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Are you satisfied with the Chinese course?

Just wonder how others feel about that. Do you find it better than other Asian languages on Duolingo? Or is it hard to learn that here? Share your impressions.

March 24, 2018



I started the Chinese course on Duolingo, and I find that this learning system does not work for me. That does not mean that I think there is anything wrong with it, but it does not suit my learning style. I cannot separate the sound from the meaning when learning the characters. When learning the alphabet in other languages, it makes sense because the letters themselves don't have any meaning. They are put together to form words. We should learn the sound that letters make, but Chinese is different. Not only is there a sound attached to each character, but there is also meaning. I need to learn them both together. In fact, I would rather learn the meaning than the sound. If Duolingo put the emphasis on the meaning and added the sound as incidental, I would be able to understand. Instead it feels like the emphasis is put on sound. That just doesn't work for me. I would rather know the meaning of the words than just the sound. If I could read, I would be able to find a way to find out the pronunciation. Knowing the pronunciation of characters but not the meaning seems quite pointless to me.


I agree. The only way I could use it was to use Chrome extensions that let you highlight Chinese characters/words and show meaning. I think ChineseSkill got it right by teaching meaning and words/characters together and giving pinyin pronunciation wherever it makes sense. In Duolingo course it doesn't show you the pinyin when you highlight a word during sentence translation, only the English translation. As a result I can recognize characters and have got better at reading but can't pronounce what I'm reading. I will continue to use both but I feel that ChineseSkill has been more effective for me.


If you have an Indo-European language background, Chinese is pretty hard to learn regardless of how it is taught.

I think the course is worthwhile, but it still has kinks that need to be ironed out.

Some things that I have noticed: 1. The pinyin tone markers for some syllables (in isolation) are clearly different from the tone in the audio clip. Unfortunately, the reporting system is multiple choice rather than free text, so it is not possible to report those effectively. One such example: the syllable 'piao' has the fourth ` tone marker but the audio clip is clearly the first tone.

  1. The English sentence translation marked as the correct answer is sometimes a bit strange/non-idiomatic. I can understand why it is very, very time consuming to think of every possible valid way to express a certain thing, while not drifting too far from the Chinese. I also understand that most of the course makers will not be native speakers of English. However, the correct alternatives need to be reviewed, ideally by a couple of educated native speakers of English.

  2. The pace of the spoken Chinese sentences is difficult to follow for beginners. I realize that actual spoken Chinese is even faster, but for the learning to be effective, the speed still should be increased gradually. This is especially important for learners that come from non-tonal language backgrounds, because they are not used to a major portion of the semantic content being in the tones of individual syllables.

Adding a button to slow down to half speed would help A LOT.

A typical beginner's brain simply cannot process 8+ Chinese syllables spoken in rapid succession, and whenever a phrase or sentence is too fast for one's brain to parse, pronunciation practice becomes difficult.

I haven't tried to learn any other Asian languages on Duolingo.

Regardless of my criticism and suggestions, I am still very thankful for the hard work the course makers have already put into this. Please keep going, and make this course not just good, but excellent!


As a native Chinese speaker I think Duolingo is a great way to start building your vocabularies and basic sentence structures, but if you want to get deep on learning Chinese you might have to learning Chinese in Chinese (ex: looking up a Chinese word or phrase in a Chinese dictionary ) Or I recommend you watching Chinese movies or videos with English subtitles to really gets idea of how Chinese really talk in daily life. I do remember there’s a lot Mainland Chinese movies, TV series and TV shows on YouTube that have English subtitles, try to turn off the subtitles at first then when you don’t understand it, open the subtitles again, repeat and repeat until you can watch the whole video without subtitles.

Duolingo is a good start for learning a language, but you can’t really master learning a language by only using Duolingo.


what mandarin chinese tv program do you recommen?


非诚勿扰 lol. All Chinese parents watch this show for some reason, including mine and all my friends'. About dating. It's basically a gameshow about guys trying to get girls.


I've found the Chinese course to be tremendously useful. I was taking Chinese courses online through my local community college, and the Duolingo course was released right before I started my second semester. I ended up dropping the college course because I found Duolingo more effective for helping me to remember vocabulary and actively construct sentences. It was also more motivating to study because I could do as much as I wanted and skip over things that I found less useful. In my college class, I spent most of my time writing characters over and over again, and they never stuck. I actually have better results writing characters after I've spent time reading them first in a wide variety of sentences, which is what Duolingo provides.

I know a lot of people complain about the course, but I hope they keep in mind that it was made 100% by volunteers. Since Chinese can be very different from English, it will take some time to update the course with all of the possible acceptable translations for each sentence. Also, some people complain that the course only wants them to do things a certain way and that real Chinese is more flexible: that might be the case, but the course is trying to teach you a specific feature. It's for beginners, not for people who are trying to reach perfect, idiomatic Chinese right at this moment. There will be time to learn the nuances after you finish the course.

Duolingo will never be enough to really master a language, but I'm confident that I will have a solid foundation in grammar and vocabulary by the time I finish this course. I used Duolingo to jumpstart my French, and a few years later I was at a high enough level to pass the French teacher's certification exam in my state. Of course that wasn't just from Duolingo; I put in a TON of work after I finished the French course. But Duolingo took me from zero French to the point where I could tackle authentic material with the aid of a dictionary. Chinese is obviously more difficult, but once you have the foundation in place, you have so many amazing possibilities.

