Using Duolingo? (the horror!)

This is true, but all of these are significantly cheaper than a tutor in the long run, especially if you get lifetime plans, and for me, they are more engaging, because the exercises/practices are interactive and unlike every tutor I’ve ever had in any language, they don’t rely on textbooks. If I have to use a textbook, I mostly prefer using it on my own. I think tutors are best used maybe once a week to answer questions and help clarify nuance, not for actual lessons. Kind of like how weekly seminars work in college.

As for DL being free, this is not surprising. I’d be astonished if they had the gall to charge people for it. You do get what you pay for, after all.

Also, we are a community of people who have largely shown a willingness to pay for quality products, so I think suggesting alternatives, even if they are paid, is not a problem on here.

I do agree with this. I will say this though, the combination of shortcomings that you listed does seem like a deal breaker if you put the Stories aside.

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Not sure if you’re actually looking for an alternative, but is free and pretty much BunPro without the links but also with more stuff like kanji, vocab, counter practice, etc.


I’m just puzzling at this, and I wonder whether there are different standards of translation here. I would say your first sentence means something more like “I drink tea and coffee” which means basically the same thing, but isn’t the same.

That doesn’t necessarily invalidate your point, but I think this complaint is like one I see a lot on the duolingo forums, which are usually asking “why isn’t x accepted” where x is a sentence that means the same, but is different in some fairly major structural way. I think you have to accept that in a language learning context when asked to translate you need to cleave quite closely to the structure of what you are being asked to translate.


Seconding this. I don’t use Duolingo much for Japanese (although once in a while, it’s nice to jump in and see how transferable what I’ve learned in WK/Nativshark/LingoDeer is). I love it for introductions to other languages. I’ve tried almost every language they offer (including all the content in the Navajo course and a decent chunk in Irish, Welsh, and Russian) and it’s great for dipping toes in. As I find languages I want to pursue, I move to other, more robust options.

In general, I think Duolingo is really good at some things (romance languages, which is where it started, and as a general intro to other things). For Japanese, sure, there are better options, but if someone gets interested in Japanese because they tried it in Duolingo, there’s nothing wrong with that!


Thanks for sharing the code, mate! Ended up purchasing lifetime. :slight_smile:

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Glad to help!

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A true 天使。

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It’s really not necessary to be rude mate

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Nah, I wasn’t being rude. This wasn’t directed at anyone, just a general statement of fact that you get what you pay for and so if the service is free, it’s quality (or lack thereof) is not surprising. Free content is rarely ever as good (on average, there are exceptions of course) as paid content as content creators have an incentive to make better content when they are paid.

The corollary is that a low quality service should be aware of this so them charging money would make no sense since they’re unable to deliver what people would be paying for.

I loved duolingo when I first started out studying Japanese. I used duolingo & wanikani every day as my only studying source. I had a genki book but I couldn’t get myself to use it, but duolingo came really naturally.

If you’re using duolingo use it in the browser instead of the app, and turn on keyboard input so you actually have to type the japanese word instead of guessing which one of the alternatives seem most right.

When I was at a point where I could understand native content to a certain degree I stopped using duolingo because immersion is so much better, but I wouldn’t bash anyone for using duolingo. Using duolingo is at least something, and using duolingo is MUCH better than being one of those people who are like “Oh I’d love to learn a new language but I just don’t have the time”. I’d say duolingo is pretty good at what it’s supposed to do; hold your hand during the beginner stages so that you can get intermediate.

Nowadays their Japanese lessons and courses are of pretty high quality last I checked.


I like it! It’s …lol, it’s very very easy to hate it due to some completely bogus explanations it offers for language elements early on (either wa or ga was used only for questions? something heinous like that that probably works for the first five seconds of exposure and then breaks down completely?) but I actually enjoy using Duo for getting my first experiences with a language! And for developing vocab, getting some listening and mimicry going, having some super ultra curated mega-beginner reading material, getting my brain a chance to start absorbing a new alphabet, what have you.

And I like Duo for vocab! It’s a possibly terrible way to uptake grammar (probably also variably terrible depending on which courses/languages you’re looking at – there’s definitely better and worse Duo courses) so the advice to avoid it for Japanese is sensible. But I like it for dabbling and for the occasional hey I’m doing it! i’m learning! feelings. :slight_smile:


So… I’ve been using LingoDeer a lot more recently, testing out all the features and I found the area where you can practice writing sentences! So amazing bc this is one step closer for me to completely let go of Duolingo.

