I stopped learning Hebrew with Duolingo
And these are my reasons: 1) at least half of phrases / words etc. are not accompanied by audio (despite some of them have audio icon). 2) absence of niqquds (ok, niqquds are not normally used in written texts, but how can I figure out the pronunciation of a new word you introduce?) 3) absence of any way to insert Hebrew text - you'll have to install a separate Hebrew keyboard (which is troublesome in some software environments, for ex., in Windows.) 4) unlike other languages, sometimes you don't introduce a word first and then start to ask me to translate phrases with it - you ask me to translate a word right away. This combined with no way to discern the pronunciation of a new word (no niqquds) makes learning of the words pretty difficult. 5) No grammar explanation whatsoever (like of the fact that verbs in the present time are modified by gender and not conjugated) - compare this to very extensive German grammar explanations. I have to guess everything.
IMHO, it was a mistake for Duolingo to offer Hebrew learning without solving these problems first.
I finished the Duolingo Hebrew, and it was the best resource for learning Hebrew that I've ever used. This was after finishing pimsleur, rosetta, and a bunch of other programs. Most of your complaints are unjustified, as there are solutions for everything, as others have posted. I would personally recommend to supplement all your language learning with a flash card program, so you can retain all the new words.
Aside from that, learning a language is never easy, you can complain all you want, but at the end of the day, you still need to put in a lot of hours to get any results. So you can keep whining and not learn anything or you can stop wasting time whining and start learning.
This is very true. I am very well acquainted with pretty much every resource out there; Duolingo is a very powerful learning tool for Hebrew. I can't imagine how one could progress without it. I've introduced people who knew almost nothing about the language, aside from the alephbet, and they are progressing very well. It's been a wonderful means of getting their feet wet and immersed in the language, building confidence as they learn.
It's not a matter of whining. It's just identifying that the course really needs some improvement to bring it up to the standards of the rest of the courses here. User friendliness is a huge factor
My sister is learning Hebrew for the first time, she began using Duolingo mere days after learning the alphabet, she hasn't even fully memorize the nikkud, but is doing very well on the app. Perseverance is key. Resourcefulness is another. I do intend to put something together to better support new learners who may be having trouble, if someone were to assist me as a guide for the very dedicated verb sections, I'd be able to complete this in a few days. I'm almost finished with everything else. I just need some clarification on a few things.
I am not that far along, but the same problems that I have had or continue to have, I've repeatedly seen new users complain about. I've reposted my response so many times (on discussions & in our Hebrew group on the Duolingo app), that I've saved it for ease of repasting. I have no problem doing it here or do you have somewhere else you are asking for info.
I've written this before on the discussion board. My recommendations:
I really recommend doing the Hebrew alphabet course at Memrise before you start here, & YouTuber Linguistix channel to say the individual letters correctly.
Here's LINGUISTIX Hebrew Pronunciation for English Speakers: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfwqVVFqlT1v0tS9hhTg7kL1cUVyO4oFY
Then start vocab here at the same time you start Duolingo course.. There's people from 8 countries in my group! (You can use the website or the app)
I'm learning Hebrew Duolingo on Memrise! http://www.memrise.com/course/1031737/
I'm learning Modern Hebrew Complete (with audio) on Memrise! http://www.memrise.com/course/364795/
The three alphabet courses I did (at the same time for variety, like same three letters on each course, then next day three new ones, ) I'm learning ! Hebrew Alphabet ♬ IPA (no typing) alefbet on Memrise! http://www.memrise.com/course/165935/
I'm learning Hebrew Alef-Bet on Memrise! http://www.memrise.com/course/1087087/
I'm learning Hebrew Reading and Language Intro on Memrise! http://www.memrise.com/course/702355/
There is also a Shalom TV/ JBS Rabbi taught Hebrew module. It's a bit much to do the entire series, if you only need the pronunciation and not Hebrew school (as in HEBREW SCHOOL, not "Hebrew" school but I found the lesson /video on tricks for pronunciation & vowels really helpful. JBS Hebrew: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFYVdHvwACGu0b-foW7PDLuMfFAb6dUPV
There are also apps to learn the alphabet. And things like Shalom Sesame. There's also a YouTuber who is active on the Facebook group for Hebrew Duolingo learners, Daniel Ganor. He's got great videos. Here are his six lessons on the Hebrew alphabet: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtp44KdGs0bUDCbBkt2A5JMwyxlBvQ_oq
I am sticking to the course for now but I share many of your frustrations. In particular I agree about the nikkids. I think the only reason I am able to progress in the Hebrew course is because I studied some Hebrew when I was a kid so it is more review for me. They should either include more audio especially when introducing new words, or nikkids. At the very least leave in the dots on the letters. It is hard to know how a word is meant to be pronounced if bet and vet look exactly the same. Surprisingly I have also noticed many mistakes in the course. For example in the animal section the correct answer for the word animal/ the hebrew word for animal was accompanied by a picture of a deer, and all the other pictures were also pictures of animals. The picture for a bee was a field of flowers. The english sentences/ correct answers also seem really weird and akward even by duo quirky sentence standards. Still I am sticking to it and I think if the course got removed it would be upsetting for myself and many people. There seems to be alot of demand for it, I just hope they improve the course. For me, one thing about doing the hebrew course is it has made me very reluctant to try another language with a non roman alphabet, like Japanese or Russian because they would be completely new to me and I think I would be lost if they have the same problems as the Hebrew course. I feel relieved to know I am not alone in experiencing frustration with the course.
