State of Monetization at Duolingo II
A few months ago, I posted about the state of monetization at Duolingo. Given the number of recent threads about our revenue experiments, I thought it was again time to give an update.
For context, I will quote part of the original post:
It would be easy for us to start charging for the app, or, for example, to charge for any learning content after the first lesson -- this would more than break us even! However, that's not what we set out to do. Our mission is to provide free language education to the world.
So our challenge is to find a way to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per day while still letting anybody who wants to learn to do so entirely for free.
Many people in the community have strong opinions about how we should or shouldn't monetize. Some think we should try ads, others think we should sell lingots for money, or simply have a donation button. And for every idea there are many who are ready to grab their torches and pitchforks because they think doing it would be a capital sin.
The best thing you or anybody can do to help is to let us experiment different ways to pay the bills without getting up in arms. We're of course aware of all the monetization options available to us, and now it's a matter of trying them to determine two things: (1) how much they impact usage of the service, and (2) how much money each can generate.
After dozens of experiments (some of which were discussed in the forums, and some of which weren't), we've narrowed our focus to three main sources of revenue: ads, subscriptions, and in-app purchases on the mobile platforms (i.e. health and gems). I should mention that we also collect revenue from the Duolingo English Test, which is getting a ton of traction, but that's not the topic of this post.
Ads. We've tested many different kinds of ad formats, and eventually settled on showing an ad at the end of a lesson. The ad doesn't cover the whole screen (that would bring in a lot more money, but it would be annoying!), comes at a time when you're not engaged in learning, and is easily dismissible.
The ads come from the industry-standard ad networks like Google and Facebook. It’s important to note that we're not selling user information or anything fishy like that, and that, like all ads that come from ad networks, they’re not chosen by us but by the network (so, for example, if Google knows that you like to buy My Little Pony figurines, they will choose to show you ads for that). We also try hard to block any ad content that would be considered objectionable by anybody learning a language (if you do see anything inappropriate, please report it to email@example.com with a screenshot).
Ads are currently our largest source of revenue, far surpassing other monetization experiments (including Immersion).
We have measured the impact of ads on engagement, and as far as we can tell, the current ad format doesn't change any of our key metrics in a significant way (number of lessons people do every day, fraction of people who come back, time spent on app, learning outcomes, etc.).
Subscriptions. We know some people are averse to ads, so we're also rolling out Duolingo Plus, a subscription that turns off ads. Additionally, with Duolingo Plus you get access to offline lessons so you can continue practicing without an Internet connection. Over the coming months, we will be adding more functionality to Duolingo Plus, with the constraint that we won't charge for actual learning content.
Health and Gems. Last week some Duolingo users on iOS started seeing their Lingots converted into a new currency: Gems. Virtual currency has always been a part of Duolingo – the ability to earn rewards and build a daily ‘streak’ is part of what makes Duolingo the most fun way to learn a new language, and it’s part of what makes it an effective teaching tool. Learning a new language is hard work and rewards keep learners coming back every day.
Now we’re switching over to a new currency system that will provide more value, ensure Duolingo remains an effective learning tool, and help sustain Duolingo as a free service for years to come. The conversion from Lingots to Gems allows us to add exciting new features and give users more ways to support Duolingo’s mission to bring free language learning to the world.
Our research shows that if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned. So we are introducing another new feature on iOS called Health. Health is a way of pacing the use of Duolingo to discourage binging behavior, which is shown to be ineffective for learning a new language. If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times), we encourage you to go back and practice previous lessons to restore it, or to take a break while your Health restores over time. For those who still want to binge on Duolingo without taking a break or taking the time to review lessons they missed, they can do so by refilling their Health with Gems.
Ultimately, we know that users learn best when they study every day and take time to practice and review what they’ve already learned. The Health feature encourages users to pace their learning and review previous lessons before moving forward.
We've been testing the health mechanic on new users for the last six months, and we’re seeing a positive impact on engagement and learning results thus far.
