I no longer think I want Japanese to release on web...
On the 18th of May — when the beta was due to release, when we watched excitedly for the course to be available that day, but then it ended up slipping out onto iOS only and nothing else — I was a little miffed that we'd stayed up that night waiting for something that was never actually coming.
I did have an inkling that there was a slim unlikely possibility it wasn't going to arrive on web that day, as shown in this comment which I posted at the beginning of that day. But I was confident that the incubator post would have been worded a lot more clearly if it truly meant otherwise.
Fortunately I had already been using these instructions for accessing the course on web, which were posted in the discussions a month earlier (15th of April). This meant the massive let down didn't impact me too bad. I lost some trust and love for Duolingo, but I could still carry on awkwardly using the course on web via the method I had been using.
For months I've been eager to see the Japanese course finally arrive officially on web. I'm not a fan of the side show that is the apps; I wanted to see it officially available on the real thing of Duolingo...
But now my opinion has changed! I no longer want to see Japanese release officially on web!
Apparently, the only thing missing from the course on web this whole time is just the "character challenge" exercises. There are thousands of free sites and apps which teach hiragana, katakana, and basic kanji really well already. I don't see how the way Duolingo does it could be more effective than all of these, or why Duolingo feels the need to spend time duplicating their work.
I'm not a fan of alphabet and character teaching starting to be implemented into Duolingo courses. I feel that these things should be left to TinyCards or elsewhere. I notice in the recent Korean incubator update that the Korean course too is going to be delayed on web until the unspecified future date of character challenge eventually being implemented. Hangeul has even less letters than the English alphabet!! Is it really necessary for us web users to wait longer over something so trivial? -_-;
I had never attempted to learn hangeul in my life. After reading that incubator post, I decided I'd type "hangul game" into Google and see how long it takes me to learn it. This was one of the top results and is what I used:
I fully learned the 10 vowels within 15 minutes of trial and error, then the 14 consonants in another 15 minutes. By the time I'd spent 60 minutes on that site, I'd fully learnt to read the "full set" of the 24 letters and all 27 digraphs. In total, I'd clicked 900 answers within these 60 minutes (= 4 seconds average per click) and was getting every answer correct long before the end.
I then spent just 30 minutes reading the wikipedia page for hangul to find out everything else I would need to know. So a total of 90 minutes to fully learn hangeul from scratch!
Four days later (without practising in the meantime), I can still remember just about everything I learned. I can now read my way through sentences written in hangeul, albeit extremely slowly. I don't need to look anything up. Would just need practice actually using it to increase my speed. I've not even begun learning the Korean language itself yet, so, although I can fully read hangeul, I have no idea what any of the words actually mean! :D
(I do admit learning Japanese significantly helped me in comprehending the logic behind the hangeul characters. But even for people who don't have this advantage, I don't think it would take more than a couple of hours longer.)
So I don't see why the Korean course has to delay its release on web either. Luckily, Korean is just one of the languages I'm curious about. I currently have no real desire to learn it, but simply wish to try it out. I don't need to learn it properly. Maybe I'll be able to put up with the app for it, with its silly tile clicking questions...
(Oops, got carried away...) Back on topic:
I do certainly want everyone who hasn't been using this so-called "hack" to finally be able to use the course on web—to finally experience the real thing, not those silly click-the-tiles-in-the-correct-order questions. But, from my point of view, the course is going to get nerfed once all these unnecessary "character challenge" questions start popping up. Because currently it's really nice how much sentence typing the Japanese course has on web. It will be a shame when upon official release this gets diluted.
(Another thing we'll lose is the "Progress Quiz" feature, which is still available in the Japanese lingot store on web.) :P
Duolingo is special and unique for the way it requires you to answer by writing your translation of the sentence (especially when the direction is into the target language). It gives a great opportunity to practise making use of vocabulary and grammar in building your own sentences, and then these being instantly marked correct or incorrect. That is where it seems the focus should be, not teaching scripts which is something being done perfectly well by thousands of other free sites and apps. But this is just my opinion.
