https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

How has your experience with the Japanese course been going?

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Just reached level 8 in Japanese on Duolingo! That is 1,125 XP, so 115 lessons worth. (Each lesson is about 10 questions.) I haven't mastered all of that material. Most of it is recognition-based, rather than my ability to generate it from memory. I've also been able to test out of some of it. The Japanese course as it currently is (in limited beta Tree V. 1.0) is 1/3-ish the size of the Spanish course. So, Im more than halfway through it. I'm really hoping they expand this tree in future versions, as it is one of the most difficult languages for native English speakers, according to the Foreign Services Institute.

Are you a complete beginner with Japanese and using the Duolingo app to learn it? (Or have you studied it before elsewhere?) Where are you in the course and how is your experience going? What areas in particular are you struggling with? What could be added to the Duolingo course that would help you learn it more effectively?

Just curious. Also, sorry for typos, I'm writing this on my phone.

Thanks! ^_^

1 year ago

70 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Started as complete beginner (i.e. I knew "konichiwa," "sayonara," and, b/c I kind of like linguistic-y things, that Japanese has a topic-comment structure which somehow related to things called particles which drive learners up the wall). About 3/4 of the way through. Far from mastering most of it; I'm more about exploration and looking for patterns at this stage.

As the course seems to drill basic structures a good deal, it is well suited to my purposes. I think it's also pedagogically sound. Japanese works pretty differently than English, and the way to get it down is repetition.

A couple big gripes:

(1) Clicking on Japanese word boxes results in that word being pronounced much less often than in other TTS courses (where, as far as I recall the rate is 100%), this despite it being impossible to listen to whole words clicking in the Japanese sentences; kanji being, well, kanji, so associating pronunciation with written form is easily the most challenging of anything on Duolingo (if not earth); and hiragana and katakana not indicating pitch accent (oh, and the way katakana is introduced leaves me needing more than a little practice on katakana words in general).

(2) The hints for the English to Japanese translations have a lot of problems. I know to never expect much help with the "grammatical" bits: the prepositions, where particles go, even tense formation, but even content words more often than not it seems have hints none of which correspond to any of the options presented. Very often the available hints all contain kanji while we must select from boxes in hiragana. There are certainly problems with the hints in Japanese to English translations, too. Those are obviously easier to deal with, but mostly they're also just a whole lot better. The top hint for a content word is overwhelmingly the precise English word needed, and available in the word bank.

I have every confidence (2) will improve progressing through the beta phase. (1) is more mysterious; I have seen comments in other courses of late that perhaps similar things are occurring. I hope the problem will be resolved.

One big kudos: at least given my limited state of knowledge, the number of alternate answers accepted seems to be quite good (at least relative to how little time it's been available). All too often courses enter beta with only a single translation accepted when there are several obvious ones. I'm sure Japanese is still missing many valid possibilities, but it certainly entered beta in a more advanced state on this count than many other courses.

Overall, thanks to the team, I know it was a titanic amount of work!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Major props for having come so far through the tree as a beginner! O.O May I ask what your native language(s) are?

Yes, the team really is amazing! I had the opportunity to stop by headquarters recently and Hideki was there until at least midnight, super focused on a project and seemingly oblivious to the lively game of Codename we were playing a few rows away. :)

1 year ago

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

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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どうも!(わたしも)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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:) Why do you ask out of curiosity?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I wondered if a different native language might have given you a boost towards learning it. (FSI lists it as among the hardest of the hard for English native speakers to learn. Of course, there are always outliers. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Ah, well I'll answer a more interesting question, then :) If I had to credit a language with having helped me, it'd be Hungarian. For one, it probably held the crown as toughest tree on Duolingo before Japanese dethroned it (temporarily I would assume; the monster Hungarian sentences are still going to be there when Japanese's beta issues are much reduced), so I'm kind of used to banging my head against the wall in a sufficiently constructive way so as to keep progressing through a difficult Duolingo tree even when there are beta-phase-type loose ends yet. But it's also a language that can use topic-comment logic; it's got postpositions; it has conjunctions that work totally differently than English. So when I see things that at least superficially look like these things happening in Japanese, I at least know that such things can be different, and I can know to try to distill how it is that they are different.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
Faisane
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Re acceptance of alternative answers: I have found this more of a problem in the later lessons. I keep having to press "My answer is also correct" and having to memorize their answers in order to progress.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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This tends to be the pattern even among fully released courses a year or so in. Fewer people make it into the later parts of courses so suggestions are fewer and further apart. It takes several years for courses to mature. (Though... Duolingo has had a major boom in user population. So, that timeline might be much smaller, depending on the time volunteers are able to spend processing the reports.)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kdb119
kdb119
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Sadly, I think the Health feature is going to result in even fewer people reaching the later stages of any course. :-(