I am happy to report that these three mechanics will be able to fully support Duolingo’s operation (which costs over $60,000 per day and rising).
--Luis (CEO of Duolingo)
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I'm actually not quite sure what to think of the health system. At first I thought it was a little difficult to complete the lessons with it because I would occasionally mistype something so I would be penalized for it, which, added up six times, would lead me to failing the lesson I was trying, even if I was one question away from completion.
However, I have found that the health system has begun to change my approach to the way I learn a language. Before the system, I would binge through all of the lessons in one, two, or even three skills a day, and then I'd take the next day to keep those skills golden. However, I found that when I did this, the words that I practiced in those lessons somehow still didn't "stick". With the health system, I found myself going back continuously to the "practice skills" section (partly because I wanted my health back so I could get on with my lessons!) In many ways, this system had "trained" me to review, review, and review before doing more lessons, and the results were almost immediate. In the new Japanese-English tree I am doing, the constant review provided by the health system helped me to retain all of the words that I had learned in the past lessons that I had done, and I was successfully able to "pick out" those words I had learned in the newer lessons I did.
So, in conclusion I would say that the health system can indeed be a hassle at times, especially when it punishes you even when you knew the right answer, but ultimately it allows you to develop a more review-focused learning habit that may allow you store more terms into your long-term memory more efficently than you would by other means (of course you could always spend days keeping your skills golden as well with the old format). I suppose the beauty of the system is really in the eye of the beholder.
I am not, but I can certainly sympathize with where you're coming from. I admittedly had not even considered the negative impact this would have on the dyslexic learners who use DL. Although there are some positive aspects to the new health system as I mentioned above, I cannot help but agree that this would be a very unfair system for dyslexic learners to use. Perhaps there should be an option to disable health?
By the way, it's very inspiring to see the amount of languages that you are currently learning! It really shows a kind of strength of character to battle through your dyslexia to learn other languages, keep it up!
Hi, ionsky. Are you on a mobile platform? I primarily use the app. Because I see no learning value in finger-typing my answers in my native language, I use Google Voice while looking directly at the sentence I am translating. That does more to burn it into my memory than watching my finger hit letters. One does have to rigorously check the Google Voice output. But even though it occasionally gets phrases wrong, they are usually easy to catch because the mistakes change the meaning. Then you can edit, knowing that whatever it outputs is at least spelled correctly! I would recommend trying it first outside the Duolingo framework. If your dyslexia causes you to accidentally read "he" instead of "she" or errors like that when editing, then Google Voice would not be a good solution (because it's possible for GV to generate those kinds of errors.)
I am on mobile. I use voice softwear for work but notso much on mybown machines I mix letters up all the time and have a great deal,of difficulty in looking at something and seeing inf it is spelled correctly. Youncould put two words side by side with two trasnposed letters and or an extra letter ormtwo and its highly doubtful i would see thenissue at all. patterns eventually seep in when it comes to reading but output is a nightmare - especially without spellcheck. Foreighn alphabets are....interesting. Oh well, i am somewaht rresigned. I know luis says paying attention to user complaints is a waste of tiem so i'll just take what i can and move on when it gets too hard or too frustrating again. It was nice while,it lasted
I sympathize completely. I have a tendency toward dyslexia, but was given a cross crawl exercise early on that has worked very well. It still can show up if I get exhausted. It sounds like GV may not be the answer because if one expects the answer to be correct it could be difficult to detect problems in the output. At first I would hit the check button without checking the GV output (while still focusing on my target phrase to burn into visual memory.) Not good. You are to be very much admired for your language accomplishments. I really hope your issue can be addressed. After all, if your goal is to speak a language rather than writing in it, spelling shouldn't matter. Thank you.
Wait a minute, I sometimes make spelling mistakes but the software usually recognizes those as close enough (for example, "demonstrado" instead of "demostrado") and counts my answer as correct...
