paranoidangel: PA (PA)
[personal profile] paranoidangel

This month I've been using Duolingo, Memrise and Lingvist to re-learn French.

I'm level 9 in Memrise French 1. I'm level 5 in Lingvist, where I know 418 words. Between the three of them those are the only useful stats I can find.

Duolingo is probably the one people know best, on the basis that I've seen various people talk about it and not the others. It gamifies the whole thing, which some people love and I can't stand. This is partly because it's been a big thing at work for ages and partly because I perversely want to not do what it wants me to. So it'll get all excited that I have a 6 day streak, I'll purposely break it. And I really dislike that if you get too many things wrong you can't do any more.

I dislike that it has so many screens and button presses in comparison to the others. When you've got an answer right the other two carry on to the next one, this one requires you to press to say that you want to carry on. Although it also doesn't let you go back. It does tell you in advance what you're going to learn and allow you to test out of it.

When I started it it would teach me some words, then do some things to help me learn them. Then it would teach me some words and test me on some others. Now it just goes straight to the testing. Which just seems bizarre to me.

I also take exception to it giving me a picture of a pair of trousers and telling me the French for trousers is pantalons, which I already knew, and then telling me that an alternative translation is pants. Er, no it's not. And one I had today where the English translation was "Letters, which ones" and I got it wrong because I translated it into proper English.

It also has a thing where you can speak the answer on certain screens. Which is fine an good, and as it says you need to learn to speak French. However, there are two problems with this:
1. It's asking me to speak English
2. It doesn't understand what I say in English

Memrise is the one I hated at the start. It was teaching me really basic stuff I already knew (like please and thank you) and I couldn't understand how it was all structured. I still find the structure a bit unintuitive, but I like that each session it starts with a review of the previous one before introducing new words. And I like that it has different ways of reminding me of the new words before I'm asked to type them.

The biggest problem with it is that I find some of it simple and then keep getting it wrong because I don't read it all carefully enough. So tonight, for example, it was teaching me fish (poisson) which I already knew, but it thinks I don't know it at all because I kept selecting poison as the French for fish.

So far it has just been words, not sentences (I'm sorry is the closest it's come). It's possible it's coming - I did start with French 1 after all, but I do feel a bit like I'm not learning anything useful.

Lingvist is the most restricted, but it acknowledges that it's only there to teach words and that it only has a few (European) languages. But I love the stats it gives you. It tells you how many screens you've done that session, how many you got right, how many new words you learnt. For every word you've seen it tells you how many times you saw it. When you learn a verb it gives you the verb tables.

It's much better than the other two at learning what I knew. If I keep getting something wrong it will show it to me more often, if I get it right, then it doesn't bother.

None of them are ever going to be as good as learning in a classroom with a teacher. In my first year of learning French, when I was 11, I knew a lot of parts of the body because we used to play Simon Says. Although after that year parts of the body never really came up and I forgot most of them.

I don't really know if I'm getting anywhere with any of them, but I have only been doing it for a month, which comes to about 9 hours in total (3 in each app). Which is nothing really, considering I last did French over 15 years ago.

Having said that, I have enjoyed it, in varying amounts and I will carry on, although not necessarily with all three apps. So I'm going to give it 7/10 for the experience.

Mirrored from my blog.

Date: 2017-08-01 02:18 pm (UTC)
tanaqui: Illumiinated letter T (Default)
From: [personal profile] tanaqui
Thanks for posting about your experiences -- this was really interesting to read.

I've used Duolingo (for three languages) and Memrise (for two) and had very different experiences each time. I think that's partly a function of how far along I was in my learning experience, how motivated I was -- and how good the courses for that particular language are.

Duolingo was great for drilling me to be accurate when I was learning Dutch from a couple of book/audio CD courses. I took the proficiency test and was able to skip a chunk of lessons at the start where you learn to say really boring basic stuff like hello, although that did mean I missed out on learning some vocab that meant I messed up some exercises early on.

I've also been learning German (from an online course that has flash animations telling a story in small parts, lots of exercises and a vocab trainer) and started the Duolingo German course at what I thought was a roughly equivalent point in my proficiency as when I started Dutch -- and I hated it! I gave up/wandered off and didn't go back about halfway through the tree. The sentences in the German version just seemed like rubbish, made-up sentences rather than the "real" sentences created by people who actually spoke Dutch in the Dutch course.

The German course really highlighted that Duolingo doesn't teach you one of the key things provided by a more traditional, structured classroom or online course, which is teaching (and explaining) grammar and syntax logically. That's really important for a language like German where there's a lot of complex, subtle grammar going on.

The same is true for Memrise, which is really best used as a vocabulary trainer. I used it for Dutch before Memrise created their own courses, when it was just user-created content. Courses like "the 5000 most common words" were fantastic for expanding my vocabulary and included all the conjugated forms of common irregular verbs. I then tried it for German, using the official Memrise courses, and hated those too. Lots of stepping you through phrases you can parrot back, but not giving enough insight into the underlying grammar. I found a user-created vocab course more equivalent to the Dutch one I'd used and was getting on better with that before I decided I needed a break.

To be fair, I was much more motivated to really learn Dutch and get fluent at it, whereas so far my main aim with German is to be able to understand it to a decent level. However, I also tried using Duolingo to brush up my French, and again struggled and gave up, because what I really need is a speedy refresher on the grammar, not painfully stepping through a lot of basic and not very useful phrases with no big picture stuff on the rules.

Anyway, long reply, sorry! But basically, yes, my experiences pretty much agree with what you're saying.

Date: 2017-08-03 09:26 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
Thanks for mentioning LIingvist. I hadn't come across that one. It's very quick at assessing the correct level for me.

I think I'll use that one alongside Duolingo.

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