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This "immersion" page makes no sense to me

I'm a brand new duolingo user, hopping aboard during the hype caused by the android release and reddit AMA.

I think the training/lesson system is absolutely brillant and will be a steady user, however, this "immersion" page has left me confused.

I was under the impression from promo material that duolingo would use learner's efforts to translate documents in some integrated way that gave you sentences based on your skill level and automatically combined results to increase translation accuracy.

But what I see is a section completely disconnected from the lessons that 1) makes you wade through a bunch of texts looking for something you think you can translate, 2) does not automatically combine translations but instead uses a wiki-style editing interface where users can correct each other (and sometimes fight back and forth), and 3) where most of the text is already translated and you feel you have to race against others to translate new sentences. Basically, I expected something that felt like a personalized, integrated part of the learning process, but instead it feels like a disconnected secondary activity.

Honestly this doesn't seem to fit the duolingo "promise." I'm sure some people love it, but getting involved in some strange wiki-translation effort is not something I'm interested in. I'm probably going to avoid the "immersion" section and stick with the free lessons. I'm sure I'm not the only one, and this makes me wonder about the validity of duolingo's core concept and business model. Instead of "translate the web while learning a language for free" it's "learn a language for free and if you feel like it go over here and help translate the web for free." Is that really going to work?

June 2, 2013



Thanks for this feedback. We're actually about to start integrating the translations a bit more, for example by recommending related ones at the end of each lesson.


Excitedly awaiting. So far absolutely impressed by DuoLingo!!! Have no words to thank you!


Duolingo is a fantastic concept and the execution was impressive from the first time I logged in. I also thought that the only real rough edges were in the translation section. This is the third iteration that I've seen (Immersion) and it still seems to be the main weakness. Please consider pre-selecting suitable untranslated texts for users or as dnovinc suggests, hiding the translations until they provide their own. The old correlation score also seemed pretty helpful feedback.


There are mainly 2 things averting me from using immersion more often:

1. Low opportunity to translate from scratch:

I don't like it when most of the work has been already done for me.

Suggestion: It would be nice to have a text box in which we could translate the sentence and then click "show me the latest translation" so we can we can edit it, agree or disagree with it. Sounds a bit stupid since we could open some word editor and translate it there and then look up the latest translation, but still I would prefer working only on the website.

2. Fully translated texts

When sifting through articles we can see the number of translated sentences in the article. Since most of the articles are fully translated I don't even try viewing them unless the topic is very interesting.

Suggestion: I would like to see that Quality of translation estimate before I open the article. If it is still low or medium I think it would actually motivate people to start translating an article even if the topic is not something they usually find very interesting.


I completely agree! I want to translate for myself!


I like your second suggestion, but isn´t that first one already there? You can see the old and new translations I´m pretty sure already 0:)


Thanks.:) The point of the first one is that they don't show us the latest translation immediately when we click the sentence, only after we have tried translating it by ourselves.


Immersion is kind of left out for me, too. Well, I visit it from time to time but it's rather hard to find something really interesting and not very difficult to read. I may be biased a little because I'm a translator and I guess it is only natural for me not to be too much excited about extra translation work just for fun :D

I've recently "immersed myself" into an article about molecules written for schoolchildren. For me as a person who has finished school and graduated from a university long ago, the subject was very easy and it was very rewarding to see how I can read it in German. Even more pleasure I had while translating a couple of personal blog posts: they told a story and it was interesting to know how it would end.

Apart from this, most articles are from Wikipedia and are really not that exciting to translate. I don't feel like thinking too hard to figure out the meaning of the sentences when they hold no interest for me.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a solution that would be good for everyone. For the learners it would be better to translate something up to their level, i.e. children's tales, school lessons, adapted texts and so on. But this is hardly what Duolingo's customers would offer to translate for money.