...unless the mistake changes the meaning of the word (for example, "eso" instead of "esto").
Suppose the right answer is "eso" but two people type "esto": one because she means "eso" and is getting the answer wrong, and another because she means "esto" but accidentally typed "eso".
How is the software supposed to figure out which one really means "esto" and give her XP for it?
Anyway, it's really unfair if the software's not giving you as much leeway as it's giving me!
I typically do the Japanese course on another profile whichI only log onto on my iPad. When you alpha test, you are usually sent an email from DL encouraging you to make a new profile so that things don't get messy. Once Japanese gets into Beta though you'll definitely start seeing this profile waving the Hinomaru! :)
Hmmm, i find this to have no differentiation - that's a term educators use to talk about the differences in students, their abilities and their learning styles.
You have made absolutely no allowance for dyslexics, who make lots of trivial mistakes and for whom persistance is important, no allowance for the fact that some people , like and overview first then in depth learning afterwards (actually proven to be a substantially better method of learning and retention than slow non-self-directed progress) or indeed that adults have lives that mean they may not be able to bend to the whims of your desired learning style. You do remember that some of us on this site are indeed adults don't you? If i were to be cynical i would suggest that you know that adults are capable of paying for the kind of experience they used to have and lets be honest if they can't or won't pay and the changes are so infuriating that they leave then they ease the pressure on the servers so its a win either way.
I don't think Duolingo will drop the Health feature, unless the metrics start seriously falling. But, maybe there are alternative solutions that will help across the board and into the future where I'm sure Duolingo will be testing new features. I've created a discussion for one such idea here. I know it won't fix everything, but, I hope it can offer some improvement. Thanks for the inspiration! I hope staff will implement it. :)
Thank you for your suggestion and for linking to it, Usagiboy. I have upvoted it. Although it appears not to be officially implemented yet, there is also a lot of useful advice in that thread. I worked with educational methods aimed at children and adult students with learning disabilities in my early college life, and many of my friends still work in the filed. These tips will certainly be very useful for them.
Thank you for your feedback, Ionasky. I agree on all accounts. I don't have any significant problem with Duo Plus or Ads, and I’m happy they contribute to the site’s maintenance. It’s great to know that the staff is being successful in their search for solutions to make Duo viable and lucrative. Personally, even if they had wide-screen ads, I would still be totally okay with it. Like someone mentioned, clicking pass for uninteresting ads does not hurt. Health, however, at least for me, is enough of a problem to be an endgame, and, like you pointed out, it severely damages Duo’s aptitude at social inclusion for people with disabilities.
The old heart system was very discouraging for everyone studying languages with unfamiliar traits, and, even for familiar languages, it was especially damaging for learners with disabilities. I don't suffer from disabilities, but, even for me, the old system made studying German through Duo way harder than it later became. Adding to that, despite its inflectional rules being very different to those of Romance languages, Latin or English, all languages I'm more familiar with, German is not even all that removed from us in most traits. How about Hungarian? Or Turkish? Or Arabic? And I'm only talking about people without disabilities here, since even Portuguese from French or Italian from Spanish would very likely be extremely difficult for those that do suffer from them in the old system. It’s hard for me to even imagine how discouraging it would be for me to try learning a language like Hungarian or Arabic in the old system if I were dyslexic.
In comparison, I think the current pre-Health system, still in use in the website, was almost perfect, even for people who suffer from dyslexia and other conditions that naturally increase the number of mistakes. As a system, it was pretty flexible to the learner's particular needs, and it could be used in several different ways depending on the person's private schedule, previous knowledge level and studying style. Moreover, it highly decreased punitive measures, and it made it impossible for anyone to fail an exercise, even if they committed 50 mistakes or more. Especially for learners with disabilities, I still think it could be even better if it took off the error alarm and the color change to red after a wrong answer and used something softer in their place, but it was close enough to perfect for me to recommend it to everyone. Be it to casual learners, to extremely invested students or to parents of dyslexic or autistic children, I was always happy to recommend it.
