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

Suggestion - Adding a "Small Talk" unit

Sometimes, after learning a language for a month, I see that I know many individual words like "Eat", "School", "Boy", "Apple", "Woman", etc. And I feel like I'm understanding the language and grammar more and more.

HOWEVER : When I meet a native speaker and I want to show off my skills, I realize that I'm not very confident with the basic small talk sentences like : "My name is ..."
"How are you" "I'm learning Spanish" "I'm from France" "I can understand Spanish" "I want to practice more"

It would be great if we could have a specific unit to practice small talk with all these basic sentences that we could use with a native speaker.

Please upvote the post if you agree so that Duolingo employees can hopefully see it!

April 24, 2019

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

Could be another good bonus skill - but of limited use with a real native speaker. Because you have basically covered it all. Anything much more will require you to understand their response. What if they say "Sadly I'm unwell and will be going to the hospital on Friday for a scan"? (A possible response to "How are you?" to a Hungarian - a language I which "How are you?" is not a rhetorical question.)

April 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shelby.AM

I sort of agree with you in principle, but I still agree with Nicofiesta that more emphasis on the kind of sentences you might want to use at the beginning of a conversation with a native speaker would be very useful. Many native speakers will be very patient and will go out of their way to speak simply and check for comprehension if you have the confidence to get your foot in the door.

Particularly useful would be phrases like the equivalent of "How's your day going", "What do you study / what do you do?", "Do you live around here", "I don't speak [language] well but I'm trying to learn", "Please correct me if I make mistakes!", "Thanks for being so patient", "I've been studying [language] for x months", "I hope you have a nice day".

I think just being comfortable with a few conversation starters and sentences about your language learning process can give you the confidence to try to make a connection with someone you wouldn't be able to talk to otherwise. Even brief, simple exchanges with native speakers can be really motivational at early stages in the learning process.

April 25, 2019

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

I was thinking: why not create such an item in our DL 'shop'? BTW, it could be a good occasion to 'spend' some 'lingots'... or not? Thank you for reading

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

Many native speakers will be very patient and will go out of their way to speak simply and check for comprehension

Sure - if you are at school or maybe a party for students or as a visitor in a care home. But that has not been my experience in most situations. In fact before I started formal study (and so gained some brownie points) I heard one woman say to another "She doesn't understand" (that I could understand) and then continue on with their own conversation. Now some people will go as far as "Hello - do you want any palinka?" - and banter with my refusal. But only a handful of (retired) people will modify their speech - to slower and with only single clauses - and listen to my replies.

Y

April 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shelby.AM

This is not my experience at all! I have had many people be extremely patient and generous with me in Spanish and French, both abroad and within the US.

Of course some people will be busy or in a hurry or just won't want to talk to you in their native language if you're not comfortably conversant, but I'd say that at least one in four times that I make an effort to communicate with someone in a language I don't yet speak comfortably, they make some effort to accommodate my ability level. Of course it's totally understandable and fair that some people wouldn't have the time or patience, but even if it's only once in a while that being confident in how to say something like "I don't speak very much [language] yet, but I'm trying to learn" could lead to a meaningful interaction in a language you're trying to learn, in my opinion, it's worth it!!

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SKEP2l

My experience as well, Shelby. I've been both the recipient and the giver of such kindly accommodation, I thought it was normal to do so actually. lol.

It's with need for this courtesy in mind, that I wrote a post asking duoLingo to Offer a Medium-Speed Audio option for sentences spoken!

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/31705240

Many have agreed it would be helpful. If you do as well, please pass the word around as (I'm told) the more "upvotes" the more likely DuoLingo will notice and read and hopefully incorporate for us :)

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

OK - it is not your experience - but it is mine. Both as the poor speaker - and observing both overseas and in NZ. People might point out where a landmark is to a poor speaker - but they are not going to chat about their plans for the weekend.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliceC28

I try as hard as I can to be nice to people don't have English as their first language, as it can be very confusing! However, I do know that some people are not like that, so it would be nice to know some of these conversation starters to get to know people and learn better comprehension skills. (Although, I'm not sure when I'll ever meet a native Greek speaker, so I don't know how well that applies to myself.)

April 26, 2019

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

Perhaps, but I think a native speaker would probably pick up on the fact that the other person is learning and probably wouldn't go into a very in depth conversation. When I was starting out in Spanish I had a lot of very simple conversations with native speakers and they (kindly) dumbed things down for me.

April 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard898317

Yes, I have had nothing but kindness from the French people on whom I have tried out my not-very-stellar skills. I think a small talk section is a great idea. I no longer use Memrise because I found the interface so annoying, but when I tried it out I was struck by the emphasis that it places on everyday phrases, as opposed to Duo's approach of using rather artificial sentences to help lodge the grammar in your brain. In my view, there's room for both approaches!

April 25, 2019

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

That isn’t correct. Duolingo specialises in teaching people specific words, but they seldom teach a developed form of applying them. Duolingo is certainly helpful for sentences like ‘The duck eats an apple.’, but how often would you genuinely say something like that? Besides, Duolingo certainly does not cover everything of notable use- only specific words that are helpful to certain people.

April 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

Duolingo certainly does not cover everything of notable use

At best DL will only take you to beginner level. It has a tiny vocab. What it does is pretty good (for most of its languages) as introduction to language. From a solid DL base many people will be able to build a good understanding of the language by adding more vocab, reading, watching films, doing intermediate courses, talking with native speakers etc. But there is no way DL can or tries to cover "everything of notable use" - that would be C1/C2 when DL hits A1/A2.

