Oh, how I want to see more colors on Duo!!
This was the correct response on a recent sentence that I was given to translate:
We have a colleague in Spain
Noi abbiamo un collega in Spagna.
This is the exact type of sentence that could really benefit from some extra color.
Have the word "collega" displayed in a blue font, so I wouldn't assume it was "una" instead of "un". Simple.
Eventually, I will learn to associate nouns like collega, problema, mano, chiave, tesi, (and so on) with the correct non-apparent gender article, because I will begin to remember their colors if I see them displayed here over and over again.
If it is a matter of manpower, someone ask me and I'll help to go into the vocabulary database and add pink/ blue color tags to all of the nouns. It would make life so much easier.
Did it mark you wrong for writing "una collega"? Because "collega" can be masculine or feminine, so that wouldn't technically be wrong. Unlike the other nouns you mention (problema, mano, chiave, tesi), which take only one gender, "collega" varies based on whether it refers to a man or a woman. Like nouns ending in "-ista," the masculine and feminine forms have the same A ending in the singular, but take different articles (il collega, la collega). The plural forms are also different: "colleghi" vs. "colleghe."
I agree that it would be helpful to have some kind of visual aid for gender, though.
Yes, it did cost me a heart. I just assumed that collega was an "oddball" type of word, like those others I mentioned.
If I spot the sentence again when practicing, I'll report the problem.
I have lost track of the number of hearts I've lost when I type an entire sentence correct except for "una" instead of "un", or vice versa.
It's an oddball, just a different kind. Remembering gender for some of these nouns can be tricky, but some follow patterns, which can help. From your list, for example, you have "problema," with the ending "-ema," which is commonly masculine, and "tesi," with the ending "-si," which in a singular noun is commonly feminine. Maybe this site could help, as it points out some common patterns: http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Italian/Grammar/Italian-Noun.html
It might be too much work to do, but a new color would then be needed for nouns with variable genders, like collega. Maybe a light purple (lavender)? :>)
I think this is an excellent idea. Even if the colour only appeared when you moused over the words to get the hint. It would be a great cue for memory.