In LingoDeer - once you complete a lesson you have the option to either

  • Review Lesson (do it again for practice)
  • Quiz (write sentences and spell vocab for an allocated amount of time.

The question is presented in English AND spoken in Japanese, giving you the option of testing 2 different ways:

  • Test translation/grammar - turn off sound and type the translation in Japanese.
  • Test listening - turn sound up and listen while not looking at the screen and type what you hear in Japanese.

This is a huge find IMO bc I was having to rely on Duolingo for this practice.

The only issue is that so far in the N5 tree, it won’t accept much Kanji in the typed answer.
Stuff like 私、 日本、 is accepted
But 本 wont be - and the answer will be marked wrong.

The good news is that the Quiz keeps progressing along regardless of correct/incorrect answers. A correct answer awards a ballon, and increases the point score at the end… which doesn’t mean anything.

Thought I’d share this bc LingoDeer’s only weakest point IMO was the lack of sentence typing.


Hey @Slooshy :wave:
I agree with everything you wrote. The vocab presented in Duolingo really sticks due to their fantastic level design. I detailed this in a post way up there :point_up_2: here it is again for convenience:

I took sentence writing in Duolingo very seriously and set up my iPad Pro’s keyboard to mimic that of a Japanese one (a real one from Apple is $130)

That’s why I’m happy about finding decent sentence typing/writing practice in LingoDeer.
I learn SO well that way.

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ahhh this is brilliant!!! great work on that keyboard!!! lingodeer huh? i’ll look into that!

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Do you mean typing on a kana input keyboard? It’s pretty common to type on a romaji style keyboard. I think it’s how people are taught to type nowadays. I’ve only seen 2-3 people who prefer a kana keyboard and that was on their phone.


From what I heard, even most of the Japanese use romanji input for PC keyboard. But they use kana for smartphone

When I started learning Japanese I asked my Japanese friend about where should I purchase a Japanese keyboard. Then he said “why? just type romanji. Even I type that way”


So honestly I think it’s ok, It’s still practice and everything it just doesn’t do it that well. I’ve tried lot’s of different kind of apps for Japanese before and one that is a lot like Duolingo would be LingoDeer. I recommend using that, it just sort of works much better and is similar to Duolingo, that’s my own opinion. ;3


With no evidence to support this, I suspect kana input on a keyboard is one of those “nerd cred” things among truly old-school computer users in Japan. I have no doubt that it’s faster if you get good at it, but it probably takes lots of time/effort, and is probably not worth it. Wikipedia isn’t very helpful on this, but I suspect direct kana input is an artifact of the pre-Windows era when you needed 1 keystroke → 1 character on the screen.

Now that I’ve gone down this rabbit hole, I found this article about various competing Japanese input standards: Japanese Keyboard Layouts. Now I want a TRON Dvorak/kana keyboard. Those things look bonkers.


It’s not that it’s awful necessarily, I always say that Duolingo is a great gateway to learning new languages. I actually got my 8-year-old niece, who has a hard time learning English in her classroom, hooked on learning (and having fun with) English through this app, so it definitely beats traditional learning in that regard. For me, though, the gamification of it was fun in the beginning, then it kinda wore on me, eventually making me feel like I was mindlessly going through the motions. That was when I decided to ditch the green owl and branch out to other learning platforms/materials.


@i2j3 After having read this, I’m gonna just throw down here and say DO IT. LEARN IT. Get that cred!! This is like learning to drive stick – you’re gonna feel so coooooool!!! xD I’m like this – if I can learn something that’ll make me go faster (even if it takes a lot of time and effort), I’ll do it because IT IS AWESOME. And because it’s faster. Stuff like that isn’t without value just because most people don’t do it or most people don’t see the point of reaching for a skill just for typing speed. But another great reason to learn it is because it will also motivate you to type a lot more just because of sunk cost! So that’s a great benefit!!

And somewhere down the road, someone is going to notice. You’ll run into that one person, and it’ll just be that one more thing they think is awesome about your way of doing things – one more thing you have in common. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

So I’ve got a question for you: what’s a good kana keyboard?? I totally want one now…for the speed. :laughing: Actually nevermind – I’m gonna do the setup thing like you did!! I’m actually doing that with another alphabet already (learning something else in Duolingo of course) and I am just using my same keyboard with no labels out of laziness rather than buying a new one with labels or writing my own and sticking them on, and though it was a bit awkward at first, since I’m a “no-peeking” keyboardist anyway it’s worked out great so far! No interference once I got over that first wall lol…

Thanks for telling me about this cool faster way! No way I can turn down an opportunity to type things twice as fast in Japanese!!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: