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New kind of question--using only language being learned

This is a suggestion for a new kind of item where, instead of translating from English to the language you are learning or vice versa, you are required (if you are learning Spanish) to answer a Spanish question with a Spanish answer. It would probably have to be multiple choice. The Correct answer could be either the only one that appropriately answers that specific question. For instance, if the question asks about the weather today, the wrong answers might be about the time of day or what you're doing, and the correct answer would tell about the weather. OR perhaps all three answers have the right content, but only one is grammatically correct. A variation would be: Duolingo gives an answer, and the learner has to pick the appropriate question for that answer out of three choices. Example. In the language being learned, the item says, "It's raining". You pick the right question for that answer: 1: What are you wearing? 2. Where are you going? 3. How's the weather there?

Any interest in this?

September 19, 2013



It's perfect because this way we would get more fluency and we would start to think the language, not only speak.

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This is not just a good idea, it is critical. When speaking a second language people are not constantly translating back to their first language. So the Duolingo model is limited in this way and may actually impede your language learning in the long run.

True immersion doesn't involve translating to English - in fact it is the opposite. It is working completely in the language. What you suggest could be a first step in improving Duo to be a really effective language learning tool.

I have learnt other languages before. I remember the first moment when I caught myself thinking in another language - it was very surreal! From that moment it fed on itself, English was no longer needed and the learning accelerated. And although I enjoy Duo and thank them all for their time and effort in providing this, this is not possible with Duo in it's current format.


I've always wondered why Duolingo didn't have any kind of task based learning and stuck to translations only. I have seen this in Fluencia (which unfortunately is not free and only teaches Spanish), but it has the question/answer system the original poster was speaking of.

I woke up thinking completely in Spanish this morning without even trying and it was very surreal! Your post reminded me of it. I almost want to say it was magical.


Before you can think in another language, you need to know what the words mean. I would as a learner find it too difficult to have to do this and give up, I would like to build up to it, but not rewrite what we already do. You have to start somewhere and Duolingo is very effective and very fun.


What does it mean to think in another language? I don’t think in any language. There is not a voice in my head in any language. I hear people saying to think in Portuguese but they can never tell me what they mean. Thanks


Are you sure you don't think in English? When you wrote your post, didn't you sort of think what to say before you wrote it? And when you're reading my post, aren't you sort of thinking of an answer even if you don't say it out loud?


I like the idea, too! Please implement it as soon as possible!


WoW! GREAT idea, mlongori! I think that would be(again) a great kind of exercise!


how did you do the GREAT ?


You put three asterisks before and after the word you want bold and italic (i.e. GREAT)


That is definitely a great idea.


+1. Awesome idea. WE NEED THAT! :)


It gets my vote:-)


Yes that sounds quite good fun. I'd like to do that!


Excellent idea. Translating back and forth actually slows the learning process!


This is a great idea!


I love this idea! I would also like to see it implemented. I think it would be very helpful for those of us with an eventual goal of helping to translate Wikipedia, because we'd be training ourselves to think more in the new language.


This is a great idea!


Fabulous! A great idea which should be implemented asap.


Another variation is to have one question in each lesson which you answer in German. A simple one, like Du mag Reis (Hopefully it means Do you like Rice?) you answer from the tiles Ja Ich mag Reis


You are nearly correct. It's "Du magst Reis?" (or even better "Magst du Reis?"), "Ja, ich mag Reis.


I knew I should not have attempted it LOL. Still I am just a poor little learner.:)


Nah, try whenever you can. German is an evil bastard who's not so easy to defeat. There's no shame in losing a single battle as long as you stand up afterwards and go on and have learned something. ;)


"Magst du Reis?" ;-) (Too late, Criculann was 30 seconds quicker then me...)


Never mind. At least you knew it Bellatrix86. Still it illustrates wheat I was trying to say, without getting too tied up in knots.


Multiple choice is good to begin with, but ultimately I'd like to see something like this:

Is an apple sweet or bitter? An apple is sweet.

Is water wet or dry? Water is wet.

Is the book open when you read it or closed? The book is open when I read it.


Wow! What great support for this idea. Can we get it considered for possible implementation by the fantastic Duolingo team? Possibly along with some of the good ideas in the related discussion cited below by Dessamator. I'm really grateful for Duolingo. It's the only thing that's gotten me to study Spanish daily! So not at all asking for a program re-do or creation of whole new trees, but for the addition of a new kind of question item that requires thinking in the language being learned.


I hope this idea to be executed


OK, I'll join the chorus. GREAT IDEA!


It is useful indeed, but as usual it has been recommended before:

"Duolingo" Needs Functional Language Use & Speaking Practice http://www.duolingo.com/comment/118419

I just wish the forum moderators could somehow merge these similar discussions.


It's genius, you must offer it to the Website management!!


Awesome idea, I think it's great tu fully immerse in the language being learned.


