Bonus round: Not enough time

According to Wikipedia, the average computer user can type at 33wpm when transcribing (i.e. in their native language). I just counted the words in a fairly typical bonus round. Across the 20 questions were 3 multiple-choice, and 17 written sentences, with a total of 80 words. For someone with average typing speed who can instantly translate the words, the typing part alone would require 2mins 25secs. This is already more than the 2mins allowed, nevermind the time for the mult-choice, nor the fact that words are unfamiliar and will be typed slower, and the need to add accented characters. Two minutes is basically unattainable unless you are an experienced touch-typist. I now just resign myself to the fact that I'll never come close, so I ignore the timer altogether. Maybe the aim should be more like 3 or 4 minutes, and anything under that gains extra points. For example > 4 minutes = 4pts, 3-4 minutes = 6pts, 2-3 minutes = 8pts, < 2 minutes = 10pts.

2/11/2013, 2:33:34 AM


My brother is ten and rubbish at typing. It takes him at least 5 min if he hurries. I'm twelve and I get many typos if I type fast. We are both Polish, so its even harder.

2/11/2013, 2:23:01 PM

Agreed. I can instantly translate most stuff, most of my time is spent typing or waiting for the page to load, I can't complete them.

Bonus rounds should work like that "practice weakest words" thing, as in you get more time for each one you get right. Those are still VERY tight, but doable. I say that + even more time makes bonus rounds worthwhile.

2/12/2013, 8:58:10 PM

You are right with your observations and your research is impressive! I like how you bring documented arguments to underline your point of view. I do hope that the Duolingo team will take this into consideration, or follow Feferrie's sugestion...

2/12/2013, 9:05:13 PM
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I agree that it is not enough time in a bonus round..

2/12/2013, 6:11:55 PM
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I usually try the challenge several times, until I can either finish it with 3 hearts or under 2 minutes depending on its type. Since speedy typing causes many typos (and not all of them go through as a typo) I usually cannot reach both goals. But it also depends on a level you are on. Until Italian level 11 I managed to complete all tasks within timeframe; not always with the first attempt, but nevertheless... From there the sentences simply got too long.

But I do agree that if you need to translate the sentence twice (e.g. Spanish-English-native), it takes much-much longer. In lower levels if you are fluent in English usually you just skip the native part, but in higher levels it is not that easy.

2/12/2013, 6:42:12 PM
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That 33 wpm thing is from an article in 1999, I'm sure the average is higher now with computers being far more common now. Also did you count every 5 key strokes as a 'word'? I think it's a pretty good time that challenges me to instantly translate, so I know I'm getting comfortable with the words, but I can agree with you that there should be allowance to complete it in 4 minutes for less points if people are struggling that much.

2/13/2013, 11:48:43 PM

Interesting observation re 1999, but it's a bit of an assumption that this has improved. The study measured computer users, not the broader population. In fact it could be that typing speeds have decreased because there is now a higher percentage of people with less training using computers.

I didn't count 5 keystrokes as a word. Many of the words are much longer, and I suspect counting 5 keystrokes would push the numbers even higher.

Interestingly, as I've progressed up the tree I've found I get closer to finishing, because before I might have to type "She has more strawberries than he does", and now a lot are one or two words, like "Finally" or "En general".

I think that's another area that could be reconsidered. At the moment it's a fixed 2 mins, and yet the amount of typing can vary quite a lot.

One way around this could be to customise the time to the number of keystrokes needed. So for example, using your 5 keystrokes = 1 word, let's say an average person can manage 20wpm (including a little bit of thinking time), that makes 100 keys/min. The system could predetermine the question, count all the keystrokes needed, divide by 100 and set that as the number of minutes (perhaps rounded UP to the nearest 30 secs).

I think that would create a time that gives adequate time, and that automatically adjusts to different combinations of questions. What do you think?

2/13/2013, 11:56:18 PM

I'm a terrible typist in any language, nevermind Italian. Add speed to it and I'm lucky to make any sense at all. It does force you to absorb the language, but you get less of a feeling of accomplishment if you keep losing for typos. Maybe It'll improve my typing if not my Italian!

2/18/2013, 6:42:31 PM

I'm a pretty fast typist and I feel like my responses are coming pretty instantaneously, however in most bonus rounds I still end up about 20 seconds over time. I feel like 3 minutes would be a much more reasonable goal.

2/20/2013, 2:14:08 AM

I've found that sometimes, if I type furiously, and get lots of short sentences, I can barely just squeeze in under 2mins. There's a couple of strategies I use. One is to ignore accent marks and punctuation. DL complains, but you don't lose a heart, and it saves time, Another thing I do is if it's a really long sentence, I just type "x" and hit enter. Costs me a heart, but saves me a huge chunk of time. :D

2/20/2013, 2:17:54 AM

Here are a couple of examples of some of the sentences which will kill you in the bonus rounds... Lo oí tocar la flauta hace seis meses, pero nunca lo oí tocar el violín (15 words. 3 accented letters) Nos gustan los pájaros, pero también nos gustan las tortugas. (10 words, 2 accented letters)

2/25/2013, 5:13:57 AM
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