A study comparing the effectiveness of Duolingo to Rosetta Stone and college classes.
There are a lot of anecdotal and marketing claims about the effectiveness of different language learning methods, but there is usually little scientific evidence to back the claims. We wanted to change that, so we commissioned a study to find out how well people learn a language on Duolingo.
Here’s a link to the final report: http://static.duolingo.com/s3/DuolingoReport_Final.pdf
Some interesting points:
On average, it takes 34 hours of Duolingo to learn the equivalent of one semester of college. Since a semester of college generally takes a lot more than 34 hours of work, this suggests that Duolingo is more effective than a college course.
The study was done by an external research team that previously evaluated the effectiveness of other methods such as Rosetta Stone. It is of note that it took 55 hours of study with Rosetta Stone to reach the equivalent of one semester of college. So not only is Duolingo free-er than Rosetta Stone, the study suggests it’s also better.
We plan on using this data and continually conducting studies to make learning a language with Duolingo even better.
This learning program is awesome. I have never stuck with language learning before, but I am sticking with this, and I love it. I have it on my iPod and I use the app all the time. I find this program so easy to use and understand. I am so grateful for this software and that it's free. I have no complaints whatsoever, except that I can't figure out how to turn off the sound so I can play the radio or Pandora and just type. That's not a complaint against the software, however. I love it, just love it. My husband even likes to sit and watch me study, which means he's learning a bit of Italian as well, and we're spending time together. I couldn't be more pleased with a free learning product that will only enrich my life. Thank you, Duolingo.
I agree with Trinalgrant.
Personally, I started with the Ass*mil German method, which I had bought of course. I won't say that it's a bad method. It 's good, but it nevertheless bored me after a few lessons. I stopped it in favor of DL. With DL, something is happening. I hear, repeat, and type words on the keyboard (I use the web page, not the windows app), I look for information in other tabs of my browser from time to time : pronunciations with www.forvo.com, I look at the table of declensions and I reflect, I look at the definition or translation of a word, I insert a particular sentence in a personal Excel file, I look at the conjugations of a verb on a web site, and so on.
So, for me it's a very very useFUL - corrected! I typed useLESS this morning instead prior, poor me :-)! - and efficient way to learn, combined with the power of the Internet + the computer. And if I could I would subscribe to DL plus, just in order to support them of course.
Good work and thanks! I've only just discovered Duolingo but I am finding it extremely enjoyable.
Just a couple of suggestions. I think there needs to be a box to tick if the voice isn't quite right so these can be redone just as there is the option for ticking a box if the translation you give is right but duolingo hasn't got it in it's database.
To keep duolingo a fun learning experience and motivation high, I would suggest having monitors on individual lessons. These can be invisible to the users. If any particular lesson is en masse taking significantly more attempts to master than others then it could be reviewed and simplified. I know that in another post someone has said that there were lessons where the vocab was overloaded for example.
As a personal anecdote, two hours of basic French and I feel I learned more than any week of Spanish I took years ago in high school. Plus the ability to go at my own pace and repeat sections for practice is way nicer than trying to synthesize a textbook by myself or having a professor talk at me. I would like a way to practice with a native French-speaker at some point down the line.
I honestly think this web site and the whole Duolingo initiative (as I can only assume there are bigger plans coming down the pike) is a game-changer for the language learning space. We are all looking forward to seeing Duolingo's user base grow in the months and years to come. If there are any avenues to assist with the company's initiatives, I think you would have many volunteers ready to lend a helping hand.
This is so awesome! And i so agree with the study because i have friends who studied french in high school for about 2 years and they are nowhere near good at it neither talking, writing, or reading. I am amazed at how much i have learned in just 1 month and i login just when i can. I am so glad i found Duolingo! I can't wait until i can talk french fluently. Thank You
Living in Mexico and having some Spanish, I throroughly enjoyed my time as an early participant in the early days of Duolingo. I was very pleased with the method and my own rapid improvement until my sight failed. At 75, I have had several retinal detachments repaired by a series of surgeries. I now have some sight, but trouble reading for long. Since I cannot enjoy books or drive any more, I will slowly try to return to this program to learn and to contribute. It will certainly help improve my Spabish and help to pass the time. I am also glad to hear that studies indicate that it may be the fastest way to learn, coupled with practice on the street, of course. Do you suppose that, at 75, I might have time to brush up on my long unused French or survival Turkish? Saludos a todos.
I started using duolingo at the start of this year as part of my New Year's Resolution to greatly improve my Spanish. I think it is a great tool and I am finding it very useful so far. I feel it should be incorporated into the language learning process which may include a number of other approaches which all complement each other. I included duolingo in a recent article I wrote: New Year's Resolutions - Learn A New Language In 2013 http://suckmytrend.com/2012/12/31/new-years-resolutions-learn-a-new-language-in-2013/
Congratulations! This is well-deserved.
The idea of the individual online clock to measure hours of study in the conclusion had already been advanced by users, which goes to show there are indeed a lot of good ideas flowing around in here. It's a good thing we know you're listening.
I can imagine if Duolingo adds other learning approaches, such as listening / speaking and reading (proper texts), it may very well become the most complete and convenient language learning tool ever. Good interaction design and even marketing advocate, with good reasons, to focus. I would argue that a language learning site is perhaps a bit of an exception. As Kató Lomb said (I'm reading her book "Polyglot"): "The building of language has four large halls. Only those who have acquired listening, speaking, reading, and writing can declare themselves to be its dwellers".
(The other 3 approaches I mentioned have already been brainstormed by users, by the way.)
Duolingo has really helped me to understand grammar and generally be able to read a language, but it hasn't helped as much in being able to speak or have a conversation. The main difficulty being that a) people tend to speak very fast in their native language and b) I "think" in English and have to translate on the fly - which slows it all down! I'm currently looking into taking a course in a classroom setting so that I can practice with other people. Duolingo is definitely worthwhile, but probably more effective alongside a course and immersing yourself in the culture (if you can). Also, trying to say everything out loud (even if not completely correct) helps! What would be quite useful is if Duolingo had more interactive, social lessons where you could practice with other people. :-)
i am using duolingo because i have taken both spanish 1 and spanish 2 as university courses and need help in order to pass spanish 3. i have found that language courses have moved to mostly online instruction, with spanish one being completely online and spanish 2 online with one 50 minute class per week. this has not helped me learn conversational spanish.
