Duolingo and its Chinese Course... Questionable?
In order to learn Chinese well, I believe that Duolingo should have an microphone; like the German course, so that learners could learn to speak Chinese sentences. If you would go to China, you would most likely speak WAY MORE CHINESE than write. I really hope that Duolingo could make this improvement. If so, I would really enjoy it more and I would definitely spend more time on Duolingo...
Edit: Thank you all so much for your feedback and support for my opinion!!! I hope Duolingo takes all of your feedback and thank you for the generous people who gave me lingots. I hope my discussion lasts for a little longer...Thank you so much for commenting on a strong opinion I have about Duolingo. I really appreciate it!
I agree. In Chinese, there a tones. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and neutral. To be perfect in these you need to be able to practice them orally. Chinese tones can be hard to learn. In English, you do not have tones as far as I'm concerned to it must be a struggle learning Chinese tones. Practice does make perfect in this case and a microphone would help. Furthermore, kids in China naturally learn the characters, with a little help from school. It's the tones and oral practice that is one of the main focuses in Chinese education. I think this approach should be implied on Chinese duolingo.
As you mentioned already there are many different tones in Chinese pronunciation, so it must be really difficult for a program or a software to detect these tones. I believe that is why they don't offer microphone for reading sentences, namely technical difficulty.
natevoelkr, I would have to disagree about your comment. "You're never going to be perfect at tones, and if you think you are, you're just fooling yourself." I do not think you can be so-called perfect at anything, but if you practice speaking certain phrases or if you just practice with vigor and you speak Chinese everyday, you can close to perfect. And, depending on what your definition of perfect is, I think you can be so-called "perfect" with your tones in Chinese!
ChineseSkill and HelloChinese are a couple of apps that grade your spoken Chinese, and also let you play your attempt back and listen to it. Recording and playback is an enlightening and useful exercise, in my experience.
I like HelloChinese for this reason. Using the 2 in tandem gives one a good amount of practice and different instruction.
I agree with the sentiment but I suspect technology might be a limiting factor. While taking the French course, which is far less nuanced than tonal Chinese, I noticed that it tended to accept my answer no matter what I said. I once pushed the button just as a train rushed past and it accepted the roar as correct. Conversely, even when my wife clearly enunciated a simple sentence correctly, it wouldn't accept it. So unfortunately, I'm not sure if Duo's platform will allow it to move past the introduction/supplemental status on this language in the near future. Though I'd be happy if they surprised me.
Ah, where were you last year!? This could have saved me so much time! XD
There are other programs that accept spoken Chinese, so the technology is available to implement Etta_P's suggestion. I used Rosetta Stone several years ago and it worked OK (not great, but not bad). I understand that they made improvements since then. Even some smart phone apps recognize spoken Chinese for example Google Translate and Baidu Translate.
Having the microphone option is simply not worth the added complexity for duolingo to implement because it won't actually help you. After living in China for the past year, I've learned one thing about foreigners speaking Chinese. You're never going to be perfect at tones, and if you think you are, you're just fooling yourself. If you want to practice speaking Chinese, push back from your computer and find some Chinese people to actually speak with.
Jay_Quan- That's true, but in German they do have a microphone; and in Chinese they do have a computer voice speaking Chinese. Based on this information, I think that they could implement a microphone, but I may be wrong.
JPR-89- I do think the microphone for German is very accurate, maybe for French not so much; but I don't know. So, I think Duolingo could do a Chinese microphone somewhat accurately, but I just think that they should try. In my opinion, the German course is very good, so I really hope Duolingo could just add a microphone. That would really help me. If you want to learn Chinese well, you have to learn to speak the language! I think that Duolingo is not helping learners speak the language!
It's certainly possible. And it would be useful to encourage people to speak it even if the program couldn't distinguish between the tones.
PeaceJoyPancakes and Joewmaine- Cool! I'll make sure to check out HelloChinese and ChineseSkill!