Sense Behind Duo's Nonsense?? -- Why psycho questions might help you learn
It doesn't matter what course(s) you're taking, what level you're at, I'm almost certain that you've witnessed Duo's uncurable and entertaining madness, expressed in questions such as "Translate this: 'There is an elephant biting her.'" "Translate this: 'They are both naked.'"
But there might actually be a reason for this!
Not only will certain phrases taught on Duo make you laugh (and read what the forum has to say until you're satisfied), they might actually be more effective than boring sentences like "Jane likes cats."
It's scientifically proven that sometimes when faced with trying to remember something, your mind will match that fact (or word!) with the memory of learning it.
For example, in a test, you might think, What's 2 + 2 again? (I trust that all of you know the answer, but it's an example!!). Then, your mind might think about how when you were studying your addition tables (:P) your cat came in and killed you (an example, though cats do kill you sometimes...), and you looked down after recovering, noticing that 2 + 2 = 4.
That's another reason why smelling something for every subject you learn is good, it will match each subject to a scent.
But how does that have anything to do with Duo?
You might think, How do you say owl in French again? and then remember, Oh yeah, there was that ridiculous question that asked me to translate 'L'hibou est en train de manger du choufleur.' (The owl is eating the cauliflower). So owl is hibou
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!
It's also proven that funny sentences boost fun (DUH) and when you're having fun, more parts of your brain turn on, including extended memory!
So continue the craziness and keep up the learning! :)
EDIT: Thanks for so much love and all the upvotes!
Agreed. I've always argued that the ridiculous sentences are better because they demand that you truly know the vocabulary and can't just guess it based on context. You'll stare at a new sentence thinking, "This sounds ridiculous but I'm pretty sure I'm reading this right" and it makes you question if you've really learned what you think you have, which is a good test.
It also stops you guessing the translation from context - because there is no context.
I have definitely had a few moments where I had to pause and wonder who in the world is writing these crazy sentences, but I have to agree that it really does help it stick in your head. My favourite is "Help! That horse is eating the holy potato!"
Shades of the Monty Python Hungarian Phrase Book sketch: "My hovercraft is full of eels".
I actually have a copy of "Az élet értelme" (The meaning of life). It is great fun to translate.
Looks like thanks to some crazy horse, we can't channel the spirits anymore.
I really like that one! I might never get tired of trying to imagine in which situation that would have been used...
But....the man put the woman in the fridge!! Are we going to call the cops or what...?!
Nice post. :)
I think the mean man "silencing" a little boy with a knife is much, much more important than the mean man putting the woman in the fridge.
Much, much more important.
That's a good point; I've never thought about that. Some of the sentences come across are certainly interesting. Goedendag sap, and ik ben een banaan.
It can be really frustrating, IMO, when you get a translation wrong because it's a bizarre phrase and you enter something you think is more likely.
But on the flip side it's really satisfying when you get one right, because you're translating it entirely from your knowledge of the language, not from being able to guess the meaning based on what's typical/likely.
Personally, I really like the ''nonsense'' phrases because (besides being funny) they seem like the best way to really learn the language - the nuts and bolts of it - rather than just enough of it to be able to guess common phrases.
Yeah, it's a good strategy on Duo's part to stop us from translating just because of context... And really, it seems to improve your confidence speaking a new language.
Very interesting!! You are absolutely right, sentences like "your bear drinks beer" does actually help! I like them to cause it sure does add a bit of humor to the lessons!
I have taken a little inspiration from Duo in creating crazy sentences for my child/teenage students to learn English with.
We only use English inside the classroom, so I usually use crazy sentences for dictation / memory games, as there's no translation.
However I watch each time during the games as the children excitedly spew out this "nonsense" without ever seeming to consider how ridiculous it is. They just go through it all automatically. Oh well - I can't say I didn't try!
Best post for weeks. No poor me, or complaining. You get it! I lingot you happily.
Gabriel Wyner talks about this concept in his book Fluent Forever, and it really jump-started my learning Spanish. He talks about how it's all fine and good to brush up on grammar, but the true key to becoming fluent is to associate your language-learning with fun/interesting/unique memories, and hypothesizes that this may be another reason why it is easier to learn a language with full immersion in a foreign country: not only are you forced to speak the language, but you are also forming new language-specific memories every day that you are there, and he tries to help you recreate this experience at home as well. I highly recommend his work in addition to your Duolingo studies.
I noticed this as well, those odd sentences are often hard to forget.
Hmm, an ex I note:-) So much more rewarding to ask for sinus medication in Italian than English. It started a conversation and we talked about all sorts of things. So satisfying after all those XPs and memorable sentences.
I suppose this may explain why that random girl keeps eating spiders.
Or why there are birds reading a newspaper.
Or why there's a person asking you if you're an engine.
Or why someone's living in a basement. (@_@)
Or why someone said, "Excuse me, I'm an apple."
This is similar to when you learn a song to remember an idea! I’m glad you brought this up.
That being said, I feel it would still be beneficial to include helpful phrases and ideas (such as numbers) in earlier lessons.
Have a lingot for being so positive. Yes, it's more memorable if the situation or phrase is notably interesting. I'll never forget the French word for monkey, having heard the Duolingo lady say it just as she steps bare-foot on a piece of lego. Or that's what I imagine she did to make her say it in that voice :)
Yeah, but then you get courses like Vietnamese with endless sentences about cats, which get old very quickly, and now 'cat' is just about the only animal I'm really sure about how to say in Vietnamese.
And sometimes Duo sentences may turn the dirty minds on :D e.g Auf die Knie! (Get on your knees!)
Definitely, some of the time I'm like, What the heck, Duo, that is so messed up!
Belridetulo. There is one on Memrise that really took my breath away and is not repeatable here!
Probably, that was me...but how could I take your breath away on Memrise? :)
Thank you for backing up what I already instinctually realized with actual science/explanations. I've always thought the ridiculous sentences were good practice because they ensure you KNOW the words and not just THINK you know. It boosts (or tests) or confidence of your knowledge base, which is always good.
σας ευχαριστώ για την εξήγησή σας! Πάντα αναρωτιόμουν γιατί υπήρχαν τόσα πολλά περίεργα ερωτήματα! Το Λινγοτ δόθηκε!
Makes me laugh sometimes when a totally unexpected example turns up, like...
/Welsh/ Gaeth camera cyflymder ei gnoi gau arth ddoe. - A speed camera was chewed by a bear yesterday.
/Spanish/ Debes estar cansada de estar corriendo por mi mente todo el dia. - You must be tired of running through my mind all day.
On the other hand, in the early stage of learning a new language it can just make one feel confused or bored if the the examples used don't actually make sense and feel useful.
Nice observation, but what's up with that profile picture? You in to satanism??? >.
Lol, not really, but I'm weird beyond belief, and sometimes I choose pictures if they look nice to me. Not if they symbolize anything.
In the German course in one of the first few skills I can recall someone saying "Ich heiße Karl" but the picture was of a woman. lol
(that means "I'm called Karl", I realize not everyone here takes German sorry lol)