I just recently finished taking two semesters of Spanish online. It was horrible. I got A's in both semesters but I hated my life. I especially hated the second semester, as it was a summer course that only lasted four and a half weeks. That was brutal while working and trying to keep reviewing German vocabulary. It kind of made me hate Spanish. I've just started my third semester of German and first semester of French. I'm putting Spanish off for a year.
This I can understand, Think about what other language are you around? With even Rossetta Stone. With any language learning tool. At first of using duolingo, why can't I be more profficent! The number one key is to SPEAK IT! It was scary for me at first. But now it helps improve confidence! Playing instrument the very same thing. Like, I would to do the other languages that duo has to offer. But I'm not around them. The first language you should try to master is the one second to english. Don't get me wrong, i would love to learn dutch or german. Main focus for me is Spanish. Though it all comes down to if you have a enough passion, that is for anything. Hopes this can be of help! :) gracias
Well Duolingo teaches you formality (yes grammar, reading) but not conversational. And there are many different dialects in each Spanish speaking country. This is the problem that I have found as well. Reading Spanish is not my problem, conversational Spanish is. And I think it's because Duolingo is focusing on what is grammatically correct. Like my HS Spanish class. And the reality is, no one really uses formality and instead a lot of slang. According to Doulingo, I have actually regressed in 8 months, I don't think their testing system is really a good way to gage whether or not you have made progress. Really the only thing you can do is converse with someone who is a native speaker of whatever language it is your learning. Volcabulary is what matters, not grammar when trying to communicate with someone who speaks another language.
Well its the same as learning English. Growing up we are taught the proper way to speak our language but by experiencing our language (I.E. talking to people day to day) we learn shortcuts of the language and references people make (Like that sick man) can't really fault the program for that.
Speaky or LiveMocha. (Although I don't miss the speaking and writing lessons on LM!)
In language learning, Reading helps Writing and Listening helps speaking. So in order to learn how to speak, you have to do a lot of listening. And there is some thing else which is known as FOREIGN DEAFNESS, to over come this, you have to do few hundred hours of listening, that will help your ears and brain to adjust to the so called NATIVE SPEED.
I absolutely agree.
listen listen, and listen.
I recommend www.forvo.com, especially for people who learn English, whose words pronunciations is quite impossible to guess, seeing the written words. Daily immersion by all the possible ways. passive listening is quite OK, doing something else at the same time. Radio, films with subtitles in that language, Tv...
AND At the same time, the first weeks and months we have to apply to ourselves kind of a "brainwashing" :) consisting in learning words. The basic elements of the language.
The vocabulary learning along with audio exposure, are the two main basic task in my view. It works. I did it with English. I recently started German with duolingo. German is quite tough for a French speaker I think, but I 'm getting more confident day after day.
An Duolingo is a very good tool.
I absolutely agree.
listen listen, and listen.
I recommend www.forvo.com, especially for people who learn English, whose words pronunciations is quite impossible to guess, seeing the written words. Daily immersion by all the possible ways. passive listening is quite OK, doing something else at the same time. Radio, films, Tvs.
AND At the same time, the first weeks and months we have to apply to ourselves kind of a "brainwashing" :) consisting in learning words. The basic elements of the language.
The vocabulary learning along with audio exposure, are the two main basic task in my view. It works. I did it with English. I recently started German with duolingo. German is quite tough for a French speaker I think, but I 'm getting more confident day after day. I believe that the big problem for some people is that they don't have a lot of time. And if you don't dedicate at least 30 mn EVERYDA, it will be very tough, and may be impossible.
another thing : if you learn a language is in order to integrate it to your life. otherwise don't, you'll will forget everything in the end.
I concur, but I think DL errs in introducing audio (listening) lessons way too early. Once we hit the crowns system and they took away our vocabulary lists, my progress stalled and my frustration with DL increased--because I was trying to hone listening and vocabulary and grammar skills at the same time.. Exposure to audio is good, but I would hold off until the student is fluent at reading and writing.
That's what I'm doing with Vietnamese. I have found out you can turn off the audio testing which allows me to focus on the grammar and reading/writing and building my vocabulary. I've made a spreadsheet which includes all the Vietnamese vocabulary I've covered in DL, plus words and constructions I have picked up in talking to my Vietnamese friends online. I really think my efforts with audio testing was dispersing my focus.
Once I become fluent in reading/writing, then I will return to audio to hone my hearing. I do this not because I don't think audio testing isn't important nor my hearing doesn't need to be honed, it's just trying to learn too much at once was resulting in me not learning or retaining much of anything. While I practice DL daily and talk/write with Vietnamese friends online daily, it is quite impossible to put in enough time to do it all at once--I found out in reviews I was struggling to remember past vocabulary and constructions because I was spreading myself too thin.
Ok, I believe that each one has to adjust the strategies which works for him. Somebody has wisely said that "A foreign language can't be teached, only learned' and I agree 100%
that's why many of us have had a foreign language education at school and have been totally unable to speak the language! we were supposed to RECEIVE a teaching. it does not work. once we are actors of the thing, it works.
My thought is that Duolingo actually gives you a great foundation to prepare yourself for the final experience of immersion. The languages I am learning - well I won't be able to immerse myself in all of them, maybe three or four. Having said that, language learning is a fantastic brain-challenger. For those of us who are getting on in years, brain exercise is important!
Sorry, hadn't seen this before. Well, it kind of depends on how you define 'fluency'. If by that you mean 'In a pinch, can you communicate with those languages' native speakers, even if imperfectly?' Then yes, although I suppose it's largely because they're all Romance languages, and therefore very similar to my own (Portuguese). I definitely can't yet do it in German. That said, I definitely think Duolingo is effective, it's just not enough. Listening and speaking are language skills in their own right!
