I have heard some bad talk about duolingo but i went to see how bad it really was… It turns out the app isn’t bad for Japanese if you already have a foundation set for the language. i heard someone say on another post that it is great for picking up extra basic vocabulary. what do you guys think about it?
I found it somewhat sporadic and unstructured but can be a fun distraction from other studies. I believe they have added more content since I last used it so maybe it has improved recently.
If you know nothing about Japanese, Duolingo will teach you poorly through trial and error.
If you already know a decent amount of Japanese, Duolingo will teach you extremely basic vocabulary that you probably already know.
I’m part of a language learning Discord server that constantly has people coming from Duolingo who don’t know the difference between しや and しゃ – it’s not even a good resource for learning kana. The material is so limited as to be essentially useless – I spent 100 days on it a while ago just to give it a fair review, and despite finishing all the content they had available, I only remember coming in contact with a handful of words that got used over and over again. It doesn’t teach you the difference between 一月 and 一ヶ月 (you just have to figure it out on your own), and most of the questions are multiple-choice, which just encourages process-of-elimination over actual memory.
There’s no point at which Duo JP is worth using imo.
From my experience, as I began my “official” studies there, it can teach you words but you will barely understand how to use them. That being said, I did that about 2 years ago, when the course was still in development, so the situation might be different now.
My suggestion for learning would be:
- For dictionary and kanji, go with WaniKani.
- For grammar, listening, and basic language understanding, buy Genki 1 & 2 (books, workbooks and answer book for self-evaluations), for example from Amazon or J-List. There is also a possibility of pirating it through forums, but I honestly found it to be worth the investment, especially for beginner, and you can always decide to pirate, then buy the books when you have the resources.
- To understand how to use the language - read websites, find tv show (preferably - not based on animation for realistic vocabulary) to watch.
Also, find friends to practice with - even non-japanese study pen-pals are better than nothing at all
Personally I find the offical Japanese course by Memrise to be a better alternative. The vocabulary is somewhat useful and the fact that they have a number of different actors providing native audio is a nice addition. That being said, I think all these apps share the same issue that they are multiple choice and don’t really provide knowledge that is reproducable outside of the app.
I started using it around May of last year. I still use it today. It’s a tool like any other. If you know basic Japanese, between the forums and the internet, you’ll learn a lot. I supplement it with other things and don’t regret using it. I always find it fun when I come across grammar points I don’t know and have to look them up, either on the forum or the internet. I find that things stick better that way.
I never understood why people ask for other’s opinions on things like this, since we don’t learn the same and are individuals with different needs. I always say this, “try it and decide for yourself”. Despite what people might say, you might enjoy it, and if you enjoy it, it’s a good tool to use.
Duolingo is ridiculously slow and random. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t even attempt to teach anything systematically. It picks a context, and then teaches words and sentences related to that context. So you’ll get a bunch of kanji about family relationships, say, but with no discussion of radicals or readings, no way to remember them except brute memorization.
With that said, the individual lessons are very bite-sized, and it’s available on every platform you can think of, so it’s not a bad way to drill vocabulary while you’re waiting for the bus or whatever. Just don’t make it your only tool and definitely don’t give them money.
I do recommend Tinycards, which is a build-your-own flash card system from Duolingo. It’s much easier to use and has a much friendlier interface than Anki, and like Duolingo itself is readily available on multiple platforms. I’m currently using it to drill vocabulary that I encounter “in the wild,” and it’s working well for that purpose.
I used Duolingo for about a month a year or so ago and it just seemed kinda… uncooked? It has a lot to work on. I remember a lot of people getting angry because the exp/game system would change with no prior notice to the users and for seemingly no reason at all. Changing things that didn’t need to be changed. I’m grateful for it though, because I found WaniKani through their forums.
When I first resumed my Japanese studies after an almost ten year gap, I found Duolingo, and thought it might be a good way to reintroduce myself to the language, but I soon discovered that it didn’t really teach me anything of substance—it just regurgitated basic material I already knew. I persisted and finished the language tree, but it’s been a long time since I logged in. I don’t know if it’s been improved at all since then.
At best Duolingo is a way to learn limited vocabulary (for Japanese; I haven’t tried any other languages).
I’ve been trying to use it off/on sporadically, and I just can’t get it to stick. It’s too frustrating to use. They have a very limited selection of correct answers. And while yes, you can send corrections, it’s still a pain to wait for the few contributors to work through them. Not to mention how many errors there are still. So much of the audio is wrong, some of their sentences/translations are stiff and awkward (I know they’re often silly, I’m not talking about that). Makes me feel like my time is better spent elsewhere. I’m stubborn though, so I might still fiddle with it every now and again.
To emphasize how little Duo teaches you, as others have mentioned here, just look at almost any of the comments on the sentences, or on the forum. There are some very basic things that people are still confused on.
It’s a shame that the courses aren’t better. Maybe one day they’ll be more worthwhile, but for now, I’m sticking with other things.
I agree with this. Duolingo, for Japanese, is a complete waste of time. It takes a long time to learn a lot of basic stuff in a nonintuitive way. Your time is probably better spent with a textbook.
