Too few grammar tips
I think there are too few grammar tips in the japanese duolingo course. I have studied a little bit of japanese before and just to take some examples I have encountered the verb endings -mashoo and -mashita in the courses. Even though it is kinda explained through the translation device I think every totally inexperienced japanese learner would have an easier time understanding this if it was made clear in a set of grammar tips what these endings do.
The explanation for these endings are that -mashoo are used to make suggestions (place it at the end of the verb "run" and we get "shouldn't we go running?") while -mashita is used to make the past affirmative form of the verb ("swim" becomes "swam" etc.).
Now as I said I haven't studied much japanese so there might be more examples that I have missed which knowing might have made these exercises easier so I'm asking whether duolingo have any plans on adding more grammar tips to the duolingo course. I know the course is still in beta but im not sure what that really means. Maybe duolingo will add and fix some things? I don't know.
I do know for a fact that in the esperanto course there were grammar tips for almost every lesson which is odd considering it is extremely simple. I would really like to see this in the japanese course too.
If they wont add more grammar tips it would be cool if some more experienced japanese learner made a blog where there would be an explanation of the grammar introduced in each lesson. Just a suggestion.
I think this is sorely needed. At the moment, it is a great App to practice Japanese if you already know it to some extent. The lack of explanations, especially for grammar is a huge problem for absolute beginners (which DL claims they are targeting by starting with Hiragana).
I found the first couple of lessons relatively straightforward but that could be due to my prior knowledge of <sub>ます、</sub>ました、~ましょう for regular verbs, past tense, and "Let's do...". However, I found the lessons far more difficult beyond the 2nd checkpoint due to the more complex grammar and the particles that were not well explained. I eventually gave up on learning new vocabulary in DL due to it being so slow to get through lessons with poor grammar. It is only after studying Japanese, including grammar, outside of DL for several months that I have been able to return and complete the tree with relative ease.
Japanese grammar is very complex (agglutinative) and there are different conjugations not just for tenses but for politeness as well. They use both onyomi and kunyomi readings for the same Kanji characters and the sounds are often voiced for compounds. It would be very difficult for someone who had just learned Hiragana to be immersed in this from English.
Japanese is also very contextual, leaving out subjects, plurals, and ます forms depending on who you are speaking to. Additional information such as the politeness or context is needed for some lessons, especially the people and directions lessons. For example: The difference between そちら and そこ for example is translated particularly poorly. これ、それ、and あれ also need to be explained. The difference between Group 1 and Group 3 verbs should be discussed. As well as the irregular verbs する and 来る. The use of ある and いる for inanimate and animate objects should also be included in the tips (this also confuses Japanese people who use "exists" incorrectly in English). Some particles such as は and が you do need to practice by immersion but tips or introduction for them would still aid learners. This will be particularly important if the course will allow learners to enter Japanese text themselves or if they aim to be understand it enough to use in conversation both of which are much more difficult than multi-choice drills.
I do hope that additional tips are added throughout the (Beta) Japanese course as new grammar and particles are included. However, in the meantime I encourage learners to supplement their Japanese outside of the App. Sorry this may break your streak if you invest your time else where but isn't the learning more important? There are night classes and textbooks of course but there are also plenty of blogs and vlogs on Japanese learning if you Google where you get stuck. Many of the concepts you need to understand to progress through the Japanese DL lessons are not specific to the App and you will find the answers elsewhere if you ask the right questions.
Very well explained, kelsi602. I agree on all fronts. I too noticed that after about the second checkpoint it started to take me longer and longer to get through the lessons (I think "lessons" is almost a misnomer - these things are more like tests or exercises).
I'm used to lessons taking just a few minutes, and with some of them I'm still at it after 20 minutes, which is exasperating.
One thing that makes it worse is that Duo has gotten remarkably inflexible as to which answers to accept, and they have randomly decided on just one sentence version for each sentence, and not always the same ones when it comes to variations.
I've actually started to write down the correct answers in a document so I can at least get them right when they come up again (and they will) after forgetting WHICH version they wanted.
I've studied Japanese on my own for years and therefore have a good grasp on the grammar, but just looking at these lessons, I definitely feel like I'd be struggling if I didn't have that background. There really isn't much explanation at all for new learners, and I often see people in the discussion posts asking "why is this used here instead of this other thing?" or having difficulty grasping new concepts that weren't explained. The system could use refinement and more consideration for new learners, basically.