https://www.duolingo.com/territrades

New French and Spanish trees: Please let an English native speaker check them.

I'm sorry to start such a negative topic again. I'm working my way down the new Spanish and French trees, and I have to say that I like a lot of the changes.

Most notably I like the fact that tenses and grammar are spread out among a lot of the skills, not like in the old tree, where you would practice something for a single skill and never use it again. I also like not having huge skills with a lot of lessons any more and the general addition of new content. I also like the addition of phonemes to the beginning of the French course.

But there is something that grinds my gears as I progress towards more complex sentences: Answers in perfect English being rejected and "correct" answers being weird constructions that hardly anyone would say. I am not a native speaker myself, so often I think the mistake is on my part - only to discover that also native speakers complain in the comments.

So please let English native speakers check all the sentences and make sure that you have American and British speakers on the team.

July 6, 2019

51 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/IanPlatino

@ territrades. Agree with all you say. The new Spanish tree is so so much better. I guess we just need to be patient with DL whilst the sentences that we 'report' as being valid get added to the DL database. This last week I have had 11 replies saying '...We now accept this translation etc...thank you'. I will assume that you are doing your bit to build the database with alternative answers too.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis

I will agree that there are missing translations and awkward existing translations. If you report an awkward translation, you don't get a reply back, so these may be being fixed gradually. I have gotten quite a few "This answer is now accepted" replies from the Spanish tree, the French tree not so much. However, I started the Dutch tree soon after it was introduced - there were lots of missing and awkward translations at that time. Now it's one of the better trees on offer. In general, I find both the French and Spanish new trees to be an improvement - especially in the way the grammar is introduced and the format of the tips and notes. They're much more readable, much easier to remember, and are better at explaining what's in the skill. The only thing I would like to see added, somehow, someway, is an index showing which skills hold a particular grammar topic. And I would like to add that Duolingo is much more flexible in the answers it will accept than many other on-line teaching apps.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/n35w101

@Klgregonis ... You may find what you are looking for on Duome, under the "Progress" section. Have a look at the Skills listing, and sort it by Skill Name. You can then click the left-side icon between the date & skill name. That will expand the view, showing you it's vocabulary and grammar information.

https://www.duome.eu/Klgregonis/progress

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SuhailBanister

Great idea! Have had similar difficulties when I felt like reviewing a particular topic or construction in the French tree.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BahamasEmma

Apart from the fact that I am genuinely and utterly floored by your plethora of language skills; I too echo the request that a cross reference index is provided (easily inserted in the "words" section with a new column) that highlights the exercises for that word. To whit, I find myself second guessing certain basics and have had to delve through multiple lessons within the tree to try to locate. An excellent suggestion. I would give a lingot but find myself flummoxed even on the difference twixt lingots and gems!

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis

Thanks. I'm a language geek. Most of the flags are languages I tasted (or maybe went through once, which isn't enough to really burn them into my brain.). I can speak adequate Spanish, enough to have more than basic conversations, and can probably navigate restaurants, menus and stores in French, German and Portuguese, maybe Dutch and Norwegian as well. The rest - well, I have an idea of the basic structure, but I'd need a lot more work to do anything with them. My Spanish is good largely because I live in an area with lots of Spanish speakers and opportunities to practice. Plus, I'm retired and have been doing Duolingo since a year after it started.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SuperLearner007

@territrades I am a native Spanish speaker, and I finished the tree for reviewing purposes (and for the duome fans out there, I finished the tree BEFORE the update, so I no longer have a golden owl) and I can confirm, that there are many translation mistakes.

I noticed that some Spanish words only accept 1 equivalent English word, but not a second one, and vice versa. I really agree with you, and I'd be happy to support this idea and the course quality.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Axel591520

I couldn't agree more. I am just finishing the French tree and and I've found myself spending too much time on reporting awkward or incorrect translations.

I really do appreciate the great work of the volunteers that went into this course. In my opinion the French stuff is excellent, but the English translations leave a lot to be desired. Especially as a non-native English speaker this is very annoying, as you can never be sure whether you or the DL team was wrong. I really don't want to learn an additional new language for every course I take: French English, Chinese English, Polish English...

I really liked your last sentence:

So please let English native speakers check all the sentences and make sure that you have American and British speakers on the team.