In comparison, I find the current Health system implemented in the mobile app way worse than the old heart system. I disliked the idea itself once it was announced, but I did not want to comment on Health before it was implemented for me. After trying it for a few days, I found it far worse even than I initially expected it to be. When they said its goal was to reduce binge learning, I expected it to use a simple statistical software to evaluate the number of mistakes per exercise and, after reaching a high mean (for instance, 10, 20 or 30 per exercise), encourage practice instead. I would already dislike it that way, especially because it would be bad for people with disabilities, but then, at least, it would still be more or less reasonable for other people, even if worse than a more flexible system easily adapted to any schedule. As it turns out, however, unlike the previous heart system, it does not even take the exercises into account, and it is not based on high means of mistakes, but rather on a preset limit of just a handful of mistakes that they expect you not to commit within some hours of practice. If you commit one mistake, they emphasize that even after the exercise is over. If that’s a hurdle for me, then it’s sure to be hundreds of times worse for learners with disabilities. For them, mistakes are inevitable, and they don’t need an undifferentiating software remembering them that they committed two mistakes one exercise ago. In truth, Health has made the context of this group of learners even more uneven than it was at the beginning, and I strongly oppose that decision.
If one reaches the preset Health limit (I'm not sure, but I think it was four or five mistakes), one is forced to practice exercises picked for them by the program -- and, what's more, which may not have any relation whatsoever to their current mistakes. Unless someone is advancing dozens of skills towards the end of the tree without practice (not necessarily a bad thing in my eyes, since it momentarily increases immersion and the practice can always be done afterwards), mistakes are more likely to be related to the new grammatical rules added in the new skill, and no amount of practice of previous skills could help you understand the rules you are struggling with now. By overworking already commanded traits, it can even damage one's performance. In the new system, in place of practicing the problem skill until you have mastered it, you are forced to come back to skills you may have already overpacticed and which may not have any relation to your current difficulties. In the end, it is actually restricting the software's flexibility and making it less useful for all people whose needs are not in accordance with it. Learners with disabilities are the ones to suffer the most form it. For most of them, I believe it has become almost unusable. Even for me, though, it’s already a big problem. Overpractice was always a more problematic trait in my particular studying style than actual binge progress, and, in that sense, all Health does for me is aggravating that a hundredfold.
Thanks to that, I have deleted the app without a second thought, and I don't intend to come back until Health's rejection or revision is announced. If that does not happen, then I'm not coming back, since I don't have any reason to. My progress there is now close to null, and I always preferred the website anyway. If Health is actually implemented in the web as well, then I'm going to consider leaving Duolingo altogether. After that, I would use only Rosetta Stone, paid courses and more traditional textbook methods. I like free resources; I like them enough to donate to Khan Academy and Wikipedia every year, and I will continue donating for Khan far after it is not useful for me anymore, for the sake of the children of next generations. Even so, to be entirely honest, I don't have any problem in paying for things I deeply care about. I would not mind paying for pre-Health Duo either, nor making periodical donations for a free Duo course. However, if the site is going to become like it currently is in the app, then it is not fun for me anymore, and I don't see it much differently than I see other restrictive learning tools full of extremely jumpy in-app purchases (which includes Health, but not Duo plus, which I support).
I would certainly prefer a more transparent but totally paid resource like Rosetta Stone, in which I pay only once for the whole service and don't have to worry about traits devised to hinder my progress and make me pay tidbits here and there all the time in order to progress slightly more freely. Even if I paid for it, I would still find that unpleasant. Besides, the thousands of gems derived from my lingots are not actually interesting to me. They do not buy interesting learning tools anymore, and they are worth close to nothing in refilling health. Those lingots cost me hundreds to thousands of hours of study, and the fact they are now worth almost nothing on mobile is kind of disheartening. Although lingots may be the flagship of Duolingo's brand, though, I would actually like Duo even without lingots, but not with Health. A resource like the new Health system, whether "free" or paid, is actually far less fun for me than paid sites like Rosetta Stone or more expensive tutored courses.
