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  5. Stop making me "learn" all th…


Stop making me "learn" all the letters, I want to learn actual words and phrases!

I don't understand why there isn't an option to not have to tell duo that you can read "nuun" or "lubb" in Arabic about 50,000 times, it's irritating and pointless, it doesn't even tell us what these words mean if they even are words and not just random sounds.

July 25, 2019



Yeah, i see the same problem. I already did an arabic course at university, so I learned the alphabet. Since I forgot some of it, I learned it again at home. The problem now is you can do shortcuts but you can't test out of these lessons! I go on "Country 1" or "Omar is ..." and still most of the lessons there are alphabet practices. Of course this is important but there has to be an option to cut this part shorter. I really like the app and how it teaches you a language but it bores me so much to repeat the same alphabet practices for 80 or more times.


Since this is a beta course it would be unwise to expect a flawless operation or structure. I do agree that it is absolutely important to become comfortable with the arabic characters and link them to the sounds, but if this is the aim, the exercises are clearly misguided. The exercises where one arabic word is shown and several pronunciation options are suggested can all be answered just by listening and comparing what one hears with the suggestions. Arguably useful for learning the latin character representation of the arabic sounds, but not for linking the arabic written word with its pronunciation. Removing audio playback of the word's pronunciation might force the learner to mentally or actually pronounce it and then choose the appropriate option. I wonder if there is somewhere one can suggest improvements or changes to the course. Also, repetition is essential in the teaching of certain skills that require some degree of mental automation, such as driving or speaking a new language, but is by no means the mother of education, unless one defines education so loosely that certain forms of enslavement would be included.


I looked up the help centre topic on giving feedback/ reporting issues with the course an it said for isus with the course in general ( ie not a problem with a specific sentence or translation), then post it on the Discussion form and the course designers will pick it up from there -so hopefully your suggestions are picked up!


Completely agree, they should model it after the Hebrew course (another Semitic language).

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I also think that it is perfectly reasonable to want to be able to test out of exercises that are too easy, and in fact the option exists to "take a shortcut." IMO Duo typically does not do a good job teaching alphabet and other writing systems anyway. I have generally found that it is better to learn the writing systems elsewhere before starting a Duo class. For Arabic, there is a free app called TenguGo Alphabet which does a good job teaching the Arabic letters. Since I am a beginner at Arabic, I don't mind the extra practice on Duolingo, but if I had had to do so many dull letter matching exercises in Russian for example, I wouldn't have continued the course.


I know right, like they should at least give definitions. But I'm not complaining as much since Arabic is spoken in my home so I recognize some words. I will say though that the exercises are good for pronunciation.


I agree. I am on topic 11 and am getting quite annoyed at the matching pairs of words/sounds with no meaning. Repetition is good, learning the alphabet and the sounds of the different letters and their position is good. But the amount in this course is a bit too much. If you opt out, you also opt out of "sentences" for the entire level, so that's not good. I am on "Phrases" and Description 3 and still doing A LOT of alphabet practices and I only know a handful of arabic words.

At some point you have to move on learning new words, especially some that can be used for communication, and grammar.

So I would recommend reducing the number of exercises involving the alphabet after the first few topics.

Thanks !!

If someone needs more practice, they can always hit the "practice" button for each topic and train more.


They're Arabic letters. It's just to teach you how to pronounce different letters in Arabic. If you already know the Arabic alphabet, you can test out.


Having now tried the Arabic course, I can understand the complaint here.

The topics seem to be split into two halves. One half of the lessons do nothing except ask you to match random words (which you never find out the meaning of) to their pronunciation (e.g. "yashuf", "3atiim", "wabaa2", "ghaab") and the other half of the lessons are the usual things like "Bob is American", "Carrie is a doctor").

The first four topics are supposedly Alphabet 1-4, but I am now on the 12th topic (out of 31, so nearly halfway) and it is still teaching the alphabet.

That means there isn't a point where you can test out of the alphabet unless you also know enough vocabulary and grammar... in which case you're going to test out of most of the course.


Hi, I am now at level 5/5 by skipping and testing out, in the Duolingo free of charge option. Are there other levels if I start duolingo plus? Does it get more conversational later on, I mean with longer sentences and discussion? Thanks


You can't test out.

I have finished the tree long ago and these pointless exercises keep popping up and filling approximately half of the practice lessons.


I agree that it would be more helpful to have more meaning and context to the words to help learning. And an option to go 'lite' on the script learning if all you need is a refresher. The technique/ approach used here is a classic one for those who are brand new to a script and need to develop literacy but as you say, not all users of Duolingo Arabic lessons will be starting from zero. ( I teach English to learners whose mother languages don't use roman font or who never learned to read and write in their own script so I can see the same literacies methodolgies that my teaching materials use).


Are there any news on this matter? I paused learning arabic on duolingo because of this. But I miss it. Learning through repetition, which is the duolingo philosophy, is really great. And the few words and brief sentences that I learnt are still with me, I remember them even after a few months, so the method works. But I cannot spend 2/3 of the time on just matching "sounds". It's too much. Especially because it can be structured (like other courses) so you match the sound to actual words.

I am faithfully waiting for some improvements.


I am particularly interested to know if the "sound " that I read is an arabic word or just a sound. I turn off the sound so I can work out the sound form looking at the arabic letters. I can understand the need for repetition for a necomer like myself, خُبْزُ صاجٍ geofh151@gmail.com


If you're so comfortable with the script, why complain about having to answer questions about it? It should be so easy for you. This is a language course. It's meant for those who have no basis in the language. Hence why the script is taught. So basically they have two options here:

1) Jam the entire script at the beginning and overwhelm everyone. At which point users would complain just as much, if not more.