English (American English and British English) speakers on the team would certainly improve the quality of the courses a lot.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/qwUL3

What a great idea. I agree with you absolutely.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/dinnernugget

With you all the way here; many of the English answers are abysmal. I'm just a few lessons away from re-gilding my post-update Spanish tree, and it's thrilling to think I won't have to deal with its terrible English (and occasionally, weird Spanish, at least compared to what I as a Spanish learner for years am used to) any longer.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewH304343

I'm just over half way through the spanish coarse and so far i haven't noticed a lot of issues (perhaps one where i felt the required english was unnatural and another one or two where it didn't like my answer where i was using an equally valid but different preposition - sometimes there are many plausible answers and as far as I can tell Duolingo seem to have done a pretty solid job of filling in many of the alternatives). Obviously as I am doing the coarse I am to some extent training myself to give the answers that duolingo expects and erring on the side of giving literal translations rather than selecting wordings that might more naturally occur in conversation. I am trying to learn spanish, not hone my english skills and i have to say i am pretty satisfied. (and I am not to bothered that I occasionally miss out on a clear round because of some minor translation difference - the vast majority of mistakes are my own carelessness)

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/langpedia

I completely agree with what you've said! Particularly your mention of having both American and British English speakers checking the work—as someone who is a native British English speaker (well, I specifically speak New Zealand English, but it's basically British English with some extra slang), it's frustrating for me when I spell an answer in British English and it is rejected because it is a different spelling to American English. It's mostly alright in terms of the o/ou issue (flavour v flavor, colour v color), but on other things such as s/z (organisation v organization, specialisation v specialization) it's quite lacking and infinitely irritating. If the English to French and English to Spanish courses are predominantly meant for English speakers to learn the language, correct English translations are essential.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Please let me quote CommeuneTexane, an American member of the volunteer French for English course:

  • "The "best" English translation is the one that adheres most closely to the French structure and vocabulary while still respecting English grammar rules. This is to reinforce the French sentences and to help with the reverse translations, where you translate the English sentence back into French."

This is indeed the main reason why a number of English sentences (= translations from French sources sentences) are unnatural or awkward.

I don't see any other reason since the previous courses were written by a team consisting of American and British volunteers (+ 1 French native) and the current course by Duolino staff members or "experts" who, as far as I know, are Americans.

In the previous trees, we had added British variants for most if not all sentences and many of those sentences and translations are still to be found in the latest French Tree.

What the new sentences might need, though, is a British contributor for missing variants, and a French native correcting some French source sentences and translations.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/volumniax

Yes. The structure is good, but so many English sentences seem to be built to be "parallel" to the French sentence, rather than as natural utterances.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis

It is annoying -but those parallel sentences are grammatical, and it is a pedagogical tool which can actually help you learn the structure of your target language. They should also accept the natural utterances, but don't always. I suspect the courses were put together by a team containing native English and native French speakers, but their checklist (make sure all British spellings are covered, enter the most common British synonyms for words, be sure that where British and American English differ grammatically both forms are allowed), was not put together well. Report, report, report, the courses should improve, and two years from now someone will look at this thread and wonder what we were talking about.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewH304343

Personally, I think that is exactly how it should be. The French/Spanish sentences need to right/natural, but then the English translations will often seem slightly awkward. This awkwardness helps to create a better feeling for how others think - if you are ever to be able to speak spanish/french in a way that seems natural then you have to develop a different way of thinking rather than perfect the art of translation - which isn't possible anyway because context is everything.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sparrow626727

I've noticed in the "learn English from French" tree that they sometimes don't provide apostrophes, even when apostrophes are needed. Also, the robot voice mispronounces words sometimes eg for the sentence "I read a book", it was pronounced "red" (ie past tense) but the French translation was in the present so the word should have been pronounced like "reed". New learners who are French wouldn't pick up this error.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Marguerid

Thank you, territrades, for your comment. I totally agree with you. There is a big difference between those trees which are developped by native speakers on both sides and those who are not. Regarding i.e. Catalan from Spanish, it´s easy to find the right traduction, because most of the Catalan native speakers are Spanish native speakers, too. On the other side there is i.e. the Turkish tree which is morally devastating when learning.

I appreciate a lot the efforts made by volunteers developping the trees! And a certain amount of errors is normal and should not be bothered about. But when I get three "faults" within one lesson because the given translation is simply wrong, it feels quite annoying. And, as others here have described as well, I waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to translate sort of adapted to the given translation, in order to avoid getting the "wrong!"-jingle :-).

