What would you like to see in a Tree 2.0? [Contributor Post]
Hey there! This is the new contributor to the Japanese team, Luke_5.1991. I've reached out to the other team members about planning a Tree 2.0, but needless to say, it's still in its very early planning stages. My question is this: what would you like to see in a Japanese Tree 2.0? Feel free to write your suggestions below and vote on them! I've started with a couple below. If we can get a feel for what our users want, we'll have a better idea of how to proceed.
PS: Here are some things we can't do, at least not yet:
- add a "words" tab
- add speaking exercises
- add furigana, other than the hover-over hints found in all other courses
- alter the audio pronunciation of specific words, other than by changing the spelling [はな > 鼻]
I agree with a lot of other things people are saying. I haven't made it to far into the tree myself (only up to Time 1) but I do have a few suggestions that can pretty much be summed up with the phrase: "The course really needs more explanations."
Why do we have Hiragana? Katakana? Kanji? (Romaji?) When do we use them? Why do Kanjis have different sounds sometimes?
All questions that are easy enough to find the answer to but having to leave the course to figure that out somewhat undermines going to Duolingo to learn Japanese.
Also on the topic of writing systems, I think that Katakana should have it's own section like Hiragana. Perhaps compress all of Hiragana into one lesson bubble and Katakana's bubble to the right of it. Then give users the option to test out of those skills. Although it could be a little intimidating to start a course off with two 20+ part lessons. Personally, I found it much more useful to practice Hiragana and Katakana on Tinycards. Perhaps Duolingo could instead link the Hiragana and Katakana lessons to official Tinycards decks (with sound). This would also introduce more users to Tinycards. Just throwing out ideas here.
Also, once you start introducing Kanji you really should stop using the Hiragana version of words if they are more commonly written in Kanji or at least start introducing both and gradually phasing out the other. For example, わたし is more commonly written 私 but おはよう which can be written お早う is more often written with kana alone. Perhaps add Furigana to the Hover-Over Hints.
Next, grammar. Like other users have said, dedicated lessons to teaching grammar would be beneficial. Personally, I've started going to the website Bunpro.jp for it's point by point teaching and buildup of grammar lessons. Unlike grammar lessons in English, I have had tons of fun learning Japanese grammar. Being able to assemble my own sentences, even if they're really basic, really makes me (and hopefully other users) really feel like they're learning Japanese and not just the a few precooked phrases. Not really sure how you could set up the lesson bubble but if I had to choose only one change to be made for Tree V2 >>THIS<< would be it.
Also on the topic of grammar, the concepts of casual and polite language is really important (and more complicated) in Japanese. So explaining that to users is important for a good understanding of Japanese. I've already done a few sentences on Duolingo whose translation were the exact same according to Duolingo; the only difference I could find was the level of politeness. These sort of explanations could be tied into the dedicated grammar lessons described above.
About the Hover-Over Hints, if possible could you have it pronounce the entire word instead of the individual kana. Sometimes when I'm given new vocab and since there are no spaces in Japanese it can be hard to figure out where one word ends and the next begins. Also as I scroll through a word character by character different definitions show up and disappear. I think it should only show definitions for intended word.
Overall, I think the goal of Tree V2 should be to give users more information so they spend more time on learning Duolingo and less time leaving the site to figure out what Duolingo is try to teach them.
I agree with most things that you wrote, but:
Also on the topic of writing systems, I think that Katakana should have it's own section like Hiragana. Perhaps compress all of Hiragana into one lesson bubble and Katakana's bubble to the right of it. Then give users the option to test out of those skills.
I don't think that this is necessary. Hiragana should be at the beginning, because it is very important for conjurations, dictionaries(and furigana) and some words that don't use Kanji. Katakana is also important, but it is used only for loan words and it is not used as massively as hiragana - so it is often advised to learn hiragana first. I like the way it is now. Gradual introduction of katakana together with katakana words.
My reason for saying Katakana should be taught with or just after Hiragana is that once you know Hiragana learning Katakana takes a fraction of the time. Learning to read and write Hiragana consistently took me about 30 days but adding Katakana after took only 8 days. Having both increases the number of things you can read and since Katakana is used for loan words; being able to read something written in Katakana and already know what it means is satisfying.
I don't agree with that. It took me only 2 or 3 days (of quite intensive work) to learn to read Hiragana but one year later I'm still struggling a little with Katakana despite having also put a lot of energy into it (I think the reasons are that I see a lot less Katakana in context than Hiragana so there is little reinforcing and that for me some Katakanas look a lot like each others).
