Problems with Hebrew
I was excited to start Duolingo Hebrew (from English). However, it has multiple problems.
Probably the biggest defect is that many of the pronunciations are missing. This is particularly important in Hebrew, since several of the letters have two distinct sounds, and there are almost no written vowels (at least in the every day Hebrew in this course).
For perhaps 10 percent of the sentences which are meant to have audio and which have a speaker icon on the right, it is just missing.
In addition, there is no audio at all in many of the situations where is present for other languages: —Multiple choice with pictures —Underlined words with hints —No slow audio at all
As a result, when words are introduced, there’s usually no indication of how to pronounce them.
all the words from the hebrew course, with excellent audio https://www.memrise.com/course/1031737/hebrew-duolingo/
The reason for the lack of audio is that Duolingo doesn't use TTS for the Hebrew course, they use recorded audio, so it is only used on sentences, not single words.
There are many comments about this. It's not perfect, but it's the best Duolingo can do at present. There is a second tree in the works tho which should help. If you listen to the sentences that do have audio and recognize the words, you may be able to figure out ones that don't. Sometimes the audio takes a while to start.
It's definitely a pain, but continued practice does make it easier. I would prefer more audio, too! But alas, I'm at least happy with what we've got..
The lack of audio does make an already steep learning curve even tougher. The lack of recordings for individual words, on hover, and the lack of slow audio are all part of the same thing, which is that a decent TTS did not exist for Hebrew. The team have said that there will be more audio when the next version of the tree comes out - I don't know if that's because they've found a good TTS or because Duolingo is allowing them to record more sentences, but either way, it will help a lot.
Having used resources that use a TTS, the very things which make the lack of audio difficult are also the things that make a poor TTS far worse than limited but high quality audio.
Nikkud have already caused issues with certain listening exercises, even in the limited ways the team used them in the first iteration of the course, so including them would IMO be much more trouble than it's worth - especially as not even all Hebrew keyboards include the ability to type all of them. (I know mine doesn't, the ones that I have are very limited.)
All this said said, the Memrise course makes a world of difference. If you look at the resources that the team have posted in stickied topics, you would find a good deal of help in this matter.
The course overall is extremely good and thorough. The lack of audio makes it more difficult, I agree completely, but I disagree that it has many problems. It has two: relatively little audio, and (IMO) the verb skills tend to be a little dense and overwhelming. The grammar explanations, the breadth of grammar taught, and all the other good things in the course more than make up for the problems. It is hard, the learning curve is steep and tough, but overall the team did a great job within the limitations of what Duolingo could offer them. I really hope that for the new tree, they will have access to better tools for things like learning the alphabet, and more audio will obviously be a huge bonus...
BUT, as someone who has finished the course and done a lot of revision with it, I feel more than qualified to say it's an excellent course, well worth the effort, and especially in conjunction with the Memrise course, it's a really good introduction to the language.
I finished the course and felt a huge difference. So you have a choice, you can keep whining about how things could be better and in the end not learn the language, or you can stop whining and actually focus on learning.