With Chinese being a tonal language, it’s very important that people learn to pronounce it if they are going to become TRULY fluent in it. Otherwise, what’s the use in learning it?
This is supposed to be the most important course Duolingo has got because Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world.
I agree, Russian launched without these exercises and they added them relatively soon.
I don't know anything about what is required on the back-end for these exercises, so I have no idea how much work it entails. I'd imagine it requires some testing, because there have been some problems with broken exercises in other languages (Russian, German, i.e. certain exercises that are virtually impossible to get right, which can frustrate or demoralize users).
I'd like to see these, but I want to point out, you can get probably better practice by just repeatedly trying to speak.
Mandarin is a tough language to learn and master the pronunciation of. I highly recommend consulting multiple external sources to get the pronunciation down. I think it is worth investing the time in because it makes the language seem much more accessible.
I poured hours into just learning the pronunciation alone...but it paid off. Initially, I couldn't reliably be understood by native speakers and now, when I speak clearly, even if my accent isn't perfect, native speakers virtually always hear the tones and initials and finals exactly the way I am intending to be heard...which is something that a lot of learners don't achieve.
Mastering the pronunciation also really helps with listening comprehension...which makes it easier to do DuoLingo, and also easier to learn from context.
I agree, the tip duolingo gives that you should repeat every exercise aloud is a good one. I reflexively repeat after the voice and read the sentence as I go.
I learned mandarin in university and lived in Beijing for most of a year (20yrs ago) and got fairly comfortable with verbal communication but duolingo has got me recognising the written words that (in the back of my mind) I recognise from conversations with taxi drivers, co-workers and people on the train.
In my own experience, copying, parroting, is a fundamental part of sounding more coherent to native speakers. ...In any language really.
(All languages have a tonal component but most of them are just nuance, not the whole meaning of the word. Or it’s a sort of relexive melody to the sentence which sounds fluent.
Try saying “yes” in each of the four mandarin tones. The first one sounds like a quick, provisional agreement. The second sounds like a question - what do you need? The third sounds like yes, maybe, not so sure. And the fourth sounds like emphatic, certain statement - that’s how it is.
So, as english speakers we do know how to say the tones, we just need to get used to attaching the tone to the word every time).