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comments and suggestions

Hi, I'm a university teacher of Italian and I just checked out Duolingo to see whether this site could be useful for our students. In general, I think it is a useful site. It presents the grammar and the vocabulary in a pedagical way. I have some suggestions: the computer voice in the audio tasks sounds extremely artificial and is often incomprehensible even to the trained ear. There do exist better voice synthesizing programs on the market, maybe you should consider switching. There are also some inappropriate or errorful answers, e.g. Duolingo's translation for "please put on your jacket" is "per favore mettiti la Sua giacca", which contains two problems: the mixture of "ti" (confidential form) and "Sua" (respect form), plus the fact that Italian prefers not to put a possessive form after the reflexive dative ("ti") > correct form (but counted as error by Duolingo): mettiti la giacca (confidential) or si metta la giacca (respectful). Another example: Duolingo suggests, as a possible translation to "le ragazze" - not only "the girls", but also "the children" > "the children" is a very artificial translation of the female form, as it normally is the male form ("i ragazzi") covering over a group containing both genders. My suggestions: double check the answers once more by Italian native speakers with a language teacher background. Otherwise keep up the good work, best wishes for your program, Alexandra

June 3, 2013

1 Comment


Hi Alexandra,

If you want to report a mistake with a sentence you need to report it on the actual sentence by clicking the report a mistake button. They won't get picked up from the discussion forums.

You can put general feedback here - but it's probably best to bear in mind that Duolingo is a free course (and probably run by a fairly small team - not that I would know how big the team is being just one of the students, but I expect it's fairly small). The Italian audio files have been complained about quite a lot already and doesn't seem to have been improved thus far. But it's free and while it's not perfect as far as free ways to learning a language go, Duolingo is miles ahead of the rest in my opinion. So far ahead that the other options may as well not both competing. (Anyone who wants a guaranteed 100% correct course should perhaps not be looking at free options only...)

I studied Italian at university for 3 yrs. Having not used the language for about 7-8 years, I had forgotten the vast majority of my vocab and a lot of the more advanced grammar. I'm finding Duolingo is brilliant for helping me re-learn it. Having a decent foundation in Italian means I can usually recognise and report mistakes if I come across them - and if I'm not sure about a mistake, that make me to look up my old grammar textbooks to check. Personally I don't find the voice too bad - while I have noticed the hiccuping/jerking sound that people complain about, I can understand what it says easily enough 90% of the time. (I find Duolingo's audio a lot easier to understand than the Italian radio station - which I used to listen to in an attempt to practice my Italian).

Whether you want to recommend Duolingo to your students or not given that there are some issues with it is up to you, of course. :)

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