Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Z-Pen

Observations two weeks in.

Z-Pen
  • 23
  • 8
  • 2

Just as the title implies, I've given Duolingo two weeks and feel qualified now to stick my oar in and make some observations.

Point the first! I like it. There are things I feel are legitimate flaws - things which others have noted often, it seems. too little translating into the language we're learning, too small a set of sentences to practice with, too few items to buy with lingots.

In the whole I really like Duo though. I feel none of the flaws are grave. While the Spanish for English speakers course certainly has too little emphasis on translating into Spanish that seems trivially easy to remedy by running through the English for Spanish speakers course at a later date.

The other flaws are less soluble, but also less important.

I really like the bite-sized way duolingo handles lessons (though I think 1-5 lessons per skill should be the cap and larger skills should be broken in two).

I really like the way Duolingo focuses on teaching how sentences are made, rather than simply reaching rote sentences. Any other language course, lesson 1 would be 'Mucho gusto. Mi llamo Z-Pen, yo tengo 40 años. ¿Dónde está la playa?" which however debatably useful doesn't help anyone learn how Spanish works or how to understand any reply.

Where other courses would have one memorise stock phrases by rote, Duo teaches, well, the language. Duolingo starts off only teaching a very few words, just enough to teach us how to use words! From there it teaches grammar, syntax, construction etc and only ramps up the vocabulary later on.

Where I am now, 17 skills into the Spanish tree Vocabulary is starting to ramp up, but I feel I have a fairly solid grasp on things like word-order, syntax and (present tense) conjugation of verbs. It occurs to me that I still wouldn't be able to ask where the beach was though if I were using Duo exclusively. That's okay, because I can look up the words elsewhere and Duo has taught me how to use them.

that said, I feel Duo's estimation of how much time/xp one needs to put in each day is comically, woefully low.

When I started I set my daily goal as 50xp because Duo described that as insane, ans the highest goal and I'm pretty motivated to learn.

Two weeks in I think 50xp is just about the bare minimum one could put in and still expect to learn anything. 100 is a more reasonable level. I'm trying to get 150-200 each day. Mostly revision, general and specific strengthening and 1 new skill each day so long as I feel I have a solid handle on everything I have done already.

I think telling people that 20-50xp a day is enough to learn is disingenuous at best of duo.

That said, I really do love the system a lot. I don't expect to complete the 64 skill Spanish tree in 64 days. I probably /could/ but I wouldn't learn anything by doing so. What I do expect to do is have a fairly solid foundation in Spanish, for free, by summer. And that's not something I'd have thought possible three weeks ago.

2 years ago

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GrandaUrso

I'm glad you're enjoying Duo, I remember when I found the website. It was like striking paydirt and I've thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing dig.

Having said that and having read what you wrote I really only have one thing to discuss about.

"Two weeks in I think 50xp is just about the bare minimum one could put in and still expect to learn anything. 100 is a more reasonable level. I'm trying to get 150-200 each day. Mostly revision, general and specific strengthening and 1 new skill each day so long as I feel I have a solid handle on everything I have done already.

I think telling people that 20-50xp a day is enough to learn is disingenuous at best of duo."

I feel you're a bit harsh in this statement. After all mine is set to 30 and I do a very slow and steady pace of learning in my free time. I can read and write many sentences in the language I'm learning and can in fact communicate albeit a little roughly with L2 speakers. That's not because I'm some prodigy, it's because of the language I'm learning and because of my individual style of review and reading dictionary words and looking at sentences in the target language. Duo isn't meant to be the only thing you do to learn, that's something definitely worth keeping in mind.

I think saying what you said is perhaps a bit hasty, as they are merely daily goals to maintain a streak. After all, let's break it down mathematically. Let's pretend it takes 5-10 minutes to do a lesson, and I mean really do a lesson, not just look up the words and write the correct answer. Let's pretend you do three lessons a day at 15-30 minutes. Per week you're doing 1 hour 45 minutes at least and 3 hours 30 minutes at most. That's almost a college class worth of time spent, for free besides! Very much possible to learn in that amount of time.

