A lot of the German is being taught from an American perspective, but it's the German language. It needs to be taught from the German perspective because when Americans or anyone else visits German-speaking nations, they are going to wonder why word order is so inaccurate and probably assume, "It's those dumb Americans" again. I'm German. I know. The translations are very American slangy, and many are just not right. The German language is a multifaceted one. Frau can mean lady, not just woman. When teaching German, it's one of those languages you have to teach alllll of, even if it's time consuming. There are a lot of synonyms for the same German words in the English language., a Wörterbuch is a great resource for all those synonyms. The problem is usually not learning how to speak the German when you hear it, it's usually just word choice. Duolingo should focus more on Vocabulary for German, giving the singular and the plural at the same time. Deutsch Aktuell is a GREAT resource for this too. It's not that expensive. It also teaches the German language naturally. They make use of little slang in the text, but they do a great job of showing how German slang is used in the lesson videos.

April 9, 2014


Can someone, preferably a native German or someone who learned German from a more "proper" source give an example sentence that shows what OP is talking about? I'm wondering how much I'm falling into the improper word usage trap that they describe. I'm also having a hard time conceptualizing what is wrong with it.

Guys, and Gals, I think your missing an important point. During my lifetime I've had the opportunity to spend time in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. I admit that I sometimes wonder about the word order but then my memory and the reading of other materials remind me that things are not exactly the same everywhere German is spoken. The purpose of Duolingo is not to give you a perfect education in German, it's to give you a solid base in the language, one that will allow you to build and expand your ability. If you have problems with the slang, buy a German comic book. you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more current source. And as for the rest, Find people to talk to in German.

It's not just about talking to other people in German. The German language has progressed greatly within these past few years and the decade. It is becoming acceptable to speak slang or street German now because native German speakers who are becoming Americanized due to American pop culture are substituting, shortening, and abbreviating the formal German language in an American styled way. I know few formal German speakers from Germany now. It's one thing to speak a different dialect of German, but I don't think that is DuoLingo's approach. They are aiming at (at least what I see in their lessons) a more traditional, pedagogic approach. The German speaking community on DuoLingo seems to be more interested in that approach, so they understand the German basics. If you want to break the rules and speak slang German intelligently, you have to know the primary rules first.

I've done German before at evening classes. For about 5 years, with two teachers, both of them native German speakers. When I started doing the German here I became a bit suspicious about the word orders and the general American-slanginess of it - as if some American had been translated word for word.

My daughter got an A* for GCSE German and is on track to get an A for her A-level this year. She gave up on the German here as she didn't feel it was quite as it should be. I've suspended my tree as I'm concentrating on French (I'm sure French will be OK now Sitesurf is on the case), but perhaps when I return to German things might have improved.

I'm glad you (as a real German person) has brought this up.

Because I focus on German more than translating into English, I find my German word order to be pretty acurate. I speak to Germans almost everyday and immerse myself in German to learn how to speak. Duolingo is more of a tool for me, but speaking to actual Germans has helped me the most.

I do as well. All of my acquaintances are German and family. Yes. This website is a good tool but not for word order accuracy-- thus, not for using the German language accurately.

The last person in my family to speak German natively passed away years ago unfortunately. When I learn new words on here, I read about word order outside of Duolingo to double check it.

Yeah, I love supplementing with different sources. It's makes the experience on here more academic. Word order is just tough in German. I remember scratching my head in college even as a German major. It's just one of those things that take time.

I would like to know if the reverse courses are that bad too... Cuz there's still the option of doing the reverse trees.

If you think Duo is bad for this, don't go near Pimsleur with a bargepole.

I've never heard of that. Is it good for vocabulary? Word order is a weakness on Duolingo, but it's great for spelling.

Pimsleur is an audio only method developed in the fifties or sixties. I think the whole set has about 90 lessons, and it is targeted at conversation only. I can't say how good it is because: A. I've only listened to the first three lessons and B. I don't know German yet.

I don't know about the German course, but make a BIG curve around the Swiss German one. Even the description of that course is riddled with mistakes: They say they'll teach Swiss German "as spoken in cities like St. Gallen, Zürich or Basel", three cities with completely different dialects. In the first example conversation they speak so slow I had problems understanding them and the pronunciations sound unnatural (like they took some words from one and some from another dialect)

Thanks. I thought Pimsleur might be good for pronunciation at least, but I guess I may be wrong. On the other hand, learning pronunciation from Duolingo is a bit like learning language from a GPS. I would rather sound like a foreign human than a native GPS.

I would really appreciate it if someone who can recognize a good German accent would tell me if the pronunciation in the following video is an acceptable accent. It is the first lesson, and pretty much everything they say in the video is a repeat of the conversation heard in the first 30 seconds.

The pronunciation is practically perfect. It's the traditional teaching style. Just really listen to the adjective endings and verb endings. Duolingo has terrible pronunciation. I would not depend on it. Duolingo provides great visuals and is great for spelling.

I also find that I am sometimes frustrated by the totally non-idiomatic sentences. Duolingo is good for picking up vocabulary and for practicing mechanical things like declension, but it seems that it could be much better if the sentences were more natural.

This brings up the question of why these things cannot get fixed over time. Surely the courses can be edited and improved. I haven't been involved in any of the course development, but with all the useful comments and discussion, surely the people who have access could fix these problems.

Yes! Exactly. The sentences are not natural. When I type in the natural sentences, DuoLingo says it's incorrect. I stepped away from Duo Lingo for a few months hoping they would fix those problems. Maybe they just have a small staff, and these issues are too difficult to address still at this time.

But since the courses are created by volunteers, I would hope that those volunteers (or new ones) would be able to edit the courses. That may not be true -- I don't truly understand the process. But it would certainly be a good thing.

The German course isn't made by volunteers but by the duo team themselves—which has shown to be much slower than the contributers, for whatever reason.

Thanks for that information. I wasn't aware of that. I understand that the Duolingo staff is very busy with site-wide improvements and probably doesn't want to spend too much time tuning things that are already essentially done. Maybe it is time to invite some community editors/contributors to these internally developed courses.

In any case, many of the more awkward sentences have actually sparked interesting and useful conversations under "Discuss" so the community is making some progress toward sorting it out. If only that knowledge could be backported to the course itself, that would be great.

They have already invited Sitesurf (a very active contributor on the discussion forums) to French for English, so I bet they're looking for people to help out in all courses. They are very picky though

I've been wondering about how the German language has been presented on this site... I haven't taken any formal classes (yet), but the word order presented here versus some of my German language books has been confusing me.

I suppose Duo is a decent tool for now, but I hope I can strengthen and correct my skills else where. Thank you for pointing this out.

I am interested about what you say. Can we have more information?

Are you a native/continuing German speaker, or are you just learning the language? It makes a difference. There's a really good book in which I learned German pretty well. It's called Deutsch Aktuell. It's fairly inexpensive. It does a great job of teaching what German word order should look like. It's also EXCELLENT for vocabulary. Excellent. It always gives the vocab word, the articles, the singular vocab word, and the plural vocab word.

I am enjoying the stories - it's the first time I've actually been able to read German and understand it, even though I've been learning for a while. Maybe I am a late bloomer or something! But it's rewarding, none-the-less!

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