Lost interest and motivation
Another post about somebody's motivation problems :) It's a kind of rant, therefore I already apologize for wasting your time.
As you can see in my profile, I have not been a persistent duolingo user by any means. I used it for only 40 days. Big props to those with streaks of many months (seriously)!
I lost interest in using Duolingo for Chinese for the following reasons:
The synthetic voice: Many sentences sound horrible. Complete lack of intonation or variation, clipped syllables, strange high-pitched sentence endings, and simply wrong pronunciations (de instead of dei). Isn't that the most important part of a language course?
The dreadful "let's show you a bunch of characters without telling you what they mean" at the beginning of each new skill. I actually developed an aversion to starting new skills because of this, and I caught myself procastinating on old skills just to avoid this.
I have noticed that during the lessons I had been using a considerable part of my mental capacity to memorize the correct English answer (to make the app accept my answer) and not on actually learning Chinese.
I know that Duolingo should be combined with other teaching tools (grammar books, Anki, etc.), and not be used alone. However, if Duolingo (a) doesn't teach you grammar, (b) has poor audio, and (c) has boring and inefficient vocabulary acquisition, what is actually left?
As usual, sorry for the English mistakes. Not a native speaker.
I had the same problem as you. What I did? I took each skill and in a Word Doc wrote all the words use in that skill in Chinese... I put them in a table with the meaning, pronunciation (as it is written and in parenthesis what is sounds to me) and the Chinese character. It is something like this:<pre>
LESSON TWO NUMBERS</pre>
ZERO ONE TWO THREE FOUR .... FIVE......HUNDRED
零....... 一 ....... 二 ........ 三....... 四.............五 ............... 百
ling....... ye....... er....... san....... si (s)....... wu........... bai
I did this for every skill and I finish each skill to gold... so that I could practice everything of that skill. Until I did this I started to learn Chinese... before I was learning how to answer the English properly and I did not remember any Chinese sounds. Also I was not able to connect the sound with the character and the meaning! Don't despair now I am in level 23 in Chinese but only up to skill TIME 1 and I am repeating everything and until I have it right I pass to next skill... every time I start, I do go back until I have the skills right in my memory even though they are all in gold!
I agree with the post. I like DuoLingo because you have to compose sentences to get the correct answer, which is something I found lacking in other programs, but everything you described is correct. I use other material to compensate like ChinesePod, Anki, watching chinese movies, chinese TV, podcasts, trial version of various other programs, etc.
It's still in beta though, so It should get better :)
Yes, HelloChinese is in English too. I finished the skill tree there. I really like it. When you finish you get a short fireworks gif. I actually use all 4 to greater and lesser degrees.....Duolingo, ChineseSkill, HelloChinese and LingoDeer. I really like them all. I'm really enjoying Chinese! It has given me a deeper appreciation of just how cool Chinese people, China, and the Chinese language are!!
I was having the same problems with remembering characters/sounds/meanings so I switched to the computer version of Duolinguo where you can decide to use keyboard both in Chinese and English instead of the "given" words. This makes the learning process more effective because you have to memorize at least the pronunciation to get the right characters from the keyboard.
On the synthetic voice, I totally agree...
As for #2, I liberally use Google Translate to look up the meaning of the word after the character and sound are introduced. Then in my notepad, I save the character, the pinyin pronunciation (not always that helpful) and the English meaning.
This works for me, partly because I learned the Chinese tonality as a child, although I've forgotten many of the words and their meanings (at least consciously).
It's also a little weird, as I'll hear a sound out of context but only later in the lesson, do I learn the word in context. Then it makes sense. E.g. 美 (měi), literally "beautiful" which didn't strike a chord of recognition until I heard it as 美国人 (American).
After that, my subconscious kicks in and often my distant memory is reactivated.
It's not all roses for me, as sometimes I find Duolingo pronunciation "odd", which is your point #1. (I don't know if it's me or them) and I miss some words, like 也 (also).
I'm doing well with the "child"-like words so far. The more complex characters are a challenge for me.
I definitely have had a leg up on most Chinese learners, but I think I'm hitting a plateau.
Of course, this course doesn't help at all with handwriting of characters. I guess I'll just have to rely on Pinyin for writing.
Chinese is definitely a challenging language.