How MUCH you learn has and always will depend on you. Anyone can do the exercises over and over again to achieve 100+ points a day. There were individuals that within weeks of Polish being released were level 25. I'd be willing to bet a level 10 achieved in a month could communicate better in Polish than a level 25 in three weeks. I'd bet money.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Z-Pen
Z-Pen
  • 23
  • 8
  • 2

I'd be willing to bet a level 10 achieved in a month could communicate better in Polish than a level 25 in three weeks. I'd bet money.

So would I.

But there again I see people at level 10 or 11 who've completed the Spanish tree (the only one I know anything about) and I find myself thinking...

Well, three things seem possible for those people

a) They're much, much smarter than I am, with considerably better memories. Very possible. b) they already had a fair command of the language and just burned through the lessons without doing or needing much revision or strengthening. c) they just burned through the lessons and at the end won't remember much at all.

I am as I say, about 1/4 of the way through my tree and level 10 already. I'm doing 150-200xp a day, but that's mostly on revision, not new lessons.I know for a fact that if I had done more lessons and less revision I'd remember nothing at this stage. If I did thirty xp, say one lesson and two strengthening exercises a day... I'd learn nothing. Nothing would stay in my mind.

If you can do that little and still learn, I can only salute you, but I think you very likely are a bit of a prodigy. I think 50xp is not nearly enough for most people to actually learn and retain things.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GrandaUrso

I am no prodigy heh, not even close. Mi estas tre multe malrapida urso. It's just that Esperanto is likely a little easier than Spanish. Many people can learn under 50. Ask around and you'll see. Many have full time sources other than Duolingo which they use to learn but they come on here either for review or a head start. Much of my levels are review as well. Some days I don't do a new lesson at all, I just do 30 points of review. It was nice to speak with you and I look forward to seeing you around on the forums!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RandomTed

My son has averaged 50xp a day. Some days more, some less but always at least 10xp a day. He has been using Duolingo for 80 days.

He is now half way done the French tree and he has always made it gold before completing a new skill.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tattamin
Tattamin
  • 25
  • 21
  • 13
  • 10
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3

Cheers for your language acquisition progress!
I agree with most of what you wrote. I finished my French (from my native German) tree in 77 days on level 14 but a good part of it was just resurrecting things I had learned 30+ years ago and buried deep withing my memory. I did about 100 xp per day of which there were (on average) 20 xp of new lessons and 80 xp repetition. The skills I had already learned thus all stayed golden as I added new ones.
I started Norwegian at almost the same time, having had just some very basic previous knowledge of it. I am still 30+ skills away from finishing that tree, having reached level 17 earlier this week. I do at least 100 xp per day, but there are days when all of that is "Strengthening". I wouldn't feel comfortable at attempting new stuff if the old one had not settled yet.
My daily limit for keeping my streak is set to 20 xp - and mostly ignored. But it means that on a bad day I won't have to stress myself too much to achieve it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NeridaPeters
NeridaPeters
  • 25
  • 19
  • 13
  • 6
  • 5
  • 3

17 skills in 2 weeks is quite an impressive achievement. I wonder how many people could or would even want to maintain that pace. I know I couldn't. It depends on the difficulty of the language, and how busy you are in the rest of your life. There is no way that I could go at that pace with Polish, which I'm finding very difficult. I am consolidating at the moment and not doing anything new. I'm not sure when I'll start learning new material. With Turkish, I worked through it quite quickly, but there were a couple of skills I found really hard and each lesson took a few days. I just couldn't get it right, gave up in frustration and came back again the next day and tried again. Sometimes I am busy with other things, sometimes I don't feel well, so I can't always put in a huge amount of effort. I can achieve my target of 30XP every day. Some days that's all I do. I can't imagine having the time to do 150XP a day. It's possible on weekends, but I don't want to spend all my time on Duolingo, no matter how motivated I am to learn my languages.

2 years ago