Yes, "She finds the shoes (blank)" is a good English construction. It might be less awkward to say "She finds THAT the shoes are (blank) However, I personally find "nice" an awkward end to the first construction. I would say something along the lines of "She finds the shoes pleasant" or "pretty."
It doesn't mean anything, people here use always english words in between a dutch conversation. Do you live in The Netherlands? Because I do and if you ask any dutch person to translate "LEUK" they will say that it means "COOL". Anyway I was just trying to help to improve DuoLingo, but let the people learn it wrong...
We appreciate your input and you are right that cool can mean leuk (as well as goed and mooi). However, cool does have a certain connotation to it. I suppose it is best explained as the same difference as in English between when you say: those shoes are cool and those shoes are nice.
I live here too and my understanding is this... saying leuk on its own with nothing else is the same as saying nice in English meaning cool in that context...if you wanted to say cool in a sentence you would say the english word cool. The amount of english i hear by the youth here dropped into the middle of sentences is incredible.
I think it's kind of like in French, when someone complements you, you're not supposed to say "merci" (thank you), but "Tu/Vous trouves/trouvez?" (Do you find it so?) It's the complement which makes that question possible. Of course, if the Dutch way of accepting complements does not have a taboo against saying "Thank you," then my whole answer is moot.
Do we use "leuk vinden" here instead of "houden van" because it's something determined or because of something else? I mean, if we were taking about schoes in general and not about a particular pair of shoes, would we say "Zij vindt schoenen leuk" or "Zij houdt van schoenen"?
That's awkward. The only reason for "are" to be there would be to negate the presumption that, "no, they aren't."
Example: She got shoes as a gift. She didn't expect to like them, but tried them anyway. They turned out to be comfortable. She found that they were nice, after all.
Quite different from the desired meaning: she sees the shoes and likes them.