My definition of fluency is to be able to communicate comfortably and effectively with good grammar (doesn’t have to be perfect) and a good accent (it’s completely fine if you make slips here and there). I went to Quebec with a friend who spoke fluently, and keep in mind French there is different than how it is taught on Duolingo. She received many comments on about how her French was very good. Pronunciation and grammarwise, it was alright but she was able to communicate. However, it can be evident that French is not your first language, and sometimes the people whom with she spoke switched to English to try to be helpful. I, on the other hand, everyone switched to English for me due to my very Anglophonic accent.
My story of learning German is backwards, but it does shed light on your question. I lived in Germany for 3 years without taking any formal German classes. Yes, I had one of those audio courses, but that was it. I did have a German girlfriend and did know how to watch TV;~) So, as you could imagine after 3 years I could speak German fairly confidently. Not well, but confidently. Well, I get back stateside and go to college, and think to myself, I know how to get an easy A, I will take German. Yes, I did well in the 2 semesters to I took, but they were not an easy A. So, my experience has taught me that the way to learn to speak a language confidently is to get a girl friend who will speak that language with me. But to speak it well requires more work.
for what it is worth, i just went to South America for a few weeks with my then-level 18. And the answer is: I was equipped for all the logistical issues, and people praised my accent which i did NOT expect. I was able to do anything: catch buses, order in restaurants, etc. Often with hesitation and a struggle, but I could do it. I chatted with taxi drivers and told them what I thought of their cities. I missed some things and did not attempt anything too difficult, but on the whole, I had all I needed and feared nothing. I did not hesitate over getting into situations where nobody spoke English. fine, fine.
For me it is the best for people who are beginning to learn a language or want to refresh Of course it not a complete solution no languge resource is.. The translations help you see words in real life context. I actually enjoy the translation part the best. It is also intutive. The idea is to take it and use it.
I have to say, I like both approaches and am using both. It's like having two different professors with a huge community to work with. Both methods make me think, "why would one phrase it this way and not that? " This in turn forces me, as I did in college, to seek outside sources to clarify material. I think there's validity to both!
Well, I am an 82 year old man, and I have been trying to learn Spanish for over two years. I have gone through all five levels of RosettaStone (Spain Version) once and am about 1/3rd of the way through for the second time. In Addition, I have spent several months in Spain and in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, trying to use Spanish. My wife's native language is Spanish. We met a woman at the airport who is French-Canadian and is trying to learn English with Duolingo, and she told us about it. I have been using Duolingo now only for about a week, but am enormously surprised at how really good this program is. I like it a lot and find myself not bored like I get with RosettaStone. The design and delivery are both excellent, and I intend to go through the entire program. Admittedly, I am finding it quite easy so far, but that is to be expected. Still, I am learning and reinforcing prior learning in several ways. So I like it a lot. And I can't believe it is free, given how much we paid for RosettaStone. :-)
A study described in on the following thread found that Duolingo, with a little study in some other small areas will take you up to a B1 level. http://www.duolingo.com/comment/186914 Duolingo is a brilliant basis: in school, we have a French student who comes to some of our lessons and when she speaks to the teacher in French, I can understand the gist of what she's saying because of the things I have learnt in Duolingo!
Another thing, the timing of the introduction of new words can greatly ease the burden of learning. For example in German to learn a new word like Erwachsene with four syllables takes x amount of brain power. To learn a word with less syllables like wachsen takes less than x brain power. By learning wachsen first, Erwachsene also takes less than x brain power as the root of the word has already been digested and there’s something to pin it on to.
it's true that learning some long words in German, and with that so different non familiar sounds, is quite a challenge for me! believe me! A nightmare :-)
I'm a French-Spanish-English speaker. Auzgezeigchne, tatsächlich,selbstverständlich,zuständig, verantwortlich. wow. I started German from almost zero 3 monts ago. it is not an easy process, for me, and it will certainly require months. that's the price to pay. :-)
I took a foreign language in college, hated it, it always felt awkward, and it was impossible to learn at my pace. I have been using DuoLingo now for a few months (some more than others) but have noticed many improvements in my comprehension and vocabulary. While it does not replace speaking to people in person it does help give you more confidence to do that when you interact with people that speak fluently. Speaking to other college classmates who can not pronounce words and speak grammatically correct was a complete waste of time compared to Duo Lingo ( and a more complete waste of tuition money and student loan debt.)
While I agree Duolingo is much better than Rosetta Stone, it leaves a lot to be desired in the realm of speaking practice. It appears that the CAPE test used in the study did not include speech testing.
I know people who can read complicated German books front to back without a problem but still struggle to speak it. While Duolingo helps ALOT with vocabulary and reading comprehension, it can not replace a classroom experience for language speaking practice.