It would be great to have a set of pre-selected texts for learning purposes. Let there be 1-3 texts for every lesson. That article about molecules could neatly fit into Science lesson, for example. My only doubt is whether the users would want to translate something from the customers if they have pre-selected and adapted texts tailored to their level.


pre-selected texts for learning purposes :) very interesting idea.


Would that be very complicated though? Previously you would be given a simple sentence to translate amongst the whole translation. It did work although occasional things would be written out of context but the voting system sorted that out. The tricky bit was when you had translated something yourself and with hindsight and experience realised your own translation was absurd but there was no way to change it.


That is (more or less) how is was over here before the changes in DuoLingo and the appearance of the "Immersion" section in the menu bar. For the rest I agree with the suggestions above.

'Flaming' about translations is idiotic. If someone translate a sentence accurately, and someone else doesn't like it because it is not 'their style' and starts an argument, I think they have personal issues that are beyond the scope of this website.


pre selected texts sounds great. what i do a lot of now is improve and refine some of the existing translations when they sound too unEnglish. I'm an EFL teacher and have practice doing this for students. In addition working with texts way above my new language level has been a rewarding task.


I agree that it is problematic that it feels like users "fight back and forth" when translating. I would say this has been one of the most disappointing aspects of the immersion section for me. I really thought this was going to be a collaborative process, and we would be learning from each others corrections and unique knowledge sets. Instead, from the comments I have read in the discussion area, I need to worry about hurting people's feelings and should comment on their streams if I change their sentence. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone, so I now very rarely edit any other user's sentence and just concentrate on finding documents that have not been translated already, which isn't always easy (but that has already been discussed). It seems to me it might be best if we did not see the other users work; every document could appear as untranslated, and Duolingo could combine and/or choose the best translations. This would have the benefit of sparing feelings and giving everyone a chance to translate "from scratch".


That sounds good -perhaps people could then vote on the finished products.


I understand your hesitations and I was reluctant to put my two cents in at first but when I noticed some glaring mistakes I decided I had to help.. The changes shouldn't be taken as a personal afront they are only to make the site more accurate. I have been a translator for many years-not Duolinga languages-and am always grateful for feedback to improve my work and even reach out to others when something doesn't sound right. Notice the choices on Immersion. No, it's not criticism it's an effort to get the job done right. As to who decides which version should be used that's a tricky one, I'd say the judges should be native speakers.


You've posted exactly what I have thougth about this section. I've only discovered this site in the past week and am currently working my way through the first two basics lessons of German. I thought that immersion would be having documents to that ability come up that I could try and translate. But as the OP says it just seems to be a random list of difficult documents I wouldn't have a chance to translate.


This was discussed a couple of weeks ago and you are certainly not the only one who finds it a waste of time. The previous system whilst not perfect did appear to be a better and more enjoyable system for me personally. Interestingly a quick scan down the immersion list shows that there are only about 4 or 5 people translating and some documents haven't even been started. I think that pretty much sums up what most of us think.


Negativitey? No no no never be negative about criticism . Embrace it, if's it is at least polite, and sometimes even if it is impolite. The masters of internet discussion all embrace "negative" feedback. Better one squeaky wheel than a thousand sycophants. And yet everybody likes and NEEDS to be cheered. Consider this about ANY negative vote: it means someone actively related to what you had to say.


When I first started it seemed to me like the Immersion page showed you sentences that you might be able to translate based on your language level. It would also be nice if I didn't see other translations.


I think the real hard problem to chew on is that there aren't that many texts out there in the wild designed for an absolute beginner reading level. You have to be able to understand "The Cat in the Hat" before you can read "Pride and Prejudice"... Most of the articles on the web are quite rightly written by people who are trying to push their language through all of its limits, which can be mind boggling for the uninitiated. And If it isn't fun, it won't get done!

I wrote a giant post here before advocating the use of basic rhymes and idioms to start with for the 'immersion' side. Unfortunately, that means someone has to be lumped with the job of collecting them, and I think they might be a bit busy to start accepting every random suggestion on the boards....


