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What is UP with the images/photos?

I am a really big proponent of visual learning, and I'm happy to see it making its way into more duolingo lessons.

But what is UP with these photos? At least on duolingo Italian, I feel like I've rarely encountered a photo that is helpful.

There was a photo for "the bear" in which the bear was almost invisible amid the surrounding image of a river. For "measure", there was a poor quality photograph of a door with a bunch of ilegible writing on it. "The law", a hallway. "winter" was a picture of a government building, albiet there was some snow in the image - but the other images were not anything to do with seasons or time.

The point of visual learning is to trigger an instant visual association with the sound of the word. But how can you do that when even in your own language, you'd have to make five or six guesses to know which thing in the photograph is the intended object?

Are these photos somehow randomly selected by a computer program, or does someone hand select them? Because it just feels like no one has looked at them. I would really love more emphasis on visual learning, but if it's going to be implemented in this way, or if there isn't currently enough budget to get good stock photos or contract a good photographer, I wonder if it might be better to leave it out for now.

April 7, 2013



Yes, I totally agree with you. Many of the photos do seem random, and barely connect to the word.


that's true. it's hard to decide what the word is when there's 2 objects in the photo


I often wonder how much of Duolingo is computer generated. My guess is that the developers are playing around with computer mechanisms to make sentences and pictures. If they do, it is probably not an option to hand-pick or even draw images for lessons.

Pictures I've seen in French and German courses were mostly good.


I think this could be fixed relatively easily by just adding an "up/down" rating system to the images, and allowing the community to filter them.


Yeah, there was one where it asked me to click "l'animale" (the animal). There was a picture of a dog with "il cane" (dog) under it, a picture of an elephant with "l'elefante" (the elephant) under it, and a picture of a cat with "l'animale" under it. ...Whaaaaaaat? I got a laugh out of it, though.


My favorite is the image that was supposed to be of a mouse (as in the rodent) that had a dark background, an oval shape, with a red body. It also had a bar-code on the body.

It was, in other words, the underside of a Microsoft Mouse.

That's when I realized the images truly must be computer-chosen with no human vetting!


I think DL should make some custom drawings. I would prefer like a cartoon of it, but then again you can get too accustomed to the cartoon image and forget the real item... So a nice clear photo would be nice, and if it's something vague such as ''winter'' then it should be made extra clear e.g. cartoon snowflakes, snow, and more, and it shouldn't be able to be confused with similar things like snow.


I, however, haven't had a problem with the images. Well, I found a few to be a bit unclear but it wasn't too bad. I don't learn Italian much so I don't know, but I can see why this is causing a problem.


Same with me. I am remembering my words fine with the pictures. Even the unrelated ones. If i thought of law then i would think of the hall and be like, oh that hall is a courthouse.


If you want stock photos at no cost, I'd recommend http://sxc.hu (I have submitted photos there, but have no financial interest in the site).


Some of the photos are okay, but they haven't helped me remember many words. Maybe the process of picking out a photo out of 4 or more would help out.


Would be awesome if we had some sort of uploading and voting system at each word webpage. LIke Memrise.


You get what you pay for.


i actually enjoyed the random images :D

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