Also - this study only examined the Spanish speaking portion of the Duo Lingo site, I would be curious to see the results if they had used French or German (or the Italian and Portuguese betas)
I am currently signed on with Rosetta Stone and Duolingo as I need all the help I can get. Having said that I would like to mention a few striking differences between each program and why I think these differences either work or don't work, for me at any rate. I am finding with RS that I am having great difficulty retaining what I have learned, if I have actually learned anything at all, and I'm not convinced I have. That's really aggravating and depressing considering the time I have put into RS so far. For me, memory retention and ability to respond tells me I have actually learned something. Yet in RS I can't respond to any live speaker for the life of me. I can't actually construct a sentence. I am consistently left unable to open my mouth to speak at a loss for words. I am however very good at "parroting" the recorded speaker's voice though. My pronunciation is exact and almost flawless, so were I able to understand what I was actually saying I would feel I had learned something. But what RS is actually teaching me is how to "imitate" a speaker of the language I want to learn, with stock phrases ans sentences I don't always understand while saying. Part of the problem is that RS doesn't give you any help with parts of speech, nor do they provide any idea as to whether you have made any mistake or not with a corrective translation. Putting an 'X' on the picture doesn't tell me how I went wrong and why. All it tells me is that I was wrong and to try again. Many of RS's pictures are not clear, often vague and confusing, which makes it very difficult to match sentences and/or words and phrases. With Duolingo however, there are sentences and pictures, but there are also translations of eachj phrase or sentence. This I believe is important because having the exact wording in both your native language and your learning language tells you exactly where you went wrong - and how to correct it. You are not left in the dark guessing and never knowing you got it right and then forgetting. Each time I redo a sentence after making a mistake, the next sentence changes slightly, often in such a way that points out exactly how I went wrong and why. I still make mistakes, but at least now I am seeing WHY I made them and HOW I might correct them - I don't feel I'm wasting my time brainwashing my senses with innumerable pictures and sounds I can't make head nor tail of. I love the fact that Duolingo draws your attention to parts of speech and how each works while at once creating sentences that are just slightly different each time; reinforcing your understanding of a word and how it can and can't be used in a single sentence or an innumerable combination of sentences. Being asked to translate back and forth between each sentence I think has been key to help with my ability to retain the information I am rearranging to form accurate sentences. A stuident can only learn if they can detect their mistakes and find ways to correct them, or have them pointed out so as to help the student understand what is wrong and what to do about it. RS claims their 'naturalistic' method is based on the idea that, as children, we learned our first language by something like instinct or osmosis - iow, I interpret this to mean, we learn haphazardly and messily by a sort of confused and emotionally draining brute force, sink or swim method of learning (if that can be descrbed as learning at all). That's fine if you are a desperate child trying to communicate with your parents. A child and has no reference, no prior rational understanding to compare and contrast for definition and interpretation. But many of us who are learning a second language are adults now, we can learn through logical, rational processes as well as brute force repetition and chaotic guess work. As a learner, what works and is satisfying (for me) is observing how something does and doesn't work by deduction and inference, by logic, not by instinct, which is a key problem and weakness in RS's philosophy of teaching/learning I believe. I take great satisfaction in thinking my way through a problem using reason and logic, where with RS one must almost suspend ones ability to think and hope that you will "absorb" after long, VERY LONG, MONOTONOUS slideshows, periods of repitition of unintelligible sounds with many incomprehensible pictures before you make any clear and lucid connection that can be articulated and understood. I'm not saying RS doesn't work for some people, because there obviously are many out there that believe it does for them, but Duolingo has corrected or put to use their technique with learning strategies that RS has overlooked or ignored. I suspect Duolingo is more on track toward a more successful and effective learning program, though once again, I have chosen to stick with both methods for now just to see how each compliments the other, or out performs the other. So far I find Duolingo taking the lead and will likely be the key factor in helping me with problems I'm having with RS, where RS can't or won't help.
Thanks for the analysis. I am trying to learn french to enhance my role at work and have been using Duolingo but wondering whether I should ask my boss to ok the purchase of Rosetta Stone. For the moment I don't think I will, as I have similar learning strategies to you and DL is certainly working for me.
+1 Vote for adding some paragraphes. Sometimes it helps to actually see where a (not too long) sentence starts AND ends with some white lines before and after ;)
Pardon me, I am not an English native speaker, so we have to make at least twice the effort to read thru a longer letter. Best regards Thomas
I'm still trying to work out how a pilot study with a huge dropout rate goes from "study suggests" to "scientifically proven." Duolingo is a great idea and a great service, but I don't care for the hyperbole in advertising. To scientifically "prove" the efficacy of any system would take a consensus among all the experts, not one study with iffy results and serious limitations.
I personally think Rosetta stone is a waste of time. It goes over the same words so many times in each lesson that it takes so long to finish each one. You focus so much on the same words that you start to forget past words. Not only that, but also the fact that it costs so much money and takes so much time I think duolingo is not only better because of its price, but also because of its effectiveness, calming graphics, gamified learning, addictiveness, and the fact that it makes language learning fun.
That is awesome. Although I wonder if the results are skewed by the Duolingo users who are already familiar with a language and can quickly speed through the early lessons. For example, Spanish is very easy for me because I lived in Latin America for two years as a child, so people like me may be skewing the results. College courses, on the other hand, are paced to accommodate people who are starting from scratch, so they may be slower.
Regardless, that's an impressive result, so congratulations, and thanks for the excellent service.
- "Although I wonder if the results are skewed by the Duolingo users who are already familiar with a language and can quickly speed through the early lessons".
I don't think so: "The participants were [...] not advanced users of Spanish...". Besides, "the test results were measured as the difference between the final and the initial language test results".
While duo lingo may be great at improving grammar skills I doubt it compares to speaking and listening practice in the real world. Nothing in the report specifically mentioned these vital language skills. I see duo lingo as a support to real world teaching or at least other resources. The AI voice often gets intonations wrong and some of the translations are a bit sketchy. Things that shouldn't happen in a real world language class (provided the teacher has qualifications).
Yup Duolingo is the 'awesomest' language website I have seen and has motivated me to start learning Spanish which was long due. But as @anticlockwise pointed out,the key to learning any language is speaking it in the real world, where Duolingo is restricted owing to the limitations of this medium. Within its limitations though, its the best thing there is on the planet! :-)
As with any tech start-up, I woud think there is a short and long term plan that includes having live conversational elements to it. Perhaps months or a year down the road you will be able to live chat via audio, video, or both, with other people, both native on non-native speakers, on a range of current/interesting topics. Perhaps lessons will be "taught" by willing participants via a crowd-sourcing method. All in all, considering the extremely high-level of polish this web site, the iPhone app, and the pure design everything here looks to have, there is without a doubt a plan to fill in the "real world" gap noted above. Or, when all else fails, we can all start making Duolingo meet-ups.
I saw the story on TechCrunch and was definitely intrigued enough to take a closer look. I've always been scared of "programs" that will teach you a language, but the thought of taking a college-like course for free was compelling enough for me.
Thanks for pulling this study together and taking a fresh look at learning new languages!
I started using Duolingo last November, but stopped doing the lessons within a month or so (bored because difficult to hear the spoken material). I now do only the translations and believe my reading vocabulary has increased quite a lot. I think I move through the translations quite quickly now - not always correctly, of course :) . What interests me the most is whether this better facility with reading carries over to the spoken language the next time I'm in Mexico. Am I going to be more fluent? That will tell me whether Duolingo actually works for me.
"It is of note that it took 55 hours of study with Rosetta Stone to reach the equivalent of one semester of college. So not only is Duolingo free-er than Rosetta Stone, the study suggests it’s also better."
