the many ways to say something correctly in English. That way we can all help each other.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b05aplmun.ca

It's more direct (and hence more likely to be effective) to use the "Report" button, if your intention is to bring something to the attention of the course contributors. Sentence discussions are for when you want input from other learners on the sentences.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

Obviously this is the way to bring something to the attention of the contributors, but it can be a useful adjunct to point out in a discussion that the current version strikes you as unnatural as a native speaker. Sometimes poor translations can stick around for quite a long while. Of course it's a good thing to actually include the current bad translation in your comment so it won't confuse others when/if it's eventually corrected and the contributors don't go over the discussion to clean out now-irrelevant comments.

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