I actually started learning japanese on duolingo. After picking up some textbooks and starting on WaniKani and looking at other resources, there actually is some sort of structure, but like everyone said, you have to figure out what that is. They introduce different verb / adjective endings in a certain order, but without something to supplement it with you don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. I still use it because it’s free and I think it does teach some vocabulary and it’s easy to use on my phone while on the bus. It should definitely not be used as the only source of information.
I tried Duolingo a couple months ago (after the rework) for about a month and I can’t recommend it.
Some of it is purely subjective. I feel like their trial and error way of teaching can easily mislead you into understanding the grammar points incorrectly and you might often not realize what to pay attention to in a given sentence. The discussions under each sentence can help with that, and eventually I learned to just check those out often to make sure I didn’t learn something wrong, but with further and further lessons it got quite annoying how often people had to correct or clarify the sentences. However, your mileage can vary with this, everybody learns differently.
But my main problem with it, and the main reason why I eventually stopped using it, is their kanji pronunciation. Their text-to-speech system has a lot of trouble with kanji and the website doesn’t use any furigana. This means that at best, you might have trouble properly understanding how some words are supposed to be pronounced and you’ll have to go to the discussions to see the sentence in hiragana, and at worst you’ll learn the pronunciation downright wrong. Some words use a technically correct but should-not-be-learned-first pronunciations (like 明日, which it only reads as あす instead of あした), while others are read incorrectly in a given context (一人 was read as かずと instead of ひとり, which is apparently a name pronunciation, or 一日 is always pronounced as ついたち even when describing a time interval where it should be いちにち). And even when you’re matching pairs of kanji with their hiragana counterparts, the kanji is often read aloud differently than what you’re supposed to connect it with, even though this might very well be the first place you ever see that word in the course. So I just stopped before it taught me wrong things I hadn’t already learned before.
The one good thing about Duolingo was that one of the discussions about the kanji frustrations linked me here to Wanikani, so there’s that.
I used to only use WK and then self-taught Genki until I took classes two years ago and that was the extent of my Japanese resources, but recently got slowly back into it and wanted to expand so I tried Duolingo and learned very quickly it was pretty bad. Lol. That being said, its reminders to continue my streak sucked me in, so I use it daily for now as pretty much just a habit and to waste time when I’m bored. Can’t be hurting (too much)?
I remember seeing a video of someone trying Duolingo, and it had pitch accent errors in the robot voice. Anyone know if they fixed that?
I also think DuoLingo is pretty bad. It’s an alright time sink in the tram when you already know a lot of Japanese from elsewhere.
I did Japanese on DuoLingo for a long time (completed all courses at the time, which is now level 3), stopped when i started WK and Bunpro, recently tried a few lessons again, and was even more convinced it’s bad.
Some problems with DuoLingo:
- It throws random kanji at you without translation or furigana.
(sometimes there are ways around that, but not always)
- Because it doesn’t have SRS, you often don’t see a word for a long time or ever after you encountered it, so it’s not good for memorizing anything. You can’t even get a list of vocab, lesson-wise or otherwise. This is the biggest flaw of all in my opinion. Not to mention a structured search for grammar.
- The answering method is cumbersome: It often just takes too long to answer. You can’t rearrange words you already selected, so if you make a mistake you have to delete all words you added afterwards, and even without mistakes it takes a while to find all the words in the correct order, because it’s not immediately clear what the sentence’s structure will be. You have to do a lot of busy work filling all the words in, a fill-out sentence (like in Bunpro) would usually be sufficient.
- The lessons before each level are alright, but it’s not encouraged enough to do them before taking the level. Many people don’t even know that DuoLingo has text lessons where it teaches some grammar etc. before you’re supposed to start the level.
- The course stopped pretty quickly for me. It seems like they added new levels and lessons now (i completed level 3, now there’s 4-6), but it stops at a not very advanced level.
- It has some nonsense sentences like わたしのいぬはぼうしをうります (My dog sells hats.). This actually helped me memorize the word for hat, but a sentence like “It’s not 6 o’clock right now” definitely isn’t helpful.
One thing DuoLingo is alright for is listening practice. But that’s not even ideal for DuoLingo’s best use case, which is using some time during public transport. And there I prefer WK and Bunpro anyways.
Another problem with Duolingo.
If you don’t have Japanese as one of your system-languages on an android phone, it will use the Chinese versions of Kanji instead of the Japanese ones. And it has no warning about that whatsoever so many people are probably learning Japanese on there right now with the wrong characters.
In my opinion it’s a good ‘taster’ for those trying out the language to see if they’re interested or for those who are coming back to learning Japanese after a huge break but didn’t get very into the language when they started.
I was in the latter group of people and it helped me get back into it, but WaniKani and Memrise were much more useful in terms of resources.
For Japanese, I like it as a review tool that I visit every few months.
I found that their spanish lessons are good.
If only I had more time I would study Spanish more often.
Duolingo is decent enough for practice. Most people badmouthing DL haven’t tried it since the update. The previous DL Japanese tree only had a handful of skills, whereas the new tree has at least 3 times the number of skills and is much more systematic in terms of grammar and vocabulary. That said, I still wouldn’t recommend using DL as your only source of study.
What I usually do is I study kanji through WK, grammar through Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese, BunPro, and a couple of other resources, and then use DL for some extra practice.
Another thing, I don’t recommend the DL app, as it doesn’t let you type in your answers.