Good to know, but can you please share a link to that study? If not, was it the same researchers, using the same research methods?
You can open the PDF linked to above at http://static.duolingo.com/s3/DuolingoReport_Final.pdf and search for 'Rosetta' to find mention of the Rosetta Stone data.
On page 21 of the Duolingo study at the above link (page # 22 of the PDF) it says under Cited Literature "Vesselinov, R., 2008, Measuring the Effectiveness of Rosetta Stone®, Final Report, manuscript available through Rosetta Stone®."
This current report mentions that they are comparing 2008 RS software with 2012 DL software, instead of comparing the same vintages (this is in the paragraphs above the 'Cited Literature' section), so there could have been improvements in the RS software the past 4-5 years to narrow the gap (but not the price differential :).
Anyone have a link to the actual report from the Rosetta Stone site? Or maybe they've since pulled it?
OK, so I looked for the 2008 Rosetta Stone study and found it quickly thanks to Google ... here it is: http://resources.rosettastone.com/CDN/us/pdfs/Measuring_the_Effectiveness_RS-5.pdf
I am prepared for the tide of down-votes coming my way for sharing my opinion, so bring it on. I feel like someone has to say it. I love DuoLingo for what it is. It is fun, I get to practice on the go, it is a very beautiful looking polished app, but it does not teach languages. It can't really be compared to something like Rosetta Stone.
DuoLingo does a great job at honing your existing skills in a language for translating (which makes since being its primary way they make money). Sure I have learned a few things and it is fun, but for the most part the vocabulary comes way too fast with too little practice to be practical. Every now and then a word will stick. You need planned repetition. You need to see the same things several days in row instead of typing it out once. You need a lot more speaking and listening to tune your ear to the new words and sounds. Heck, I have passed entire sections without even seeing some of the words I am suppose to already know. I mostly practice sections I have already passed now because I keep seeing words I don't remember seeing before.
DuoLingo is a great supplement, but anyone using it as the backbone of their studies would be making a huge mistake. I am not fan of Rosetta Stone but I have tried it. As frustrated as I get with it, I do remember almost everything it goes over. Rosetta Stone has almost no speaking practice (although a lot more than duolingo), but I do think their method is good. I personally prefer the natural learning style similar to Assimil that focuses on your ability to understand the language first. Although Assimil is a bit fragmented and dull. The method is sound.
I certainly agree with you that using Duolingo alone won't make you able to speak a language fluently. You need to actually talk to be people for that. Or at least, that's the only way I've ever managed to learn a language to fluency. However, I can say that using Duolingo regularly for a few months brought my French up to the point where I can read books written in French quite comfortably. That's no mean achievement in and of itself. As to the Rosetta Stone comparison, the relevant question is not so much whether Rosetta Stone is marginally better than Duolingo or Duolingo is marginally better than Rosetta Stone; it's whether Rosetta Stone is 500 dollars better than Duolingo. I don't reckon it is.
I agree. I don't think it's $500 better than Duolingo. In order to create the "perfect language course" for free, without leaving the country, you could combine Duolingo (for grammar and some vocabulary), Memrise (mainly vocabulary), Lang-8 (writing practice), The Angry Family (or other language show with captions for listening comprehension), and Skype-based language partner course.
For myself, I only needed to be able to read and write fluently in Spanish. After finishing the Duolingo tree, I've written my first children's book in Spanish. I think that alone says something for Duolingo.
I think the truth is that whether a program is truly effective is going to depend a lot on the learner.
I used Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish originally, though that was back in 2003...I think, when I was in seventh grade. When I was using it, it worked great for storing things in your memory, but it had such a hands-off approach with grammar that I probably couldn't have recited one grammar rule. Maybe the difference between el/la. I'm sure Rosetta has improved though.
I've never found any program that was totally effective without supplements (including the version of Rosetta Stone I used).
Since I can't afford Rosetta Stone, I used a combination of Duolingo, Memrise, and other Spanish sites (and books) to brush up on my Spanish.
Duolingo works best if you only really need to know how to read and write grammatically correct sentences (which would be helpful for college students and people who want to translate documents) in a language, but I don't think it would be my first choice for speaking/listening.
I found this quite by accident, and I am totally hooked!!!! I grew up speaking the Neapolitan dialect, but I have had trouble expressing in the "proper" Italian. This program has helped tremendously in my quest to become fluent and confident. I love it! I pass it onto all of my friends who are interested in learning another language.
As a more advanced Spanish speaker looking to improve more, I found that at the higher levels, the error rate increased to a point that I do not believe acceptable.
This article says exactly what I feel when using the higher levels in duolingo:
Basically, duolingo's is great for beginners to start but BE AWARE that it will lead you astray once you start advancing to the higher levels.
Since I started with little more than "gracias" and "dos cervezas por favor" I found Duolingo right up my alley. But now that I've finished my tree (and survived two weeks in Barcelona and Bilbao ... and can read a newspaper like El Pais, "más o menos") I wouldn't mind trying some other sites that are a bit more advanced.
So Jeremy, any suggestions for sites like that?
I don't know of any other websites (haven't loooked) which teach a language. If you are wanting to improve further, my suggestion would be professional classes... or even rosetta stone! :)
I like free things as much as the next guy, but if you are serious about learning another language then you should be willing to fork out a bit.
edit: ...Or find a Spanish girlfriend!
Oh gosh I know this is old but I just want to add - I read that article too before starting and now that I'm finally at that point with the harder half, the complaints make sense. My theory is that there's not enough people who get down that far without giving up, so there's not enough feedback from the users to fix it. I hope it's fixed soon, but I'll definitely be doing my part in improving translations heh
I think the fact that the sentences get more complex as you go along is also relevant. I mean, there aren't really that many ways to translate simple sentences like "El perro come el pescado", but there are many different ways to translate a more complex sentence along the lines of "Me hubiera gustado mucho si pudieras venir a la fiesta".
So after reading this study I got curious and decided to take the CAPE exam myself; I've been on duolingo for ~ 4 months and would estimate have spent between 20 minutes and an hour/day. Only a few days during that time did I do none at all. As of this writing I'm at DL level 13 in Spanish. I have NO Spanish language learning background. When I started I knew none (although took a couple years of college French late in the last century).
