This amateur video complains about Duolingo not having perfect Japanese pronunciation, and dates from 2021. The author of the video goes as far as to recommend that the audio and listening exercises be disabled altogether. This makes me wonder, to what extend is the pronunciation "not perfect"?

As I know nearly nothing of Japanese, I don't yet have the ear to compare it to actual Japanese and decide whether it's good or not. My main concern is that it could lead me into mispronouncing words.

I'm a native French speaker, and I tried out the Duolingo French course just to see how accurate the pronunciation was. I was very satisfied by it, and I don't see why a French speaker would sound weird just because he uses the same pronunciation as in Duolingo (though we all know the tone of voice and robotic sentence entries and conclusions are hilariously ridiculous, but that is not what I'm concerned about.)

In other words, could we say that Duolingo's Japanese pronunciation quality is at least as good as with French?

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    It seems like the automated voices regularly have strange pitch accent in Japanese. I've seen this native speaker comment on the incorrect pitch accent of the automated voices several times, but here is one specific instance of it. If you're not familiar with pitch accent in Japanese it might be hard to hear what he means, but this is a very common mistake for beginner (and even advanced) speakers to make, and natives would notice it. So it's not great that Duolingo has these mistakes.
    – Leebo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 21:13
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    Pitch accent is the least of your problems if you're using duolingo to learn Japanese.
    – Monchi
    Aug 5, 2022 at 6:15
  • @Leebo Very nice example, thank you for pointing that out.
    – GPWR
    Aug 7, 2022 at 12:46
  • @Monchi Could you elaborate a bit on this, please?
    – GPWR
    Aug 7, 2022 at 12:47

1 Answer 1


In short: Duolingo's Japanese pronunciation quality is not perfect. Most Japanese people would sense that it's not a native speaker here and there. Now that said it's not so bad that one would have misunderstandings. I get the impression of a very advanced Japanese learner (just not entirely a native speaker).

Some of the phrases it suggests are unnatural, though only subtly (and in fairness, most text book do this, too). It also rejects phrases that are perfectly natural sometimes (but again, many text books have the same problem).

If you really want to excel in Japanese and speak as naturally as possible, perhaps it makes sense to avoid it. For casual learning or if you don't mind hearing/learning subtly unnatural pronunciation/phrasing here and there, I think it's a fine app.

  • Thank you for your straightforward response. That clears it up for me. Peace.
    – GPWR
    Aug 10, 2022 at 20:27

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