(BTW, I can also recognize about 500 Kanjis while still making mistakes with Katakanas…)
A crosspost with Reddit. What I want from the new tree:
Better teaching of verbs and the rules (godan, ichican, suru)
Better understanding of adjectives (na and I)
More kanji (in combination with furigana)
Better explanation of particles
Past, present, future, positive, negative
More practice sentences
Better teaching of hiragana and katakana
Being able to type instead of a word bank
I probably forget a few, but I think these are the most important ones
BTW OP, THANK YOU! Seriously, thank you. You’re the first one contributor/mod I’ve seen active, let alone wanting to improve the course!
Edit: I was just rereading my comment and I saw there weren't any bulletpoints. I also wanna add the pitch, visualise the different way of speaking the words, like いま(今) and いま(居間).
Here are my two cents (and I may edit more in later if I think of more):
 Introduce a toggle switch for typing answers on the mobile app.
 Organize the lessons by grammatical "tools" and relevant constructs in a logical order. For example, the -て form is often the first introduction learners have to versatile grammatical patterns, and I think it is extremely instructive to introduce a "tool" (e.g. -て form) and then immediately use the "tool" to create particular grammar constructions (e.g. for -て form, usually the first construction you come across after learning it is using it to make polite requests). There are lots of other grammar "tools" that I think are relevant for JLPT N5 level learners, and I'll give some more examples below. I think having them organized in an order like this would be very helpful:
-て form: polite requests (その本を読んでください。), connecting a series of actions (夕べテレビを見て、音楽を聞いて、寝ました。), expressing events that are happening simultaneously (傘を持って行きます。), means of doing something (Duolingoを使って日本語を勉強します。), sequential actions (洗濯してから、部屋を掃除しました。), states of being (彼女は結婚しています。), permission and prohibition (このケーキを食べてもいいですか。/ ここで写真を撮ってはいけません。), continuous/progressive forms (本を読んでいます。), and many others.
-る/plain form: nominalization (Duolingoを使うのが好きです。/ 趣味はテニスをすることです。), expressing capability (日本語を話すことができます。), sequential actions (私は掃除する前に洗濯します。), combining with とき/時 to express the timeframe of actions (部屋を掃除するとき、よく音楽を聞きます。), and others.
-ない form: simple negation (テレビを見ない。), polite negative requests (ここに座らないでください。), linking negative verbs to say "X without Y" (傘を持たないで学校へ行きました。), negative version of permission (学校へ行かなくてもいいです。), and others.
-た form: follows て form inflection, simple past tense (ケーキを買った。), describing experiences (日本へ行ったことがありません。), sequential actions (洗濯した後で掃除します。), suggestions (病院へ行ったほうがいいです。), using り+します to string verbs together (週末は音楽を聞いたり、テレビを見たりします), expressing the timeframe of actions (東京に行った時、カバンを買いました。), and others.
 With an increased diversity (and better organization of the grammar), I think there will be lots of opportunity to inject lots more JLPT N5 level vocabulary to diversify the examples and exercises. In fact, I think it would be fantastic if a goal of 日本語 Tree 2.0 were to minimally cover all of the vocabulary relevant to the JLPT N5 level (and the grammar, too). I think this is a very appropriate level for Duolingo users to be able to reach on the tree since JLPT N5 level covers the most basic level of Japanese comprehension that is a recognizable standard of beginner fluency.
I agree with everything 2GS. said, especially re: kanji, because this is what is actually used in authentic Japanese texts. If you’re too worried about user retention to include them in the actual lesson, could you at least put a list of all the lesson’s vocab with kanji in the tips and notes section? That way I can make my own quizlet deck and learn them myself.
Speaking of tips and notes, they really need to, uh, exist for the Japanese course, considering how alien Japanese grammar is to a native English speaker. For example, the course (as far as I know) never actually states that hiragana and katakana are two different writing systems for the same set of sounds, and it also doesn’t explain when to use one over the other. How are you supposed to figure this out using only Duolingo?
can’t alter the audio pronunciation of specific words, other than by changing the spelling
Does this mean there is there no way to fix the audio mistakes in the course, like being told “ちゅう” is pronounced as “naka?” This is very confusing to beginners, especially when there are no tips and notes clearing anything up. How on earth should “ちゅう” be spelled for it to be correctly pronounced as “chuu?”
I’m sorry if I’m coming off as negative here. A lot of Duolingo users such as myself were disappointed by the first version of the Japanese tree, and we would love to see these changes. Thank you very much for making this form post and asking for community input. Please continue to reach out to the users like this, and it could very well lead to V2 of the Japanese tree being the best tree on Duolingo! :)
IDEA: Introduce a greater variety of English and Japanese names, more than just ジョンさん、マリアさん、田中さん。
I think this would be a good idea as a way to introduce new kanji readings over the course of an exercise, but that doing the same with Western names in katakana might feel repetitive and less helpful.
I'm about 3/4 through the Japanese tree and enjoying it a lot, and can't wait to see it continue to develop. Thank you for dedicating your time to it!
