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Is it normal to be thrown directly from new characters into sentences?

I started one of the "Family" lessons, and was shown a few new characters which I should learn, after which Duolingo directly threw a sentence (我的姐姐很忙。) at me, without first introducing the new word in it (姐姐 = sister).

Is this normal? I did a ton of German (near full gold tree) and French, and I don't recall getting thrown directly into a sentence before learning individual words.

This happens in pretty much all lessons. I'm shown new characters but with NO explanation of what they could mean, and then the lesson jumps to a (relatively long) sentence I have to decipher myself by hovering over the characters.

I feel like this it could be smoother to first teach characters, then words, and only then sentences, and that this is even more important for languages with non-latin character systems such as Chinese, then for languages such as German.

Or is this a standard way of teaching Chinese?

December 2, 2017



It really seems as this is the result of a poor structured/constructed course. Duolingo's priorities and the actual requirements of implementing what's being asked for around here have recently become a topic of great polemic. In light of this perspective, I'd point out to the design of the Chinese course as a direct result of those.

The last thing I'm trying to communicate with these words is a personal dislike or lack of acknowledgement towards the developers' work. Seeing a new language in Duolingo is, for me, awesome! However is does not compensate the fact that it could have come out really better.

For everyone that was already here by the time, let's take our imagination back to when the Russian tree was still in development in the incubator, despite the curiously previous launch of Ukrainian. Anxious as I am, I quickly resorted to dabbling the available slavic language course. Still, it took forever for Russian to be launched, and when it finally was... what a course! Great audio, commited staff and a myriad of lessons filled with a great range of vocabulary and grammar.

Little from the previous paragraph can be said about the Chinese course. It's been in the incubator for something around 2 months, and it's already operating. It obviously has a thinner tree than Russian and is still lacking many adjustments, not to mention this bizarre 'characters then a phrase' format. The developers could simply type in more sentences, as well as the Eng/Ch phrase rate could be changed with a few code tweaks.

If by now you think I'm saying it's not enough, it's because it is not. This version of the course, at least, is a clear deviation from the usual superiority and versatility of Duolingo over other learnign platforms, seemingly a rushed achievement sought for marketing reasons. It's half baked, as I like to believe, and people are constantly noticing how raw it is upon tasting. How about leaving it in the oven for a little bit longer? Who knows, maybe the people behind it would have more time to add things to it :)


Agreed. The Chinese course (and the Japanese one as well) seem to have deep flaws and weaknesses and I think it would have made sense for them to develop them further before launching them, or to launch them gradually in a controlled alpha type of way, so they could keep up on the reports.

I get the sense that the course contributors are swamped with reports and this is why they're not able to keep up. I think this is not just a function of the course being new, I think it's a question of poor priorities, like they've added too many long, complex sentences before they had really refined / accepted enough of the alternate wordings for basic sentences, or even before they had done really basic, rudimentary stuff like ensuring all words had adequate hover-over / dictionary hints.

Some sections are usable but overall the course is poor and is nowhere near the level of usefulness of other DuoLingo courses, EVEN to someone like me who has already developed pretty good pronunciation, listening comprehension, and some basic vocabulary and grammar using external tools and talking to native speakers in my local community.


I agree that if I had started learning chinese with this course, I think I would have been very confused and given up quickly. However, as revision it works quite well, especially for learning characters that I previously only knew how to say, and not read. It definitely could use more work, but I guess that's what the 'beta' tag is for? Maybe they want to get more community feedback early in the process so they keep development on the right track?

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