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Josh471483

I'm 100% new to Japanese and loving my experience with the Japanese course, which I started a few weeks ago. I'm still very early in the skill tree - I've completed the 4 Hiragana skills and just about completed the 2 Intro skills - but so far I've been quite happy.

I think introducing katagana and kanji side-by-side, and gradually, is a great decision. When I hit the first lesson with katagana, I had an OH NO reflex: I had just stumbled through Hiragana, was I really going to have to struggle through another set of characters before getting to focus on building vocabulary and grammar? Duolingo's method really motivates me, and it's a rush every time I can decode a new sentence.

In terms of useful additions, I agree with other posters: grammar popups, questions that asked me to type in Japanese, and pure speech-to-text questions would all be helpful.

Also, since I'm relatively new to Duolingo: is it typical that the "Practice" button largely pulls questions from a single skill? It would be nice to have more cumulative drills.

Looking forward to more additions to this course!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I use the general Strengthen Skill for website courses, in order to mix up the content a bit. Once you finish the Japanese tree, I encourage you to try the reverse tree (English for Japanese speakers). A heads up though, because of the short length of the JA for EN tree, it will pose a steep challenge. But, hopefully a worthwhile and exciting one!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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is it typical that the "Practice" button largely pulls questions from a single skill?

In my experience, yes. I have seen it said that if one has all one's skill circles gold, and has been reviewing and thereby maintaining word strength diligently, then there may be a mix throughout the tree. I have yet to see much evidence to that effect for myself, however.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rhabarberbarbara
Rhabarberbarbara
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I have finished the tree without many problems, because I am not new to Japanese. I thought it was quite enjoyable (if short) but the thing I was missing most, was getting the possibility to type in Japanese. I would like it if the course could be switched between Japanese box input and directly written input. That way beginners could start the way they want to, while more advanced learners could get a more challenging experience. On another topic I noticed that a lot of times the hints are not working properly, but this is still limited beta, so I guess it will be fixed sometime. Of course I am also waiting for a more polished web version, with tips and notes and hopefully written input. A longer tree 2.0 would also be appreciated. Until then I might just try out the reverse tree...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElijahCFGolpe
ElijahCFGolpe
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When I was much younger (10-12-ish years old), I would study very basic things like "Good Night" and "How Are You" and watch a whole bunch of animes; so I was basically a beginner at the beginning of the course. Now, I am 16, almost 17, and I am studying it purely for pleasure and school. I don't watch anime anymore, so now it's all for the culture of it, the food, the people, etc.

I decided to jump right into Japanese II in my local community college. They say that that class is when they start actually using Kanji, so I was assuming that because I'm already learning Kanji, pretty much a master at Hiragana and exceptional at Katakana, I thought I could just skip that whole snooze of a quarter for Japanese I. But now I'm stressed about how good I have to be sentence-making-wise or introductory-wise, etc. etc.

Because I'm not the best and quite lazy, I love listening to the audio and actually understand a lot of it. Of course, for anomalies, I have to take a look, I usually always take a look just to make sure anyways, but in terms of listening, I feel kind of happy I get to somewhat learn more by ear than by eye.

I'm most disappointed by the lack of information. I would love to have some kind of Tips Notes page. The comments for each sentence helps at times, but I love in-depth explanations that just shows how everything works (especially particles and different pronunciation instances). I would even enjoy just a list of possibilities on how to say things, how verbs work, the actual translations, etc. I usually use the app for any language anyway, so really I'm just waiting for the Tips Notes to come to the app in general.

On another note, context, without it, is so hard to learn Japanese. You always just assume the context and although I can do it, it just isn't ideal. You could be asking about yourself, them self, yourselves, or etc.