Teach learners how to write their own names! (Not everybody's called John, Maria and Tanaka.)
That would involve either a completely different tool or thousands of names in the course. If you want to transliterate your name, google translate does a decent job. Otherwise, find the article on your name or a famous person with that name on wikipedia and go to the Japanese article.
I'm very lucky that my name translates easily into Japanese. I have no Japanese keyboard. Can I be cheeky and ask someone to pop NI-(double)-KI in katakana up for me? :p
On Windows and Android it's really easy to add a Japanese keyboard. You just type "nikki" to get ニッキ :D (I have no experience with other platforms)
They could make it so that you have to enter your real name in katakana, but that wouldn't be an ideal solution since many don't know how to translate their name to katakana. There is a reason why they can't translate it from romaji to katakana themselves. Take for instance the name "Layla". If Layla is English then it would be translated as "レイラ". But if Layla were to be dutch, then it would be translated as "ライラ". This would make it rather complicated to properly implement since some languages (I'm looking at you, English) are very inconsistent in their pronunciation.
Names in Japanese are important toward understanding and often have different pronunciation conventions than normal vocabulary, and for this reason I support learning more names.
However, for the same reason, I believe that introducing more names should be pushed much later into the tree probably with a dedicated lesson that explains some of the things that happen which are special to those names. I can see introducing too many names at the beginning would be confusing
- teaching grammar
it's really difficult for beginners in English to go from simple English phrases that go from left to right to Japanese phrases that are all mixed up. and it'd be useful to know what characters one would use when saying/writing a simple sentence and prevent the grammatical errors that they might accidentally make.
(Sama, san, chan, kun etc.) I had to learn all of the honorifics on my own with several different sites. it's better to be polite when talking to someone than not.
This could be an extra thing like a lab or just a tinycards lesson, but it would be sooo helpful.
whenever i see a kanji character i always get a bit overwhelmed because i know that i've seen it somewhere! sometimes duolingo will teach the kanji for a word from hiragana and its very helpful.
A more comprehensive approach to teaching Katakana would be nice. Having random ones pop up when you're 3/4 of the way through the tree (can't remember exactly where, it was pretty far down) is surprising and makes you wonder if you collected them all or not. That doesn't make a lot of sense for something so finite.
That said, requiring people to slog through another script immediately after learning Hiragana wouldn't be fun, and you need it before you start using foreign names and loan words. I'm not sure how to resolve that conflict.
(For learners in Japan, a contrarian part of me thinks teaching katakana before hiragana would give you more bang for the buck given just how absurdly much gairaigo is found everywhere...)
Having been an almost entirely non-Japanese-speaking tourist in Japan a couple of times, I have had way more use of knowing katakana than knowing hiragana. Just by knowing katakana I can usually find something that sounds safely edible on a menu ("hambaga", "chickin", etc) if I want to, and quite a few signs will be intelligible.
That said, requiring people to slog through another script immediately after learning Hiragana wouldn't be fun, and you need it before you start using foreign names and loan words. I'm not sure how to resolve that conflict.
How about just teaching both forms of kana together in the kana skills? There's no law that decrees that they must be kept strictly separate, and people learning the Latin, Greek, Russian, Armenian, etc. alphabets manage to cope with learning completely different minuscule and majuscule forms simultaneously. Most corresponding hiragana and katakana characters came from the same source, anyway, just like 'a' and 'A'.
This would make the kana skills twice as long, of course, but it would be worthwhile, as both are essential things to learn at the outset. At the moment hiragana is given absolute priority and katakana merely randomly sprinkled on as an afterthought.
Restructure the the Hiragana lessons into Kana lessons, and add Katakana to them.
More tips and notes.
Polite and Impolite Speech. だ vs です、食べる vs 食べます。
Using verbs as adjectives, 僕は食べた男性を見る。
I support having specific lessons for katakana instead of sneaking them in here and there, but I think would be a bad idea to put it next to the hiragana lessons just at the beginning. Having total beginners start off by learning two new scripts before getting to the actual language will probably cause a significant percentage to never get past that hurdle.
I would like more Kanji in the course and more words that are commonly written as Kanji to be introduced as Kanji, but I also think there should be a lesson dedicated to on-yomi and kun-yomi so beginners are less confused about readings. Many beginners go into Japanese not knowing that Kanji are essential to spelling and not knowing about the two readings. It would be nice to at least address the topic.
I think other than just wanting more lessons addressing some grammar and honorifics, that’s what I’d like to see most. The course overall is well made, just a little short and clunky in the beginning.
