Audio exercises: I give up.
I've finally just given up and changed my settings so that I'm not getting lessons where there is no printed sentence, only an audio sentence that needs to be transcribed. I miss too many questions because I have no idea what the audio is saying, even when I play it with the turtle setting, word by word. Initial consonants are almost impossible for me to make out, and some others as well. I get 'Carmen' instead of 'carne', and goodness knows what else.
I feel bad about it, but I have audiobooks of Learning Spanish Like Crazy to practice listening and repeating sentences and phrases as they are said by real native speakers (from a range of different Latin American countries, too, which I enjoy). I can tell, based on that and also watching Spanish-language films, that it's not that I have difficulty understanding spoken Spanish, it's that I can't understand the artificial voice, and trying to is getting me frustrated without teaching me anything.
I also know from listening to native speakers that some of the common words in the DL lessons ("Hoy", for instance) is not usually pronounced the way the DL computer-voice pronounces it. It's subtle, just a little more emphasis on the end: the computer says, if I try to transliterate it into English spellings, "oy", while the real live Spanish speakers generally seem to say "oii". (There are other things, I think, but that's the one that I can remember off the top of my head.)
I am sorry to lose this aspect of the lessons....well, I'm sorry to give up on the idea of them. I don't think I'm going to be sorry to actually lose them. I just have to remember to make time to do the non-DL lessons consistently as well.
I know DL couldn't function if it had to use recordings of speakers, rather than synthesized voices, and I suspect that what they've got is about as good as it gets. It's just frustrating that "as good as it gets" isn't actually good enough.
For those of you still using the audio lessons, I don't say you should stop, but I do strongly recommend that you find an auxiliary resource that has sentences at your level recorded as spoken by native speakers, to improve your listening skills, rather than just relying on the computer speech.
Yes, the audio is sometimes off but it is better than it was. I used to say if you could understand the audio on duolingo you would have no problem understanding natives especially if they had a speech impediment.
Interesting ... I just treat it as yet another dialect (Andean/ Costa Rican Spanish was easy while Dominican / Puerto Rican was too fast and Honduran was very soft to my ears). At least for me, once I have the general context of the sentence, I know which words are what and which should go where.
I definitely agree though that you need another source of audio though and there are many out there in almost every media form.
I admit that thinking of it as yet another dialect is fair, except that I might like to learn how to understand someone from Honduras or Puerto Rico for the future, whereas I can't see myself needing to understand the synthetic voice's peculiarities.
Honestly, I just got fed up with missing questions in almost every lesson, not because I don't know the vocabulary or the lesson-specific material, but just because, for the life of me, I could have sworn the voice was saying something different, and I assumed it was a word I didn't know. But your point is fair.
It helps me to remember that it is TTS, which I use quite often in my native language of English. There is a... similar accent, if that makes sense. A clipping of the words, I guess you could say. I am usually able to filter it out, at least if my Spanish skills are any indication. (That's the only language other than English that I currently hear from native speakers regularly.)
That makes sense. I'm aware of TTS, but I never actually use it in my native language, so I don't have that kind of intuitive filtering skill.
This isn't exactly relevant, but I think I heard something about some new courses using human voices, am I right in thinking this?
That would be great. I haven't heard anything, but I don't know that I would. Hopefully, if there is anything, it will be all over the discussion boards.
The English audio only sentences are not great but . . . the Spanish audio is not bad and has made improvements since I began using the program. The audio-only, especially those really long ones, has helped me improving my listening skills.
I love that website, and should make more use of it. You're quite right. But I notice that the two that sound closest to what I'm used to from Learning Spanish Like Crazy are the two where the speakers are actually from Latin America. It's way more pronounced in the Argentinean one, though. I love how complex the regionalisms make things, though it also makes it clear to me that I'm not going to get idiomatically fluent until I pick one group to spend a lot of time talking with, and even then, it's /their/ idiom I'm going to learn.