I've heard others struggling with Kanji as well, how Kanji likes to become Hiragana again later on in the course, and that the Kanji, although present, is still at a minuscule amount. I feel like with this course in beta alone, the farthest a person can get is A2 or N5 with their Japanese. Honestly, okay with that, especially because it is in Beta, but I would love to have a Japanese Course as long as the German course someday. Sorry for the long post, just wanted to post most of my thoughts. :'))

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Islacorn
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I am not a beginner to Japanese however, I do not like the lack of kanji and lack of explanation of what is happening to the beginners. It seems that people are expected to attempt to learn by patterns or recognition or something. I don't think this is effective at all and the beginners deserve proper explanations.

In addition, I am not happy with how short the course is. Im about halfway through but comparing it to other courses like German, French even newer ones like Russian - which also teaches a new writing system - and Norwegian. I don't think it's as in depth as it can be, than it should be. I just hope more skills are added in the future.

I also disagree with the fact that it doesn't teach how to write kanji the hiragana and katakana letters. I just imagine people attempting to do so on their own and the results being unsettling. I don't how duo can teach such a thing but its something I personally find important. There is another app that can teach such a thing but I haven't seen it boosted and recommended as much as it should've. (I'll make a post for this app soon maybe but its called "Kanji Study" and can be found on both Google Play and Apple app store.) Is there a masterpost somewhere with recommended supplementary resources for Japanese?

Overall, I applaud the contributors for making this course. There are many others out there and I have to say this one is one of the most accurate. However, it will probably be more useful for those who want to learn Japanese more seriously, to try and get a Japanese teacher and to complete the Japanese N levels.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Thanks for the resource recommendations! :)

One of the reasons I posted this discussion was out of curiosity for how first time learners are experiencing the course. It is certainly going about things very differently from the lesson set up I was introduced when I was taking Japanese classes offline. Duolingo doesn't always follow the standard path and I've come to expect that after so many years. So, I'm mostly just waiting to see what kind of data user interaction produces. The users who are being introduced to Japanese here are going to have a different experience than I did. And, I want to know what it looks like before assuming it is a failure because Duolingo has gone about things differently than my own sensei did. If it flops, Duolingo will collect data and make adjustments. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mketch
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I have never studied the language before, so I am coming at it with no experience in the language, but with a lot of experience as a language learner (studied French for the past 8 years).
After a month, I've just reached the first checkpoint. I've been going ultra-slow because it took some a long time to learn the hiragana and some of the katakana. At first, I felt like a baby learning the alphabet again, which was really cool. But then when the katakana showed up, I got really confused and had to go to other ressources to figure out what was going on. After this, I was satisfied until particles came in, and then I had to go research again. I appreciate this sort of natural learning method, but I like how the other languages in Duolingo have random grammar popups to help explain a concept instead of just deserting you to figure it out on your own.
I also feel a lack of experience in typing the characters myself as it is only rearranging them (I've seen this mentioned in other comments on here). I also wish there was a way to test your speaking and listening, as there is with the other duo languages. That may be a bit of an excessive feature though since Japanese is already overwhelming itself.
Other than these things, I think it has been rewarding so far. I like that I am becoming a tiny bit literate (very tiny, but it's cool!) in a challenging language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I am coming at it with no experience in the language, with a lot of experience as a language learner (studied French for the past 8 years)...At first, I felt like a baby learning the alphabet again, which was really cool.

Your mindset heading into an unfamiliar language is so great! I imagine it goes a long way helping you through the new complexities.

When I started learning Spanish as a second language, I experienced a lot of performance anxiety. Every bit of ambiguity or confusion was a wall that I needed to bludgeon my head against and get frustrated about. I've since had more experience with other languages. I've chilled out, increased my tolerance for ambiguity, gotten more comfortable with not having all of the answers right now, and started enjoying the process more. Sounds like you've also reached that point. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mketch
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Thank you! I am a language teacher, so I try to help my students understand that ambiguity is ok and that it's ok if you don't understand every part of what is said. Performance anxiety is a huge problem in the classroom, and it took me a while to overcome it myself in high school. Once I did though, it was amazing, and I was able to connect with other people in another language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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random grammar popups

What does this refer to out of curiosity?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mketch
mketch
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By random grammar popups, I mean little bits where they explain grammar. For example, in the German one, it will pop up that there are two genders plus a neuter gender. In the French one, it will explain how to form the passé composé (past tense). Just giving little hints every now and then for grammar.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Interesting, thanks! They show up as something between sentences in the app? As you can probably tell, I don't think I've seen one. I wonder if it's a test; seems like a great idea.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slml93
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I'm a not-quite-complete beginner: I already knew the hiragana, katakana, and very basic sentence structure (how to make basic "x is y," "x is not y," "is x y?" sentences).

