Using Duolingo? (the horror!)

No, because I am still only on Unit 38 :joy:.

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Slaps roof of hovercraft “This baby can fit so many eels!”


Yeah I just got zinged on The Man in the High Castle because I was unable to construct that in English. I also didn’t get it :sweat_smile: 高い城の男
There’s far more annoying in there.


I can do that, something like “Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale”? Maybe needs a few umlauts.

I also have a beer glass with that phrase in Polish engraved on it which was a gift from my Polish colleagues when I was contracting in Germany.

Obviously there is a website dedicated to that purpose anyway (how to say “My hovercraft is full of eels” in many languages). It even has Elvish and Klingon IIRC.


You say that but I heard of an “ice” rink in Germany that decided to be a roller rink for environmental reasons instead

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Duolingo is a great vocabulary supplement on any language. It just has to be used in concert with other methods. The Japanese language tree on duo started out really really bad, but it has improved considerably. The guidebook chapters are even helpful now.

You just cannot use duolingo alone after A1-A2 level. That goes for any language, and I would say that without supplements in Japanese there is no way you could even get to A1 level with Duolingo without being slightly deranged and obsessive. I have learned French and German using duo, and I eventually had to start using other resources to understand basics. Busuu has been my go to supplement.

Which guidebook chapters? I just had a look and all they contain is just poorly translated sentences without any grammar explanations :frowning: .

I would say that even as a vocabulary supplement a solid Anki deck with context sentences gives you better repetition than Duolingo.

Many years ago Busuu was my goto for German before I dropped learning that language for a while. The overall structure felt like it encourages production quite a bit. Have you been using it long? How has it changed over the years?

I may just be to sold on Duolingo’s method, I know it isn’t complete. The guidebook on mine is pretty thorough on the basics. I am only at unit 10 on Japanese. That said, we have four people on duolingo in our family, and no two of us have exactly matching duolingo courses. Everything from the game aspect to the way the page is laid out is different.

I am trying out hello talk at the moment to get more practice with native speakers. I get by ok in basic conversation and can read at an intermediate level.

Busuu… I’ve used it for 1.5 years now. The german course has changed, but by the time I started using it, I was approaching the B1 level, so the grammar help and the explanations were immensely helpful. Duolingo’s german course, at least at that point, was just torture. No explanations, no guides, tons of forced sentence structure. The Busuu course and the duo course have since updated, but without Busuu I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish the duolingo tree.

I went through the french course from the beginning and it explained a lot duo had left out when I completed the french tree in 2015, but I went back on duolingo, and they had updated their material and provided a lot of the same content. The Busuu dutch tree was new last year and I went through the A1 material, and it was pretty helpful. They’ve updated that a ton.

The Japanese on Busuu seems to have almost no community support - in german, french, spanish, dutch - people would correct your exercises and offer you pronunciation help. I’ve only had three corrections put in over the last 2-3 months. So, the one actual true advantage of Busuu in making you produce the language, is slightly nerfed.

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Right, the initial units probably retained the kana introductory material, etc. I was on level 6 in the old tree, before I got moved to Unit ~30 in the new Path and I don’t think I’ve seen any grammar explanations in any of the guidebooks since then.

Yeah, that’s one of the bigger issues when trying to figure out things in a Duo course together. They’re doing way too much A/B testing in my opinion :frowning: .

The production aspect was exactly what I remembered from the old Busuu. I think I offered help with Polish and English in return for German back then. On one hand it was very useful overall, on the other hand quite tedious, because correcting exercises felt like homework :sweat_smile: .

If I sound grumpy about Duolingo that’s mostly because I’ve been doing it for a while and got really tired of its shortcomings which the company never really planned to address in favor of adding features which are either not relevant to learning or get in the way of it :frowning: .


The Busuu corrections are just like elementary english class daily grammar exercises. It is exactly like homework. Sometimes, I enjoy going through and giving advice. When people are just writing short sentences, it feels like a waste of time, but everybody starts somewhere.

100% agree. It’s immensely frustrating to have the gamification reward just hammering the basics without rewarding more complicated grammar exercises.

I think my romance with duolingo is that it helped me to believe I could learn another language. I tried for years with pimsleur, exercise books, audio tapes, and I never got anywhere. In 2015, I picked up duolingo, worked for 2 weeks and could read french news papers. My pronunciation still is completely awful, but that was the boost in confidence that I needed to try studying other languages. German… that has been a labor of love that will continue on for as long as I can, but it took one and a half years before I could read the newspapers and watch basic shows.

On the plus side, studying german and french are why I’m here now. It really helps to trust that there is the potential overtime to be able to comprehend Japanese. Mind you, that time is far far in the future.


I’m on unit 70 and the ‘guides’ are just some example sentences. A slight improvement over what was there bore, which was absolutely nothing past old Unit 3.

The people that were on the old tree though, their version of the path DOES have some of the guide material there, which is weird. I did a new account in the browser just to see where passing the initial test 100% gets you, and the site spun up the old version of the tree, with only 90 units total instead of 114. When I clicked on the guide, there was actually stuff there! The old tree starts with Hiragana instead of Basics and is missing a large amount of content. The tree was updated like two years ago now so I have no idea why they would still be serving up the old version.

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My old tree before the Path update did have some material. At least that’s what I remember. Can’t remember however if it was mostly just example sentences or actual grammar explanations. What baffles me, though, is that adding a grammar breakdown for the example sentences really is not that hard and would help learners immensely :confused: .

That sounds like you might have fallen down a series of old URL references or A/B testing gone wrong. Duolingo does a ton of A/B testing and even among people already using the new Path, there are some differences in the initial Units, for instance the mentioned Hiragana vs Basics. Someone did ask about it on Reddit, I think.

Nah, open a new browser and start afresh without making an account, you still have a chance of landing on the old tree. It’s easy to tell which one you are on, in addition to being shorter the starts are completely different. It’s stupid of them to not have retired it entirely. If you create a classroom you will also be transported to the old tree, so don’t do that unless you want to have a heart attack!

Unit 19 on the old tree, the guidebook has stuff in it:

My actual account, when I open the guidebook, there’s nothing there except example sentences.

Old tree, unit 19 is Shop at a convenience store, talk about class.
New tree, that is unit 24. New tree, NO tips in the guidebook.
Programmatically, it doesn’t make much sense they are hooked up for the tree 3 version of the path and not the tree 4 version of the path.

So that’s why it might not make sense if some people can read the tips and you can’t.