Thank you so much to the Chinese course writers! You've done great work making a difficult language comprehensible to English speakers!


so well said ! I also thanks so much the contributors


A good reading course. It forces you to pair a word with the Chinese character and Hanyu Pinyan. By the . time you are finished a section, you can recognize the character nicely. This is very important because too often Chinese textbooks start you in a dependency trap with Hanyu Pinyin, which is ok for short term social oral Chinese but bad for long term reading.


Yes! I love it! I know people have complained a lot about it. But, for me, it is a framework, and a starting point where I can use the internet to "work" the Duolingo Chinese tree. I have a "system" that I've developed over time that works for me. Before I launch Duolingo Chinese. I open the following: (1.) My Chinese Lesson file - where I cut and paste all lessons with answers (I have accumulated for 2 years), Lesson tips and forum discussion link insights. (2.) My Chinese Sounds file - where I record each new Chinese character I am exposed to with pinyin, "sounds like", and definitions . (3.) I launch a website where I get more info on Chinese characters as I need "meaning' to "anchor" a new Character, to add to my Chinese Sounds file, for example: https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-english-pinyin-dictionary.php?define=xi. (4.) Then I open a web page for Google Chinese To English Translations which I use for my Lessons and to build my Chinese Sounds file. (5.) Now I am set to do my Chinese Lessons because I refer to all these open web pages constantly during my Lessons. Since I have time, I review previous Lessons before I start my new Lessons. (6.) For each Lesson, I repeat the sentence in Chinese over and over again. (7.) I use all the other web pages I have open during my lessons. (8.) Conclusions: So it is a system with Duolingo Chinese as the central player guiding me, exposing me, making me ask questions and with each question mark come new answers and new insights ---- Plus since I do so much repetition, It is rewarding to "know" them. This gives me confidence for the new characters and new sentences I am exposed to. --------------- This "system" I have come up with, is why I have a Chinese Strength Score of 100%!


Yes, the Chinese course is excellent. Best I have seen. It could be improved by adding english to the character plates--or let us choose to do so and teaching us to write characters--possibly in another module. In comparison the Japanese and Korean are very poor. The Korean is modeled after the Japanese. Both should model themselves after the Chinese course. They are just too slow to start. No translations just character guessing for too many lessons. Then they jump into complex sentences--it is not deliberate, unfortuantely, the hellos in Japanese are complex, no easy Hi, Bye, I am John.


I really like it. The biggest change I would make is keyboard shortcuts for the pinyin-character matching exercises.

If you want to learn Chinese, you've got to have an immediate association between character and pronunciation. The course spends a lot of time on targeting the development of precisely this ability, and I think it's right on target.


I've been enjoying this course a lot. I've been using this along with lingo deer and hello Chinese. I feel Duolingo has the potential to effectively teach Chinese to people if used in the right way


So far it has no teaching value to me. I use it only at a game value.

The vocabulary is generally not provided (apart from an odd picture-word matching exercise once a lesson) and I cannot extract any words from sentences since I cannot say which Chinese ideogram(s) match which English words (usually the sense is translated, not words).

The grammar tips are not sufficient. It is because a whole Chinese is presented against a whole English sentence and there is no guidance which characters or sounds match which English words.

As a result I have to learn a Chinese multisyllable sentence as a whole to get the meaning of a whole English sentence. So, whereas when learning any other language I can parse sentences and change words or tenses to express my ideas, I cannot do it in Chinese because I am not told what these parts are and where they are in a sentence.

It means also that I cannot translate English sentences into Chinese if these sentences are not included into the program. In other languages it is enough if words are in the program.

Learning Chinese in this way, with additional impediment in shape of unfamiiar writing system and unfamiliar pronunciation, is too cumbersome for me :(


Have you discovered and read through the Tips & Notes for each section?

Without that, no wonder you would be lost. I tried to suggest in another discussion that the Tips & Notes should be added to the top of each new section, forcing you to scroll through down to the lessons before you can click on them.

I also suggested that each lesson's Tips & Notes should contain a table with character, pinyin, and meaning for each character introduced in the lesson. That way, one would not miss the Tips & Notes, and also would have each new character laid out with both sound and meaning.


I like it for the sentences, so I can learn grammar to complement the vocabulary I have learned from other sources.


For me, I use this course to reinforce my Chinese and strengthen my Simplified Chinese reading skills (I learn Traditional Chinese from a school made up of mostly Taiwanese people). I feel like the method for teaching tones is ineffective, since if you don't understand how to read Pinyin, it's basically useless. Additionally, it doesn't teach grammar rules, which I've already learned at Chinese school.


The Tips & Notes section in the beginning has a quick introduction to the tones, but it likely won't be enough for true beginners.

It would be ideal if the phonetics (tones and other phonemes) + pinyin was taught as a separate course before starting the learning of characters.

As it is now, I think most beginners would be best served by looking at Youtube lessons going over Pinyin and Chinese phonetics before they start on this course.


I enjoy the Chinese course. It is like playing a game. However, it is not the only tool I use to learn Chinese.

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