https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

Provide hiragana for the kanji words

I recently started following the Japanese course and I found it a nice addition from my actual courses I've been taking outside duolingo.

One interesting point I found was the immediate introduction of Kanji. I find it a little risky since a single kanji has multiple pronunciations and meanings but I understand why it's been introduced. One thing however I'm missing is the 'pronunciation using hiragana'. When clicking on a kanji in a sentence, you see the translation and meaning, but not written in hiragana. To me, this is important to keep learning/memorizing the kanji in that particular context, especially since hiragana/katakana will be the first set to memorize. If you look at Japanese course books, all kanji have their hiragana printed on top of it as well.

This addition would make the usage of kanji more efficient.

June 6, 2018

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke_5.1991
  • For words written in Japanese, do you really need hiragana if you have the audio? I don't see the problem there. All you need to know that 日本 is pronounced にほん is the audio itself, which the course luckily contains.
  • For words written in English, we are slowly going through and adding both kanji and hiragana spelling hints. They take time to implement, but we've been working on them the past two weeks.
  • We are technically incapable of adding in furigana for the time being, and it's unlikely to ever come to the course due to the technical complications involved. Luckily, the errors in the Japanese audio are few and far between, and they'll be greatly diminished in future versions of the tree when more kanji are implemented.
June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/paintingfire

I am a preschool teacher and use duolingo while the kids are sleeping, so I can't have the audio on. Furigana isn't necessary, but having the reading of the kanji on the hover hints would be very helpful.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Justin438716

Would headphones work?

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/paintingfire

Yes, but I tend to forget to have them...

June 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hthrlj

Hello! First time posting! For me, it's about making sure I'm hearing it properly. I'm a very visual person, and the voiceover usually reads unfamiliar kanji very quickly, so I am guessing at actual pronunciation. I'd like to have options to 1) slow down pronunciation and/or 2) add furigana to the tap/hover if possible (I'm curious why this is impossible... if there are alternate kana listed in the tap/hover popover, why not add furigana to that?)

thanks for your insight.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke_5.1991

Here's why this is problematic. Kanji are read many different ways depending on context. Take, for example, 人。Sometimes it's にん、sometimes it's じん、and sometimes it's ひと。

If we add all these readings to the hints, the wrong reading may appear for the wrong word, or it might not appear at all, since hints appear according to the acceptable answers. Therefore, in a Japanese-to-English exercise, where an English answer is expected, none of the hiragana hints are likely to appear under 人。 Because there is no Japanese in the accepted answers (as it's a Japanese-to-English exercise), the system has no way of organizing those hints.

If someone hovers over the 人 in アメリカ人 as sees ひと、he or she might be tempted to think that's how it's pronounced in that word, but it's not, it's じん。When typing Japanese on the reverse exercise, he or she might input "アメリカひと" and get a correct result in アメリカ人、but the reading is wrong, and the user learned an "incorrect" reading. It's a total mess.

My advice is not to use Duolingo with the sound off, at least not for Japanese. As we can't implement furigana in the near-term, my advice would be to just to memorize the kanji reading in the context, or do some research into the reading outside of Duolingo.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

Thanks for the explanation. This makes perfectly sense and is the reason why I was surprised to see kanji already in the course. We just started to study kanji after 2 years of Japanese course, and the main difficulty is indeed the pronunciation changes based on the context or combined kanji.

I'll be happy to take up your advice, though I do like to know if the absence of sound in the local browser is just an issue with my phone or a general bug. I must say I haven't tried yet any other course to see if they have sound.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

Good point, however I have a Windows Phone and like most other companies, I guess development/support has stopped so Japanese is not available on it. So I'm using the web version, but there it looks like the audio does not seem to work in most cases. The only thing I can think off is the screen size, since it works fine on the desktop. Last, I usually do a small course whenever I have some time, on the tram, waiting for something... I do not wear earphones in public places so I do rely completely on visual.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

Agreed!

A week or so ago our new course contributor Luke_5.1991 made a discussion asking what we'd like to see added to the course and furigana was one of the major ones suggested. Since then he's talked about working on hover-over hints so hopefully we'll see something like that sometime in the near future. He's been doing a great job getting this course moving recently. :)

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

Excellent, really looking forward to this.

