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Chinese Duolingo - CHANGES NEEDED!

I have been learning Chinese in school and in China for 6 years now, and I thought I would try to practice using Duolingo, which I already use for practicing other languages. However, there are several clear problems with this language program on Duolingo. First, many of the answers I input, which are grammatically correct and precisely translated from the Chinese/English, are graded as "incorrect" because the program accepts only one correct answer, often with grammatical mistakes of its own. Although I indicate these mistakes nearly every time, no changes have been made in the months that I have been using the program. The second big problem I have is that the timed quizzes, like those of other languages, start you off with thirty seconds. Unlike other languages (which are notably easier to formulate a response), every correct answer adds only 5 seconds rather than 10-15 seconds added for a correct response in another language. This means that I often cannot get through an entire timed quiz, even if I'm getting all the answers correct, simply because it takes longer to respond in Chinese. I've never submitted a "discussion topic" before because I have never been this irritated by Duolingo before, but I truly hope that someone will read this and make changes to the Chinese program, because as it stands, it is NOT a good learning tool!

June 1, 2018



Sometimes I feel afraid to learn Chinese on Duolingo. With my all respect, they know that I love Duolingo, but I saw lots of mistakes. I hope they can pay attention to the points that you have mentioned here.


Have an ingot, you deserve it! Mistakes are very very slow to correct. I sometimes get a polite notification by email that one of my suggestions has been accepted. Often, it is not the most frustrating ones, such as the ones that simply require adding an alternative solution to the Database. The most troubling is that, as you progress in Duolingo, and you become more proficient with the language, errors become increasingly more obvious, and the Database choice restrictions become more and more absurd. Duolingo then becomes its own little language that, if not followed to the letter, turns against you. I have had to answer a prompt with the mistake embedded into the answer if I wanted to "progress." Now, that is very dangerous if you know a little bit about how the brain works, learns and retains: IT WILL REMEMBER THE MISTAKE, and it will take you a very long time to separate the wheat from the chaff, so-to-speak. @Natevoelker here suggests you use your fluency to "help". Well, that is precisely where things fall apart: You will suggest an addition or change based on your years of experience, but your years of experience are where the program trips you at every turn. I used to send suggestions often, now I've moved on to a more disciplined system called Pandanese (pandaneseDOTcom) where I systematically review radicals, then add vocabularies, bigrams, etc. What's the most irritating is that I am only an HSK3-II level, and I still spot errors and omissions, in Chinese and in English. I went through the fluency test in French (I am French-born and University-educated in France, and Duolingo deemed my proficiency level at 52%... I had a good laugh about it, but it goes to show you: don't trust this system, because the system is only as good as the people's dedication and knowledge at the top. I also use Chairman Bao (thechairmanbaoDOTcom) and Wordswing (wordswingDOTcom), both of superior quality as complete packages, texts, dictionary and writing exercises included. Duolingo has a "fun" game-like aspect, but the long-term results are questionable. As far as the "Beta" aspect of the program is, some errors, omissions and/or plain bad English seem to just be the result of the program having been pushed out of the gates too soon. Enjoy your Lingot!


totally agree, native chinese speaker, just wanted to see what level of duolingo chinese has. There are just too many mistakes, bad usuage, and correct answers marked incorrect right now to be really useful. Simple works and phrases are ok, sentences are where it fails.


Duolingo is a TERRIBLE CHINESE LANGUAGE PROGRAM! From a bilingual person who is semi-fluent in Cantonese, this program reflects very little understanding of the basic linguistic differences between English and Chinese. Because Chinese grammar and syntax are completely different from English and all romance languages, its definitions are limited and sometimes just plain WRONG. For instance, there is no conjugation of verbs in Chinese so a common word such as 吃 "eat" can also be defined as "eating, eats, ate, am eating, will eat, eaten" depending on the modifiers and adverbs that accompany the verb 吃。For Duolingo to limit the definition to just "to eat" is totally misleading. Chinese also does not have an infinitive verb form. Don't depend on Duolingo for learning Chinese. It may be OK for French or Spanish. Although who knows, I find such sloppiness annoying. 再见 which means "See you again, Bye, Goodbye, Hope to see you again" - all of it.


I understand your frustration with some of the translations. I have suggested quite a few alternative translations and most have been accepted. My suggestions were mainly in January and February so I have no basis to guess if Chinese Duolingo is still taking suggestions. I haven't tried the timed exercises, mainly due to a lack of courage and time. In general, I am pleased and thankful that Duolingo finally offered a Chinese course.


I was getting a lot of messages back then, about alternative translations now being accepted, but now I get very few. That said, I find it too painful to spend a lot of time with the course these days. It's a real time suck because of the problems.


Chinese is still in Beta, you are using it at your own risk. More importantly someone like you with should be using it in an effort make it better, that's literally how Duolingo is designed to work. If you notice a problem, hit the report button and try to get it fixed. I've done this hundreds of times and more often than not I get an email back saying "Thanks for the correction, it's been fixed."


It "graduated" from Beta couple of months ago. For me however it still feels like improvements are needed...

[deactivated user]

    Same here, they've almost always gotten back to me about corrections I've suggested, and honestly the course as it is now is much better than it was a couple of months ago in terms of correct answers not being accepted.


    I sometimes get nice little notes that they've made changes, but other times, they languish for quite some time (often months and months) before I hear from them, and not just in Chinese. I'm sure it's the product of have a small staff to handle hundreds of comments, reports, and complaints, and it just takes time. I'm grateful for the free resource.


    The topic starter already said he reports mistakes.

    So do I; last year my reports were corrected quickly, but recently Duolingo seems to be slower in addressing them. Still, I do see improvements from time to time.

    I can understand the frustration. Especially when using Duolingo on mobile, and you lose hearts quickly because correct answers are not accepted.


    I applied to contribute when it was in early Beta, because it was so flawed, I knew I could help. Sadly no contact.

    BTW Where in China? I am in Guangzhou.


    I am very grateful for duolingo and its many courses. I have always wanted to learn Chinese with characters and pinyin together. This program does this. I agree with all you say about the problems with the program. I wish someone was paying attention to the things that need correcting.


    Even though this course is fairly new, I've studied Mandarin for 3 years and did a GCSE in it, and I've also noticed a few problems. First of all, some of the sounds for the characters are either not there, delayed, or potentially incorrect. Also, I feel like the course isn't very good for actually learning the meanings of each word and for actually speaking the language. I know that that's a lot of work to do, but I just wanted to post some feedback somewhere for the people who created the course and hopefully, there'll be some progress soon.

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