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Blindfold translating

I recently realized that when I translate sentences, I look at the words and translate what I see into English. That's great, but a little unrealistic (unless I'm translating written articles). I think it would be a much better skill to translate based on hearing rather than seeing, since that is what would be most important in real life.

Duolingo already involves listening to some extent, when they ask you to "listen and type". However, I have found that when I do that, I don't pay as much attention to what the sentence means (especially if I'm rushing through a timed practice).

There are currently 5 problem types:
- Translate to/from English
- Listen and Type
- Speak into the Microphone
- Select the Correct Image
- Type the German Word that Matches the Images

I am suggesting another problem type: Listen and Translate.

I think it would be very helpful, since it would train the brain to understand incoming audio signals. So far, my brain has only been trained to understand visual signals, which is helpful, but a little bit impractical. It wouldn't be difficult to implement, since it would be a combination of Translate to English and Listen and Type.

Lately, when it comes to the "Translate to English", I have been trying to translate German sentences to English WITHOUT reading them. Somehow I find that more satisfying.

Perhaps I am the only person who feels this way. Maybe everybody else is much different and is learning their languages perfectly, without doing any "blindfold translating". If that's the case, I guess my suggestion will go unnoticed, buried under hundreds of more helpful discussions with more votes.

EDIT Hey, maybe not...

September 12, 2013



I like the idea. Sometimes I accidentally type the English meaning instead :P If you want practice with understanding the meaning, you should watch movies (or shows like Extr@!) in whatever language you're learning. I know, I've said it way too many times :P


Check out blindfold translating part 2! :)


I already posted a comment there haha


HAHAHA!!! You're right. Duh.... :)


They should also add a part where you have to convers with the computer. From my experience, the thing that helps the most is oral discussions.


Just find a chatroom! I use http://espanglishchat.com/ for Spanish.


Artificial intelligence hasn't quite advanced that far yet. So far, they aren't even able to understand when you speak into the microphone.

Really. Try speaking some random sylables - just make sure there are as many as in the original sentence - and it will accept 95% of the time.


When I say the right thing it marks it as incorrect.


Link for the lazy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=urQYFFMIVJs

It's also available in Spanish and French.


I visit France at least once a year, and understanding what people say is very important to me. We once talked for over an hour with an old French guy, and I didn't understand a word he said. We both had a great time! :)

So I completely agree. What I'd want most is listening exercises.

And for the people who don't like that, it's easy. You can put off sounds, and then you don't get the spoken exercises. Problem solved.


The speed at which native speakers speak can be overwhelming. While you're still trying to translate the first few words, they're on to sentence 5 which you're not listening to because you're still translating and hence an hour has past and you didn't understand a word:) But, with a little luck, you do run into people who are interested in a mutual exchange of language learning.


Oh, Cheryl, I agree with you completely. I am on sentence two, and they are on sentence six. Mercy me.


Perhaps duolingo might grow into a service where a person could upload an audio file, and people could then work on a translation of the audio file. A captioning system could be developed from that data.

Perhaps the first step could be a written transcript of the audio file. When the written transcript is finished, the translation into any language could then proceed. When the translation is completed, the data could be applied and written into a captions file type.

Participants could then take it one step further and speak into the microphone to add their reading of the translation. This would encourage native speakers to participate in the process as they might have the best accents. Encouraging native speakers of the different languages offered would be very valuable in the process for non-native speakers who are learning.

It would be an intensely challenging graphical user interface programming task, but might be revolutionary if it used the same framework and affinity algorithms and codebase that has been developed and continues to develop.

Revenue streams for caption translation files could be developed, for example, a company preparing for final editing, or marketing of a film could use duolingo as a service to produce a text for captions for a movie, now that might be a revenue stream concept that could be exploited. Companies that produce tutorial materials or distance learning programs might be a potential revenue stream as well.

And aliens, if aliens ever come to our planet they are going to need a way to speak with us, and we are going to need to learn their language as well ... so ... duolingo is obviously going to be the go to app for visiting aliens ... HA! ... you think I am joking ...