April 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SandraStea1

It could be interesting but also very difficult, as regional dialects, customs and patterns differ. It would be nice to have a module to practice listening and speaking such conversational phrase, though, especially in languages that don't have stories (see below).

One thing that helped me a lot was the stories. They are just full of conversational type phrases that are not covered in the regular lessons (at least not that I can see). They are real speech, normal speed, with some hints and force you to think in the language in a different way. And best of all, they can be repeated so you can practice parroting the "chit chat" phrases they use.

But yes, some "skills" that are heavy on sound and speaking so we could practice more phrases would be helpful. There are a lot already in the French tree but it does have a LOT of new content.

April 25, 2019

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

I think this is a good idea. I have been using a book ("Language Hacking: A Conversation Course for Beginners") to supplement duoLingo. The opening chapter has phrases as in your examples. For example: "Hallo, ich bin Peter. Also, ich komme aus Deutschland." "Ich lerne Deutsch, weil ... na ja, ich habe Familie hier in Deutschland und ich möchte hier wohnen." The format would work even better in a duoLingo style approach.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SKEP2l

KwanLowe: I've seen this book on Amazon, thinking it such a great way to learn and have it it my 'save for later' list. In the mean time I've been writing out practice sentences and started to compile into conversations, but it's so time consuming and I have not made much of a progress. Super glad to for your input! Enjoy a L-ing-OT of thanks

April 26, 2019

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

I wish they had something for that too. I always lose my nerve and vocabulary when I’m speaking to a real person. In the meantime, I talk to an imagery person in an imagery situation. Not the same though. I’m not scared of embarrassing myself in front of my imagery people. I am embarrassed though when my family catches my doing it.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ScillaLiu1029

I think that is a good idea.

April 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EmilyTaylor0516

I completely agree, I'm learning Welsh and it'd be very helpful to know how to start and carry on a simple conversation.

April 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Devinja1

Yes, you are right. That is, why I started a Small-Talk Thread in Italiano.

April 25, 2019

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

I've had the experience and I felt the same, after a few simple sentences in spanish I felt an urge to shift toward English. It felt exhausting!

April 25, 2019

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

It would be great if there were somewhere we could practice our small talk and improve our skills with formulating responses to questions rather than rote translation.

We could call them Clubs.
Wouldn't that be neat.
(This is a gripe that they are getting rid of clubs)

April 27, 2019

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

Yeah I agree

April 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SKEP2l

Amen!! After stories, sometimes a box appears to ask if it was enjoyable and what they could do better. I keep typing a short message to convey: please create conversational practice using the vocabulary from each level incorporating the next level the more we learn. Thanks a LingOT from me ;D

April 26, 2019

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

Thats a very good idea

April 26, 2019

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

This would be good bonus levels for the lanuages.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/giegie.sams

It could be like a speaking unit. I would love something like this on the app, kind of like how Rosetta Stone does it when after you complete the unit you’re on, it gives you a mock conversation where you have to use what you learned from that unit to respond correctly.

April 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MikeNolan6

it seems to me that the new French-from-English tree has small talk scattered throughout the lessons, or at least the early ones that I've been testing out of.

April 25, 2019

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

I think giving this to Duolingo would also make it into a social media outlet of some sort that is geared towards polygots. Which doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. The best way for me to learn a language is to hear it being a predominantly auditory learner. I usually repeat the phrase after I say it in the tree but in real life the translation does sometimes come up short! This will also open the door for others to help with their own native language while learning another. Kinda like in Eat Pray Love.

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GabeDoyle1

i'm upvoting cuz i find thesame thing

April 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GabeDoyle1

i'm upvoting cuz i agree

April 26, 2019

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

In 2014 when I discovered Duoingo, there existed a site where you could speak one on oe with other learners and native speakers. I fond it most helpful to have my mistakes corrected and I formed relationships very beneficial to me as well to others who would follow me.

April 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/robin32999

i realy think they should make a extra part where poeple can just talk in private or small groups, so that for say a native swede can tell someone who is learning swedish the do's and dont's that are usualy overlooked. especialy in languages like german this would make a lot of sense since even expierienced students fail at the simplest of sentenes due to minor things (its usualy a result of lose pronounciation in the wrong places). accents like bavarian, welsh, scottish, plattdeutsch(northern german), austrian and the especialy thick accent from saxony can be absolute neckbreakers. you will hardly learn those without someone to talk to.

April 30, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

For it to work - and not degenerate into "Hi" "Your picture is great" "Whoa" "You suck" you would need (at least) three things. First, the ability to ban time wasters. Second, as you suggest either a native speaker - or very advanced student - who can steer the conversation - not only correct pronunciation and grammar but introduce a range of topics so it doesn't circle around the same topics over and over. Three, these people (or person) will need to have lots of free time - and work for nothing.

Keep in mind the userbase - it is way more than those on the fora. Millions of students. Even if only 10% want to take part this is a huge undertaking.

April 30, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/robin32999

yep i fully agree. and after all we can just make a "report group" when there are groups not diected to language learning. the host needs lot of free time anyway you cant just have a 5 min chat and then close the group again. i would recomond for say a "starting in..." so that for example i can create a "german lessons with native german" and set it a timer when it will start so that people can priorly sign up if it is in an possible timeframe them. i think everything else should rule itself out. the banfunction should be monitored by someone obviously so that randoms cant just ban actual productive lesssons, and after all it doesnt realy matter if someone creates italian lessons group and doesnt speak a word italian. because no one would join or stay there for long.

April 30, 2019
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