IDEA: add at least 2 job lessons that would focus on describing a proffessional at work (IE: The architect plans a construction/ the nurse takes care of the patient/ the artist paints a beautiful painting /and other similar ideas) I feel this area could be exploited more, maybe add a safety one with stuff about fire, earthquakes,saying that a certain place is not safe to swim, telling a person there is danger, or a place is not safe.etc... also maybe a small lesson on daily science like eclipse, maybe some stuff on the stars and the moon, maybe learn to say this thing weights x grams, or this place has a temperature of x °C and as my last idea, I think a lesson on the city and a lesson on the countryside would be good, learning to say things related to buildings,street lights,street signs, crowded places,trafic on one side, and on the other know certain basical farm animals, farm products like typical vegetables or tools and describe the use of them.
Dissclaimer: I have yet not completed the whole tree, i have probably around 60% of it, so some ideas might already be somewhat contained in lessons I have not yet completed.
More kanji (like everyone else has said).
I also really wish I had a better grasp on verb conjugations (other than masu form). I feel useless when I pick up a Japanese-English dictionary.
Can we have fun bonus skills? (Casual Japanese, onomatopoeia that the Japanese are fond of/idiomatic expressions, flirting skills like that found in German tree)?
Thank you in advance, by the way. I know this has taken a TON of work to put together and I was super happy when Japanese was announced. I'd love to see it continue to get better with time. Thanks again!
I think highest on my list are "Tips and Notes" - more explanations are definitely needed.
Re kanji: maybe do what LingoDeer did, where you can opt in or not. There are so many things going on with Japanese, to make kanji the main focus feels misguided.
Giving katakana the same treatment as hiragana would be the first thing on my list. Sprinkling katakana in as you go is very confusing. I ended up using a different source to learn katakana which helped me a lot.
However, if the idea is that this tree would be used by beginners the most important thing that is missing is explanations. Going through the current japanese tree without an additional source of information is an exercise in frustration. You don't build any understanding of grammar. Particles are constantly introduced without any explanation. It becomes a game in memorization without comprehension. There is no obvious way to determine why anything is happening or how you would apply it generally. You just learn that sentence A is structured one way and sentence B is structured differently. As soon as you hit sentence C you just memorize that one too.
teach us more verb forms and how people speak colloquially, not just the formal way
- Fix the word blocks with incorrect pronunciation.
- Grammar and Tip notes. This course really needs more tips.
- Food: more Japanese foods so you can read a real menu.
(this is the most used and rewarding experience if visiting japan)
- More formal intro of past and future. Sections dedicated to that.
- Keireigo, and levels of politeness vs. informal speech.
- numbers: anything other than ZERO.
- Geography: some basic Japanese geography, the four islands etc.
- Energy: it's a big topic now, nuclear, wind, solar, heat (toyuu)
- Culture: anime, manga, anything other than OTAKU
- Apartments/housing: intro of concepts like tatami matts as
apartment size, the genkan (never mentioned once) as Japanese
apartments and houses are different than the west. Key money,
deposits etc. (不動産の話）
- Kanji, as presented in grades 1-5 in Japanese elementary school.
- common animals in Japan, 猪、せみ、狐、鹿、わし
- body parts
- conditional phrases
- internet, phone use
Considering that the most crucial part of advancing with the tree is adding Kanji (with their correct pronunciation according to the word/context), that means adding furigana or some kind of switch that interchanges between Kanji and Hiragana, what's more important is adding the grammar tips. When i first started, and before i started using WaniKani or reading any other kind of how Japanese works, i just wasn't able to understand a lot of things like why sometimes 中 is pronounced "chyuu" and other "naka".
Katakana training independent from other sentences. Hiragana gets focus, but katakana is neglected. I had to learn elsewhere.
Design Philosophy: Correct answers containing Kanji that haven't been taught should also be accepted
I love the lessons, but this is my biggest gripe with them. I learn a ton from the muscle memory of writing answers with the keyboard, but quite often the most correct answer is seen as incorrect because it expects us to substitute any untaught kanji with kana. e.g. "日曜日" fails and forces me instead to write "日よう日", 私 must be わたし etc. It's been causing me to often avoid using kanji in answers because it's hard to remember which ones I am allowed to use. I feel like that's a shame because repeatedly writing and seeing the kanji helps so much in memorizing them.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for making the great lessons even better.
IDEA: After hiragana lessons, teach all new vocab with kanji, when appropriate. Example: しゅっしん > 出身。
What I would eventually like to see is the ability to toggle kanji on and off, and to have it display based on the grade level chosen. For example, I might turn kanji on to favor kanji display for any of the jouyou kanji, but then select my level as third grade, so that the kanji displayed will be limited. Anything beyond the grade three standard would show up with hiragana instead.
What does "when appropriate" mean? My fear is that too many kanji too soon will frustrate the heck out of new learners. There is a reason why textbooks like Marugoto introduce kanji gradually.