It is always better to think in the language you are learning. So... you have my vote :)


Great idea! Even if only offered as an option to earn additional lingots.


This is a great idea. :)


Awesome idea! Love it! :DDD


Great idea, it's surprising we don't already have that.


I agree! Duolingo should start working on this right away.


Excellent suggestion!


I hope the Duolingo team sees this discussion and works towards implementing these ideas :)


Absolutely, great idea. Maybe this is only for non beginners. I think it could be done with multiple question types: multiple choice for intermediate proficiency, and typed answers for advanced proficiency.

For multiple choice questions that test grammar, the answers should all use the same vocabulary and the changes should only be grammatical. For questions that test vocabulary, all answers should have correct grammar and should vary only by vocabulary. Etc.


Great idea! Especially if it was "listen and answer", although "read and answer" would be good too. The reverse mode, picking the correct question for the given answer, sounds like it would be really fun.


Probably a great idea; but the Q/A need to be simple, if not you're going to spend a lot of time generating valid answers for one question.


Rosetta does something like this and it seems to effective


Best idea I've seen in the discussion thread yet. Would be even better if their sounds issues could be revolved by then.


This is exactly what Rosetta Stone does, and it works very well. I've never understood why so many people like to bash RS. Anyway, these kinds of exercises would be a great addition to Duolingo. In fact, the translation-only approach is one of the things I hate about Duolingo. You never actually get to use the language you're learning. Task-based language learning is a lot more conducive to becoming conversational than learning through translation.


I don't understand either. I started with RS, and am currently on Level 4. Even though I use Duolingo now, I still plan on finishing all 5 levels of RS. You really can't say one is any better than the other... they are two totally different ways of learning a language. They are both awesome!


I don't think many people hate RS because of the program, it's really the price that is offensive.


It is so much cheaper now than it used to be. And what a lot of people don't realize is that you get unlimited sessions with native coaches to review the material for 15 months included in the price. It is well worth the cost.


Whatever helps you reach your learning goals is awesome and good for you! I used it briefly a few years ago, when they used to offer it from my library. It is a good program, But it is not the only resource for learning. I get unlimited sessions at my favorite M Mexican restaurant with my server/native coach, and my food and the company is well worth the cost.


That sounds great!


This would be a great item to throw into the mix!


This must be done! Great idea!


This is an awesome idea!


!La Idea es Excelente!. It could be easily implemented in the existing tree by replacing half of the current multiple choice questions that are in native lanuguage with target language answers, to target language questions with target language answers.


Of course, having to write out the answers in the language would be the most effective for learning, though more difficult to administer because of multiple possible correct answers. Alternatively, though, you might have as the answer choices 3 recorded answers in the language being learned. The tests would take longer because we would have to listen to all three selections, but I think our listening comprehension would increase faster.
One of the dangers of multiple choice questions is that we go into "test" mode, sometimes inebriated by the quest for points rather improving our language skills. With most of the multiple choice questions currently presented, all one needs to do is look at the picture to get the answer. Once again, though, MEGA KUDOS for a fantastic learning tool. Being able to learn from each other through translating the articles is a wonderful idea.


Je pense que c'est une bonne idée. Juste une petite question qui m'intrigue. Suit-Duolingo la nouvelle orthographe française, ou pas?


Please, think also of people (as I am), whose native language is not in Duolingo list - so we have to practice TWO languages ​​while translating!!! So, it suits me to translate the questions - sometimes I make more mistakes in language I have chosen as I 'know it' :D


I completely agree with you! Our job is harder than you have, I practice an other language (ENGLISH) during the learning..


Super idea - Thanks for coming up with it. Can anyone tell me what the up and down arrows stand for? I'm hoping it's a way to say up (green) arrow means support and red (down) arrow means bad idea.


YES! Excellent idea :)


Interesting for reading practice. However the disadvantage is that it reduces considerably written practice in the language learned.


Maybe as an opt-in? The way you can opt-in for microphone questions, etc.?


sounds interesting, but will duolingo staff accept though?


Wow! Great idea, mlongori! I hope the DL team will implement it sometime :)


excellent idea. put it more at the end of the tree, so that you already have a decent vocabulary when you get there, and then just go to town. beaing a native portuguese speaker and being fluent in english, i know that the key to learn another language is to THINK in that language, if anything because it's way faster than translating every sentence you see or hear


I like this idea too! Translating is a great way to learn but answering questions like this is very helpful too!


Hooray for necros!

But I do support this idea. I wish we could actually strengthen our other-language skills rather than just our translation skills. Would make becoming conversationally competent much faster.


If you google "apprendre francais," you will find tons of websites in French geared to helping people learn French as a second language. These may offer more of the immersion style that you are looking for and I imagine you will get the same results if you search for "learn [insert language]" for any other language, in that language. If you search for "Learn German," you're (unsurprisingly) going to get results geared toward English-speakers.


I SO SUPPORT THIS, it would help so much :)

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