Anyway, I scored 333 on CAPE exam which would place me in second semester Spanish; it's a score about 80% of the way to placement into 3rd semester. I'm a pretty happy camper as I can't imagine learning this much of a foreign language this quickly and this painlessly, any other way.
I am a beginner to the German language and this helped/is helping me out so much! Duolingo + Quizlet and daily usage of this site are extraordinary for learning a language! I also use the mobile app in study hall at school for extra help for when I get home to learn more efficiently; It really does help a lot!
Yup, I appreciate the study but I can tell you from empirical evidence: this is way better than my college courses and it is preferable to rosetta stone. However, I would love to have Spanish short stories that I can work on translating once I'm done with the practice levels. Articles about real things are great for learning, but fiction will prove if I can understand the language or if I'm coasting on personal knowledge.
Thanks for the report! I am a new DL user and am excited about its efficiencies. My intent is to use it to bring back and improve on what I have lost in French. It appears that it a useful tool to use in a suite of approaches.
A note for those of you who want to continue on with your new language, and to really speak/interact -- try "pattern practices", as we called them in the last century. This repetition methodology gives your brain and mouth muscles the same kind of facility you get through repetitions in training for any sport. The stimulus-response provides a mindless way to increase your ability to interact and to enhance your pronunciation.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I learned Russian and French this way in college, spending hours each day in the U of Michigan language lab. I then hitch-hiked around France, yakking with everyone -- in 1970.
Now I am returning to France to visit my French wife's family. I have found Rosetta Stone useful -- it puts you in the visual and auditory settings that you would find in a French-speaking community. But, it is pricey. The intent of that program is to simulate immersion, without a plane ticket and hotel bill.
But I have found that I need the repetition of the old language lab in order to retrieve the comfortable stimulus-response that pattern practices provide. I found a boutique product, FrenchToday.com. Not only do the teacher/owner's mp3s come packed with this repetition, she explains why you are speaking the way she has you speak. Essentially, though, her strength is in making you repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
This repetition method was long believed by professionals to be the way to bring adults relatively quickly up to speed in another language. I recommend it. But now I have found the DL approach.
While DL does not seem to force the massed repetitions that helped me learn, I can guess why DL works for many. And I look forward to daily visits with it. But I would be very interested to know what convinced the developers to move from the old Army Language School pattern practice approach.
I have had duolingo for almost a year now and I love it. I don't keep often with it so I'm constantly resetting and starting over. Plus the fact I have no one to speak it makes it harder to remember.
It would be nice if the makers could tie in conjugation lessons. It defeats the purpose of learning a new language if you don't know how to conjugate the verbs properly.
I only know/remember how to do most of it because I took French from grade 3 - 12.
Conjugation is the only reason why I have considered Rosetta Stone but I won't be buying it after reading the reviews from customers
You can practice communication with French speakers here, https://fr.answers.yahoo.com/. Yahoo Answers serves many languages and I have just started using them for Spanish. The posters might not always be grammatically correct, but it's a free way to communicate with the average native speaker.
I have a copy of Rosetta Stone. Thankfully, I did not have to pay for it so I can honestly say I got my moneys worth. I find it repetitious and monotonous. I am still learning and nowhere near a level of fluency, but so far I find Duolingo and other free immersion techniques to be very helpful. To anyone thinking about spending your money on Rosetta Stone, I strongly suggest doing more research. I do not think it is worth a fraction of what they charge. They are financially successful because of great marketing techniques, not because it is a miraculous program that will make you learn a new language easily.
Well I did about 3 intensive weeks in German on Duolingo in Fall 2014; took a two month break and took it up again in mid-March in prep for 2 weeks in Berlin. Finished off tree while in Berlin. 40+ years ago spent 4 years in poorly taught high school German and 2 semesters in light weight community college German. Somewhat conversational in summer travel 40+ years ago. Duolingo was pretty good a reinforcing sentence structure and introducing German version of English cognates that have overtaken some of the language. Notwithstanding, didn't help much in understanding conversational German while in Berlin. Still needed to carry around German/English dictionary if I wanted to know what was going on. Still, the repetitive nature of the Duolingo program is pretty good at dusting off ghosts of high school and college German and truly grateful that it has skipped entirely the subjunctive verb case - you know "If I had had a brother he would have liked peanut butter on the bread we would have purchased for him yesterday."
There are lots of languages i want to learn for all kinds of reasons do you suppose learning more than one is counter productive? Should we learn one then move onto next or learn more than one in parallel? Enrolling on a college course I was told just to learn one else on would get confused. The Pimsleur method advisor suggested its OK to learn more than one if the languages are diverse such as Chinese and French but not similar.
This is my method on becoming "fluent" in the language of Spanish. I wake up and watch Mexican news. Although I don't understand it, it's good to hear. If I hear words being repeated I'll write them down. After watching the news, I'll get on Duolingo and do 3-5 exercises minimum a day. Every new word that is taught to me in Duolingo, I write down on flash cards. Then when I go to work in the afternoon, I ask question to my Mexican friends. They in return ask me questions to get me speaking. Lastly, I am taking a 3 hour Spanish class every Saturday. The homework and class drills help keep me on edge. Duolingo alone won't get you "fluent" so you have to add in extra practice methods during your own time! Would recommend Duolingo though!
For me, one of the most valuable features of Duolingo is the 'strengthening' feature. I had no prior knowledge of French when I started Duolingo when planning a trip to Paris. Just before the trip I sped through a large number of lessons. After the trip it dropped in my priorities, so I only log in for a few minutes each day. And I spend that time just keeping up on my 'strengthening' exercises. I'm not sure I've covered any NEW lessons since my return. I'm not making progress, but I think I'm managing to hold steady (at Level 10). This is a critical point. In other language study programs I would probably be going over the same level 10 lesson over and over and just getting bored while I forgot most of Levels 1 - 9. So I'm hanging in there...
it kinds makes sense. Language is intuitive and for someone with zero exposure to a foreign language, bombarding them with all the syntax rules would only confuse them. Even understanding the syntax but not using them in a sentence would also be useless. I think duolingo should continue on with immersion based teaching but should also include sections that would explain concepts like "difference between porque and por que" ....etc if funding is the issue, then you could make it like wikipedia and people could edit
I think if you imagine a situation that fits the text, close your eyes and listen closely to the words, that helps a lot. Also mimicking everything that is said even if you sound funny. Just like babies babbling when they're learning a language. And you can always YouTube your language for grammar rules and pronunciation explainations. Being dedicated and really wanting to learn the language helps a lot too.