Presently, if Health and Gems became universal in all platforms, then Duo's only remaining selling points for me would be its relative variety in supply (it offers even Guarani!) and the wonderful job provided by the volunteering teams behind the language trees, as well as the help provided by them and other members in the language forums. I like the technical advances in layout, but, if the system becomes too restrictive, then they are less likely to matter for me. Even regarding these benefits, however, other paid programs and courses also have similarly wonderful and well-devised resources of grammatical introduction within their methods, as well as many forms of active help by instructors and supervisors, and they additionally don't have Health, which means I'm freer to develop myself through them than I am through the current mobile system. If my learning style becomes too restricted, I’m not sure if I still have a reason to favor Duo over them, or to even see Duo as a viable tool for me. I have studied statistics in college, but, since Duo’s metrics are not public, I have no way of evaluating how well they measure what they intend to, nor to offer constructive commentary, but, even if they are adequate, this is still unfortunately my experience.
I’m not saying any of that as a contrarian. Like I mentioned, I support ads and Duo plus, and although Duo plus is currently too expensive for me to pay for it, I would not have any problem in paying for it in the future as a way of donating to the staff. If free donations were already allowed, I would already have made many donations. I would not mind paying a fee for using a Duo without Health either, like I mentioned, so being free, although a plus and greatly favored by me on political grounds, thanks to its usefulness for less fortunate people, is not even essential for me at a merely personal level. Besides, when Immersion was discontinued, I was certainly sad, and I understand why many decided to leave, but I was not even close to wanting to leave myself. I also understand how Immersion’s regulative issues and legal liabilities made it hard to maintain, so, even though I did not like it, I was more or less okay with the decision of ending it. Likewise, I understand and appreciate that Health helps make Duolingo viable and lucrative, but the way it does so is enough of an issue for me to decide deleting the app and, if it becomes universal on all platforms, finally leaving Duo altogether. Don’t get me wrong; even in the worst-case scenario, I am still going to insist in fitting Duo in my learning schedule as much as I can, and I’m never going to leave it just for disagreeing with one decision or another. If the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits, however, I’m probably going to stop using it, just as I have done with other programs. If Health never comes to the web, I’m probably going to keep using it for ever, especially if new languages keep being added. Actually, If Hebrew to Portuguese is still not added after 2018, I may even apply to contribute, since I’m probably going to have earned my diploma on Hebrew by then.
Well, if any staff is reading this, sorry for the long rant! And, please, don't take it too negatively. Like I said, I'm going to insist as much as I can in using Duo, and I'm even willing to contribute to future trees if I have the ability to. If I feel strongly against new decisions, though, I feel I should say why I do, and I apologize if I sounded more negative than I intended to in any way. I'm still grateful for the staff's efforts in finding new solutions to their problems and in improving user experience.
I would love to be proved wrong. But my impression is that Duolingo staff, especially Luis, appear to stop following any discussions they have started, or more generally lose interest, within hours of posting. Since I exclusively use Duolingo from an iPad, I rarely encounter any such announcements until a few weeks after they have been made.
I can understand this to some extent, because of the high volume of replies often provoked by such annoucements, but it would be good if someone from the staff were occasionally to review the responses a few weeks after being posted. This might, on occasion, demonstrate that what they believe their metrics are showing may not give the whole, or even accurate, picture.
I hear and agree with what you are saying.
That any learning system needs to also cater for people with diverse learning styles (reading, speaking, hearing, taking notes, taking no notes, etc ) and come with diverse abilities and histories.
From all I see, Duolingo is striving to be applicable to people of all ages and backgrounds and abilities.
Yet in that - no system will be perfect -for it is a huge goal. Yet I see that Duolingo will continue to strive for this goal.