The picture questions are a Duolingo problem - as far as I'm aware, the team has little to no input on which pictures come up for a given word.
If they had preferentially used nikkud throughout the course, one would have been required to type the nikkud, as I understand it. For many people, that would make the course absolutely impossible. I, for example, have the ability to type some letters with a dagesh, and have a limited number of nikkud available to me on some letters, but many of the nikkud that would be required, I simply wouldn't be able to type.
Regarding the Japanese and Russian courses, they simply aren't the same beast as Hebrew.
Cyrillic is much closer to the Latin alphabet, for starters, and Russian itself is (within its set of rules) incredibly phonetic and consistent in its spelling. The alphabet is the least of one's worries when learning Russian.
With the disclaimer that my knowledge of the language is very elementary, Japanese, using syllabaries and kanji, is that much further from English/the Latin alphabet, but the syllabaries are (in my experience) much more phonetic (not perfectly so, but largely, and many of the changes are predictable. Moreover, Japanese has the advantage (which Hebrew currently does not, but maybe will in future) of dedicated exercises to teach kana and kanji, the latter for both sound and meaning.
Team Hebrew weren't given this facility, so they and we missed out, although they made great efforts to mitigate that. Hebrew is no less phonetic than English (maybe even more so), we are just used to English's foibles.
Moreover, both those languages have decent TTS engines (at least, I know that Russian is TTS and I believe that Japanese is), something which Hebrew doesn't, or at least didn't at the time the course was created. That makes it vastly easier to have consistent audio throughout.
Having used language learning programs for Hebrew that use TTS, I would not ever recommend that to a beginner unless and until a good TTS engine was available. If the TTS cannot differentiate between את for fem sing you and את for a definite direct object marker, or between the masculine and feminine endings that both look like ך, then we are decidedly better off with fewer recordings that are accurate, believe me. I tended to trust the team anyway over this decision, but now that my Hebrew is better, I also very decidedly see the logic.
It's a tough learning curve, but within the current restrictions of the format the team have done an excellent job, including providing other materials (like the Memrise course) to fill in the gaps.