(This rant is about a hundred times too long, isn't it... Sorry, just needed to finally get all this off my chest.) ^^;
In the app, the 'character challenges' only appear during the first few skills that teach the kana, and then infrequently whenever new kanji are introduced to teach their pronunciation in kana. As the website (fortunately) has no press- or rearrange-the-tiles exercises, I doubt character challenges will have very much impact on the web format--they will hopefully be confined to their skills and not leak out to annoy those of us who have already learnt the script and want to get on with typing sentences.
I take your point that there are many other ways to learn scripts, but the intention of Duolingo has always been to teach the basics of a language from scratch to a complete beginner. Of course, some scripts can be learnt very quickly (Hangul was purposively designed to be simple to learn), but others are very much more complex. If Duolingo can find a way of integrating scripts into the web format and do it usefully and well, I don't see the harm in it. We shall just have to see what they come up with.
I hope you're right about that first paragraph. I tried to check out the course on the app a couple of times, but it really was mind-numbing to use. I've remembered what it was I disliked about character challenge the most: those questions where you have to pair up the five pairs of kana+romaji / kanji+yomigana. My biggest fear is what it would be like should web be inflicted with this tedious question format...
In regards to your second paragraph, what I don't understand is how come this didn't matter with Hebrew, Greek, Russian, and any other such like languages already taught on Duolingo?
I'd say the scripts of these languages take at least as much effort as hangeul to learn (Hebrew certainly seems a lot harder to me). And hangeul is probably much easier to remember after learning than those, thanks to the clever logic behind it. I'm surprised by how little I've forgotten after four days. I forgot almost the whole of the Hebrew alphabet in that amount of time when I'd previously tried to learn it. :P
My biggest fear is what it would be like should web be inflicted with this tedious question format...
Well, evidently I was wrong. I can only predict what is in line with what I consider to be common sense; perhaps I should try to bottle and sell this. Duolingo would be very welcome to several barrels of it on the house.
I agree that the Hebrew script is harder than the Korean (sorry, I missed your response earlier). Hangul is a full syllabary; Hebrew is only a a very partial one.
You haven't seen how Duolingo will teach Japanese on the website when it is released, and according to your comment below you only tried the app briefly and did not like it. Based on what you think the course will look like, you don't want anyone to be able to learn Japanese on the Duolingo website.
Guess what - you don't need to use Duolingo if you don't want to. Please let the rest of us decide for ourselves if we want to use Duolingo's web course to learn Japanese.
A most peculiar response. I won't criticise nor even downvote you for this, since it is towards the end of my long rambling post, but it seems you have missed a very crucial part of what I wrote. I'll quote it here instead:
I do certainly want everyone who hasn't been using this so-called "hack" to finally be able to use the course on web—to finally experience the real thing, not those silly click-the-tiles-in-the-correct-order questions. [...]
I'll assume the tone behind of the rest of your remarks stems from not having seen that part of my post. But I will add the following things:
I've seen how Duolingo will teach Japanese on the website aside from its "character challenge" questions. I've experienced how the character challenge questions work on the app.
If you've only used this Japanese course on your current account, and if you've not reset progress for it at any point, then I've actually used the course on the app at least as much as you. Here are the two accounts I used for the app:
droidmoogle - Japanese level 9 (used the placement test)
droidmoogle2 - Japanese level 6 (went through the first five skills lesson-by-lesson)
My whole post was nothing but mere opinions, feelings, questions, and giving an honest account of my experience. ^^;
You wrote "I no longer want to see Japanese release officially on web!" That sure sounds like you don't think that anyone should get to use the "official" web version regardless of what you wrote at the bottom of your original rant.
Nobody has seen the final version of the web course since it has not been released yet, maybe you could wait until it is released to critique it. Right now you are just guessing. And just because you don't like what you have seen, that doesn't mean that others might not benefit and maybe even enjoy the official web version of Duolingo Japanese.
And comparing the Japanese writing system to Greek or Russian (I have no experience with Hebrew or Korean) seems to me to be quite peculiar. I found learning the Japanese script at the beginning of the App version very different from a simple alphabet like Greek or Cyrillic. There really is no comparison.