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Is it cheating?

I heard that a few users are testing a special new feature called something like "Duo's Translation", which basically supplies a translation for sentences in the Immersion. Basically, you just copy the translation, fix the errors, and paste it. Only a few users have the feature.

I am one of the unlucky users that don't have that feature. So now I'm wondering: is it cheating for me to use Google translate instead? Would I be allowed to do that?

September 18, 2013



The question shouldn't be "is it cheating" but rather "does it help me learn the language or hinder me"? If taking the time to look up a word in the dictionary helps you to remember a new word better than other methods, then use the dictionary. If Google Translate helps you remember the words better than other methods, use Google Translate. If some feature called "Duo's Translation" is the best way for you to remember a word, use that tool.

This isn't a competition. Do what helps you best learn the language.


Yes, you can't really cheat. I did see this feature at one point and I think it's useful to check what you have got against what it suggests, as it may be programmed to take account of set phrases and colloquialisms that we do not know. Equally translation tools, like spelling and grammar checkers, can get things horribly wrong, so you have to look at the versions side by side and make a rational decision - something a computer cannot do.


No one to stop you, but what is the point? Are you here to learn a language, or simply make people think you are learning a language?


I see what you mean. I'm not at the point where I can understand German well enough to translate the immersion articles very easily; often I haven't the slightest clue about what the sentences mean. If I used Google translate, I would probably gradually figure out how it works (like the strange expressions, etc), until I'm able to translate them completely on my own.


I doing Spanish, not German, but with my learning style and interests there are many options that do a much better job for me than Duo, and there are likely similar options for German. Are you more concerned about reading/writing or listening/speaking? I find most of the immersion options in Spanish of little interest and little value to me, since I simply want to be able to walk around Mexico and talk with people about everyday things.


Can you find some to upload and share?

I assume that Duolingo actually teaches Castillian (going by the flag) rather than South American Spanish, but you could find some Mexican newspaper articles? Maybe see if there's something interesting on one of these sites? http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/mexico.htm


You should do what you like, I think, especially if Duo is experimenting with something similar. The important thing is to read the Google translation and correct it.


sometimes google translates wrong, or doesnt give the right meaning like "i love you" in english but "yo quiero" and "te amo" in spanish. they all mean i love you but one is a friend (platonic) love and the other is how one would love a wife, child, mother, it is an intimate or deep connection.


I see it as cheating yourself if you rely on these auto-translate tools too much.


I see a huge danger--that people will work from the machine translation into English and not from the foreign-language original. That can lead to huge mistakes. But it's too early to say more since nothing specific has been brought out.


The offered translation is the old "DuoBot" translation. To my knowledge, this is just a Google translation, and it is often wrong.

I suggest you try to translate the sentence on your own. If you have trouble with it, use Google to get the (possible) general meaning behind it. If you still can't translate it, then don't. Skip it and move on to another sentence.


I'm curious about this feature myself. My kids were working their way through the lessons until they found this new way to get points tonight. For adults who want to learn the language, I can see where they would police themselves. For children who may be challenged by their friends scores to keep pushing forward based on points, this may not be good.


Often it is quite clear that people are using things such as Google translate, because the sentences they are submitting don't make sense in English. These things are not reliable. It is cheating and as rspreng said what is the point?

I don't understand this new feature though. If Duo is going to translate the sentences for us, what do they need us for? Of course we don't have enough details on this feature yet, but it seems an odd one to me.

It is much more satisfying to use your own knowledge to translate something. That way you feel like you are really learning.


It is not cheating. Using Google Translate to learn is probably not an effective means of learning, but I would not call it cheating. I think of Duolingo as a learning website/app and not as a competition. Thus, I sometimes "peek" during lessons and don't treat it like a test. Similarly, with translations, as long as you make an effort to translate and don't just copy/paste the automated translation, I would not consider it cheating. With that said, for most people, other methods are probably more effective.

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