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke_5.1991

Here's why this is problematic. Kanji are read many different ways depending on context. Take, for example, 人。Sometimes it's にん、sometimes it's じん、and sometimes it's ひと。

If we add all these readings to the hints, the wrong reading may appear for the wrong word, or it might not appear at all, since hints appear according to the acceptable answers. Therefore, in a Japanese-to-English exercise, where an English answer is expected, none of the hiragana hints are likely to appear under 人。 Because there is no Japanese in the accepted answers (as it's a Japanese-to-English exercise), the system has no way of organizing those hints.

If someone hovers over the 人 in アメリカ人 as sees ひと、he or she might be tempted to think that's how it's pronounced in that word, but it's not, it's じん。When typing Japanese on the reverse exercise, he or she might input "アメリカひと" and get a correct result in アメリカ人、but the reading is wrong, and the user learned an "incorrect" reading. It's a total mess.

My advice is not to use Duolingo with the sound off, at least not for Japanese. As we can't implement furigana in the near-term, my advice would be to just to memorize the kanji reading in the context, or do some research into the reading outside of Duolingo.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaoloDiBello

"We can't implement it yet" You mean that the Japanese course volunteers can't do that, right? It's not like the developers of Duolingo can't do it or it is not achievable. The Kanji must be differentiated based on the way they are pronounced. I think it would be better to add only the furigana for the pronunciation of kanji used in the sentence. People have to find out by themselves that there is a difference among them in the forum or the notes if there are any or look it up. It find it harder to memorize how a kanji is pronounced without a furigana helping me each time (audio alone doesn't help on that) , what I usually do is reading the furigana out loud and then read the kanji without looking at furigana so it can actually stick. If you only listen to it, it's harder to understand how is pronounced, you can get it wrong all the time without even noticing it. I found myself using a different app which is LingoDeer and I find it so much better. Take a look on how they handled everything. Study the concurrence!

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke_5.1991

I'm a volunteer contributor to two Duolingo courses. I've never advocated that learners use only Duolingo. Especially for a language as different from English as Japanese, you really should use a wide variety of sources to fill in the gaps. It is unlikely that anyone who works for Duolingo would disagree with that.

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaoloDiBello

I agree with you, it's not like people are only going to use Duolingo to learn the target language(s)..

June 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/electricpenguin

Kudos, Lukas, for being a volunteer and representing other learners. Japanese has been very frustrating compared to other Duolingo courses, especially in the beta days when "cheating" with Google translate was the only way to demystify what was going on. It has indeed become a lot better. I appreciate your explanations for not being able to provide all the hints that people would like. It would be great to explain some of these difficulties in the grammar notes as they arise. For example, 人 being pronounced ひとinstead of じん was very confusing. My biggest request is to provide the word list that other languages have. It's inexcusable to me that a language app does not provide a word list. I know about the hack to view the word list, but if it's possible why not just go ahead and make it available to everyone. Anyway, despite all the frustrations, amazingly, it works after a fashion. I have been doing this course for a little over a year, ground to a halt at the "Classroom" lesson a few months ago and now I'm finding that using the crown system is helping me to go back over previous lessons and hopefully pick back up and get to the end.

June 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alenbi

Hello,

I don't understand you. You say that the lesson begin with the kanji. Either we misundertood or i have a wrong version but my first 4 lessons are about Hiragana (i don't have any Kenji lesson)

Is there a problem with my version? By the way on mine it's still written "in beta". Is it normal?

Thanks by advance to let me know

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

lol, no you're right. the first 4 lessons are all about hiragana characters, but once you start with the intro lesson Kanji will become more frequent.

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alenbi

Thanks for your answer...

June 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/la_ricfoi

Agreed, some sort of furigana support would be great.

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RonaldRosier

Thanks, I didn't knew it actually had a name, furigana.

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/garpike

One thing however I'm missing is the 'pronunciation using hiragana'. When clicking on a kanji in a sentence, you see the translation and meaning, but not written in hiragana.

You can find some kanji spelt out in hiragana in the 'match the tiles' exercises on the app. I'm not sure if this is comprehensive, however.
A new type of exercise that specifically tests spelling out kanji would not be a bad idea at all, although this would probably entail a structural change in the format of the course, and would not be something that the contributors could put in place unaided.

June 7, 2018
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