Duolingo's voice recognition is terrible and I am giving up on the speaking parts.
Sometimes it understands everything I say, picks up every word even when I am barely pronoucing it right. Other times it doesnt pick up a word I say even though I am saying it just as good.
True. I've doubted from the outset that there's anything out there listening to me at all, apart from picking up the basic syllable count and a fistful of phonemes.
I think it's there to be motivational - you listen to the voice, try to mimic it, it forces you to speak out loud, hear yourself in horror and disappointment, and endeavor to correct your ways.
At least German's pretty hard-edged and could mostly be picked up and checked using a PC microphone. French? Jamais de la vie 😉
A far more rewarding exercise would be to get recordings of native speakers saying sentences, then record yourself saying them and listen back to each track in turn. A lot can be done by compare and contrast.
One of the people I am living with in Saigon does Duolingo English at breakfast. Last night he came home from work and said something in English. We had to break it down in words as I had no idea what he was trying to say. We got everything down but one word and he spelled it aloud, " V V Eight Ah Ella A." or "W H O L E". There is no W in Vietnamese so I kinda got how he got around that. I was stuck on H for awhile but realized he got the first part kinda right. I got the other letters since I know the Vietnamese alphabet that is pronounced more like it is in Spanish than English. He tried to say, "I say hello to the whole family."
He memorized a dictionary so he hears and writes it OK but the pronunciation is on the level of my Vietnamese. Duolingo accepts everything he says even if I cannot recognize any words in the sentence he speaks. So, yes, the voice recognition needs a tad tweaked. I don't use it at all and rely on native speakers to correct me or compliment me. The other night, a professor from the Transportation University came to visit and she speak perfect English. I had a lucky night and I pretty much said what I wanted in Vietnamese with no effort and got a compliment. Another year or so of practice and it should not be a fluke to do that.
If you can get the program "Mango Languages," I think it is much better than Duolingo in this one type of exercise.
In addition to playing the the native speaker recording and your attempt one after the other, Mango Languages lets you play the recordings simultaneously. You get a visual graph of your voice that you can drag to line it up with the graph of the native speaker.
Some public libraries and schools (it says "around the world") offer this program for free. And I think it's also free if you're in the military (not sure if that applies outside the U.S., sorry).
I gave up on Duo's text-to-speech and voice recognition modes long ago, both are terrible, at least for French they were.
But VR is still a young technology. My wife tried to add 'kitten chow' to the grocery list on her iPhone earlier today by voice, it came out 'kitchen towel'. You don't want to know what it did with 'Garnier Fructis shampoo'.