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The "game" is a frustrating one

The points feel meaningless, and it is really tough to begin a language when you are repeatedly told you "fail" and have to retake the lesson.

Perhaps earn "hearts" instead, like in zelda, and instead of restarting each lesson, just continue and rephrase the question in a different way later on that someone is having issues with and focusing on that.

Or maybe go without the hearts and have a timer that gives you more points the quicker you answer a question.

As it is (or when I played it last) duolingo is frustrating and boring with a meaningless point system. Experiment with some different things to make it more fun to play.

January 27, 2013



re: "Or maybe go without the hearts and have a timer that gives you more points the quicker you answer a question."

you should try timed practice: http://duolingo.com/#/practice


It probable depends on your learning style. In my case if there was no objective quantifiable way to measure daily effort(points) I simply would not set daily goals and I would have probably have given up long ago. No question it sucks when you have a goal to get 100 points or so a day and you keep repeating failing one lesson over and over.


No one likes to fail, even if it's a game. If you could never get past the second level in the original mario game, you would quit. In more current games, game mechanics are there and it may not be easier to "succeed" but it is a lot harder to fail.

Maybe there could be five minute games where you compete against the clock to answer as many questions as you can and translate as many words and sentences in a "flash card" format. When I used to study for french class (or any other class with flash cards) I would go through them once, organizing them by "don't know", "kinda know", and "know solid". I worked with the "don't know" until they moved to the "kinda know" and the "kinda know" until they were with the "know solid" and when every card was in the last pile, I would go through them all again to make sure I was 100% sure I'd ace the quiz.

Now, to be sure, this was still studying and thus boring, but it was a lot easier (and more fun, if I guess you can call it that) than going through them all. And it would have been horrible if I had to restart every time I was wrong three times. Maybe you can apply this to your game.


The "game" IS a frustrating one. I do find I'm a bit of a sore loser and as my brain is wired like that, there's no way I will ever be able to take full advantage of what Duolingo has on offer. If I was a bit more easy-going about losses and failures and did not give a s*** every time I got "Oops, you're wrong!" message (and who can take heart in being wrong anyway? Impossible!), then maybe I'd be more successful.

So maybe the system is not for everybody and it may actually be detrimental to people with lower overall tolerance for failure (and please, lest anybody tell me that I supposedly need to "get over it", bear in mind that this is all easier said than done, you have to wrestle with years of psychological conditioning). I'm certainly thinking: why should I even bother learning a new language if all there is in store for me is frustration and failure.

I'm only glad to see I'm not the only one driven crazy by such problems. Maybe it would be better if there was a way to make language learning practice less about desperate attempts to retain your lives (or hearts in Duolingo's environment) and more about genuine learning. So if there was a way to be rewarded for getting something right as opposed to getting only punishment for mistakes, I'd gladly embrace it.

Meanwhile, I've got a French lesson to retake and boy I'd do anything to pass it this time around! And a pillow will be hit very hardly for about 100 times if I won't!


With all due respect, I think no method can be good for everybody. There are people who get bored with textbooks and prefer some fun. There are also those who don't see any sense in stars, hearts and skill points. Some people like to study with a fixed course unlocking levels on their way, others prefer to have access to all the content from the start. How can one system satisfy all of them? There is no way.

I can understand people who are frustrated and I respect them no less. However, I would not want Duolingo to become less challenging. I'm sure there are many people like me who are motivated by challenges and need this risk of failing to stay excited while going through the "game".

Another point: learning a language always has some hard and boring points, it can hardly do absolutely without them. I'm not sure that making the "game" easier will completely eliminate the frustration caused by the language itself.

Just an opinion from the "other side" to make some balance :-)


I'd like to make another comment, this time picking up the "100 points a day" comment and elaborating on that.

Well, I have reasoned that it would certainly be ideal if I was able to learn 10 lessons per day, because this would allow learning a skill (or two, if they consist of fewer lessons) per day. However, I just made a test to see how much I can learn per hour. Sadly, it appears that if you keep on stumbling and making mistakes, maybe it is possible to only complete five lessons. Which often means merely half a skill.

And then you also need to factor in the time you might want to take off from quizzing, if you really get extremely frustrated, even pissed off for failing every time. So there goes at least 10 minutes. Maybe if you're lucky you can learn the other 5 lessons in 50 minutes. If not, expect to be more pissed off and more cooling down.

And then you need at least half an hour to practice the existing skills so that nothing would weaken too much. Timed practice can help, for if you tried without timer, you'd surely sustain tons of failures and would not receive a single point!

So at this stage, I think it is safe to say, that in order to complete the ideal of mastering a language on Duolingo in three months, you have to practice THREE whooping hours every single day! Not a single day off! Now how are you going to manage to make ANY real progress if you are super-busy at work and at home there's little else than more commitments to take care of! If you're lucky, you can barely manage an hour for yourself. And you sure ain't be relaxing if you are constantly mad at making mistakes. At this rate, how on earth is ANYBODY going to make any real progress with Duolingo when there's limited time and limited potential for skill acquisition? Bear in mind that I do have time, but what if I didn't? Then I'd sure learn very little if anything

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