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My students have figured out how to beat the pronunciation recording

They found that as long as you talk long enough, whether in French or English, your pronunciation will be marked "correct." They also have tried repeating sounds and speaking gibberish. That has worked. I have hear them mispronounce words like "femme," and that has been marked correct. I think that the algorithm for speech recognition in French needs to be readjusted.

December 20, 2012



I have a B.A. in Spanish and pronounce it quite accurately. I found that often when Duolingo asked for my pronunciation of some things, it would not recognize it as correct when it really was. I then turned off this feature of the course.

It should also be noted that if you are an adult learner of any of the languages that Duolingo has offered up to now (and I have studied all of them), you cannot really learn to pronounce these languages accurately just by hearing them spoken. You need some materials that specifically address the pronunciation issues of each of these languages.

Duolingo really should be considered just one tool among many for studying these languages. In itself, it is not sufficient to gain more than a rather elementary and passive introduction to each language that it offers.

You will also find that even if you finish everything on Duolingo's skill tree for each of these languages, there will be a great gap between what you have learned and the text from the Web that you will be asked to translate.


I agree. I find it's a great tool to practice with, but doubt I could use it to really "learn" a language.


You should just turn off the microphone setting because it doesn't really work properly and have your students practice aloud with you when they are done with their lesson. Tell your students to practice saying each word to themselves so they could get the pronunciation correct even if they are not specifically asked to do so. It's a good habit to get into anyways so they can improve their proficiency at the language.


good point Leon64. Also, on iPad and other devices with dictation software, you can practice speaking in Italian and see how it reads your pronunciation. Interesting to practice. I also repeat after the Duolingo voice. It is strange to try to learn a language without the speaking component. You really need it. But I can see why Duolingo doesn't care if their goal is just to translate articles.


as amatter of fact DonnaMarie i have tried rosetta stone before Duolingo which has a very large speaking section but it is never useful without any interactions with native speakers. This is my opinion but i could be wrong.


It's true. The speech recognition will accept anything, as long as you say it loud enough.


I agree! I had a very funny experience with the speech recognition. I repeated a French sentence for at least 10 times and it was still not accepted. Than I recorded a sentence in my native language (Hungarian) very clearly: "Nagyon mérges leszek!". It means: "I'm getting very angry!" The speech recognition accepted it... and I was wandering what happened? Duolingo's speech recorder got affraid of me? :)


I just leave mine on so it prompts me to practice speaking. I figure most of the words I hear often enough to say them correctly so even if I'm not 100% it's better than never practicing.


Also in Italian, you can just let it record while the example recording is playing.


One year later, it's still the same. ;-)


That's strange because I no longer get the option to speak even though my mic is on. I know the speech recognition never worked for Spanish. It didn't matter what you said. I thought they just turned it off because I never get those sentences to record anymore.


You might check that you haven't selected the turn off mic option or sometimes when the page loads the record button doesn't show up for a few seconds. Just a thought ..


I've never encountered pronunciation questions in Spanish, for whatever reason. I've made a habit of repeating every word and sentence spoken, as well as covering up the screen so if it's a multiple-choice question and not a dictation, I still have to try to understand what's being said. That's my way of practicing the audiolingual element that isn't as strong as the others. I think I may also start watching Spanish-language TV with Spanish captions for that.


yes it doesn't work well at alll, and they could easily turn it off if they wanted. Its all crazy. I think about turning it on so i can easily pass through them and speak randomly but learning is a personal gain so if i want to cheat out of it, even trying to learn is pointless


I am extremely disappointed with the audio recognition feature. I am a fluent speaker of German and quite advanced in French, and yet I can only get the speech recognition to accept my pronunciation about one in twenty times! I've tried everything: imitating the recording exactly, prosody and everything; slowing it down a bit but keeping the correct "sentence melody"; and even pronouncing every word separately with a pause between. The program won't accept any of them as right, and after I've given up and hit "skip" three times I "fail" the course and can't move onward. Very irritating. This is the primary reason I keep giving up on DuoLingo. I think they need to either incorporate crowdsourcing for mutual ratings (i.e. Livemocha style, as much as I generally dislike that site) or else leave out this option altogether.


The French speech recognition accepts anything, even German and English sentences were marked as correct. It is simply not working at all. This needs to be fixed!

The Spanish speech recognition on the contrary is working. It could be stricter - it accepts quite sloppy Spanish pronounciation - but it generally recognizes mistakes.


My mic is on but I think they have just turned off that function for some of us. They often try things with just some users. Probably because I complained their speech recognition was useless.


The speech recording works for me in French. I have to agree to allow recording at the first exercise of each session (might be an XP/Flash thing). I have also noticed that the speech recognition passes pronunciation which is clearly wrong. But there is a recording playback capability, so assuming one is actually trying to learn not just game, there is still some value. It might be of nice (bandwidth pernitting) to be able to retry to practise a phrase and also to see some sort of quantitative score for pronunciation..


Yes, I love Duolingo but the pronunciation recording simply doesn't work. I end up pronouncing everything very loudly with a large gap between words. Hopefully I don't learn this habit or native speakers will look at me strangely when I try using their language

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