Problems in the Japanese from English course
I tested out the new course and there are many problems, I think.
Now I do not have much time, but I explain some of them. As I rushed through the tree, there could - and will - be much more.
- The particle は (ha) should be pronounced like "wa" not "ha". It is a problem, because sometimes normal words are also devided, where は has to be pronunced as "ha", like in はしります ("hashirimasu"). A solution could be to provide both variants and the learner can divide them by ear.
- The particle へ should be pronunced as "e", not "he". Same problem and same possible solution as for the particle は.
- ときどき and some other japanese words seem to not have an audio file? As often I tapped on them, there was no audio.
- Kanji compounds: The two Kanji for 一人are diveded into two boxes, and if a learner chooses them, he hears the japanese spellings "ichi" and "jin", when he chooses it, so that he may think, that the Japanese word for "alone" is "ichi-jin", but together these Kanji should be pronounced as "hitori" - I am afraid, this could be with other kanji compounds the same. These "kanji words" shouldn´t be devided.
- You've been ask to translate "eight days" in an English sentence. In Japanese, this is written with two kanji (八日), one for "eight" (八) and one for "day" (日), but this kanji compound is divided into two boxes in the exercise. If you tap on each of them, you will be provided by on audio of the Japanese words for them: "hachi" and "hi", so the student may think, "eight days" will be "hachi-hi" in Japanese, which is wrong, because the correct spelling for this compound is ようか "Youka". A solution may be either, to not divide such compounds or to provide these kanji with different spellings, so that the student can choose the correct one.
- In the sentence 椅子はその上です you can hear the following: " boushi ha sono ge desu". I am not sure, if this pronunciation is also possible here, but normally it should be pronounced as "ue" in this sentense.
- In a sentense "something between something" the word or kanji for "between" is 間. Like most other kanji it has japanese (aida) and sino-japanese (ma) readings and in this construct you have to use the japanese reading "something no aida something", and not "ma", as in the Duolingo exercise.
You probably did it, but click the "other sort of error" button if you come across such cases. In other courses, often the only option for bad audio is to just not have the audio, but I would suppose you're right that there might be other levers to pull with Japanese.
If they get around to starting a Japanese forum, it might be useful to repost this there, as I don't know if any Japanese contributors will happen by it here in Troubleshooting.
The course has definitely problems with audio, spelling of Japanese letters and kanji (Japanese and sino-japanese) and pronunciations.
This is mainly in the questions, wher the students have to translate an English sentence into Japanese by choosing boxes.
Many Japanese letters do not have audio and when, it is often wrong in the given context.
I added a few more examples to my initial post.
That's why I learn Kanji away from Duolingo, for the most part. Since there are two different ways to read Kanji, I guess the lessons aren't coded to know every possible correct Kanji reading that will appear in a lesson. And a lot of things you have to learn by doing your own research, because nothing is actually explained, they kind of just expect to learn by example, which won't be efficient for making your own sentences. All in all, the course is helpful, but it shouldn't be the only resource you use for learning Japanese. Things like books and flash cards can fill in those gaps.
To be honest I think this is more a fundamental problem with the language vis a vis using duolingo's app to answer it. If you use the flashcard version to answer (which with a different script makes total sense), you're going to get the default pronunciation. Japanese is too complicated as a language to have every single possible variation. You mentioned hitori, which is valid, but then when you get to sannin you have yet another reading of 人 to deal with as well.
椅子 is isu (chair) O.o. No idea why you would hear boushi 帽子. If you had separate characters you'd probably get them as i and ko :/. If you are genuinely hearing boushi I suggest reporting it as an error.
You also mentioned the 上 kanji, which is a literal can of worms as regards reading. In kunyomi it can be ue, it can be kami. It can be agaru, noboru, etc. In onyomi it can be jou, shou. For example: https://jisho.org/search/%E4%B8%8A%20%23kanji
But it can't be ge, that would be the opposite 下, so again, if you are hearing that, report it as an error.
With the particles, you're dealing with left over traits from the old language. Modern Japanese has a lot of these which mostly people don't realise. In old Japanese it was common for e and wa in the middle of words to be glossed with へand は (or other characters denoting those sounds, which existed), making them interchangeable. While を and お have remained distinct, that hasn't happened with e and wa for some reason. But Duolingo probably won't ever be able to identify when it's an e and when it's a he 100% correctly.
I can think of sentences in which aida would be more correct than ma as well. I'm thinking that's going to also be context, which you're again going to struggle to get through Duolingo.
Japanese is that kind of a language. I did the Japanese placement test and the English one in Japanese just to see how it presented Japanese as a language and it's not particularly flexible. I think it would be quite hard to learn the language with this app alone, because, as you say, it doesn't convey compounds and particles very well.