Possible Hacks for improving the Vietnamese course?

As those who have followed my comments have probably guessed, I've been a faithful but exasperated DL Vietnamese learner. I'm a pretty even-tempered, fairly calm guy, but the course material here can get me making snarky comments at best, or screaming at the computer at worst. What I especially hate is when the stupid DL bird pops up and say "Even when you are wrong, you're still learning!" after an answer you actually got right but was marked wrong because you didn't type in the only arbitrary answer DL accepts. I especially hate that bird icon as it shows that the DL devs are actually busy, but busy with implementing cutsey crap that doesn't do anything meaningful to improve the course, while also not allowing us students to do more on our own.

By contrast, in the two years I've been here, most of the changes implemented by DL's programmers have made the course worse, not better--taking away the vocabulary lists, increasing problems with diacritics and server issues that break communications with standard browsers. It would have been better if the devs had simply had done nothing, because when I began two years ago at least one could keep the vocabulary page for each module open while taking the course, which gave you an opportunity to try to match what you were hearing with the vocabulary list when you had audio exercises; and back then it handled diacritics and server communications flawlessly. Now all these things are gone or broken to varying degrees, and broken due to the deliberate measures taken by the devs. My Vietnamese friends see how my taking the DL Vietnamese course affects me, and some have recommended me just abandoning it. However, I'm a stubborn sort, I'd like to get through the entire tree at least (all five crown levels) plus there are no real-life Vietnamese courses available and some of the web courses--paid or unpaid--may not be any better. I was thinking of doing another online Vietnamese course after I complete the DL tree anyways.

Anyways, my doing some digging has alerted me to a possible way of improving the course. Just if you're curious--here is the list of the original course contributors (some of who you will see in the course comments in each exercise, but now all seem to be pretty much all absent):

I also found this interesting memrise link:

Click on each course module, and you will see something better than what DL ever offered, which is the vocabulary list for each exercise module and its English translation.

This led me to thinking--what if we created an external page that did something more than this. I am thinking that it would have:

1) The vocabulary list of each exercise module, with translations, like the memrise page.

2) All the tips and notes on DL.

3) All the exercises (i.e, material which is covered in each module, with its English translation)

4) All the useful comments for the material covered (like explanations by Huy and others).

This would give students a page to review (before) starting an exercise, give them a resource that they can check to see if there is problem with an awkward or arbitrary answer being accepted, see the comments which were posted by Huy and the original course contributors why or why not a certain construction is used, and more. It would take what existing material there and put it in a central location that you can review before taking the plunge. At least it could lower the frustration levels here.

It's not an ideal situation--ideally, one would want the equivalent of a 'calibration or learning set' and a different 'test set'--the 'calibration or learning set' provides the instructions, vocabulary, examples, and whatnot--while the 'test set' would give similar examples incorporating what the lessons taught that the student has to solve (interestingly enough, this reasoning applies to the sciences too). But that is a problem with Duolingo's current methodology too; now it consists of just blundering through the 'learning set' of material until you can spit it all back with DL's "right answers". Being able to spit back those "right answers" may not predict how well you would handle a different but similar case.

Lastly, for this to work--this has to be implemented wiki-style. No one has the time to spend a large fraction of one's waking hours. Huy doesn't, and any other future moderator(s) won't. And I think it has to be an external page, as DL isn't listening to us mere students (I applied as a moderator to clean up the English at least, but Huy said it took two years for him to be approved, which tells you something about Team DL's lack of interest in this course).

Anyways, comments, replies, ideas, and raspberries welcome.

September 7, 2019


Sorted by top post

Thanks for the link to the vocab flashcards. I love that they pronounce each word, as this is what I have been struggling with most. Also I feel that the duo lingo exercises repeat the same words over and over which may or may not be relevant.

September 12, 2019

I can relate to the frustration level. When I nailed a spoken Vietnamese sentence perfectly, I was marked wrong because the "correct answer" did not include one word! It is understandable when there are errors but it is unacceptable that with so many Sentence Discussions and reports made that this long standing error remains.

You are on the right track.

October 7, 2019
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