There are too many errors in the starting lessons
In some cases, the audio is chopped off. In other cases, the audio is simply wrong.
Example, (keeping in mind that I just started learning Arabic), in one case "wee" is the sound, and the correct answer is "waa". In the lessons, these two are clearly different.
I'll go ahead, but it's good that I am not being graded. In some cases, I simply must "learn" the incorrect response in order to go ahead, because for one of the steps...matching sounds and words...the errors prevent going to the next question.
I see that there are 800k+ students...perhaps the lessons get better as they move ahead.
The TTS has been criticized. The audio is rendered by Amazon Polly, I think.
The course is good enough to get going. I think the content is fun and I am really enjoying it. I have spent every day since DuoLingo came out with the Arabic course studying for at least 4 hours.
The course keeps building on the vocabulary and words that are presented in the beginning continue to be reinforced in later lessons.
I feel it is worth continuning with DuoLingo Arabic despite the problems with sound and the little idiosyncrasies that are to be expected in a BETA course built by volunteers who do not have full control of their end product.
I appreciate most of what you wrote. I don't know what TTS is, and I don't know anything about Amazon Polly. I AM surprised, though, by the reference to BETA anything. I am testing a major product with international exposure...as part of a BETA testing team. The product is not publicly acknowledged, not available for general use, and NOT being charged for. When we are through beta testing, all that will change. I have not seen anything to date that suggests that this is a beta program, though I can see where that might be possible. I do, however, see a screen asking for money for this free product every time I finish a lesson. I actually prefer to pay for services that I use. In the case of Arabic studies, when I hear two different sounds for the same thing, I have to wonder which is correct. If there are audio problems, they ought to be fixed for those 800k+ students. I'll probably continue with Arabic, and cross-check with other sources. I will continue to document the errors in the system. If this is not done, then errors will likely never be fixed. I realize that tone is difficult to hear in written posts. I have reported the errors here in exactly the same way that I am reporting them for the other beta testing. I don't mean to be rude, but I do mean to be frank. The downside to these errors is that I don't know what is correct, and must compare to other sources. I don't mind that, either, because it will broaden my experience.
TTS, (text to speech), is the technology used to create the audio in Arabic and other courses here that do not have native speaker recordings. TTS is used by screen readers to help blind users and is also gaining popularity among the sighted who like to have devices speak to them.
Amazon polly is one. Yandex uses it for their Russian browser and iPhones have built in tts as do many other tools
I have turned to other resources for my pronunciation practice but still use the DuoLingo course.
Rosetta Stone uses native speakers, Rocket Languages uses native speakers, and Forvo has a repository of audio recordings submitted by native speakers.
Arabic was in beta when I started using it. I just checked incubator and it says course has graduated from BETA so I guess this is consider complete.
DuoLingo is a crowd sourced endeavor so what they do is put together a "draft" offer it in the a trial group to get some of the bugs out. Then they release a beta version and depend on our feedback to iron out the remaining problems....
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply this fully. I am sure that many don't know this. I have just begun studying French and Spanish, and, having always been curious about Arabic, decided to give it a try. The use of TTS is certainly a contributing factor. I thought that all these were actual recordings of native speakers. I like the way I can use Duo. I didn't think that in just a short time I'd be able to recognize words...of they are real words...in Arabic. I can see the symbols and anticipate the sound. The repetition is good for me with Arabic. As for the way Duo works...crowd sourced, etc...I wish that I knew that earlier.
I'll check the other sources you mentioned. This is not a requirement for me; I just want to learn these new things. I like that Duo is free, because I don't know what my time will permit, and I don't want to pay monthly for a course that I don't use.
Thanks again for chipping in.
duolingo itself is not in beta, but until recently the Arabic course was. I think it graduated from Beta very recently. It's one of the newest courses.
Currently Hungarian for English Speakers is in Beta, as an example of what that means, though they don't explain much. https://www.duolingo.com/courses/en