First Impressions of Duolingo Chinese Course/Advice for Chinese Alpha Testers
I have just received an email invitation to alpha test the Chinese course today, and I used an alternate account to do so. As I'm a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese, I can tell that the Chinese incubator team made a quality course, because it teaches you the most common words in conversation earliest in the tree, just like many of the other language trees developed by the Duolingo staff. I am aware that as an alpha-testing course, there may be many bugs. As a caveat, 80-90% of the correct or most fluent/natural answers weren't accepted, as I supposedly got them wrong during the placement test. I reported about 10-20 such sentences, and I'm sure DL will take notice and improve the tree. I would advise non-native testers to wait 1-2 weeks before native testers like me rectify most of the issues of the Chinese tree.
As a disclaimer, it was stated on the email that alpha testers are not allowed to "share screenshots or course release information with others." I'm not doing any of this, I'm just writing a brief review of the Chinese course that's still being built (there are skills I didn't get to because the placement test deemed my Chinese competance as lower than it actually is, and I don't know when exactly they will release the course). To the mods, out there, I don't believe I'm posting in the wrong board because the Chinese forum board isn't currently accessible to me.
I would advise non-native testers to wait 1-2 weeks before native testers like me rectify most of the issues of the Chinese tree.
You appear not to grasp the point of an alpha-test. DL wants feedback from a broad section of users, not just those who already know the language. The Japanese and Korean alpha tests only lasted a few weeks, so this one might well be over by that time. Anyone expecting a polished course free from missing translations, etc. should not have volunteered for an alpha test in the first instance—those people should have waited anyway.
True. I just noticed that Duolingo announced another surprise next week on Facebook. It may well be the Chinese course release, so now I think of it everyone should help the course creators to spot the mistakes. Even mature courses like Spanish, French, German etc aren't 100% error free.
I hadn't noticed that either; 'tones of fun' can surely only refer to Chinese (no tones in Klingon, which seems to be the only other course they could imminently release).
I absolutely agree that there are many missing translations and a few downright errors, so the more people submitting reports, the better.
I think it is pretty important to have non native testers as long as they aren't expecting to learn the language from the alpha course because as it is now you couldn't learn it correctly but maybe in a few weeks you would be able to, better anyway. I am also not entierly sure this discussion is allowed see link
I've gone through the first two sections so far and I think the Chinese Course Contributors have put together an excellent course! All of the contributors are fluent, if not native speakers, aren't they? Besides, would a native Chinese speaker really expect a learner to use the most fluent and native expressions? Beginners should be grounded in the basics first. Feedback from all levels of learners during this alpha test will help improve the quality of the course before the grand release.
Duolingo is doing an outstanding job helping people get a good foundation in their target language. Advanced fluency is not likely to come through an app, but through actually using the language in live situations. Duolingo helps you make progress towards that goal.
Of course we should not expect new learners to use the most native/fluent/natural expressions. It's just that those expressions aren't being recognised by DL to be correct, that's all. The most awkward thing to say in another language is to say nothing.
As a fluent speaker, I'm going through the whole tree to ensure that there aren't any problems for new learners. I think what you're doing is good. You're a native speaker going through the test out tests to ensure intermediate and advanced learners can make use of the tree, while I can go through the tree and correct any issues with the learning process so that beginners can learn a decent amount of Chinese correctly and efficiently. 继续加油！