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  5. Insolent rant


Insolent rant

I am sorry, but I have the impression the swahili course was created mostly with the aim of making course creation easy, not necessarily learning.

I know, I am being lazy, ungrateful and impertinent, criticizing something that was given to me for free. And I don't even know how to do things better.

But it simply does not work well. And I am under the impression, that this is because they only saw the material, and did not seriously try to see things from the learner's perspective. Collecting and roughly sorting words may technically fit into duolingo's system, but it does not really make up for having a concept.

I really cannot say how it should be done, there are probably countless good ways. Just envision your pupils to go step by step, building up a mental model of the language. Applying. Playfully. Not collecting random snippets of knowledge that stand on their own an that you have to hammer into your head.

June 5, 2017



I take "in beta" to mean "we seek and appreciate your critical feedback, but keep your non-constructive complaints to yourself until we've taken your feedback and used it to improve and graduate the course."

They are basically giving early access to the course in exchange for feedback and bug reports. If you don't like it as it is (like me, I decided it's not worth it to me to use this course without audio), then just wait.


I agree with you. When I tried the Swahili course, I got really frustrated because of the lack of explanations of certain grammatical concepts and frequent bugs. I ended up resetting my course progress a couple of times and now I'm just not doing it. The course is still riddled with bugs that make it very inconvenient. Thankfully, the course contributors are adding audio soon (hooray) and are also going to heavily edit the lessons at the same time.

To keep track of the Swahili team's progress, click here.


Of -course- it has lots of bugs. It -is- in Beta, afterall. A so-called "limited" beta, at that.


Yep, I knew beforehand, that my rant was not genuinly fair, and that the course is work in progress. Still I was/am under the impression, that the very structure of the course does not have in mind pedagogic approaches too much, not just one or two bugs. Yes, this is not "fair" again, as the creators are experienced teachers, as far as I understand; and every language needs its own ways of teaching. And it is up to Duolingo, what Beta status means. (So far it seems to me more like a preview for people who are already proficient in both languages.) But in the end it is new learners to who the course needs to be appealing, even learners who did not experience learning any other language than English.

This all is of course only my arrogant point of view, and all learners are different. And I would like the course to have a lot of success, the creators put a giant effort into it, and I find it so important to have Swahili as an original african language ready for free learning.


while I take issue to some degree with some of your original post, not enough to even be able to articulate them well, I understand and empathize with your point of view. My comment was more a response to gibbothebee's " The course is still riddled with bugs" comment.


Swahili is so unlike other Duolingo languages where it can't really be taught with just verb translation. The verb, adverb, and adjective structures are so different and I think they should be taught in a better way, though I don't have many brilliant ideas.


It's true. This is not a very good course. I know Swahili already and find the Swahili course poorly executed. I suspect that the agglutinative features and the noun class system accounts for much of this. I do appreciate the efforts of the course designers, however.

I think that one has to approach this language differently, possibly teaching vocabulary initially and then introducing grammar from two to four noun classes at a time, while also introducing verbs, adjectives, and pronouns along the way.


When the program first began I was living in TZ, and immediately my vocabulary began to expand to where I could talk with more people than just the ones who would default to speaking English for my convenience. It's still in Beta, it will get better, and it is currently helpful at least to those already immersed in the language.

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