The free service is great, and it offers an intuitive learning style, but in my experience, the lessons are phrased awkwardly and need to be updated.
Several examples of needless wrong answers are given on the Russian lessons. One that particularly sticks in my head is when translating a sentence that says "Tom looks out the window" it is marked wrong because I didn't type "Tom looks out OF the window". I've reported it every time, and there are several examples of this plaguing the lesson in a frustrating way.
I concur with this (taking the Vietnamese section). You hate the experience of having your answer marked wrong just because you didn't use what (to you) is an awkward or unnecessary or unnatural English construction. ("Dinner is delicious" is marked wrong, "THE dinner is delicious" is right, even though there is no Vietnamese equivalent for 'the' in the sentence).
Just as bad, is when you type in something that should be correct--and you check by Google translate (I know it's not perfect), and it seems to be an exact equivalent--and it's marked wrong. Some of this involved my using a Vietnamese phrase or word as taught but the answer involves an construction not covered in the lesson--yet Google has what I was taught marked down as correct too.
I am a linguist and I have tried DuoLingo in the past on other accounts. I am learning Swedish and Norwegian as they are a different language group for me. I speak Spanish, English, and Math. Honestly, I find that this software helps. If you can learn any basics of a language and learn which language group it belongs to, it can help learn more language. In regards to speaking practice, if you can learn the sounds (start with the vowels!) it can really help to improve the language. Learn where the stresses are in the words and it helps tremendously. I find that I can pick up words easily because Norwegian and Swedish are similar to English and German in some of the sounds.
I'm sorry, as a former college professor, Duolingo is in now way EVEN CLOSE to taking a semester of the language in college... Sure, I mean you can translate all day sentences like "The apples are running" -(an actual translation I did today in my Swedish session) without ever, I don't know, actually SPEAKING the language? Duolingo is a great way to practice vocab and enhance grammar, but I don't think it actually replaces speaking with others 2-4 days a week in a communicative language class.
As someone who barely remembers anything from his college classes in (especially in German, a whole year) I can't agree. In my experience, college suffers the same problem of lack of proper pronunciation and conversation practice. I remember more French but that's only because I had 3 years of French in high school, while only a year in college German. Even though I probably covered about the amount of material in one year of college German as I did in 3 years of high school French, it was the increased duration of exposure that allowed me to recall more French.
I agree that Duolingo falls short on these too, but as both college classes and DL fall short on this, what I hope to get out is reading and writing comprehension in Vietnamese. Hearing will be tougher and speaking tougher still, but I figure that if I can read and write, then in a pinch I can exchange notes.
great, i m rushing and slashing through portugeguese tree like a train :)))
i was a perfectionist when it comes to languages and so one idea overwhelmed my mind when it came to language learning: i have to be perfect or i shall never start a new language.
duolingo lets me have a quick snapshot of whether i like the language or not! e.g. i m now figuring out i understand so many words in portugao after completing spanish.
i know it is not good to fast forward and complete a tree like a sprinter, language learning is a marathon, so the point is not speed but consistency.
but what i figured out is that duolingo lets me have this feeling of knowing the basics of a language, without spending too much time on it!
i plan to do german, esperanto, italian, maybe french!
I happen to have finished two beginner courses in my hometown. The courses were not interesting enough so I quit. I found Duolingo and continued learning Hungarian and German. I found very useful to have those beginner courses finished. But after that I find Duolingo better.
looks like Duolingo misses some good language preparation. But if you have some language knowledge Duolingo is a great thing.
After I finish these two, I will start the third one from the very beginning to see how it will go.
I would have to agree with this. I started Danish one week ago and I already have learned about as much as I do in one semester of French in my Middle School. I think it would be ideal if schools used Duolingo and some other sources such as teacher knowledge to teach languages. The only advantage to in person classes is that conversations are normally held in the language that is being learned. I feel like my ability to hold a conversation is better taught in schools than on websites, but I think that websites can teach you grammar and vocabulary words.
I am learning Spanish using Rosetta Stone, Rocket Spanish, Madrigal's Magic Key, Pimsleur and Duolingo at the same time. From my point of view - Duolingo is the worst one. There is no any system which allows you to learn going step by step. Every new lesson has the words which has nothing to do with the words in the last one There is no subject/topic to discuss in each lesson. There are no rules where to use, "ser" and "estar" etc. May be it is good for people, who already knows Spanish, but not for the beginners. The only advantage compare with the others - it is free.
I find that Duolingo is good at building vocab and grammar skills very rapidly, but making a conversation seems to come only with actual conversation. I think after I finish my french course I will download iTalki and just talk to people. The thing with language learning is there is almost no competition for certain things. I think Duo and iTalki make a great team for learning language. It would be epic if they were to partner up.
While the hours alone are useful to know about, at the same time, there are other factors.
Like, Duolingo does a better job with some aspects of how to conjugate and grammar rules and such. But with Rosetta stone, my brain does not translate the spanish to English and then I understand it. Because there is no English text, my brain pretty much goes from spanish to understanding.
I have spanish I have learned from Rosetta stone and when someone asked me what a sentence meant, even thought I KNEW what it meant, I literally had to pause to translate it into English before I could tell someone else. I got the understanding first.
With spanish learned here, I am translating it into english SO I can understand it, so it is a slower process in that respect, I think.
Although this was with rosetta stone in the early days, when it was much more flexible and you had to learn making your own choices about what to study and how long. Now, they do a lot more babying and handholding and from what I've seen, it may not be as effective anymore, frankly.
