1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Latin
  4. >
  5. Do you think the Latin Beta c…


Do you think the Latin Beta course is bad?

The spoiled people coming here to harshly complain about the content are, so far, non stop. Here is what uncle Ted Roosevelt has to tell you: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I understand when people have something to comment, but many people are coming here just to criticise and scream for their wishes like a spoiled kid - If you think it's bad, do better - join the team and help them... coming here to show off and offend people who have offered you a free thing is absolutely barbaric.

Again: a big thanks to everyone involved in the Latin project.

September 2, 2019



If you think it's bad, do better - join the team and help them

People who are capable of creating a better language course are not likely to have any need to use the existing one. Criticism is not invalidated by not being able to do any better oneself; one doesn't need to be a great novelist in order to criticise a bad book, or be an automotive engineer in order to criticise a badly-designed car. Without criticism, nothing would ever improve.

I've said nothing against the Latin course (from what I've so far done, it seems a very good start), but if people find problems with it, they should make them known. You (and Roosevelt) seem to be implying that no-one should ever criticise anything. Constructive and reasoned criticism is never a bad thing.


How can we contribute to the course?


Indeed, but the same "constructive" criticism should probably not be repeated to the moon and back. We got the point the first time; I'm sure the mods did too, and took note. But there's probably no helping that one.

Worse, I've seen people slamming the course for having so many flaws without regard to the fact that it literally just came out in Beta. It's far from perfect, yes, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way, and it's immensely insulting to the mods and contributors to imply that their work wasn't and won't be "good enough" before the project is even finished. Such toxicity really pisses me off, and with good reason.

So yes, constructive criticism is welcome. But in the end, we users must remember that we are not the ones making the course, only helping others to do so. That means we should measure our annoyance at its flaws against our gratitude for its existence, and proceed with at least some effort at respect for those doing the true heavy lifting. These projects take time to perfect, and the Latin contributors have already done a fantastic job for the relatively short time they've had; I'm willing to wait for them to make the course still better, and offer what assistance I can in the meantime to lighten the load.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


Yes, constructive and reasoned criticism will help the course develop further, but I wish they would keep it in the Troubleshooting Forum rather than clutter the Latin Forum up with posts about the course format rather than posts about the course content. That way, those of us who want to focus on language learning can and those that are interested in the mechanics of the course can still discuss it there.


I agree with you that people should try to be polite. I also agree with the comments that there are very different thresholds on critical language. (It shouldn't surprise us that Germans can be blunt and are also a great nation of engineers. They have a low tolerance for mistakes.)

I think what some people have missed from the criticisms – because it is usually not expressed by the posters – is that they usually come with a desire and hope that Duolingo's Latin course delivers as best a course as possible. It would be helpful if people making constructive criticism make this point and explain why their observations would improve the experience for Duolingo Latin learners.

The Duolingo Latin team do need to hear when things seem to be wrong. Sometimes people won't be good at giving feedback that avoids seeming undermining, demoralising or simply appears to undervalue efforts made by volunteers.

The hardest point has been about the quality of some of the audio, vowel quantity and the absence of macrons. The first of these – the audio – is what will set the course up as either a high standard course or a bit ropey in the eyes of many Latinists. If it is done well, the course will inspire a lot of confidence. If it is not, then it will acquire a certain reputation for inaccuracy. Some may avoid it, others will simply find it grating. (And anyone who is not American can tell that an American accent is not an authentic Latin accent, so that means it's uncomfortable for many non-US users.)

Vowel quantity can be fixed by the recording volunteers, it is not beyond anyone's ability, although audio recording is a pain for anyone and they have to be thanked for any corrections they make. Criticising someone's accent, however, is a very personal thing and I am sure it may well have upset the person doing the recording. I am sorry that people have not been clearer about this. If it is any consolation, I am sure that the person concerned could remove Americanisms from her Latin - and may well have done if she is responsible for any of the later female voice recordings.

Macrons, which I do think would improve the utility of the course greatly, especially if it grows, are a harder fix because it would mean probably a fair amount of text entry at a late stage. Nowhere else on Duolingo has 'informality' meant ignoring pronunciation. Given that Duolingo Latin seems to aim at the growing Living Latin movement in using modern didactic methods and equipping the user for speaking, it seems an odd decision to make it harder for people to learn pronunciation in this way.