Except maybe for some rare genius, we all tend to transfer the structure of one language to another (in my multilingual family we all laugh a lot with some of our constructions). And I understand that it would be much work to get it all right. But maybe someone of the course builders, together with a native English speaker, could find the time to have a look at the reported sentences - with Hundreds of Thousands of learners there ought to be some reports :-). Would be really helpful! And when developping a new tree or changing an existing one, PLEASE, do as territrades proposed:

"So please let English native speakers check all the sentences and make sure that you have American and British speakers on the team".

Yes please!!!

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SweetPaw

Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

While I agree with the Physicist, I thought I was the only one who noticed.

;

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kdhy11

This affects all languages, including Esperanto. It has been a persistent problem.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/pentaan

This does definitely not effect all languages in Duolingo!

Many courses made by unpaid volunteers are good in accepting alternative translations in UK-English and American English, for instance the courses "Dutch from English" and "English from Dutch".

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Janet240859

Hmmm... that is probably because Dutch native speakers constructed and reviewed the course.

In my experience, the Dutch can speak better English than the English (and I include myself as an English woman in that)!

How about getting a dutch native speaker to review the English translations?

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BahamasEmma

Classic! Concur too.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Bunny899589

Thank you. Thank you!

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ

First of all, for not being a native English speaker (which I am), I must say your written English is very good! Second, I agree that the trees are better than they were before: I just finished the new Spanish one and I am working my way down the French one. I also noticed a few grammatical errors on the French tree, so I think they need to go back and look at their translations much more carefully.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roody-Roo

As upset as you might be, I am bugged even more by the constant rage from the "Brits". So what if another slightly different dialect holds sway over the word tiles and the preferred or default translations. I don't think there's any possible way to make more than one version of these, and American is obviously the first choice. So get over it.

On the other hand, dialect variations should be accepted as alternatives for all the sentences. That isn't currently the case. It's a brand new tree and additional variants are desperately needed. But the only way to inform course creators of this need is to use the Report function in the lesson. It is a waste of your time to whine about that on the sentence discussion pages. All the whining does is make the discussion page worthless for educational purposes.

Finally, the level of respect on British posts is generally quite low. Americanization and bastardized are two common insults, along with "it makes my ears bleed". Come on. This is a global language site. Use some manners, as the guidelines call for.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

Thank you for your kind words on the post farther down the page. This is a very lively discussion.

I'm very entertained because there are so many varieties of English, and it is kind of comical how we have all these priorities among them all. As you stated that is probably a better conversation for a different thread.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Callie69107

I actually think Roody-Roo's post is the one showing poor manners. Let's have respect for all users of this site, no matter which language they speak.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

Of course you are correct to say that we must have respect for all users of this site. This is not up for negotiation.

But, with all due respect, that does not mean that we all have to agree, about everything.

The conversation seems to have drifted from the OP's point, that it is frustrating when you give a grammatically correct answer in some variety of English, and it is still marked as incorrect.

I do not know what the answer to this problem is, but I am amazed at the number of people who feel compelled to respond to it.

It is also difficult to know the true meaning of our communications here because we are all coming at the language from different perspectives. What is often considered rude and of "poor manners" in one language, is consider direct and to the point in another.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SirKevWIN

Yeah.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Tricia862210

I have to agree

July 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SGuthrie0

This is from the beginning of the course.
“Acerca del curso:
Hablado por más de 750 millones de personas, el inglés es el segundo idioma más hablado en el mundo (por detrás del mandarín), y el más comúnmente aprendido. En Duolingo, vas a aprender el inglés estadounidense, pero te van a entender en cualquier país en que se habla inglés.”

Consequently, I am not sure that British speakers are "needed."
As Saino (a moderator) stated:

"Duolingo tiene un curso de inglés para hablantes de español, y un curso de español para hablantes de inglés. Ambos cursos usan las mismas oraciones. Cada oración tiene una traducción principal en español y otra en inglés, y varias traducciones alternativas en ambos idiomas que tambien se aceptan. Ahora.... Ambos inglés y español tienen MUCHOS dialectos.

Por eso, Duolingo tiene que escoger un dialecto para las traducciones principales. Ya que Dúo es una compañía estadounidense, y la mayoría de los empleados y voluntarios que hacían el curso hablan dialectos de inglés americano y español americano, las traducciones principales usan estos dialectos. Si Dúo fuera una compañía inglesa o un compañía española, imagino que las traducciones principales serían en inglés británico y en castellano. (Y en este caso, los usuarios americanos se confundirían, porque no es posible complacer a todos a la vez.)"