Hello Everyone, I am 69 years old and English is my second language. I am learning Spanish just to improve my going out memory. At this point I tried 4 courses and one book: 1. Rosetta Stone 2. Rocket Spanish 3. Duolingo 4. Pimsleur 5. Madrigal's Magic key to Spanish Although #4 and #5 are very old - they are the best! In regards to money: you can buy the book on Amazon for $6-7 dollars and you really need it if you serious about Spanish. All other courses you can get from internet for free if you are not lazy.
Another study I'd be interested in is long-term (years of duolingo) vs years of other similar programs, or college courses.
This is awesome though. Glad I use duolingo.
P.S. I was actually just looking for a place to review the new Duolingo podcasts. They are FANTASTIC. The stories are interesting, the level appropriate for learning, and I find myself listening to them over and over to understand more and more. Just listened to "Hellen Brown" for the first time and it's the most intriguing, beautiful, & wonderful story.
I feel I've learned a lot from DL, my Vietnamese friends compliment me on my progress. My biggest problems though are:
1) Modules which are too large (there was in my Vietnamese course one with 50+ new words to learn). This is a problem because the testing and strengthening programs can't possibly cover them all and give you practice on them all. A module should contain 8-12 new words/phrases/constructions and these should be covered in all the lessons and all the strengthening tests. It's better to learn 8-12 new words and really know them than to be given credit for 50 you struggle to recall.
2) The strengthening exams tend to cover the same sentences over and over and over again. After a time, you're just repeating them from memory, not having to actually understand the sentence. Also, many parts of the covered vocabulary get short shrift--you practice some things to the point of exhaustion and some things you supposedly learn you rarely see.
3) The introduction of course material does not seem to follow utility. I learned the words for "alligator", "kangaroo", "dragonfly", "Ferris Wheel" and such but have yet covered simple future and past tense (in Vietnamese tenses are less complex than in Western languages and I believe can thus be introduced early) and also very common words like "today", "tonight", "tomorrow", "yesterday", "home", etc. (I am picking these up in online conversations with Vietnamese friends).
4) I get it that understanding spoken Vietnamese is and should be hard. Still, as someone has suggested, a "slow down" button in the exercises and tests would be very helpful. That is what you do in actual conversation when you are speaking with someone who doesn't know English, or what they do when speaking to you, you repeat and slow down and enunciate the words slowly and individually. This is especially true that in some of the exercises the spoken words are spoken quickly and seem to be run together, as if two or three words are spoken as one word with two/three syllables.
I prefer Rosetta Stone. Duolingo feels more like a game than a teaching program. There are no lessons, just quizzes. Guess correctly, move on. Guess incorrectly, you're given the answer and when they repeat the question, you are just repeating the answer they gave, not understanding it.
There is no question that I'm learning Spanish more and faster with DuoLingo than I have with anything else I tried over the last <ahem> decades (I seem to try again about every 10-12 years).
Please remember I said that. Because, that said:
1) I am hardly learning with DuoLingo alone, this time, and I find really helpful the complementary styles of the 12 (twelve) Spanish-teaching websites and apps that I'm using, plus 2 books, plus 5 websites for help with conjugation, pronouns, and sentence structure (special thank you to Cliffs Notes for helping with combining direct and indirect pronouns! FINALLY).
But I find DuoLingo to be the cornerstone of my studies, the only one I absolutely must keep up with every day. I can't live without SpanishDict, though, especially now while I'm on a verb-conjugation rampage, but they are not the easiest site for finding what you're looking for. Sometimes I just have to make up the URL and hope that it will work.
2) In spite of all these resources, by far my weakest skill - that DuoLingo isn't helping with AT ALL, but neither is anyone else - is learning how to construct my own sentences and construct them well. Thanks @duggers8 for the tip about Language Zen!! They look to be very good at that!! I only peeked into it for the first time just some minutes ago, and in the assessment I was already being challenged to translate sentences into Spanish at a level WAY beyond my skills, even though the rest of the assessment was easy.
Fortunately - or unfortunately - Language Zen evaluated me as Intermediate Plus even though I only correctly translated one sentence, because I aced the rest. Problem is, now I can't figure out how to get them to help me to start over, and start trying to build basic sentences before being challenged to create the more complicated ones. (I've only used them for 10 minutes and already I'm whining...) Trying to find the cookie(s) so I can delete them and start over.
3) Wlingua, which is probably my 2nd favorite learning app, allows me to choose to learn Latin American Spanish, and shows me as I go how it would be said differently in Spain. Thank you thank you thank you, Wlingua. I wish DuoLingo would let me know when it's teaching me words that are preferred in Spain but not in Mexico. Instead, as I go I keep incrementing my Quizlet flashcard deck of Mexican-Spain differences (65 differences so far) so that I can better understand the slant that I'm being spoon fed despite my preference for Mexican Spanish.
Am I done? No. But I'll stop.
I don't believe that for a second. Aside from cultural immersion, learning in a classroom is the best way. No way Duolingo alone can teach you a language as well. Even if Duo is your only means of learning a language, that's still great. Any attempt at all to learn a new language is a valiant effort. It just depends on how much time and money you want to invest into language learning. But as far as effectiveness, no way you're getting the same thing just typing words into a box as you do in a classroom, where you have the feedback of a teacher. You can make mistakes a little more freely and get corrected. You can ask questions, ask for clarification, learn more along the way. You're taught lessons on grammar and idioms, and you learn interesting insights that help you to remember things. You get to interact with your classmates, which is invaluable practice. You get a chance to actually speak and benefit from help with pronunciation. You have writing assignments that give you a chance to think more deeply than "the pig ate the apple."
Rosetta Stone doesn't work for me. My mother purchased RS for the family to learn. Initially, I was excited. Five minutes into using it, all my excitement morphed into disappointment. It gives me single words through pictures, which to me, seems like more of a harm than help. The pictures are vague and often confusing, and never provides grammar or sentence construction. Also, it's just repetitive and boring.
My mom insists I'm not seeing RS through the lense of conversational and oral fluency. Okay, yeah, I've been learning Latin for years, so I'm definitely oriented towards translating rather than interpretation. But Rosetta Stone has no logical structure. Learning random words using images may help with vocabulary alone, but that's it.