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Show (grammatical) rules after exercise

I think it would be nice if, for example, when you've finished a topic or exercise about the present of verbs, Duolingo shows you a recap on the grammatical rules used.

I'm not quite sure why language learning programs don't do this (e.g. Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, ...). It might be easier to remember for a handful of people if they see the rules that are applied.

December 29, 2012



Yes, grammar is vital. I think there should be a skill or two dedicated to grammar that should be introduced early in the skill tree. Vocabulary is great, but if you don't know how to put the sentences together correctly, it's essentially useless for fluency or even effective communication.


You're not going to learn a language if you don't know the grammar and that's why I hated Rosetta Stone. Duolingo certainly does show some grammar, but it's presented much later on. It might just be me, but I think the emphasis should be placed on grammar with breaks of useful vocabulary and not the other way around.


I think the problem is that people are scared of grammar (especially German grammar, lol) so language programs try to be friendly by promising to teach the students a language "the way children learn it". Ok, fine, if what you are aiming at is a kindergarten level of fluency but it takes children, the master language-learners, 5 years to get there.


Maybe some people are scared of grammar but for me, I remember sitting and looking at a German textbook and seeing all these grammar rules. In the end, you know what I learned from that book? Absolutely nothing. The funny thing is that I mastered English at an early age without a lot of real studying. The way Duolingo teaches, sort of reminds me of the way they taught English between grades K-2. They don't tell you why grammar works a certain way. They just teach you that it works that way. You memorize it and then when you are in high school you build on that.

In high school language classes they turn that process on its head and expect you to learn complicated rules very early in the language. I'm not saying that it is a bad idea to teach the grammar rules, it's important but I don't think it needs to be early in the course. If you need to know the rules right away there are a lot of websites and textbooks for that, which simply list the rules of grammar. Reviewing the grammar rules you learned? Personally, I think it should be optional as it is not something I would want to do. After doing a lesson I can usually gather the basic grammar structure of that lesson. If I have trouble with something, I go to the discussion forum.


Sorry if I came off as testy. I find grammar very helpful when taken in manageable doses. Otherwise, I find myself getting frustrated and annoyed with all those -e, -en, -em, -er, -es endings, which are not actually so bad if you have a basic notion of the grammar. Anyway, strokes, I guess.


I was worried I might have come off as long winded or defensive. I agree with you that they should teach the grammar in manageable doses. If they don't, they face the possibility of losing users. A recap could be a good thing, especially for those learners who say, "I see that the Spanish write the adjective after the noun but WHY do they do that?" or if they just can't seem to gather the concept. If they are going to make a grammar review, I think they should make it short, sweet, and to the point. This would be helpful after a lot of the lessons in all the languages. Even if it is just to say that a sentence should go "subject adjective" instead of "adjective subject" or some other rule.


I could not agree more. I am revising my school French from last century and using duo lingo is great to brush up on grammar.I am loving ther progam. However, I can't imagine being a beginner and being able to remember the grammar by learning different phrases as it is presented here. I think it would be really hard to learn French just by practising the exercises you give as the rules are not explained


I remember in my mathematics book at school, we had a separate yellow card with all the main formula's on it. Something like that could be made for Duolingo too? A separate page you could go to if you like, or you can ignore if you don't like. With some basic rules like conjugation, pronounciation, propositions, ... It gives a good structure to what you're learning.

Apart from my mother tongue (not English), I have learned 4 languages (some better than others, ofcourse). After a while you kind of know the drill. The first thing I start learning straight away is the conjugation of the verbs: to be, and to have. (I am, you are, he is... and so on). Then some vocabulary, numbers, rules for propositions (male, female, neutral), pronunciation rules, and whatever is important in that language. Then you have made a good base to work from.


I think showing the rules after an exercise would be great. I don't think it needs its own spot on the skill tree. But I have started to come across phrases that I'm having trouble remembering the ordering of because I don't know the "why" behind it. It could be an optional recap/reading section at the end of a lesson for those who would find it helpful.


I would recommend that Duolingo should show grammatical rules BEFORE an exercise

  • 2230

Totally agree, possibly also stopping the silly timer in the practice exercises.

Silly as it goes on even after the last reply until you hit "continue".

Too little grammar is the worst side I found in Duolingo training so far.


Anja, if you don't like the timed practice then you can always use the untimed practice instead? Personally I think the timed practice is one of the very best additions Duolingo made since I started using the site, it pushes me to listen and think under pressure similar to how it would be trying to follow a conversation or film etc in real life.

  • 2230

I like it too: I'm just telling that makes little sense to have the timer going while the systems tell you that you are right or wrong (particularly the latter).