- Learning languages I find needs engagement from multiple sources.
I find Duolingo effective as:
- Sometimes as a coach and governor.
- Sometimes as a guide, to show me things. And to whom I can ask questions.
- And sometimes as a story teller that captures my interest, curiosity and provider of where to perhaps seek further , .... to inspire me to undertake my own quest beyond the realms of Duolingo.
IMO, Duolingo remains committed to its core objective of providing language learning for free. However it is looking at being financially viable by allowing the paying for some of the ancillary features. The courses (trees) and language discussion forums - the core features that allow language learning, I believe Duolingo will choose to remain free for people to learn languages.
Wishing you continued success in your language learning journey, and hope you always feel welcome to use Duolingo's free resources for language learning here.
I am delighted to hear that you now have running costs covered. Duolingo is very very important to me and knowing it is secure is a big relief.
I think the health idea is a good one as practice is so important, but implementation concerns me a bit if different languages are not going to be treated differently. Today I have done lessons in Norwegian where I made hardly any mistakes, lessons in Welsh where I made several mistakes in each lesson, and essons in Greek where I made several mistakes in each sentence. All languages are not equal in this regard. Please take this into consideration. It would be better to measure each language separately especially when a different script is involved. Taking a break by doing a different language is still a break, and learning multiple languages helps them all, at least in my experience. I would be curious to see the data relating to that if you have collected it.
This is an excellent point, and only having 1 health system apply to all languages being learned rather than each language having its own would hinder learning- and the rationale of preventing a binge no longer applies. If it's technologically feasible to have a separate health system for each language, it might well raise more revenue.
I am still skeptical about the health and gems system. I rely on trial and error to learn. How does this new system allow me to learn things through making a lot of errors? Let me fail my lesson and do it quickly again. Yeah yeah I can pay gems but I like the old system where I can make plenty of errors way more. Give Hungarian a try Luis, you will see why it is good to be able to make plenty of errors without being kicked out.
There will probably always be some differences between the Web version and the apps (apps allow in-app purchases, whereas in the website we would have to deal with processing credit cards, which we don't want to do).
Also, the features themselves will evolve, and at different paces on the different platforms.
Please don't ever bring health to Android or web. I love learning languages at my own oace and Duolingo has so far been my favorite tool, but I would much rather see triple the ads than have to deal with this horrible system again (I was part of the AB testing when I still had an iPhone, and it prompted me to install Memrise).
I'm still anxious about if you'll bring this system to other platforms because I really want to finish my Spanish course and want to study Korean once it comes out, but not until I have confirmation health will not bother me again. It was such a ❤❤❤❤❤❤, negative experience.
Luis, can you please clarify one point. When you say:
Our research shows that if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned.
I assume you are referring to "racing" through modules? Am I correct?
Also, is this "health" planned for the website as well as the app/s?
I am also curious as to whether my "reviews" are being categorized as "binge learning". Periodically I will spend a lot of continuous time doing reviews of lessons previously completed, for the purpose of reinforcing. Can Duolingo differentiate between the two, binge learning and review?
Review is encouraged in the health system as that's one of the three ways to restore health that's lost in new lessons, but only general strengthening restores health.
In case you already know a language and go through the lessons in order to review, then they can't differentiate between the two.
Thank you to the Duolingo team for creating this place where we can access free language-learning content. It is immensely important that this knowledge be available and accessible to all - not walled off, or designed badly so that only certain people can reasonably access and benefit from it.
I only use the web version, so I haven't used any of the app changes. Of course, I realise that my opinion is thus worth a lot less than those who have tested it. I do, however, feel I must weigh in regarding Health. "Games" such as Duolingo are complex systems of interactions between rules and features. Change one thing, and this change interacts with and alters the system, which then affects how people can use that system.