So far I've found the course, helpful, particularly for developing vocab. The real struggle comes from there being no access to grammar cards due to there being no desktop version just yet. I have a nice collection of Japanese textbooks, though, so I've been identifying particles, verbs and sentence structures in the Duo lessons, then looking them up so as to actually learn the associated grammar.

Pros:

-I like that the early hiragana and katakana lessons implement some early vocabulary into them, so you're developing some vocab while you memorise (or in my case revise) the kana.

-It begins teaching kanji very early, which I think is really important, given how many have to be learned to comfortably read everyday Japanese

-Good early introductory topics, they're relevant and simple enough, in fact they mimic rather well the intro topics I see featured in textbooks and other courses

Cons:

-As mentioned above, not having access to grammar cards like the desktop version of Duolingo courses is a real disadvantage. Especially when things start getting more complicated, like when counters are introduced. I cannot stress enough how much it would even help to just have the grammar skills listed for each lesson to make them easier to look up in other resources

-So far I've only had to translate from Japanese to English. Making students do both is essential for language skill and I feel like I'm missing out on that

-So far I've had no questions testing my speaking or listening like other Duolingo courses do. Once the hiragana modules are finished I think it's fine to start implementing speaking and listening questions

I'm really pleased overall that Japanese has finally come to Duolingo. Of course Duo can never be used as a person's sole resource for language learning, but it's a great tool and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Japanese tree is improved and expanded with time.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike
garpike
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I have only very casually been doing a lesson or practice a day, as I am really waiting for it to come to the website. I am by no means racing through the course. Here are a few things that spring to mind:

Although it seems to be slowly improving with app updates, the audio for many things pressed in isolation is still either wrong or missing. Also, it would be nice to able to hear whole individual words rather than singular characters when tapping on part of a sentence.

A slow-speed playback button would be very helpful in all cases where there is TTS audio.

There seems to be virtually no typing in Japanese, even by the standards of other courses on the app. Perhaps these will increase when I'm further down the tree, but producing (albeit in written form) the language is a vital part of learning. The box-rearranging translation exercises from Japanese are next to useless, as there is frequently only one sensical construction from the boxes provided even if one has no idea what the original sentence means (this goes for all languages).
I dare say several of these things will improve when the web version becomes available, which cannot be too soon.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
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Re recognition vs recall: I completely agree. I am really good with multiple choice but that does not mean I could produce some of the sentences myself.

My solution has been to enter the sentences I realized I was shaky on into Quizlet files. (I detest Memrise but to each his own.) So by now I have a wealth of sentences to practice on, and I can go English => Japanese, or Japanese => English.

Btw, I have found it really useful to familiarize myself with the Kana keyboard - it's a breeze to install on iOS, and it makes typing Japanese sentences so much easier.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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One reason why I like the website version of courses better than the app versions is the challenge. The apps have a lot of "click from a limited pool of options". The website asks us to type things out. The website however often asks us to go from our target language into our base language. But, taking reverse courses reverses this ratio. And, fortunately for us, Japanese for English speakers already has an English for Japanese speakers course ready to go for once we finish JA for EN :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Refrayin

Yeah, only some words or characters being voiced is pretty annoying. Especially when they are together in the same exercise.

Having to write in japanese should definitively be included down the line, as adding a japanese keyboard to both your PC and phone takes all of 10 seconds. I noticed that my capability in understanding increased much more quickly once I started writing down all the exercises by hand.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike
garpike
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I remember getting the odd Japanese typing exercise when the course was in the alpha testing phase. However, at some point after that, these exercises disappeared and I haven't seen one since.

