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New Chinese Course Problems

The new version of the Chinese course downloaded onto my iPhone four days ago. Does anyone else have a problem? I find that it is now asking me to type in Chinese, which means typing pinyin and picking the Chinese characters. That is great. I'm a big fan of Duolingo doing this.

BUT, when I get a sentence wrong, AND I don't know the Chinese character in the correct answer then I'm stuck wasting a lot of time! The improvements it needs are: 1. Pinyin hover: It doesn't have pinyin hover over the correct answer so you can figure out what character it is. This means next time the sentence comes up you are still in the dark and get it wrong again, and again, and again. So you have to go to some other time consuming way of figuring out the character. I write it down manually on a piece of paper, switch to Google Translate on my iPhone, scribe in my best handwritten version of the character (often getting it wrong), then once I get it right (on about the 5th try), look at the pinyin, write the pinyin down on a piece of paper. Switch back to Duolingo, and repeat for the next character I don't know. Boy is that ever slow! 2. Chinese character AND pinyin answers: It would be tremendously helpful if the correct answer was given in both Chinese characters and pinyin. This would save the lengthy, time-consumer procedure above, speed up doing a lesson, and make learning fun again.
3. Cut and paste: being able to cut and paste a correct answer would be incredible helpful as it would allow a quick paste into another program, like Google Translate, making the whole process of looking up numbers much faster.

Any one of the above three things would be helpful. All three would be tremendous. Having none of them is a disaster. I have taken four days, spending over 5 hours, to get through one lesson. The problem is if I know say 80-85% of the characters, the 15-20% I have difficulty with means it takes forever to get anything done.

Please Duolingo implement one, or more, of the three fixes suggested above, or come up with some other way of solving this problem. If other people already have better workarounds, I'm all ears.

I'm not enjoying this anymore!

April 27, 2018



Overall, I do like this change to the iphone/ipad app, but I agree that there are some things that it does make incredibly difficult. (The Japanese course also switched to this new system, and I've had some similar problems there as well.)

Currently, I've mostly been concentrating on reviewing the earlier portions of the tree so that I can learn to enter characters via the available keyboard.

My biggest problems have come in the few instances where I wasn't able to find the correct character at all. In Chinese, for example, that came when reviewing the "Time 1" lesson: it took a lot of mistakes to figure out how to produce the circle character that acts as a placeholder when writing out the number for a year. (For example, the year 2018 is 二〇一八年.) Because of the way the keyboard entry worked, even when I tried to type in "ling" to call up the character for zero, I only found the 零 character easily visible; the 〇 character on the ipad keyboard was hidden multiple lines down in the alternate options. It took me so long to find it, that I ended up locking myself out of finishing the lesson, because I ran down my health trying alternatives. Not because I didn't know the character, but because I was unable to figure out how to produce it with the keyboard.


Dave, Good input. Thanks. I also had the problem where I could not find the character at all. In Routine 1 (this is the one I took 4 days to get through one lesson), the English was "I want to travel and relax a bit" I typed in wo xiang qu - which came up with what you would expect 我想去, but then I tried typing in "luyou", which should have come up with ”旅游“, but this did not appear in any of the lines - I went 10 layers deep - all the way to the end - and nothing appeared. To get it to work, I had to go to Google Translate, find it there, then copy and paste it back into Duolingo. Of course, once I finally got the whole sentence together, I made some other mistake and lost a layer of health anyway! No wonder it took me 4 days to get through one lesson.

I agree with your comment that being asked to write in pinyin is an excellent idea. It is much better than picking characters, which is trivial and does little to teach the connection between the character, the sound and the pinyin.

Another aspect of the approach of typing in characters is that you can actually us the microphone and say the characters as an alternative to typing them. This is fantastic, because you actually get to practice saying the words. Quite amazing how many I get wrong! But practice makes perfect.


As to 旅游 not appearing: most pinyin input methods use v for ü, so that's probably why you couldn't find it. Remember u and ü are two different letters in Chinese.


I agree that just picking characters is too easy, and I have got almost to the end of the Chinese course without remembering what very many characters sound like -- but even still, it's a big feeling of accomplishment to be able to understand any long string of Chinese characters! I feel that I may have to go back to the beginning and do each skill in order, going up one level, before I'll be able to get the characters by typing the pinyin. (full disclosure: I took a class in Mandarin at work 20 years ago). Richard is much more resourceful than I have been with this, but I only ran into "write in Chinese" after 11 last night, ran out of health, and did 20 XPs in Spanish practice to keep my streak going :-) .


In words like lü and nü, when typing we normally skip the ü


on most keyboards, a v is used. Typing "lvyou" would have reaped the desired result.


I saw that too. It makes it harder for someone new to the language, like me. With a Chinese keyboard chosen from settings on the iPad, I wasn’t able to find the character I wanted. A work around is to use the website, not the app.


Another update to the app has restored the behavior prior to Richard's original post, which makes it a lot quicker to make progress in the course, but I hope that eventually the course will either a) require typing answers in Chinese beginning with level 3 or 4 lessons or b) have a setting allowing users to choose "select the characters" or "type in Chinese." I would prefer the former, so you could go through the tree a couple of times to get some familiarity with vocabulary, reading, and listening, and then have to do serious studying of characters to complete the course.

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