"Listen and Translate", Timothy's brain is correct, this would be an excellent addition to the system.


clarabouch created a follow-up discussion titled "Blindfold Translating Part 2" located at this address: http://www.duolingo.com/comment/814169


They need to add this


That's a really good idea! I hope you've contacted Duolingo...


I am new to this, but agree completely! Having the same issue. Translating written spanish is MUCH easier to me than vocal. And the app seems to have disabled, or broken my microphone. :(


You probably checked this, but just in case: you know you can switch the microphone off in settings?


I don't know if I will actually be able to carry a conversation with a native because they talk so fast and I translate at less than half the speed, and because my microphone doesn't work either, for some reason, so I can even practice my accent


> I have been trying to translate German sentences to English WITHOUT reading them.

That's what I do with French, only using the written text if something in the text stumps me, or to check my response before hitting <ENTER>. It does seem to help with listening comprehension. You might look around for easy French videos online, too. There have been a few series mentioned lately in these Discussion postings.


I always close my eyes or look away and translate in my head or out loud before typing. It definitely helps accelerate my learning.


It might help to put a sticky note on your screen blocking off the words. Then the audio goes off and you can do this translating-to-English thing. Just remember that you also get problems that have no audio, in which case you have to see the words... so... ya know, put the sticky note in such a way that you can lift it to translate written speech when necessary!


It's a good idea. however I think I'd find it difficult. Whan writing what I hear, my brain grasps the image of the sentence. I I have to translate, I'd make more mistakes, because I risk using the wrong english word! I always wonder if that is only my problem or the problem of lots of non native english people on duolingo.


I'm not a native English speaker too, and I have the same problem. Interestingly it happens most with German, a language I grew up with and don't have to translate when I hear it.


I definitely advocate this.


yeah, That's a great idea! totaly for it!


I wouldn't mind if they added this at all, seeing as I've translated from audio to English accidentally a number of times. But... Duolingo is pretty much meant for translating written articles... well and learning languages of course, but we'd need to be able to translate the articles somehow.


Yep. The new problem format wouldn't replace any of the old ones, so that would probably be fine.


I like the blind translation idea. It forces you to really listen to and process what you hear on the fly, which is exactly what happens when you listen to a conversation.


Yes, you are right, but I think that the first step of Blindfold translating is to translate based on seeing, especially the difficult or new things.


As for me, I don't have this problem. I automatically translate from the sound, although this does yield a few embarrasing mistakes regarding il/elle vs ils/elles


Excellent idea! I suggested something along those lines be implemented with the listen and type exercises. Don't display the translation after the recording is accepted as correct but add a Translation button to give students the opportunity to translate the spoken phrase into their language. So, I'm studying Spanish. I type in the Spanish I hear but then I also have to type in the English translation (my native language) of the Spanish I just heard.

Unfortunately, when you visit a country where the language you are studying is being used, you will often find yourself in the position of being able to ask them questions or start a conversation but once they start speaking to you the game is over and you sit with a blank look on your face and hope you remember how to say ''I don't understand''. Been there; done that! This is why people are always looking for language partners with which to practice conversational usage of the language they are learning. You have to be able to think in the language you are learning to effectively communicate.


Maybe duolingo can make a separate type of problem, but I'm not sure it needs to. I normally approach each problem as if I'm blindfold translating -- at least in my head. Then I start typing. If it turns out I should have done something different, I normally notice along the way, but at least I got the practice.


I've been doing the same thing to improve my listening skills. You're not the only one. Great idea.

You definitely touched on an issue with the timed practice aswell, ie. typing the answer quickly without understanding it so you can move onto the next question.


I find that when I listen and comprehend the meaning of what I'm hearing, I'm able to write the whole sentence without having to replay the audio multiple times.


Those already exist, you haven't gotten there. Study more, comment less. Do you support DuoLingo? No.


Is it possible that this is only a PLUS feature? Because all these people commenting and the writer of this article are not so dimwitted as to not notice a blindfold exercise. Thank you for your curt pep talk, though.

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