Thanks for clarifying. While it does not surmount the challenges in learning Hebrew your explanation makes alot of sense. I understand now at least that the Hebrew team are doing their best with the resources available. I didn’t really know how to distinguish between a general problem in duolingo and a problem with duolingo course specifically (such as the pictures not matching), but that makes sense (though it should still be fixed) I didn’t actually realize that people wouldn’t be able to type in the nikkuds and I can see now why that might be a problem if nikkuds are not on a regular hebrew keyboard. (I had assumed it would be just like adding and accent in french or english) I am still confused as to why there is not difference between letters like bet and vet or pey and fey, I didn’t realize that modern hebrew doesn’t even use the dots on letters. In the aleph bet review on memrise made by the duolingo team they included bet and vet pey and fey etc. As seperate letters, so I was really surprised they weren’t in the course. I think this would be so helpful to learners. Thanks for clarifying and explaining. Also, thanks for the tips on russian and japanese, I feel more optimistic about starting them now (well, eventually). I will say Hebrew is actually very regular and phonetic. I can’t compare it to russian or japanese, but it is the most regular phonetic language I have ever studied. Using the nikkud helps you see this. With the nikkud as far as I know everything is pronounced exactly as it is written. That said I understand now why the keyboard issues mean they couldn’t include them in the course. I am going to stick with Hebrew course and try using the memrise course as well. Your comments made me see that the Hebrew team had logical reasons for their decisions even if it’s not ideal. After reading your explanation and also comparisons to the Japanese course it seems to me that team Hebrew has put together a good course with the resources they have, but if Duolingo gave them more resources it could truly be an excellant course, which would be nice to see. I don’t know how Duolingo decides which courses to invest more resources in, but considering the interest in Hebrew it would be nice it they could invest a bit more. It is great that the Hebrew team has gone out of their way to come up with workarounds such as the Memrise courses to support the duolingo course and other fixes, but it would be nice if they didn’t have to. If they can include audio on Memrise why can’t it be done on duolingo itself? It sounds like this is a financial problem. While I believe in always learning from more than one resource it would be nice I think for learners to at least get the basics in one place. I understand the audio problems as I am also learning Irish and the Irish course also has sporadic audio for the same reasons and personally I agree with you, I do prefer less audio with a real human voice to more audio and a computer voice, but I also wish they could include more audio. Not neccesarily for every sentence but at least for introducing new words. From what you wrote it sounds like the Japanese course is doing a better job at teaching kanji (I look forward to trying it now) then the Hebrew course was able to do with Aleph Bet. I commend and admire the hebrew team for doing the best they can with the resources they have but I hope Duo throws some more resources their way to make the course really excellant. Also, for anyone like my who uses the app fro practice but wants to be able to access all the grammer notes in one place I found a really useful solution. (It was actually suggested in the french course tips and notes sections) I created a school and opened a classroom for each language. Now I can go to schools and open the classroom I have set up for any language and see all the tips and notes in one place. It’s really convenient. Anyways, thanks for clarifying!
They use nikkud to teach normally. They don't use it except for religious and children's materials but beginners absolutely are taught nikud. Some of the rules are based on the nikud. It also gives cues for how many syllables a word has. They can always make a virtual keyboard for nikud but it's terrible not to have it. It's the learners responsibility to have a keyboard that works, it's a flimsy excuse. It's not the worst of the course's issues however. Top prize goes to not knowing tips and notes (or the discussions) exist if you use the app. I only lasted so long because I had done memrise for a month beforehand.
So did you stick with the Hebrew? I think that Duo is one of a number of resources that a person can use to learn a language. You can’t just do Duo and expect to be fluent. You have to practice speaking with a native speaker of the language. Re the mistakes issue... I have come across a number of mistakes in the Hebrew course, and try to report them as I find them. I decided to jump in and try Japanese anyway & hope for the best!
1) The absence of audio was explained so many times. It is because there isn't a good TTS for Hebrew, so all of the sentences were recorded by actual people. And Duolingo was willing to pay only so much.
2) As you stated, normal text is written without vowels. That is how they teach us here, to get used to it.
3) This is absolutely not true. There are several ways how you can write in Hebrew. I use Windows, and I've never had any problems with Hebrew keyboard and I've used it in several programs.
4) That is why, there is a Memrise course that accompanies this Duolingo course, which helps people get used to the new Hebrew vocabulary and its correct pronunciation. All of the words from the course are there. If you don't know about it, here is the link: https://www.memrise.com/course/1031737/hebrew-duolingo/
5) Again, this is absolutely not true. There are explanations in almost every skill and they are much better than in other languages, in my opinion.
Duolingo chose to teach languages this way. It is a way that not everybody can follow. That is why there are so many different resources for learning languages, because everybody learns differently. If you personally don't like it, that doesn't mean that this program is not good; there are many people, me included, that LOVE it and have learned a lot. Actually, even though I like Duolingo, I use many other ways and resources to learn Hebrew and make it a part of my daily routine.
I really hate when people start bashing Duolingo. It has its flaws, I'll admit it, but given the framework, I think that the Hebrew team did a phenomenal job!
1) Ok, yeah, that is kind of a problem, but at least it has audio for some of the sentences.
2) Like you said, they're rarely used in written texts.
3) It's the exact same in courses like Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Greek, and Ukrainian.