I absolutely agree about writing things down. Active learning is much more powerful and efficient than passive learning.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rhabarberbarbara
Rhabarberbarbara
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Did these typing exercises involve only kana, or also kanji?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux
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I'm a beginner (although I studied kana a little bit before) and really like the course. However, I put Japanese on hold for a while because I went to Brazil and wanted to learn some Portuguese. I'm debating at what point I need to stop Portuguese and go back to focus on Japanese.

I'm not sure that I've gotten far enough along in the course so far to be able to make valuable suggestions.

I do like that the first few skills helped reinforce the kana that I'd already learned. From what I recall, it seemed that I didn't see all the katakana yet. It might be nice to have more of that. Perhaps there was just enough katakana to be able to recognize a few names and countries?

I also like that kana is used rather than romaji.

The intro skills was pretty hard as compared to learning a romance language, but that wasn't unexpected. However, my reasons for not practicing lately have nothing to do with that or any problems with the course, I'm just trying to figure out my priorities at the moment.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JadenPotatoes
JadenPotatoes
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I'm pre-intermediate in Japanese and I try this course for curiosity.

Translations seem literal to me (I'm not a native speaker neither in English nor in Japanese) and there are exercises where the hints are not working properly. There are times I knew the translations in English and it gives me an error because it has only a single translation accepted. I hope they can add more translations in the future and a tree 2.0.

I'm surprised there are kanji here, because I tried other courses outside Duolingo and, if not users create courses with kanji, they have only kana.

A suggestion: If there are explanations for the grammatical part, it will be interesting (like markers -particles-, or verb conjugations for example).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I hope they can add more translations in the future

I know they're adding translations. I've gotten a couple of report accepted e-mails.

As I enter the bottom fourth of the tree, I am starting to notice some issues with requiring unfortunately literal (read unidiomatic) English translations. Given the standards of other beta courses, I still think they've done a standout job, however, and it will only be getting better.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
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How are you able to report exact issues with sentences - is this something that Android users can do? Because on iOS I cannot give specifics - it's only "My answer was also correct" or (from memory - may not be exact wording:) "There are other issues with this sentence."

Which is really too bad because, as you say, things deteriorate a little in the later sections.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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One only ever receives replies with the "my answer was correct" option. I do think the report options are more flexible on Android, but I, too, have iOS.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/testmoogle
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I just wish they'd let more people contribute, so we can get all the alternative acceptable translations added much faster. But yeah, it is gradually getting better with each passing day. It's much better than it was a couple of months ago. ^^

When you report an alternative possible translation of a word and they add it, I don't get why they don't also add it for all the other instances of the word found in other sentences.

Like if they add "trousers" as a translation of ズボン, why they then can't immediately apply this to all other instances of ズボン rather than leaving all the others still accepting only the word "pants"?

It's even more annoying the other direction... For some sentences it accepts either 彼 or かれ, but for some other sentences it will mark your answer incorrect for using the kanji and demand it be typed かれ instead... And there are times where it will even mark you wrong for using kana! Numbers such as "six days" might accept 六日 and 6日 as being correct, but very often むいか will be marked as being wrong...

I can understand why the Japanese answer translations might be a little neglected right now, since the app doesn't allow any typing of Japanese answers, but it would still be nice if there were extra contributors patching up all these things. ^^

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Japanese already has one of the biggest teams among incubator courses. I suspect they don't want it to get too big to keep coordination more manageable.

When you report an alternative possible translation of a word and they add it, I don't get why they don't also add it for all the other instances of the word found in other sentences.

As I understand it, Duolingo has not provided a method to comprehensively facilitate this. It's done by hand, sentence by sentence :( It obviously could never be fully automatic because of homonyms, but it seems like it sure would make contributors' (and users') lives easier if they provided a search facility to find every sentence including a given word. As it is, apparently contributors don't even have a way of knowing how many sentences there are in a course (just as another example of the limitations of their interface)!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I imagine there will be tips and notes after the course is made available on the website. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Akuhime-sama

If you're fluent enough in English, perhaps I could help you. :) English and Japanese are the only languages I know fairly well. But obviously, I'm not completely fluent in Japanese yet. I only know so much and most Kanji is still a mystery to me. I am a native English speaker, and I've been working on my English all my life, ever since I found out a lot of people around me (also native English speakers) use too many colloquialisms and don't have the /best/ grammar.

