Making the Multiple Choice Listening Exercises More Useful by Picking Better Wrong Answers
I just started the Chinese course today, and it looks great overall.
One thing though that seems to me like a waste of time and missed opportunity, are the exercises where it plays a syllable and then you have to choose from multiple choice.
This seems like a great opportunity to teach things like (a) the tones (b) the nuances between hard-to-discern initial or final consonants, or vowels.
I already have studied Mandarin pronunciation a lot, so I think my pronunciation is pretty solid, but when I was starting, I actually found the pronunciation of vowels and consonants to be the toughest part of the language.
Because of the heavy aspiration, I would sometimes confuse all of "t", "p", "k", and "q", depending on context. I would confuse "r" and "zh", and I would confuse the pairs q/ch, j/zh, and x/sh. It was hard to hear the n/ng distinction. And this is just a few of the problems I had. I had to learn to hear the sounds before I could understand stuff.
The multiple choice exercises on DuoLingo seem too easy. Rather than presenting the same exercise and making people select the tone, or presenting hard-to-hear, similar-sounding consonants, vowels, or finals, the exercises seem to present a random sampling of syllables.
For example, if I were teaching the course if I were teaching a syllable like 是, pinyin "shi", i'd want the "wrong" answers to either be "shi" in the wrong tones, or to be syllables like "zhi", "ri", "si", "she", etc. I.e. "close-sounding" ones.
I think these exercises would be IMMENSELY USEFUL for teaching the toughest parts of pronunciation. Giving really random, unrelated or distant-sounding syllables, seems a waste of exercises...it makes the exercise so easy as to be meaningless. But perhaps more importantly, it's a huge missed opportunity to teach stuff that is really critical for actually mastering the pronunciation.
What do others think?