Frustrated by new words introduced in fill-in sentences
I'm just starting with Duolingo Japanese, and I've run into a situation that is pretty frustrating. I just finished Hiragana 1-5, and am now starting the Intro lessons. It started by introducing アメリカ and 人, with the sentence "I am American" being "アメリカ人です". However, in the freeform translation section, it asked me to instead translate the sentence "I am from America" into Japanese. The accepted answer for this required completely novel words and sentence structures that I had no way to "learn" other than cribbing off the error message as I failed to type it in exactly correctly several times in a row.
から, ました, and 来 were all never seen before this question, and it's not like introducing them this way really imparts any meaning to the symbols. Also having different accepted answers for "I am American" vs. "I am from America" seems like a really fine hair to split at this point in the lesson.
Those dots you see underneath the words in the source language sentence... If you click on those words (or hover over them with a mouse if on a computer), then it will give you hints as to what the translation of that word might be. ^^
から, ました, and 来 don't need to be used for the answer, since you could have answered correctly without them by instead using しゅっしん and です:
Was lesson 3 of the "Intro" skill the lesson you encountered this sentence in? しゅっしん and です are two of the four words listed for that particular lesson on the "Intro" skill page:
Some pretty nice clues available if you know where to look. ^^
Ah, right, it did not occur to me that I could select English words to see translations of them. I find that whole interface very unintuitive and only found out about its existence accidentally.
I did not realize that a sentence with しゅっしん would also have been accepted, as that's not what was presented in the message when I got it wrong. That would have at least been a lot less frustrating since it would have been based on vocabulary that was actually included in the lessons.
I don't think this distinction is that subtle for U.S. non-citizen residents travelling outside the U.S. Not sure if that maps to Japanese the same way, though. But probably better just to have in mind that the point here is to learn the grammatical mechanics, and those are two pretty different sentences grammar-wise.
I also started learning Japanese from scratch with DuoLingo and found it a frustrating experience. Japanese is a challenging language, but the way it is "taught" in DuoLingo makes it even more difficult. This course is still in development, so it might improve. In its current state, it is not ideal for the absolute beginner.
I recommend using other resources to learn the basics first, then use DuoLingo to test your understanding. Much less annoying and you will understand the lessons better with a proper introduction.
LingoDeer is my favorite. Similar style to DuoLingo, with better organization and grammar explainations.
Memrise also offers a Japanese course. I haven't gone very far in it yet, so I don't know how it compares.
You can also check the resources page at the top of this discussion stream for some valuable information that is not available in the app.
Japanese is a fascinating language. Don't give up!
Yes, in fact I would say LingoDeer does even more sentance work than DuoLingo. It provides sample sentances and breaks them down to explain what each word means or how it functions in the sentance. It also asks you to identify where to insert a missing word or which word/particle does not belong.
You can select how it handles the three Japanese syllibaries. You can have kanji, hirigana, and romaji, if you need them all. Or remove the romaji completly when you want. Currently, I have mine set to show kanji with furigana and no romaji.
You can also turn off kanji entirely, if it is too much. But I recommend including it as soon as you feel like you can handle the extra info. It'll be worth it in the long run.
I've had a similar experience with learning Japanese from scratch with Duolingo. It appears that each lesson has a set of words and a set of exercises (e.g. Japanese -> English, English -> Japanese, Character recognition, etc.) and those two sets are mixed together. But then they randomize the order, so you might get Japanese -> English before ever being told the English -> Japanese.
I've learned to live with it, partly because I learned you can get hints by tapping the words. That has helped me a lot, although may have decreased my retention.
My new gripe is that during the second Restaurant lesson, the next to last question asked me to type in Japanese (I'm on the iPhone). It completely threw me for a loop and mostly because I don't know how the Japanese keyboard works for iPhone. Still not sure if it's a bug or a feature, but it definitely came out of nowhere.
But then they randomize the order, so you might get Japanese - English before ever being told the English - Japanese.
I've always thought that was the intended order. So you see the Japanese sentence, can work out what it means via the hints, and then do your best to recall the structure when the English - Japanese translation comes up.
Most people consider translation into the language being learned the harder version (all the more so with a language as different as Japanese).
I have never been asked to type in Japanese on the app. I know that that is something that many learners have been hoping for, however. They might be experimenting to see if it is in fact viable to introduce, evaluating the tradeoff between the clear desire of learners a bit further along to have it (there's no question in my mind that it would greatly further retention of the vocab) vs. the fact that obviously it's tricky for those not as far along.