Is it me or does anyone else thinks that there should be some code that stops the degradation of the tree after a certain number? I've not had time over the last few days and have come back to a ridiculous 21 medals needing work on. Surely someone must realise how off putting for learning this is. I am not the only one, I will keep on trying to learn Portuguese through Duolingo, but I teach and have talked to many students who have given up after a bit because the workload and commitment to keeping up the language on the site was too much to fit around their ordinary lives. It's not to stop the algorithm it's just to only reveal x amount and then some more after that x amount have been completed. This is to allow some progress forward with new language which would also refresh old at present I haven't been able to complete any new learning with constantly trying to keep the tree updated.
I think an optional code would be useful for some, especially those that come to Duolingo with some previous knowledge of the language they're studying here - it's especially annoying to test out of half the tree and then need to regild those same skills every day for two weeks before they stay gold... kind of defeats the purpose of the test out option, imo.
That said, I think the reason there's not a code to use is because it would be too tempting to use it when you think you know everything well, when in fact you do need to review. Duolingo is built around a spaced repetition algorithm, and the entire purpose of the spaced repetition algorithm is to review new information regularly until it's solid in your memory... so for most people, when you've passed a new skill, if you then go 3-4 days without reviewing it, you won't have retained a significant amount of that new information, and thus you do need to review it before moving forward.
I've found that about 3 weeks of daily work on Duolingo -15-20 minutes a day - was enough to keep almost all of my tree gilded, almost all of the time - about once a week I'll find one or two of my skills need to be regilded. That feels about right in terms of how much I'm retaining in a target language I've played with a lot, picked up and put down a lot, but never seriously studied until Duolingo.
In other words, the algorithm is far from perfect, but it seems to work more or less as intended for the people for whom it is intended (primarily, people who are coming into a language with no major knowledge of that language). If a particular person can't use Duolingo regularly, than it strikes me that Duolingo probably isn't the best learning resource for that person, just like Rosetta Stone probably won't be helpful to a kinesthetic learner or Pimsleur won't be the most helpful resource for a visual learner.
I recommend doing what you can do to balance both, sometime I find it easier to let the tree go a little, and focus on learning new words, sometimes the system will strengthen old things while you are learning new things.
Hello IanGwyther! Personally I think the Duolingo algorithms are awesome... the people working on those are so passionate about learning and numbers, and created all of this to help duolinguists learn the best way possible and keep their language skills in top shape. However, we understand that while some people want to study very intensely, others have a different pace. We aim to allow the whole spectrum to set their own learning pace by finding a rhythm that works for them.
I will recommend to you what most people seem to do: take it easy, move forward a little bit every day, and don't worry about keeping your skills golden until after you have completed the whole tree and earned your trophy. Teachers like it when students keep practicing after the end of the semester or year, right? Because any skill needs maintenance. We want to help teachers encourage this in their students by giving learners a second goal after achieving the first. I think it is easier and less stressful to have one goal at a time. I hope you find the tip useful, happy studying! =]
I think some have missed the point. Although it's good to know what you need work on in some areas. There are others that keep appearing merely because the algorithm says x number of days. The problem is that the number should be at a reasonable amount to help revision and recall. When you come to 21 after one or two days then this is ridiculous it will probably take 7 to 10 days to complete and revise these. And leave some at the end possibly the ones that need revising most because you have only recently acquired them but not learned them yet left. The point is that having anything over 5-7 showing at any time needing revising on the tree is possibly off putting to a lot of students and counterproductive to their study. They will try to revise and complete the tree all at once the equivalent of night before cramming. None of the information will stick. The degradation of the tree with the algorithm should possibly stay it's just that the revealing should only be for an amount that a student can complete within say 30 mins and therefore allow a person to move on after this to new material.