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How do I get a correct answer with Microphone?

I have been repeating the phrase as well as is humanly possible, over and over, with no feedback from duolingo or ability to advance beyond the question. My voice is recording and I can hear myself very well on the playback, anyone else have any tips? FWIW I am pretty far into French before I knew you could use the mic

August 1, 2013

1 Comment


First, have you ever gotten "correct" responses from Duo? If so, has anything changed since?

Second, the biggest things that the Duo recognizer does for you is:

1) have you get plenty of practice speaking and 2) have YOU compare your own voice to Duo's when you hit playback, and correct the problems you hear.

This means that if you aren't using the playback, you aren't getting the second benefit. But also, if you can't get the fool Duo correct thingie working, you can get the same benefit by finding German voice clips, and then: play a sentence, stop the clip, record yourself repeating the sentence, play it back, and listen.

However, that's a lot less convenient than having Duo mix it all in with the lesson, especially since I find that the spoken bits are very strategically mixed in to help with learning the exercises.


  • Duo can sometimes be a real pain with one individual question, and it also sometimes hangs and doesn't finish correcting you and won't move on to the next question (check and correct buttons are grayed). In either case, you can click "I don't want to use the microphone," open ANOTHER window or tab in the browser, open Duo in that tab, go to your settings, check "microphone on", check "Save Changes", and go back to the previous window. Your microphone is now on, Duo is unstuck, and you didn't have to interupt your session to open the settings.

  • When Duo is being obtuse, sometimes speaking one. word. at. a. time. does the trick.

  • Much of the time, just speaking the FIRST word or two very clearly and distinctly works.

  • If you speak immediately after the you hit record, Duo sometimes only gets the first half of the first word, and that makes it unhappy. Wait a second, and it does much better.

  • Your ears (and your speech processor) are MUCH better than Duo's. What sounds fine to you may be awful for Duo. Read on:

  • Be aware of ambient noise -- kids, wind (especially across the mike), construction, traffic. Avoid it if you can.

  • Duo is quite sensitive to an over- or under- driven microphone:

  • Over-driven -- Consonants and wind noise that trigger spikes of crackling electronic noise is a sign of an over-driven mike. If there's a lot of it, open the mixer and tweak the slider for the microphone down. If there's just a little, move the mike further away.

*(ETA: Another source of electronic crackling is a sensitive mike that has lost its windscreen -- the little foam hat-thing that fits over the mike and filters out wind interference. They fall off, and they also deteriote with age. If you can't get rid of the crackling no matter what, and you know or think your mike used to have one, inexpensive replacements are available on Amazon and elsewhere.)

  • Under-driven -- if your recorded voice is much quieter than Duo's voice, tweak the microphone slider up in the mixer.

  • Noise-canceling microphones -- nice to have, and very common these days, but there are some quirks. Noise-canceling microphones have two microphones, one, the "voice" mike, which faces you and picks up noise, one, the "noise" mike, sits on the other side facing noise, which is then subtracted from the whole signal, leaving just your voice. You need to make sure that the active mike is facing you as directly as possible, and the "noise" mike is facing the noise.

  • IDEALLY, you can set yourself up so the "noise" mike is facing the noisiest thing in the room, e.g. your roommate with the leaky headphones who is watching a WWII war movie while eating chips with enthusiastic crunchings and slurpings which he cannot, himself, hear, or he would never sound like that.

  • However, if you sit at a computer desk facing a wall, with the roommate (or the kids and the dogs) behind you, all the sound and the noise is coming into the "voice" mike, and very little is going to the "noise" mike. Fix the setup, or forget using the microphone till the roommate, kids, and dogs go to bed.

  • Noise canceling stand mikes. Careful! These get knocked askew all the time. If it's sideways to you, your voice is going into both the "voice" mike and the "noise" mike, and getting subtracted along with the noise.

*I have a little noise-canceling stand mike that is just a simple rod which pivots up and down, where the "voice" mike is a little hole on the end of the rod, and the "noise" mike is a pretty little pattern of holes on the flat back of the rod. (If this was a cobra rearing up out of a basket, the "voice" mike would be the nostrils, and the "noise" mike would be the spectacles on the cobra's hood.)

So I was having a terrible time with Duo not understanding me the other day, driving me up the proverbial tree, when I realized that I had the mike tilted so far down that I could see the "noise" mike. AHA! I adjusted the mike so I could no longer see the "noise" mike, and apparently my German accent went from the Schwäbisch of my ancestors to Hoch Deutsch in mere moments.

Hope that helps; if not, let me know what you've tried.

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