Seriously. I have no idea why sometimes there is an 'a' and sometimes there is 'una' and sometimes there is nothing. voy a calle, voy calle, voy una calle, okay that's a terrible example, but you know, I have no idea when to use any of those. Maybe that's something we learn later? But then it's frustrating when I get it wrong now. And the verb endings with the -o for I, -es for you, -emos for we... like, I know that because I took some spanish in school, but it'd be terribly confusing if I hadn't. Is there just a simple chart of verb ending rules anywhere on this site, or are you just expected to google it? I with there was a 'helpful charts' tab where it had that. Hell, they can just steal them off any site... But I don't know how to google "when do I put -a -un or nothing". :(. If I didn't already know the basic rules, this site would be useless.


Your post is a very good example of the necessity of well timed grammar. I expect you did find out the reason for "un" vs. "una". If you haven't: accept the fact, that all the languages Duolingo has offered up to now, have genders for every noun. And the gender is not necessarily equivalent to the biological gender. So: with each new noun try to remember what article goes with it. Then you will use the right form of the adjectives too. A grammar rule is not very necessary in this problem. You wrote about verbs: open with each verb you encounter the "conjugate" button. Certainly in the early stages they are attached to nearly every verb. If you do that often, the right verb ending will spring to mind automatically without any special grammar rules.


holy crap, I never saw the conjugate button before. I honestly just never knew to scroll down. In that case, and with also the 'tips' on the bottom - seriously, i never knew to scroll down - I take back everything I said and I will go back through the lessons and read all the tips.


http://www.irregularspanishverbs.com/blog/635/tener-conjugation-the-conjugation-of-tener-in-spanish/ has an explanation of conjugations if you need one.

http://www.conjugation.org/ helps you conjugate verbs, also, if you find a verb that's not here and don't know how to conjugate it.


Also, a funny story aside about conjugations. I was only about twelve when I first started learning Spanish actively for middle school. I was home schooled and used a computer program that included some older version of Rosetta Stone.

I knew quite a bit of Spanish (including quite a few verbs) but did not really know a lot of details about grammar. One day someone asked me to conjugate a verb. I said, "I don't even know what that means. How do you conjugate a verb?" The funny thing is I did know how to conjugate a verb even though I didn't know what the word "conjugation" meant.


Immersion is great for an introduction and the repetition is great to commit everything to memory. Some time during a lesson, though, it WOULD be really great for the site to flat-out TELL you the rules, instead of having to intuit/guess the subtle rules which aren't really apparent from just seeing examples.


I agree. I'm starting the French lessons and the grammatical concepts are wrecking my learning. The words are easy enough to remember, but it would be nice if I knew the difference between mange and manges and when it's correct to use one over the other.


hi me_again_21,

Here are two websites for you with french verb conjugations: http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/verbs/table/manger.html http://www.idiomax.com/french-verb-list.aspx

This is how I initially learned to remember conjugation of regular verbs. You got three types of conjugating regular verbs: for instance 'manger' ER-verb (=to eat), 'finir' IR-verb (=to end) and 'vendre' RE-verb (to sell). I remember the endings of them. Bear in mind that this rule is not absolute because they often have irregularities and little exceptions that you'll just have to study: For 'manger' it is: e, es, e, ons, ez, ent. For 'finir' it is: s, s, t, issons, issez, issent. for 'vendre' it is: s, s, -, ons, ez, ent.

Here are the full conjugations: je mange, tu manges, il/elle mange, nous mangeons, vous mangez, ils/elles mangent. je finis, tu finis, il/elle finit, nous finissons, vous finissez, ils/elles finissent je vends, tu vends, il/elle vends, nous vendons, vous vendez, ils/elles vendent.


An explanatory sidebar, as suggested below, would be helpful in understanding how things go together, but I don't want to have the grammar "tested" early on. It would be too much, too soon. The Duolingo team is going a great job!


Yes. I don't think is should be tested, just explained.


Yes, especially in Latin I don't have a clue about the conjugation rules and other grammatical aspects.


There is a small section that briefly explains the grammatical rules (ex: dative case for german, etc.) when you click on the lesson from the main lesson tree. Not sure if you knew of this or not, but I've found it helpful as a good start.


Do you mean Tips?


I absolutely agree about the need to learn some grammar. Children are children and adults are adults.


As someone already reported, people often miss the conjugation button, the notes button, etc. Even if they know of their existence, a lot of my students never bother to check into the grammar explanations and in the long run stunt their learning thereby. (I am a language teacher who uses Duolingo with his students - we both love it) Therefore a little grammar now and then should be OPT-OUT rather than opt-in, and possibly incentivized. For example, a short skippable grammar review at the end which can earn you bonus points might work really well. Duolingo would simply ask politely if you want a chance at earning bonus points with a quick review of the grammar just studied. A brief announcement at the start about what the lesson is designed to emphasize could also help with attuning students' attention to it. ;-)


+1. I love your ideas stated here.


Where is the conjugation button? Need it desperately!

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