Nevertheless, this is a beta, and I hope the comments made by myself and others who are perhaps less polite are read in that spirit. The Duolingo Latin team should be congratulated for what they have done: it will being an easy and fun Latin experience to a vast number of people. If they can fix some of the problems raised, the course will be optimissimus - if not, it will still be optimum.


In my blunt German style, I'd just like to state that I love the Latin course.

Of course, I expect issues to be there - word choice, word order options not included yet, for example. But this is being remedied, and after that we will have a totally enjoyable course that will hopefully be expanded.

Because I think it is very improbable that the ancient Romans only spoke and wrote about the present. ;-)


Although not a blunt German, I'm 100% in agreement with Heike333145's declaration. I love the Latin course.

Sure there are blemishes, sure there are no macrons, sure it's incomplete, sure the audio isn't always crystal clear--but it's only in Beta test, and the developers have said that expanding the course is in the works. And what we have is really enjoyable. It will be great to go beyond the present tense, for sure, and beyond the indicative mood (bigtime, as there is a little subjunctive)!

It's not yet a long course and it should be very long, but so far it's great.


I couldn't agree more. The Latin course is very fresh and it's still a Beta. People should expect there will be many mistakes and lot to do and I for my part salute to the contributors and moderators of the course for the effort and work they put into it. It saddens me to see how some people don't consider the fact that Duolingo is non-profit and no of the contributors get any money of their work.


On that point: Duolingo relies on volunteers to make these courses, but is a for-profit company that currently doesn't make a profit. I completely understand why people wish to help Duolingo as it is a fantastic learning tool that reaches millions of potential users. However, there are some disadvantages to this kind of approach; one of these is that commercial expectations of service and quality are thrust onto volunteer projects. Another is that the intellectual property and use of the resources are in practice owned and controlled by Duolingo, rather than either the unpaid authors or the community. This may not be enough of a reason to avoid contributing to Duolingo but it has the potential for great upset in the medium term.


Duolingo is a wonderful project. I wish it were around when I was struggling with Latin in freshman year of high school. The only way I passed second year was by building a Roman war machine and giving it to my teacher. Also there was a bilingual text of Caesar's Wars in the library. Now that I have many decades between now and that time, I think some truths are: Anyone can learn a language if they just apply him or herself. (I am not sure about French where all the words sound the same.) Second, Latin and perhaps Greek are great foundations to understanding the history of the world. I've been around a bit and each day I realize I am dumber and dumber. I don't have the years left to learn what I want to learn: Sanskrit, Cuneiform from Sumer and Akkad, a bit of Mayan and perhaps one of the Asian languages. I kind of wish I applied myself better in high school Latin. Still I appears clearly that every society faces the same problems and consisted of good and bad people. It is a shame that the bulk of history is one guy invading and killing another guy. I think with additional languages you can get a better grip on what really happened (and, by extension, what may happen in the future).


The course seems to have potential and has been developing at a nice rate. However, messing up vowel quantity in the audio and the absence of macrons limit its usage greatly, and also may make it somewhat counterproductive. The female voice is better with vowels, but the thing is, it sucks that you have to check a lot of the time, because you cannot trust the audio, especially without macrons.


Yeah, I agree. I've been keeping Wiktionary open on the side to check macrons whenever I do lessons. Team Duo has made a fantastic achievement by designing a Latin course, and I hope they improve it eventually by adding macrons.


I greatly appreciate the Latin course. I think it will help me greatly with my occasional forays into Italian and Spanish, not to mention general language knowledge.


That's also a cultural issue, I believe. Dutchmen and Germans and to a lesser extent Austrians and Swiss think they are polite and helpful not beating around the bush (and using imperatives, indicatives and exclamation marks!) [That were just random examples] However many Americans and British think they are just rude and mean [again random examples] . Keep that in mind and factor it in.


Whoops, here I was thinking I was being enthusiastic in most of my posts and I just came across as rude again! ;)

I haven't really noticed any cultural differences in terms of who sounds most complainy in the Latin forum (though it really sometimes is easy to guess from which region someone is from based on their posts in other forums ;) ).


I like it. People, have fun; it's free.

Learn Latin in just 5 minutes a day. For free.