Anyway, your English seems spot on to me and I would not have been able to tell that English wasn't your first language, had you not told me. Which, may I ask, what is your first language? (just curious-- you don't have to say if you don't want to)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JadenPotatoes
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My first language is Italian. I learned English at school and I continued to study it by myself with Japanese (by the way, my textbook of Japanese is in English). I think I'm B1 in English.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Akuhime-sama

Italian? oh cool! :) B1?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JadenPotatoes
JadenPotatoes
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Thank you. Sorry, this is the achievement when you learn a language in Europe. It is called Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, or CEFR. B1 it means you are an intermediate level, you can understand topics about school, free time etc. You have no problem to survive in a country where the language you study is spoken. You can write a simple text with topics about familiar or personal interests. You can communicate with no problem with native speaker. You can write a clear and detailed text with a vast range of arguments and explain your point of view on an argument giving pros and cons of various opinions.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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You can communicate with no problem with native speaker. You can write a clear and detailed text with a vast range of arguments and explain your point of view on an argument giving pros and cons of various opinions.

I would have thought these were more akin to B2

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Akuhime-sama

Ah. okay.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HPLCf

I'm liking it so far. I'm really in the beginning of the course. I'm a bit insecure to move from the basic hiragana to actual introductory phrases but I'm will do that. I learned hiragana (and some kanji) a couple of years ago and use the app just to review it. Though I'm not sure that such content is presented in the best possible way to a new learner... I would recommend "write it! Japanese" - I'm using the Korean version of this app to learn hangul and it has been very useful and intuitive.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Thanks for the input and the resource recommendation!

As for moving forward, you can always move forward and return to review whenever needed. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_Nanachi_
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I started with a very basic level. I was able to read hiragana, katakana and some basic kanjis. A few notes may be necessary for beginners, for example explain: はきます、きます and かぶります。All of these mean "wear".... I know the difference, but a real beginner can feel disconcerting see three different "wear". For me, the course is fun and I'm learning a lot. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/furygana
furygana
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I love the course so far! I am a native English speaker, and I have been eagerly waiting for a Japanese course for awhile now here on Duolingo. Thank you so much for getting this major project off the ground!

I am a novice and have just begun self-study with the Genki 1 book. I began my Genki studies about a week after I started doing Japanese here on Duolingo.

I am doing a lesson a week with the Genki book. On Duolingo, I average about one (five-minute) lesson a day, and then "strengthen skills" about four times per day. Today is my 25th day of doing so- whew!

Things that I love: The speed of introducing all of the kanas is fantastic! I feel like I have learned so much and I do not feel overwhelmed at all. Thanks for including mini hiragana and kana tests throughout.... sometimes I don't realize that I have mixed up さ with ち until I am tested.

I appreciate that kanji is used correctly as well. I wish that my Genki book would have done the same thing as Duolingo..... In my textbook, some words like 父 and 母 are written in hiragana instead. For me, it is easier to learn things correctly the first time around. THANK YOU for using kanji!

Things that could be better (But that would be exclusive to Japanese Duolingo... since all other languages do not have these options either):

~ Mini explanations about when to use particles like が and を . (I am sure that I will eventually get it though by practice, or by the Genki book....)

(Kanji/Hiragana typing options) *Update: there is a keyboard option! I just didn't see it. Thanks!!!

~Kanji/Kana stroke order: it would be amazing if the kanji had flash imagery when it was introduced to us to show stroke order. Also, when we were quizzed, if we could use our fingertips to write out the kanji on the screen.

And then, of course, a voice recording recognition option, to see if we can understand through listening, and if we are pronouncing correctly.

That's all I can think of, other than to add more content. But I am just so happy this is up for all of us to try, and I realize that this is still in the Beta stage.

ありがとうございました , Duolingo!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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You can enter your answers for translation into Japanese in kanji/hiragana (for all I know even all katakana if you really want to; the blog post when they launched the course sort of implied they had that functionality?). You will need to install the relevant keyboard layout, which for Japanese takes the form of an IME (input method editor).

The course uses less kanji than would really be natural as I understand it, but it's supposed to accept kanji even that's not taught directly. And if it doesn't, of course you can report that.