Textbooks function very differently from Duolingo. With textbooks you have to rely on Furigana, with Duolingo all sentences are read out (some incorrectly though). Learners don't actually have to memorize the Kanji in the beginning, they can just rely on sound, or make a vague association between the sound and Kanji.
Also (I'm moving in a level or two, otherwise line length will become miniscule), I don't see anything inherently wrong with using ひこうき as a stepping stone. Reading isn't everything, there is also speaking and listening comprehension. I think people (maybe you too?) tend to forget how difficult Japanese is for complete beginners. I have been doing this course for a year now. During this time, I've seen a lot of people give up, and I don't think this was because they felt insufficiently challenged. So I am all for a gradual approach.
I like that idea. Have you seen WaniKani? It teaches kanji pretty well and it would be cool to take some ideas from them, or even introduce them through radical--> kanji (kanji pronunciation) --> vocab (with actual pronunciation)
That sounds great, especially since then we would already know the meaning of a kanji once we're learning it for the first time, instead of just learning to pronounce its reading first, which is the way I've noticed the exercises are usually structured.
I actually prefer "hover over hints" instead of furigana. I only want the "hover over hints" to assist me in learning new kanji.
The mouse-over option is definitely my preferred method as well. I like that it negates the need for furigana and it removes a crutch that might prevent me from actually trying to read kanji correctly.
I think so too. It's like with Romaji: if it's there, that's what you'll end up reading - the eye is just drawn there. I imagine it is similar with furigana. So at least with "hover over hints", you have to make a conscious effort.
More kanji, 1000 kanjis to make it even with Chinese course's count and have "furigana" for the "hover-over"
More Vocab, the usual amount of Vocab for a Standard Duo™️ Tree®️ is between 1800-2200 base words, and in "word tab terms" that would equal 2800-3400 words?
Katakana skills with sentences using the gairaigo words that are always written in katakana.
I think that should be the general direction where to take the course and whether that’s in 1 or 5 tree updates, I don’t care. I just think that would make the course equal to the Duo Standard. I know it requires more work to do a Japanese tree so I’m grateful for any and all the work you do to expand the course. 頑張って！
I think it'd be pretty nice to have skills for katakana; like how hiragana has four skills dedicated to it, the same should be done for katakana, rather than gradually teaching some of it throughout the course. Also, skills that detailed grammar would be pretty nice (such as past tense in です/ます form). A few skills teaching casual forms would be great, too (食べる instead of 食べます, 遊ぶ instead of 遊びます, 見た instead of 見ました). And improved tips and notes! Right now they're not that helpful; adding more information, and explaining it more thoroughly, would definitely benefit the course.
The Japanese course is great -- in part because it is so unlike any other Duolingo course -- it throw you in from the beginning. But I do have some suggestions I would like to see implemented:
1) (big one) I would like to be able to hear sentences and phrases being spoken slowly. Right now it only ever seems to come out one speed, so unless I have an idea of what they're saying already, I can't always make out all the syllables.
2) Is it possible to have an alternate text input (assuming you can set up a Japanese keyboard)? It's nice to be able to click on words, but when I'm arranging syllables and kanji rather than trying to recall them I end up learning less.
3) The names of topics don't always match with what's being taught. I've had some surprises.
4) Geman uses multiple voices. I feel like that makes me listen better and get used to more variation. I think that would help for Japanese as well.
5) This may get repeated -- when the Japanese course introduces Kanji, it gives the pronunciation but not the meaning. So that when I'm doing a course, I may be using a Kanji for several questions before I get to what it means.
I hope this helps!
Maybe providing a reason of why you should use "あります" instead of "ます" because it doesn't really explain the differences currently. Also, it doesn't teach you why a certain particle is used. You just learn sentences that use "は" and then don't know why it says you should of used "が" or something like that.
You've probably worked this out by now, but here's a tip: inanimate objects use arimasu and animate ones use imasu. So I for the A, and A for the I. A bit of a complicated explanation, but it has worked for me for almost 30 years :)
I'm not anymore doing the Japanese tree at the moment, but I have done it before (not completely) and plan to do it (completely) later and I think that having more things about culture (for example there is only one level in the Olympics' skill if I remember correctly) could be good to understand more
A bit more kanji in sentences would be nice.. And adding kanji + hirigana spelling in with the description in hints n tips would be wonderful! That way, for us forgetful types.. Tap on the kanji and not only get its description/meaning, but how its spelled as well. (Example: Click on 短い to get the hint of 'short' and みじかい as well) of course, itd be better all around to have the tips relate specificly to the sentence its for.. Like in the case of having more than one spelling of something,.. (Yes, i'm looking at you, 中 ... Chuu naka thingi!) But i'll take what i can get. Also,... Maybe a link to a short grammar lesson at the top of the forum post for every sentence... To go with the answer, which is already there? To explain the particles maybe.. There are always tons of questions as to what this particle means in this sentence or why its located where it is in that sentence. Or even why hanase(話せ) might be used in this instance instead of hanashi(話し) which would be -much- easier then having to search on every other site for the 'why's of every little sentence.