2) Introduce a few letters at a time, and let people get used to the group of letters introduced with context, before moving onto to the next set. Which is what they chose to do.

I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but the people who create courses for Duolingo are unpaid volunteers. They create courses because they want to share the knowledge of their language. They're not professionals creating textbooks, they're people dedicating their time to something they are passionate about.

But instead of just going through the course, you decided it would be a better use of your time to complain that the free Arabic course teaches Arabic in a way that makes it mildly repetitive for you?


Duolingo is a business, not someone's personal website. They may be using people's willingness to contribute for free to their advantage, but they are ultimately in control of the website, which courses are offered and who can contribute to them. They specifically ask what makes you qualified to create a course when you apply.

The whole point of the beta phase is to improve the course from user feedback. The feedback here could have been phrased more constructively, but it is still useful feedback.


I find doing the dishes very easy, that doesn't mean I want to do the dishes for several hours when I'm meant to be cooking dinner. The Greek course doesn't spend anywhere near as long on the alphabet and neither does the Russian. Even the Chinese course teaches you content over teaching you to recognise random script. Also this course is in beta, surely the best way to improve the course is to give feedback.


Yeah, Japanese teaches hiragana (51 characters plus another 26 based on them and 36 digraphs) in the first four skills. Ukrainian teaches 32 letters in the first three skills. Arabic has 28 letters plus a handful of other diacritics. That shouldn't need 12+ lessons, surely.

The other languages I've tried all focus more heavily on words which they teach you the meaning of. For example, in the first skill, Chinese introduces hǎo, teaches you that it means "good" and that hello is literally "you good". Japanese does teach individual characters in the first skill, but also introduces simple words (red, blue, white, one, two) which use those characters.

The Chinese and Japanese lessons consist of a variety of questions asking you to pick the right pronunciation of a character, the right character for a pronunciation, translate from English to Chinese/Japanese and vice versa, use the word in a sentence, match the pairs, etc.

Arabic on the other hand... I just did five lessons in a row which consisted of nothing but matching five pairs out of a total of seven meaningless (to me) words over and over. It seems repetitive because it is repetitive, in a way that the other courses are not.

I think it would be more enjoyable if the Arabic course focused less on practising every combination of letters and vowels in favour of introducing real words and letting people practice reading that way. The letters do change a bit when they join to others, but that is the sort of thing that the tips and notes section can talk about.


I don't mind the repetitiveness, because I can tell I need all that help. One gets better and internalizes reading thanks to repetition. When a child learns how to read and write in his own language, he still spends years on it.


You’re comparing apples to oranges here. Japanese, to use one of your examples, doesn’t have much room to work in as far as the script goes. They have to start introducing Kanji early on. So they either have to rely on romaji, which would defeat the purpose, or they can give learners a basis in Hiragana which then allows them to introduce Kanji. They’re forced to teach it faster than others may have to.

Arabic script is a completely different thing. Most people are going to have trouble with several aspects of the writing, and it’s just going to exacerbate that if you try and force it all too quickly.

Frankly, I just don’t understand why people are complaining that their Arabic course is teaching them to become comfortable with Arabic script. Yes, I realize the particular user who created this post apparently already knows the script well enough, but many don’t. It’s kind of ridiculous to expect a language course to cater to people already familiar with the language.


Since you don't like me comparing it to Chinese and Japanese, I just tried out Hebrew. That is probably the most similar script available in Duolingo right now. In the first skill, they teach 22 letters. They immediately started teaching real words (and even simple sentences) without vowel diacritics or romanisation. It couldn't be more different from the Arabic course if it tried.

Yes, people need to become familiar with the script, but the current method is not the only option available, as shown by plenty of other courses here. If you don't see why some people might find seemingly endless rounds of match the pairs of meaningless words mindnumbingly boring, then of course you will not understand why people are complaining.


Yep, I tried Hebrew as well a while ago. I stopped because it went too fast through the alphabet. The Arabic course is great so far. It teaches the letters exactly as it should for beginners. They must sink in deeply, so they do not distract from the meaning of the words you learn later.

But yes, there should be a possibility to test out of the letter teaching parts of the course.


Arabic is the 1st language I've looked into in Duolingo. The constant matching makes me want to scream. I am encouraged that other languages taught here have taken a more interesting approach. I hope the Arabic course gets better quickly.


Have you thought that there may be people who don’t know the Arabic script and that they need it to help recognize it?


if you read my original post, I said why isn't there AN OPTION to skip the script learning part, of course if you can't read the script then by all means practice until you can.


For instance: I'm in the countries module, 4th crown, and I have seen maybe three countries up to now, all the other exercises were alphabet. If it can't be concentrated in the first modules, at least they should be concentrated in the first crowns so we can skip them by doing a test.


Well, the course is still in Beta form and it's not yet quite as versatile as other languages.


I suppose so, it would be nicer for Muslims or native Arabic speakers to skip ahead to Description 1. It's irritating, but hey, we can "level up" on the leader-board without doing actual work! :) -Rara


Agree with everything. While I appreciate the repetition for memorizing a completely new script, I really, really wish they 1) used more real words in these alphabet practices, and 2) made it possible to view the meaning of the words in the alphabet practices. An option to opt out of alphabet practices would also be amazing.


I agree, some of the arabic "words" that are used for helping us learn the alphabet dont seem to be real words, I copy them into google translate whenever i can and sometimes they do not show any meaning in arabic. There is also overuse of the term "weird", surely there are other adjectives that start with that letter! :-)


There is another noticable thing that duolingo teaches you words first which you are less likely to use them, such as chicken, juice, carpet, random animals' names. whereas it can teach you more important words like "noticable", "dangerous", "usefull verbs". 3 months ago I was using duolingo when I notice that it started to repeat itself then I quit using it and I started to learn Russian myself. I made greater process.

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