4) That's a problem in other courses, just hover your mouse over the new word even if it's not orange.
5) Ok, I have to agree with you.
I definitely agree that there should be more audio. I haven't had any problems installing a keyboard for Hebrew in Windows, though, so perhaps I have a different version.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn Hebrew using duo, but there are improvements to be made, no question there.
I have to agree with you :( I had been struggling with these problems, too, but fortunately on Memrise there is a course with the vocabulary taught here on Duolingo. There is also audio. What I do, is this: First I learn the words on Memrise, I write them down, and also the pronunciation. Then I come back to Duolingo and do the lessons.
I think Reverso app is a great resource it's got a bunch of languages with TTS including Hebrew..I slowed down the speech so I can hear each word. It doesn't have this feature in their reverso website.. Plus they've got a context dictionary so slang appears... Unlike Google translate it'll actually tell you the translation of slang. (Like kapara sheli, my penance, but in slang it's my darling.. Before reverso I wondered why singer nechi nech referred (IN the song) to a woman as Kapara Sheli.
1) While not every single phrase is accompanied by audio, it is rare for a single word in this course to be used without accompanying audio at some point in the lesson. Thus, you not only know how a word sounds but you often have the benefit of hearing two separate people pronounce it. 2) As you learn the grammatical structure of the language and increase your familiarity with the vocabulary you already know, it actually becomes quite simple to learn how words are pronounced without the niqqudim. If a word really stumps you even with seeing the letters and hearing it pronounced, there are a couple of remedies. One is a Hebrew-English dictionary; the other is using a website or service such as Google Translate, where the niqqud are frequently provided. I make flashcards for each new vocabulary word I encounter in Duolingo, WITH the proper niqqudim, and I never have a problem figuring out what those are. 3) I use Windows and was absolutely delighted when I discovered how to install a Hebrew keyboard. There are online Hebrew keyboards that can be used (example, branah dot com) for those not wanting to install them, and the picture of the Hebrew keyboard on the screen can make learning the keyboard layout easier. I initially used this, and somehow naively believed that I needed to buy a physical keyboard in Israel to actually type directly in Hebrew. I was shocked to discover that I'd had the ability all along, and simply needed to go to my Windows settings and under languages, add a keyboard! They are available for basically any language out there (except maybe Klingon), so I was able to add other languages as well. Thanks to starting out using the online keyboard and learning the layout, I can now type in Hebrew as quickly as I can type in English (60-70 words per minute). Consider it an added skill that you are privileged to learn by using Duolingo's Hebrew course. Why would you want to learn a language but not be able to type in it? The day I discovered there is a whole "other internet" to be found by doing searches in Hebrew was a wonderful day. 4) Typically when translating a word, you can hover over the word for hints. On rare occasions, the order of the exercise will ask me to translate a single new vocabulary word with no available hints. It's OK -- when you inevitably get it wrong, you will get the correct answer and a chance to try again at the end of the lesson. I use the hints as rarely as possible anyway, because the words stick in my memory better if I either know it, or miss and have to try again. I have yet to feel judged for missing five or more questions in a lesson, and I find that those vocabulary words will stick and I will be able to easily recall them on future lessons! 5) If you are only using Duolingo on your phone, you might not have access to the grammar notes. Try it on your computer. There are extensive notes for most skills explaining the grammar in significant detail. This also ties in to the niqqudim issue -- as you learn grammatical forms, since the niqqud pattern is the same for all words sharing the exact same form, you will know the niqqud for any new word using a grammar form that you already know.
IMHO, Duolingo has a great Hebrew course!
Check the Hindi and Chinese courses to see how those alphabets are tought. Step by step, letter by letter. Adding a few more modules at the beginning with voice won't hurt anyone. As it is the notes aren't viewable on small screen devices so it means that this course can only seriously be engaged with a computer or tablet, which ideally shouldn't be the case. Microsoft Bing Translater has voice and transliteration features for Hebrew, why doesn't this course have any?
that about the audio it is sadly true, I think particularly in this curse it is extremely important, since it is another alphabet and there is not a defined sound to every letter. But the other points are not that terrible.
I share most of your frustrations. The lack of audio and pictures really bugs me. Lack of nikkud would be fine IMHO if there were pronunciations available for every word. Currently I'm relying on google/youtube to help when the course introduces a new word that I don't know how to pronounce.