I guess that you don't have the power to make sure that each kanji gets the proper audio reading for the use in question, but at least make sure that there is an explanation of the different readings a kanji before the first time one is exposed to a kanji being misread.
(Haven't done the whole current tree, so if it's hidden somewhere, I apologise)
Basics of Keigo. I didn't know any when I went to Japan and it made interactions with store clerks borderline impossible.
Hey. I just wanna give an idea. How about add a Feature call "Kanji Writing". Show the way to writing it easily and all its detail (meanings, on, kun). Or if my idea to create a new feature is impossible So we can add it into the lesson! If we learn a Kanji. At least give the way to write it.
Second Idea: we can create a tool like "Practice" to practice Kanjis, and if you can do that. Thanks
IDEA: Have vocabulary modules explicitly for high-frequency words (even if there is some overlap with the pre-existing ones).
I use the Averil Coxhead academic word list with my students of English to give them a head-start with the words they are likely to encounter often in school. This word list is very different from the high-frequency word list for daily conversation. I'd like to see the 100 most common words in spoken Japanese and other modules building on that idea.
Here is the list I mentioned. http://www.cal.org/create/conferences/2012/pdfs/handout-4-vaughn-reutebuch-cortez.pdf
IDEA: Keigo Skill
This isn’t of urgent importance compared to grammar, kanji, vocab and katakana, but has a lot of significance in the language. Someone here already told how "interactions with a store clerk were borderline impossible."
I know this is more of dev-side related, but mobile experience simply sucks. No access to Tips, lack of explanation within lessons (I had problems with realising yu in kyu is actually smaller because I wasn't told this was a modifier, or that kanji can be read differently which led to problems where I needed to select "chuu", but TTS says "naka") and mixing words that weren't covered into practice lessons (like "emoji", or putting kanji when I wasn't even done with hiragana).
Thank you for making a list of things that are not yet possible! I imagine it will reduce frustration among the Japanese learners to know what the limits of the current Incubator set up and that it's not a matter of nobody listening. ^_^
IDEA: Teach verbs as complete units, so they won't break up in sentence-building exercises. Example: 食べ + ます > 食べます。
Separating things like "食べます" into "食べ" and "ます" never bothered me too much; it just struck me as different and possibly even better. (I can't say the same thing about the special case of "あります".)
However, splitting things like "ません” into "ませ" and "ん", or "ましょう" into "ましょ" and "う" is really unhelpful and irritating.
I know this is not the traditional way Japanese is taught for English speakers, but you could also go for the more natural/logical way of teaching stems + auxiliary verbs which actually also seems easier to set up programmatically.
That's the thing--that's how it's done now, and it is a lot easier for us to work with on the back-end. The trouble is that as a consequence, students get presented with awkward/weird chunks of hiragana instead of full words.
If the concept of stems and helper verbs is explained beforehand, it honestly seems better to me to keep it that way then.
I'd like to have a section of Tips & Notes that talks about the importance of timing and how "hospital" and "beauty parlor" are one unit of time different. xD
Sure! So, one thing I see around the forums are people saying "Konichiwa" instead of "konnichiwa" for "hello/good afternoon". These words are not pronounced the same.
(Please note that I am not fluent in Japanese. I may have made mistakes in the following information.)
The difference is the mora (what I call a "beat of sound"), or timing, which is important to Japanese word differentiation. KO/NI/CHI/WA requires 4 beats of sound to say. KO/N/NI/CHI/WA requires 5. English speakers tend not to notice the difference unless they've had it pointed out to them. But, Japanese speakers do because it is an important concept for the Japanese language.
A fun example I like to share is the difference between the words byouin (hospital) and biyouin (beauty parlor). These words are very similar to each other. Japanese has no stand alone B sound making them look very similar when written in Kana. And, also these words are pronounced slightly different.
What is the difference in pronunciation?
(With little ょ): びょういん Byo/O/I/N (hospital) (4 beats of sound)
(Without little よ): びよういん BI/YO/O/I/N (beauty parlor) (5 beats of sound)
Knowing about Japanese timing also helps in other ways too, like remembering to pause for glottal stops (very short pauses embedded within a word.)
The Japanese has a glottal stop represented by the sokuon. You don't need to remember that word, just know that a short pause represented by the little tsu: っ in hiragana or ッ in katakana. It is literally smaller than the regular tsu:
big つ, っlittle
Whenever a consonant is doubled, it gets that little tsu, signaling the glottal stop.
To pronounce this, think of beats of sound: まて is MA/TE (2 beats of sound). まって is MA/ /TE (3 beats of sound.)