So the justification that Health is good because it prevents users from bingeing and thus jeopardising their learning strikes me as an incomplete justification. The logic goes "when people binge, they make more mistakes, so stopping people from learning new content is the correct and helpful response to mistakes". But bingeing is one way users interact with Duolingo. Just one of many ways. This also only tells one story of why a user would make mistakes when using Duolingo, and what meaning that has for their learning progress. But there are many stories. What about differing learning styles? Why, if someone makes mistakes in a new lesson, will going over material they have already learned help them not make any more mistakes with the new material? Certainly, if the mistakes they are making can be corrected by learning previous lessons more thoroughly, it will help. But what indicates that that is always the case? Not to mention, review sessions are much longer than lessons, so for someone who doesn't really need to be doing them and would in fact benefit more from the new content, it seems like a frustrating set-up.
And then: how do you define bingeing? When a language is easier or harder to learn based on objective factors such as whether you have studied it previously, whether it is related to your native language or languages, etc, but also more subjective ones such as age and whether you have cognitive disabilities? Each user should have a different pace through a tree that works for them, a different frequency of mistakes (a dyslexic person versus a neurotypical person for instance), a different reason why they make mistakes (a learning style that benefits from trial and error, e.g.). At least, as far as I can understand.
You've done testing, but how many angles have you covered, and how do you prioritise? To me, Duolingo becoming unusable for dyslexic people is immensely serious, but maybe for the team it is an acceptable loss? And what is your aim for Duolingo and its monetisation? You can't please or serve everyone, sure, and new features need time and testing to figure out whether their impact is positive or negative overall. That said, do you want a service that is the best thing ever for language learners who fit a narrow profile, or one that is at times inefficient, yet is flexible enough that many kind of learners and people in varied circumstances can use it without stress? The first is understandable from the perspective of making profit. The second prioritises ethical and societal concerns.
People saying that this doesn't affect the core of Duolingo are imo mistaken. Features like this - they are very much at the core of how people use and benefit from Duolingo, and whether they can at all.
So I'm fine with ads and such, I am immensely fortunate to have access to Duolingo after all! But it's my hope health won't be coming to the web version. I can pace myself well enough, benefit from the freedom of being able to make mistakes, and I don't wish for the added anxiety.
Anyway, my intent here was just to get some of the questions I have going, and to potentially hear opposing viewpoints. Thank you Duo team for all of your hard work. :)
This, ^ , so much this ^^^.
I like a good binge now and again, I learn from mistakes by repeating them as often as it takes to get them right without imposed timeouts, without halting access to new material. I like to be able to choose when I need to pause and review or not... Everyone will have their own method, but no amount of research or big data stats will ever convince me that being scared of making mistakes is the best way to learn a language.
The health method might have the edge on improving monetization without losing too many learners/customers overall, and that would be fair enough, but please don't pretend the motives are for the good of learning! :-)
I respectfully disagree if you are selling a way around the expired health break after saying that break is important to learning I have to question the importance of the break. I'm not opposed to revenue if you want to offer paid learning past the end of the German tree let me know
People have been telling me that for years. The crushing hasn't happened yet. ;)
And, you're right. I am an optimist. But, I temper it with realism. I recognize that Health is an opportunity for Duolingo to encourage people to help fund it's existence. And, that the Health feature is not going to work for 100% of people. And, if the early data turns out to be an outlier, Duolingo will toss out the Health feature for something better. But, there is a chance this feature could make a difference for learners. The data so far seems to say so. And no, I don't think staff are lying about the data. Of the couple of staff members I've gotten to know outside of Duolingo over the last couple of years, it would be inconsistent with their values.
