Japanese: My Feelings so Far
Hey guys! I just wanted to post a little about my feelings about the Japanese course so far.
First of all, I'm so grateful that Duolingo finally was able to put together a course for its most requested language. Kudos for that. Secondly, I'd like to thank everyone at Duolingo who made this course possible, as their hard work and dedication are evident. Of course, the course is still technically in beta, which is why I am making this "update" of sorts.
First of all, I'm super glad that Duolingo doesn't have romaji in this course. It's essential in my opinion that hiragana and katakana be taught first, as romaji creates problems down the road. I believe that Duolingo does a great job of helping learners memorize the different kana, and I'm satisfied overall with all of that. Then, of course, there's the kanji (gasp). Mostly I'm happy with how Duolingo has taught the kanji. However, there is one gripe I have. It doesn't teach when to use the on-yomi and kun-yomi readings. There have been a few times when I've been confused which pronunciation of the kanji to use, because Duolingo doesn't teach it. I know Duolingo's approach is more immersive than textbook, and that most users will probably be able to figure out most of the time which readings to use for the kanji taught in this course, but I still think some explanations would be nice.
Speaking of which, I really like how the French course and I assume some of the other "bigger" language courses Duolingo offers, contain the tips and notes sections with each lesson that you can read on the web version. (Hopefully web support for Japanese comes soon!) I think that with a language that's way more different than English that these would be super useful. Now of course, these could be included when the web version launches, but for now they're nowhere to be seen.
But onto more positives. The lessons flow very well, and I feel as if I've learned a lot just in a short period of time. I really like how a certain lesson will contain vocabulary that seems totally unrelated, and then only later do you realize how it all ties together. There seem to be fewer lessons currently in the Japanese course compared to other courses Duolingo offers, which is a little disappointing - though of course, they could add more in the future once it's out of beta.
The course claims to be able to prepare you for JLPT 5, which to me seemed a little low. I would have expected it to have been able to teach up to a JLPT 4 proficiency, but I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled there are about 86 kanji taught in this course, and hopefully, Tiny Cards can add a kanji deck in the future.
Last gripe: THE PARTICLES - I feel as if Duolingo needs to explain the particles better. I barely understand them at all. The difference between は and が is completely lost on me, and I'm unsure when to use these particles at all. I feel as if there needs to be just a little bit of "textbook" style learning for this particular course. Now, of course, I'm not super far through the entire course yet, things could come more apparent, but right now I'm just perplexed.
ALL IN ALL: I'm happy with how Duolingo has pulled this course off. I expected it to be difficult to make, but honestly believe this has been worth the wait. Duolingo's Japanese course exceeded my expectations, and it's taught in such a way where memorization becomes easy (at least in my opinion.) I'm super excited to see it develop even more, and can't wait to see what else it has in store. While there were a few groans and moans I had about the course, I believe the pros definitely tip the scale with how great this course currently is. Thank you Duolingo!