Review: Japanese for Duolingo
A pretty in-depth analysis of the course in its current state.
What a long, detailed and interesting review. Reading It reminded me of reading a review of the original courses years ago. In the end they did straigthen everything out.
One of your main complaints was a lack of grammar explanation. I suspect that will be resolved in tips and notes. Still they aren't available in the app. That may be okay for some languages but not Japanese.
Thanks, I enjoyed It.
Duolingo should add the Tips & Notes to the app because they don't know about it. People who only use the app won't know details on how the grammar works like the particles. Duolingo should at least say that "Tips & Notes are available on the desktop version." or something like that just to inform them.
I wonder why they haven't done so, HelloChinese has tips and notes in their app for each lesson and it works just fine.
It seems like they shoehorned a logographic language into a framework that was only meant for alphabetic languages and it's really not working. Half the time it doesn't parse the words correctly in a sentence, and breaks them up into different words than intended. So when you tap a word to see its definition, it shows you a completely different word than was intended.
The same issue also affects the text-to-speech. There are some cases where when it reads a sentence aloud, it pronounces it incorrectly because it reads the individual kana or kanji instead of how it should be pronounced in context, or it groups characters into incorrect words. (E.g. the particle は might be parsed into the following word, and pronounced ha instead of wa.)
The really disappointing part is that I only notice these things because I have some rudimentary understanding of Japanese. A beginner wouldn't understand that these things are wrong and would learn incorrect information. Plus, given that there are currently no notes or information about why a given answer is correct, I can't imagine a beginner would be able to make any sense of the lessons or extend the logic out to anything other than rote recitation of the phrases included in the course.
Just a note that the sentences aren't computer generated. I think they mix them up sometimes so you can't just get them from context but actually have to understand.
EDIT: Interesting the reviewer thought the course was recorded by a native speaker! The TTS is good (quoth I who know no Japanese), but there seemed to be some bobbles. I guess quizzing out lesson by lesson he/she just didn't hit those ones, or thought it was a mike error or something.
I am really frustrated with the advance pacing of Japanese. I am restarting for the third time. Please shorten the amount of material in each lesson. Add more repetition. To write in Japanese before we can even understand spoken Japanese is counter to every way we learn a language. And I have a club which has seen everyone pull out of it. Just help us learn this with no tears.
So, I can speak Korean, and the grammar patterns are actually sort of similar. I can't imagine approaching Japanese the way this has been taught without that backround. A lot of the vocab is pretty similar, too.
My main complaint is that the lessons have the same sentences over and over again, so as you progress to different levels of the same topic, you're seeing the same sentences. Because of this, I can usually recognize the sentence from the first word, rather than having to read it and figure it out. I think this probably doesn't contribute to any learning or retention...