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26777526$from_email%3Dcomment&comment_id%3D29322628

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/EllieBarlo2

can i get an "amen" ---- ha ha (je suis un athée ) je trouve souvent mes réponses "Americain" jugées fausses

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ProfesorAntonnio

you might offer your help to fix it https://incubator.duolingo.com/

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/pentaan

The French unpaid volunteers are not allowed to help in the current French course (version "tree 12") !

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29069435/French-Trees-Explained
By Commeune Texane (unpaid volunteer Moderator and Contributor)
Published: 8 months ago.

With the roll-out of any tree there are going to be glitches, sometimes major ones:

If you have the Tree 8 or Tree 12 and encounter a problem with a sentence, please report it within your lesson.
Staff should review the reports and correct the error.
Bear in mind that they receive many reports (both helpful and otherwise) and it may take time for them to see it
We, the volunteer contributors, do not have access to these trees and cannot make changes.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/was_ist_das

It would be nice if the mods could make changes to the trees. The new CEFR compliant trees definitely introduced some growing pains.

The mods and contributors do a lot of work and their answers in the forums are often more informative than the questions or tips, and they're close to the users and following the forums and trends. They have an enormous amount of knowledge to contribute, so limiting them seems kind of not the best thing.

The new French and Spanish trees are good though. Some of those alternate answers just need to be accepted. Both trees seem really comprehensive with a sound foundation for grammar and vocabulary.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MarilynBea12

I have noticed this.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Anthony947798

Indeed.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/shazil003n

Hello

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Lil_Kimmy

In the last paragraph, I didn’t know American and British were languages.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

With all due respect, and in the off chance that you did not know that American English and British English are different varieties of the English language, the above links are provided.

These two varieties do have some major differences in spelling, usage and pronunciation. Please see the links above for full details.

Which is why the OP, is suggesting that both speakers of American English and British English are allowed to proof read the answers for spelling differences, etc.

Again apologies, if you were just joking, but I did want to make this point for the None English speaking people who might read this.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewH304343

I am pretty sure the sentences have been proof read by a native speaker (or someone very good). It is not just english/vs american. Whether you say 'in school' or 'at school' depends on who your friends are. Similarly the translation of 'you' plural can be either 'you' (British), 'you all' (southern usa), or 'you guys' (? usa). In my opinion it is a really great feature that Duolingo has a button where native users can submit alternatives that they believe are correct, so that the trees fill in over time. As I say I am already satisfied with the quality of the first half of the spanish tree - it isn't particularly difficult for a native speaker to adapt their English spelling to american spelling which is what duolingo seems to prefer (I'm a brit but it's not hard to write mom instead of mum). For non-native speakers, yes you do need to be careful if you are trying to use the learn Spanish from English tree to improve your English!!!

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/YankeeDoodleDany

DL accepts "yall" as a translation for "ustedes" in the Spanish tree.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SGuthrie0

"None English speaking people" ?

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

Maybe it would have been clearer if I had written, "non-native English speaking people".

Or maybe even better I could have said "English language learners". Of which I am obviously one.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Bunny899589

@kelvin401; You made a very much needed point in superb English. I am from the USA and I wouldn't have guessed this is not your native language.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

Bunny, because I would never want to pull one over on you, and all jokes aside, I am in fact a native English speaker. And an English language learner.

I grew up in the Southern part of the US (Louisiana), I am as you can see from my photo an African American (which means English should be my L1), but like many native English speakers I have many issues with both speaking and writing English, but it will be a life long pursuit to get it right. And to help others understand when I can. Thanks for your comments, in my defense.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roody-Roo

Anyway, you sure have a friendly smile. And your English is real nice too! ;-0 As a white northerner who is well versed in African American English, I have occasionally submitted alternative translations in that dialect. I dont think any were accepted, which might be a good topic for another thread.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kelvin401862

Thanks for your kind words.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Bunny899589

@ sguthrie; One thing we don't need on here is non- constructive criticism. We all have different degrees of knowledge. I daresay you too, make an error occasionally; either by mistake or lack of knowledge. BTW, you spelled "college" wrong on your profile.

July 7, 2019
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