How to form the Japanese glottal stop in まって (MATTE): After saying MA, put the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, but hold it for a beat before saying the final TE.
So, understanding the difference between konichiwa and konnichiwa for good afternoon, or if you're in a taxi and want to make sure to get to a hospital instead of a beauty parlor, and how long to hold the glottal stop in a word, Japanese timing ("mora") is a good thing to know. And so I think it would make a nice addition to the Tips & Notes. ^_^
(If you'd like to learn more about the miniaturized Japanese kana, like the sokoun っ that signals the glottal stop, I did an overview here.)
The most needed change in my opinion concerns the flexibility of allowed answers. This is especially important if you just type your answers (the best way imo). Instead of just rote memorization of some answers (which leads to frustration when you know you answered correctly), the course should ideally allow the user to input any correct answer.
The Japanese to English course is a good example to follow in that regard. A really huge amount of various ways to answer the questions is accepted, different politeness levels, different word choices, whether it's written in hiragana or kanji etc.
I reported a few of my wrong answers as being correct a couple of weeks ago, and I've been pretty steadily receiving messages that my suggestions have been added as alternative correct answers.
The bank will continue to grow with our contributions. There's no penalty for being wrong, so I just enter the listed correct answer to complete the lesson and then hope that my suggestion eventually makes for an appropriate contribution so that there are more options for the next person ... or even for me when I come back for the next crown level.
Wait, there's going to be a tree 2.0?! イッピー！Where to begin:
- Kanji: the current Duolingo course teaches 100 Kanji. The Chinese course teaches more than 1000 Hanzi, so not that it's not possible, we need more Kanji taught.
- More words: according to duome.eu, the Japanese course currently teaches ~1000 words, which compared to the Norweigan course, (~3000), is pretty pathetic.
- Grammar: the grammar currently taught is very basic. The trees for European languages contain skills based on more past tenses and conditional tenses.
- Grammar (Again): there are barely any tips and notes in the course, need I say more.
- Not a new tree: many users hate their trees being reset, (I am expecting a new tree for French, Esperanto and Polish,) an extension to the current one may be a better option.
- Rōmaji input: I would like to be able to type in rōmaji to answer questions that are in Japanese, as well as ひらがな-カタカナ-漢字 at the same time.
Sorry if it sounded like I was complaining, hope the new tree goes well.
More kanjis to associate meaning? Furigana (hover hints) for pronunciation guide?
I'd kind of like to see a progressive story path. Kind of a stories section similar to the other trees. With the translating growing the story as you go.
Heck I honestly would just love to have an area where I could go and struggle through kids books about swift brown foxes jumping over lazy dogs. Where translating it opens up the next line in the story
The tree needs improvements butI dont finished the tree so I can't opine properly, I would like to see Stories in Japanese.
I'm always up for learning some vocabulary on the natural world, not just flora and fauna, but everything from germs to galaxies :D
Please, if you cannot do the "words" tab yet, at least could you add the words learnt in each section in its tips & notes? So we don't have to go through all the exercises one by one writting in a piece of paper or somewhere else each word that we've learnt. ありがと :)
The difficulty spike between the Hiragana skills and the Intro sections make it impossible for me to recommend the course, except as supplemental to a more organized course. Going from single word vocabulary skills to multi-clause sentences with no explanation of either terms or grammar make it an exercise in beating your head on it until you succeed, and still are not 100% sure why. This is true of further parts of the tree as well. And, unfortunately, while I love the new crown levels in other courses, it just makes it tedious when struggling with a section.
Stroke order when writing characters. Not sure how this could be implemented on a computer other than simply showing it, but on a touch screen one could trace an outline, or something similar. This would be especially helpful with the introduction of more kanji
This (while an excellent idea) obviously isn't something that course contributors can create. It's something that needs work by the Duo devs.
At about 00:26 into this video introducing the Midori app is a feature I love and found vital back when I was studying Japanese at uni. It has both stills of kanji stroke order, as well as a moving progression of stroke order that one can pause and rewind to wherever in the partway through if desired. These stroke order helps are accessed by clicking on Kanji. I've never seen anything like this come out of the Incubator's capability. I would love to see that capability expand so we can do this in the future. If you would be willing to put this on an innovations request list, I'd be swimming on cloud eleventy-hundred and nine. :)
Can we get some cultural notes in there with the Tips & Notes? One thing I struggle the most with for Japanese is when to use one conjugation over another due to adherence to social position in Japan. I hope that makes sense. :)
If possible, more phrases and advanced/natural-sounding grammar as well as idioms/expressions, dialects, slang, and vocabulary for words you would see on the street like “for sale,” “do not enter,” “stop,” “wait in line here,” etc. would be a nice addition. 努力に感謝します(人´∀`)
Why do current version of the app doesn't have some important features as in the web version? For examples the web version have features like follow discussion without need to comment on the discussion section, being able to delete/edit comment on the discussion (I found this really annoying that the app doesn't have this feature), option to display tips/notes for some lessons (the lessons often confusing without some explanations), be able to manually type answers with keyboard instead of word tiles, and be able to see profile and follow a person by clicking on his/her avatar (I was so confused that the app has an achievement for following 3 friends, but I can't follow them by clicking the avatar), and many moooree features that the app should DEFINITIVELY HAVE, because those are VERY ESSENTIAL features to have. I really want to be able to those features too in the near future version of Duolingo app. Thank you. And sorry if my English is bad, I still learning.
