I don't understand why mistakes in English articles result in a wrong answer when there are no articles in Finnish and this is a Finnish course not an English course. But then when I make mistakes in Finnish like plural forms and accented characters, those answers are still considered correct. In my opinion, both "milkshake is good" and "the milkshake is good" are correct due to lack of context.
I've seen a similar sentiment being expressed several times now but I've yet to see the validity of it. This isn't about scoring points, it's about learning. And unlike in a school exam, you're not actually being graded. I don't see the harm in learning something about another language while trying to learn a different language. Also, the only minor mistakes the system is supposed to accept are typos, regardless of what the language is. Since it can't read your mind and it's just an algorhythm, it would be unreasonable to expect it to be able to reliably differentiate a typo from a genuine mistake.
To me scoring points and learning are not mutually exclusive. Scoring points encourages me to learn more which I think is the purpose behind XPs. To a competitive person like me having this answer marked wrong was annoying and discouraging, and hence also harmful. However, what I believe is that if the app is testing both my Finnish and English skills, both languages should be tested in an equal manner. It is subjective whether missing an article and writing singular where it should be plural are equal mistakes. In my opinion, if I am being penalized for one I should be penalized for the other. I wouldn’t expect an algorithm to evaluate that though.
Since an algorithm is not capable of telling a typo from a genuine lack of understanding of plural forms, is marking both as correct really the right way to go? I happen to often get plural forms wrong. Yet, since they are marked correct, I have lower motivation to learn better and be more careful about plural forms. I feel like the app is pushing me more to improve my English than to improve my Finnish. Even though this is coincidental, it is detrimental to my learning process. But, I understand that every person learns differently and it is hard to find a single system where a learner like me whose motivation to learn is highly affected by the scoring system and a learner who doesn’t care about scores at all, would both be satisfied.
So, my point is that I would be totally okay if I could have some option for strict checking which would mark all minor mistakes in whichever language as wrong, typos included. An algorithm should certainly be capable of doing this. If such an option already exists please let me know because I am new to Duolingo.
It wouldn't affect the Finnish translation. "Pirtelö" is a mass noun, so treating "milkshake" as a mass noun would make this translation even more accurate. If one were to turn "pirtelö" from a mass noun to a countable noun, for example by referring to a specific container that contains a single serving of it, both nominative and partitive case will do because an adjective in a predicative expression describing the taste of something countable can be in both nominative and partitive case. Don't ask me why that is because I'm not sure.
Despite this course repeatedly using the word "milkshake" like a mass noun, it is in fact a countable noun. As such it requires a determiner in singular form. In this case, the determiner needs to be either a definite or an indefinite article. Given the lack of context, it doesn't matter which.
At least in my experience as a UK English native (and of the "picky about grammar" variety) I wouldn't bat an eyelid at milkshake being employed as a mass noun; "milkshake is best served cold" would to my ear sound just as natural as "a milkshake is..." or "milkshakes are..." - but maybe that is just the modern UK English usage I've normalised to.