If you want to have a halfway reasonable test of your ability to pronounce things now, I'd just go get the Google Translate app; talk to it in Japanese; and see if it understands you. Even in the courses where it exists on Duolingo, the speech recognition is pretty clunky. Seems like as long as you get the first sound of a word right it's generally enough. Obviously not good enough for real life.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/furygana
furygana
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piguy3, Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on this information! I missed your message earlier... I will start trying out the speech recognition with Google Translate too. :) The Italian speech recognition seems to work pretty well... but maybe I am just overconfident about my speaking powers. XD

I will look into the keyboard function as well. ありがとうございました!!!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/furygana
furygana
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I am using the keyboard now. Thanks!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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furygana,

Have you checked the course's Tips & Notes? They were just starting to add some by the time I finished the last lesson. So, I'm not sure what all the notes include. I will say that the particles が and は tend to be the hardest for native English speakers to differentiate from situation to situation when choosing which to use. (Myself included).

I highly recommend the book All About Particles by Naoko Chino. I linked that to Amazon, but you don't have to buy from there. I just did that so you could see a picture of the book and read a description of it. However, for a more immediately available (and free) guide to some of the particles (though, not nearly as many) is Tae Kim's Guide. That page will offer explanations for the particles は, も, and が.

As for the particle を, it comes before the direct object. So, for instance, if "I kick the cake" Kick is the verb and the object directly receiving the action of the verb is the cake (aka the cake is the direct option.)

(PS, Please don't kick cakes. They are yummy and kicking them makes a mess. ^_~)

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/furygana
furygana
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ありがとうございました, Usagiboy7!

That imagery seriously helped. I just finally read about the particle を last night (I am mainly working on the Genki textbook and using Duolingo for hands-on practice), but your illustration while make it stick better than a honey, peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Thanks also for the book! I have it saved in my cart now. Someone in the Duolingo club I am attending also suggested Tae Kim's Guide. Alright.... three people have recommended it, so it has to be an amazing source.

As for Tips & Notes, I don't think I have seen any yet... but maybe that is because it is located further into the course?

Thank you for taking to recommend me Naoko Chino's book, as well as giving me an image that will help " を " to stick!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
Faisane
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I have loved it, warts and all. I am not completely new to Japanese: most things here I had already encountered; still, it has been very useful to really have to learn vocabulary and grammar due to the constant repetition.

I really like that they use at least some kanji - the textbook we used in our course only does kana, so this was a good way to get familiar with a (admittedly small - but still!) subset.

I have found the use of a dictionary app (imiwa? in my case) invaluable, to be able to check on expressions and meanings. The Duolingo community has also been very helpful in answering questions.

My biggest complaint is the sometimes faulty English that they insist on - I wish they had used pairs of Japanese / English speakers to construct sentences (it works for book translations, so why not here?). But on the whole, I have had a really good time.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kdb119
kdb119
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Faulty English is sadly not unique to the Japanese course. It occurs quite frequently in a number of other courses; French and Portuguese being particularly outrageous at times. With the introduction of the Health feature this has become particularly irksome when a life is lost as a consequence! :-(

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
Faisane
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I sincerely hope they won't introduce the Health feature to Japanese. (I stopped doing Duolingo French after being punished, repeatedly, for sentences that were just fine. Ack - frustrating!)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/furygana
furygana
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Imiwa is amazing! I just found out that they also have lists of kanji separated by school grades! For stroke order (for kana only), the "Kana Writing" app has also been indispensable!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Akuhime-sama

I've studied Japanese since high school, taking 4+ years of it between both my local high school and at college. I've tried the English (for Japanese Speakers) course on here, with a separate account, as means to practice and to not lose what little Japanese I know, but I keep getting stuck with foreign Kanji and no furigana to help! D:

So, I've been going into JPN on the Duo app here, off and on, to try to help, but s far, there hasn't been much new info. As for the app altogether, I don't like it. I prefer the way the browser version (on computer) teaches you, as opposed to the app. But until they update the site for browser, I can't complain much because it's better than nothing at all.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/V2Blast
V2Blast
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There's an error in your title; either "has" should be "is", or "going" should be "gone".

I took 2 years of Japanese in college, and am mostly trying to refresh myself on the vocab. I tested out of some of it, but decided to go through the lessons individually to review some of the vocab and help work out any errors in the course.

