More translations from english to target language
An aspect of Duolingo that I find particularly challenging, but don't see enough of, is translations into the target language from English text. Because they are so difficult I feel as though they really help my learning and force me to apply my knowledge without any assistance except the English translation of what I have to write.
Whenever I see these tasks they tend to be towards the end of a lesson and often involve just writing down a French phrase I have already encountered earlier in the lesson. It's simply writing down something memorised, not applying language knowledge.
I understand that they are difficult but challenging us to write in the target language can only be beneficial for improving comprehension and not relying so much on memorisation. Because many of the phrases tested in each lesson are repeated several times throughout, by the later sections of the lesson it is simply a memory exercise.
I see them a lot in 'Test out of this section' and the unlock tests, but not so much in the individual lessons, and certainly not for phrases that weren't previously encountered.
Yes, I think it would be great if, in addition to "Practice weakest words", there was a "Mastery practice" which consisted solely of translations from native -> target, as well as translations from oral target -> native.
The lack of mother tongue -> target language makes me think that Duolingo doesn't aim to teach 'fluency' per se, but rather passive comprehension. For example, my friend can understand anything she sees or hears in Spanish, but don't ask her to SAY anything- she can't put it together in her head unless she has a paper+pen/keyboard in front of her.