Adding some ideas which I don't see from the others:
- Introduce spaces around phrase blocks and fix the hover hints. e.g. 日本語ははなせます => People keep asking why they get はは=mother as a hint. If you introduce spaces around phrases like Korean, this would improve, at least before you can add furigana.
- Discussion threads are becoming long and generally unreadable. When designing Tips and Tricks, please look at all the comments in the discussion threads of that section. Some questions are repetitively asked, so it is a good idea to centralize answers. Personally I believe we need some moderators around to clean up repeated or off-topic posts. (I can help if there is a volunteer shortage.)
A beer category!
e.g. where you learn that the proper way to end your restaurant order is with "...と生中お願いします。” :)
Thank you for your effort! I agree with most people here, more kanji would be great. It's a shame you can't add furigana, though. Also, I know you said you can't add speaking exercises, but what about the listening ones?
More plain form. I haven't encountered any here yet. I think it's important to understand that for things like watching Japanese media. Also, thanks for working on the Japanese tree.
Can you guys add more hints to the lessons? Like, maybe a list of the hiragana used in the lesson, or the individual kanji, or just grammar usage? I feel that would be very helpful.
both kanji and kana in the hover over hints.(for me who does not yet know all the kanji).thanks
This is a new exercise thought, but what about an exercise where a question is asked (could do audio only at higher levels) and then an appropriate answer should be selected from a multiple choice. This would test some listening and then reading comprehension. Eg, Q: Do you have a red car? A1: Yes, I have a red dog. A2: I go to school by car. A3: No, but I have a red motorcycle. A4: There is a black car at the house.
Answer would be A3, as it would be the most appropriate response. You could even have a contest for best question/answer sets. The difficulty level could be adjusted pretty easily, like a simpler correct answer might be "Yes, I have a red car."
Personally, I started Duolingo after I'd already learned hiragana and katakana. They are relatively easy to learn, especially with mnemonics & I used other resources that were very helpful. I prefer the focus here to be on teaching vocabulary, grammar, and kanji.
I'd really like to see particles explained more. For example in the sentence "田中ともうします", if there was a hint explaining what "と" is doing that'd be really helpful. For now it just says "And/Door/That" which isn't really helpful in this context. Hope that's useful and makes sense :)
Please, allow us the option to use the keyboard instead of word tiles for inputting or answers in the app. I just accidentally updated and lost the keyboard option. I feel it was really helping me to have to type my responses. If nothing else, at least allow it once you reach higher levels.
This is new in LingoDeer, and I love it: for review sessions, get random cards (you can choose between 20 and 40) selected from all the levels.
I am making my way through the Japanese Duolingo tree again, trying to get stuff orange, and the early lessons are just so excruciatingly boring. I mean, how often can you type "zero" (Numbers 1 needs some attention, I think).
Some of these may have already been mentioned, but I'd like to see:
A lesson or Tips & Notes section on the differences between Kunyomi and Onyomi, as it can be difficult to grasp for new learners that Kanji has different readings for different circumstances.
The ability to show Furigana above a Kanji so you know what the reading is when a certain Kanji is used in a certain situation.
More Kanji so we can get to an acceptable reading standard by the end of the course.
More lessons/tips on Honorofics, Counters and Grammar as the little intricacies of a language can be the difference between being fluent or not
More names as it would be nice to know the common names in Japanese as well as how to pronounce/spell them.
Thanks for everything you've done for the course so far, best of luck!
At least 2250 words please, and the respective kanji of all of those words and more lessons and Tips and Notes.
Just more skills and lessons, for all the improvements you can make to every current existing skill (not complaining if done) the more general knowledge the better then if someone wants more out of it at least they know the word exists rather them some words knowing well and not questioning versus the ladder -ありがとうから教え
I hope Tree 2.0 can use resource from JLPT to help JLPT students..
Re the daily challenges for club members: please consider giving hiragana for the kanji you use, especially the ones not covered by the course.
Today's "Practice a scenario" has six kanji of which I know exactly one. You know how long it will take me to draw them into Google Translate?
Help me out here!