I have noticed that there's really not much in the way of kanji in the course. Also, of course, there's no Japanese typing required; it makes questions a lot easier if you have a word bank to draw from.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Thank you for letting me know about the typo!!

As for the Kanji, true. At present, there are only 100 Kanji. As for the typing, I am hoping we get some of that once it leaves beta and is available on Desktop. I imagine that we will have to wait for future versions of the tree for a more robust collection of skills and lessons. But, I am pretty confident that those will at least be arriving. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/V2Blast
V2Blast
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Yep, I'm looking forward to having it on desktop!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dapatient

I come at this from the perspective of having no formal training with Japanese, but having a couple decades of time in martial arts So I knew a lot of words we use by sound/romaji prior to this course ("aka", "au", "roku", "dachi", etc.). As a first-time learner to the real thing, I'm finding I need more repetition on hiragana than what's in the Duolingo app before moving on to the next thing. I had to download an app called hiragana pro to get that and am looking up other resources as well.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Agreed. In the commendable effort to be user friendly, I think the hiragana lessons end up being too easy since they're something you really want to have a handle on before moving on. I ended up using the list of hiragana taught in each lesson on the "lesson home page" in the app to quiz myself from, and frankly I think that was a much more effective use of time than the lessons after a certain point.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sntindall

I have not read through all the comments here but I just started yesterday as a complete beginner from English as my native. I chose it because I was looking for Chinese only to find it unavailable so Japanese sounded interesting instead!

I may wait until it comes to desktop or is improved upon because the lack of explanation of why the characters go together to make words and sentences is frustrating to me. I almost wonder why it's been rolled out when it seems so so so basic right now. (Is it in Beta?)

How can it possibly be helpful to anyone? I like using the app and the desktop version interchangeably as they both offer different challenges and ways to learn.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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the lack of explanation of why the characters go together to make words and sentences

Because that's how words are written. I suspect you maybe meant something else? Something about sentences not having spaces? But just having achieved level 2, you wouldn't have gotten to sentences yet. If the course seems too basic for you (I certainly didn't think so as a complete beginner!), get past the hiragana skills.

How can it possibly be helpful to anyone?

Reviewing again from the top (well, after hiragana), I'm almost startled to realize how much I've learned, and how much easier it's gotten to work on retaining the things I didn't come close to mastering the first time through. I think the course does begin showing its beta stripes more heavily after the second checkpoint, though.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MatthewCat42661
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I'm literally starting, tabula rasa. I did the first hiragana lesson yesterday, and am just repeating the strengthening exercise over and over until I recognize the characters innately. I'm finding the words difficult, since I don't yet have the sounds of the characters fully memorized. I'm thinking of getting a notebook and copying them, to the best of my ability, as they come up. I think hearing the words spoken more than once would help too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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I found that the intro lessons weren't really difficult enough to cement a firm understanding in a reasonable time frame. There's a lot of apps and other options out there that get good reviews. I wound up just quizzing myself on the hiragana as displayed on the lessons in the app. It was enough to get the job done. Wiktionary (I'm sure other sources to) has little stroke order videos for hiragana.

I've definitely been known to click the word boxes up and down from the answer part of the screen a good number of times so as to hear them more times :) If only every word box were actually pronounced.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/towereiffel

Hi @Usagiboy7, Thanks for creating this thread. I studied Japanese all through high school and for 1 year at university. I have never been able to hold a conversation in Japanese, and almost instantly forget Kanji. I started using the Duolingo Japanese for English speakers app when it first came out and for the most part it's pretty good. At the moment I'm up to level 6 and will most likely persist with it.

Because I'm not a beginner I'm finding the Hirigana and Katakana practice a little annoying, because I want to be focussing on Kanji and grammar. If there was a way to customise testing that would be fantastic. It would also be amazing to be able to draw Kanji in. At the moment, of my answers are given by eliminating other choices or recognising the first radical of the correct Kanji.

かんぱい!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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towereiffel,

Have you tried testing out of the Hirigana and Katakana skills? When I signed up for the course, I did and wasn't required to do them.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alaisgomes
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I really wish it could accept better and more English answers. It makes me very frustrated and not wanting to keep up with the course. But i'll stay optimistic for improvements.

6 months ago
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