As someone who learnt two languages prior to using Duolingo, I know what had proven (for me) to be useful for efficiently learning a language. I remember studying these english and hebrew books for grammar and vocabulary, but if they were useful for learning the basics, they were definitely not for immersing yourself into the language. The solution for me was to find a field of interest and be compelled to read/write into that language.

For instance, when I first got internet, most of the web resources were in english, so I was forced to read in English, otherwise I'd be stuck with not using internet (like some people I know did). And when I needed to study in Israel, almost everything was in Hebrew so I needed to catch the language very quickly if I didn't want to be left out.

So when I see the Immersion panel and all these boring texts that I can read easily in English, I go my way and do something else more entertaining. And then I remember that most of my hobbies surely have a portuguese equivalent, so I'd rather looking for it. A while ago I found a website where I can read manga in Portuguese. To someone like me who loves manga this is the perfect opportunity (except that the translation level is not as precise as a press article).

This is my two cents.


I disagree. I actually really like the immersion section. I hated it in high school when I was forced to translate 1,000,000 articles about hispanic immigrants dying on the frontera, or adolescent pregnancy, or drugs and peer pressure, etc. If I like fitness and health (which you can see I have uploaded like 20 articles on there lol) then I can google whatever I like and throw it up, and people correct me. If I wanna read about underwater basket weaving (which I can´t think of a time when I would, but if I did) I can do it. If they start choosing for us, where´s the freedom in your own interests? That´s not an example of real life at all. The ¨duolingo¨ promise is USEFUL sentences and PRACTICAL language application with listening and pronunciaion activities. I like the suggestions about finding a way to get them more involved or maybe like a more efficient way to check grammar and everything, but other than that I think it fits perfectly with the plan.


I agree that it is important to be able to pick your own subjects. Not only because you find them more interesting but because knowledge of a subject helps with unknown vocabulary. Also you know if you are writing something that makes sense. Dread to think what I would come up with if faced with a computer document or geographical..


You make a lot of sense.


Using Immersion is something I will not take seriously until I have completed my language tree.


Translations used to be included in the individual skills of the skill tree but these sometimes didn't match your level of proficiency. I think that "translate the web while learning a language for free" didn't work out as well as the makers of duolingo thought. So they tried a new approach and created a separate translation section.


Could someone please tell me how the overall quality of a translation is automatically evaluated? Sorry if it is in FAQ somewhere -I couldn't find it.


Yeah i sometimes look at it but it seems too difficult. Maybe you should consider it something to do when you have completed the skill tree.


Yup. I expected some text snippets relevant to my level and also some background and in-depth grammar - found long, boring documents patently ill-suited for a learner's course. I realize this is how the whole thing is funded (or?), but I can't see myself joining in on that action even when the necessary skills are acquired.


I agree. I have just seen what looks like the entire text of "Le petit prince" uploaded to the French section. Although this is a book I like a lot and it is a classic of French children's literature I know several good translations into English already exist. I


I agree... Without it being nicely integrated into the app, I doubt that I'll use the Immersion page versus just reading French books that have one page French and one page English. Needs to be interesting for me to spend time on it.


What I noticed last time I was on the immersion page was that some people were "translating" each section by typing in just one word. I'm assuming they were doing that to get some cheap points. Not cool. Not cool at all.


There seems to be some misconceptions regarding the Immersion or translation section of Duo. It would clear things up for anyone who hasn't listened to Luis von Ahn's enthrallingTED talk if you did. You'll also note that you may have already done some translations when enteing CAPTCHAS. If i remember correctly the translation is not for the benefit of the language learner but for the recipients of the translation. I do agree that expecting learners to wonder over to translate if and when the mood strikes them doesn't seem a very efficent or productive method. Equally or more nonproductive is translators taking offence or squabbling over the right translation. if your edition is correct be happy and ignore the nay sayers, if the correction is accurate be happy that you didn't publish second rate work. And you might learn something. Talk about win win.
Do check out the TED talk.

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