1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. Are we lab rats?


Are we lab rats?

October 11, 2012



As in are we being tested on? Does it matter, the purpose is to learn, are you learning from this website?

October 11, 2012


Luis Von Ahn gave an interview in Spanish: http://www.fluentin3months.com/entrevista-luis/

He said that everyone could get a different view at any given time, as they try out a lot of things and try and get what works best.


Of course. That's humanity's job.


@Vinotinto Woah, slow down there!

You have taken the completely wrong message from what I have said.

Think it through, if they want a translation engine, then they need accurate translations, and that comes from teaching people well.

The experiments they are performing are to determine what is the best way to teach people.

If they find that a large number of people fail a certain module, they might break it up into smaller modules, or rework the exercises so they are more effective.

By trying slight changes on different groups of people at the same time, they can quickly improve both the education and the translation.

Both goals go hand in hand!


@ashtheelf: true and @Naypam: Yes, yes I am. I just wanted to know what the thinking was behind the changes in the learning program. Now I know.


@NathanWillams: True, if the name of the game is build a translation engine. However if the name of the game is learn Spanish, then students need to know if their translations are accurate. I know the job of the student is to learn, no matter how poor of a teacher the instructor is. Knowing that the design of the "Real World Translation" teaching tool is not to teach accurate translation, but to build a translatioin engine, helps me not take the translation execises too seriously. Thanks for your insight.


@ashtheelf: And what is the job of you elves? Are you pulling your weight? (Not that I expect you are very heavy.)


We're using a site that's in beta. Of course we're lab rats.

But I wouldn't think of the translation section as "exercises"- they're not pre-planned the way the lessons are. Think of the translations as a chance to take your first steps out into the real world, only with a little hand-holding. Just like mothers take their babies out into the real world, but they don't make the baby open heavy doors and push the shopping cart and pay for the groceries until the baby is grown up enough to handle those things. ;)


I think the website is good BUT there are a few things that I would change. Although I can appreciate learning through practice, it would be good to have a short explanation of each lesson that people can read or skip and then have the practice questions. I find "about.com" has excellent explanations for the lessons on this site, so I complement the practice here with them--for the French I'm learning. But I'm sure they have good Spanish lessons too. Second, sometimes the computer accepts only colloquial answers but not direct/literal translations, and sometimes it only accepts direct/literal translations but not colloquial. Other times it won't accept a word that means the same as the word being used. It's like the computer's vocabulary isn't very broad. This is incredibly frustrating. Lastly, although repetition is good, if you don't already know some of the language, it can be easy to cheat by memorizing what the computer wants you to say, as opposed to learning/internalizing what something means. I would add more variety to the questions. And lastly (did I say lastly already), the woman speaking--at least in the French lessons--isn't very clear. I would try to improve the quality of voice there. But, like I said, it's a good site. The sentences are a little weird sometimes though! I would put more pleasant practice translations. They can be very offensive, although I'm sure the person who wrote the questions thinks they're really funny.

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.