It's very hard to make sentences when you don't know any words...
I've been using Duolingo for years and the Japanese lessons are by far the hardest I've ever done. I'm nearly finished with the 2nd chapter of skills and I'm surprised by how much the difficulty changes from lesson to lesson. Often times I find myself guessing because so many new words are introduced at the same time.
For example, both Time 1 and Time 2 only included words related to telling time and only introduced a couple new words per lesson. I was able to finish these lessons in only a few minutes. Then Time 3 continued introducing new time-related words as well as other unrelated words to form sentences. I was completely lost, guessing and messing up several times per sentence before I was able to clear the lesson—which took about 15 minutes each!
I think it would help if more lessons were added at the beginning to introduce words before using those words to form sentences. Also, "match the pairs" questions seem to only include characters, not whole words.
In other languages on Duolingo there is more emphasis on learning vocabulary and then using that vocabulary in sentences. In French, "match the pairs" will include several words and their English translations, followed by questions that use those words. In Japanese, "match the pairs" just matches Hiragana and Katakana to Romanji, without any English translations.
I understand that Japanese is still in Beta and I'm looking forward to seeing how things change. For now the difficulty won't be enough to stop me from learning!
I've definitely noticed already that Japanese is a language that should be learned slow and steady. Comparing it to any other duo course I've dabbled in, I should at least have learned 10 skills by now (started 10 days ago). Instead, I'm still focussing on learning hiragana and learning it well. I have taken some lessons over and over and over again, and sometimes I've even quit and used other methods to learn a lesson before taking the duolingo tests on it (hi read, night and drink, I'm looking at you). I'm using youtube videos alongside duolingo now to learn hiragana. Hopefully it sticks soon.
Japanese is a very different beast. You must learn a new syllabary (actually two, and a ideogram system) in order to build words and sentences. We must learn several characters こ(ko) ん(n) に(ni) ち(chi) は (wa) for building the word こんにちは -Kon'nichiwa (Hello).
Do you remember when you started to learn French? Perhaps, you had some hard times trying to make any coherent sentence... And you were using latin alphabet! Well, such was my experience with English and French. And currently is my case with German... Worse with Irish... I don't want to talk about Japanese!
I just want say to you don't give up. I'm going through the same issue like you... And I don't think about to abandon any time soon! Practice makes the master.
Enjoy your process...
Mastering French grammar was definitely difficult, and I understand that I'm learning Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji all at the same time. But there's more to it than that. It really seems like there's more emphasis in the Japanese lessons on memorizing individual characters than learning words.
The only time I'm introduced to words by themselves is when there are picture cards (which is pretty rare) or when a new word is used in a sentence. After that, I basically have to click on each character in a sentence individually and try to figure out what the words are.
Thank you for your kindness :)
There is a lot of memorisation of characters and less emphasis on language learning at the beginning. I see that you are only Level 8, so I guess you haven't completed a lot of the tree. It gets better. That being said, I did this course to review my Japanese. I don't know how any beginner could learn Japanese from this course. It must be very stressful. It kind of reminds me of when I tried to do language exchange in Japan. They always insisted on trying to teach me to read when I wanted to speak survival phrases.
I would recommend doing the Japanese course on Memrise as an addition to Duolingo. The official Memrise course also teaches Japanese characters but has lots of vocabulary and teaches similar sentence patterns to the ones taught on Duolingo.
Have you tried with tinycards for some vocabulary?
There are a lot of vocabulary items.
Although many of them do not have sound, the pronounce is pretty uniform, almost exactly match with the romanji writing.
The course in Duo is far from perfect. But it seems that you've found the challenges and are enjoying them.
Japanese is very different than a whole lot of languages already available here. Your focus should be on learning the syllabaries well first. I dunno how Duolingo tries to do it at first, but it's best if you just do it by yourself (hiragana at least).
I very sorry to say this but I have the same problems she has. I have to depend on Japanese knowledge from other place to get through lesson.
I was a complete beginner in German and they started with sentences in the second lesson. Yes, you really only knew bread and water in the case of German but you could then focus learning things like pronouns and other part that make up a sentences.
Also want to point out that this has been brought up several times from different people.
I'm sorry to be so blunt about this but I feel understanding is more important right now. I'm sorry to say that I'm having enough trouble with your course right now. That I was forced to leave it until things improve.
Please understand I'm trying to help and not hurt.
I thought of the same thing: that first time learners of Japanese would find the Duolingo version hard. I think the Duolingo version of Japanese would be of great help to those who have already studied the language before and just need to review or brush-up their Japanese. But for first-time learners it would be quite hard. I suggest that you study on your own first: master Hiragana and Katakana, learn from other sources and just use duolingo as a test. I know that sounds hard but it will be worth it :) Wishing you luck がんばって