What I Hope Is Constructive Feedback
As I study the Chinese tree, which I am enjoying tremendously by the way, something is becoming clearer and clearer to me that I thought I would share. I suspect I am not the only one this is happening to.
The way the course is laid out is very effective in getting me to learn the meaning of each character, and also very effective in getting me to learn the sounds for each character.
However it is less effective in getting me to tie the meaning to the sound.
I will do my best to explain.
I can read the characters really well, and get meaning from them. However I do so in my mind either in English words, in Spanish words, or in Italian words (all of which have meaning to me) but not in Chinese words.
Alternatively I can look at a sentence made up of characters, and faithfully read off the sounds that each character makes, but then I get no meaning.
In other words I have learned / gained two related skills that are not connected in my mind. It is almost as though I am doing two separate trees. One for reading Chinese characters, and one for saying random sounds.
If I continue on my present path, I am going to finish the tree with a strong ability to read Chinese (which admittedly is a cool skill), as well as an ability to make all the sounds out loud that a Chinese speaker would understand... but with no ability myself to comprehend spoken Chinese, and no ability to speak it myself.
Does that make sense?
Suggested solution: I think that Pinyin needs to be included far more than it is. I realize that it is a crutch, but for me, it would bridge the gap. For me, it would tie the sounds that I am making to meaning. I am very visual. I need to see the romanized 'letters' so that I can associate it to meaning.
I would personally love to see pinyin in every single practice / exercise. This way, all three would become associated together in my mind (meaning, character, sound).
Just my two cents.
I agree, I think associating the pinyin is useful...I use pinyin, too, in typing (most input methods do), so learning pinyin is essential to learn how to type.
Two pieces of advice (1) avoid the DuoLingo app, and use it only on web (2) turn off the word bank, and type things out, using a pinyin input method.
This way you get practice typing in the pinyin, which reinforces the sound. It's still harder to remember the tone, because the input methods don't usually consider the tone, but it's better than nothing.
If you're in some idiotic A/B test and don't have access to open-ended typing even on the web (as some users have informed me is the case for them), well then, I don't really know what recourse you have. Maybe hammer them with communications requesting this through all media possible (bug reports, social media, forum posts, any way of contacting them you have). The squeaky wheel gets the grease. But yeah...if you're able to access the typing exercises (I am) I highly recommend doing that.
Yes there is a "game disbalance" when you learn signs sounds but still are not aware of their meanings. Hoping it will be someway fixed. For now I am compensating this by using skritter app, also learning handwriting))
Of course there is some fun in guessing between sound and sign without connective meaning, applying the knowledge of some phonetic radicals etc, but hey, this is not what effective chinese learning is ment to be about))
If you need to learn the pinyin readings:
Consult a dictionary (such as Wiktionary) for each word listed before starting each lesson.
Type the answers that require Chinese input using pinyin. Make sure you type the tone numbers (instead of relying on automatic character selection) so you can commit them to memory.