You know, throughout my life I've met people who mention my optimism in a bit of an "aww, that's cute" sort of way. I'm sure we have some budding optimists in our forums and so it's as good a place as ever to fortify them, no? Who knows, we might have a few young people who grow up to become Duolingo staff members ten years from now. :D So, we'll consider this next part for them:
The last time I had a near death experience, I was paralyzed, unable to see, hear, or speak. I only new that I was conscious inside of my disconnected body and that it was dying. So, I thought about my life, curious to see if there were any regrets. My review left me me mostly satisfied. I say mostly because of course I always have projects on my mind and there were many things I still wanted to do. But, I had used the time I was on the planet well. I had left a significant footprint. (I am someone who is not just a blue bunny on Duolingo you know ;) Well, they got me breathing again and here I am, a disabled volunteer on Duolingo, but, not just. Now and then, I've had new friends comment on my optimism in that "aww cute" way I mentioned.(My name isn't on billboards, I'm fond of pseudonyms, and I either come off as very nervous or very silly. So, they don't general recognize who they've said that to.) That changes when they've read my CV. I've had the opportunity and inspiration to work on many successful projects.Not all of the projects have made it big, but more often than not, they've have made an impact. I'm now co-founder of a thriving non-profit that helps children. I've recently been invited to do a workshop for staff in 6 medical facilities. Most of my work I've let leak out onto the internet under pseudonyms because it's free for people to access and I'm impatient with the time it takes to write whole books :P But, it's satisfying when things I've written echo back around to me. Tomorrow, I'm headed out of town to speak at an event where I'll be mostly unknown, even though a prior court case I kicked off in a small town set off the rock slide that brought about. And I'll share a small but important part of my research with the folks who show up. So, I don't think my optimism is the "Aww cute" kind that will be easily quashed, even if a few of my things don't pan out. It's hard to crush an optimistic hurricane, even an introverted one. We have a way of picking up momentum and making things happen. ^_^
Duolingo is a dream worth investing in, whether that be volunteer hours or plus accounts etc. for those who are able. The moment I took a look around and did a little reading about what Duolingo was up to, I knew I wanted to be involved, whether it was as a general user, an official volunteer, or however else Duolingo might have room for me. I was optimistic that this place was going to change lives. So, I jumped in, made guides, bragged about Duolingo in blogs, and did all of the little things I could to help people troubleshoot, connect, and feel supported around here. Thanks to staff and community members, what started out as someone's optimistic dream that saw 1 person sign up has now touched 170 million people's lives and counting. So, if one feature that shows early promise doesn't pan out, well I'm not going to get hung up on it. Something else will replace it and give the Duolingo dream another opportunity to keep growing, to keep connecting people.
So, there is something to be said for optimists. Including the long winded ones. ;)
Duo provides no starting vocabulary I had multiple skills where I had more than five wrong because it was new vocabulary. If I got locked out I'm sure I would not have gone back. I'd write more but you used up all the bandwidth and I'm afraid duo will end discussion because it's abused by the few people who use it like immersion or was that activity.
I've followed you for a while now, @Usagiboy7 and have even seen some of your posts outside of Duolingo, but never knew many of the details you just now shared with us. All I can say, is, "Wow. What an inspiration you truly are." I'd write more, but just at this very moment an orphaned kitten I am determined to rescue just woke up (and it ... is ... H-U-N-G-R-Y). Perhaps it is some sort of sign or omen that one person's ability to inspire creates a ripple effect beyond which can be seen by the naked eye.
The true benefit of Duolingo, is that it offers support for language learning, and that support is offered for free.
It is committed to always provide this core of the really important parts - as far as I see - of Duolingo to be available for free.
That is the right to access the courses (trees), and to access the Discussion Forums.
Things such as health , gems/lingots, streaks, Avatar pictures, whether activity is there or not, avatar pictures, etc : - these are "bells and whistles".
They are constantly being tweaked to make them more effective. For the community to achieve language learning. However the real core - remains the courses and Discussion forums.
The ability to follow significant people in our community - that I think has previously been a good thing for learning that some people have used to their advantage, for language learning. Though this has also been a problem - been created to be a problem - by some people who use Duolingo for purposes other than language learning. And have used this feature to disrupt and act in inappropriate ways, unfortunately.
However - all of us - are still guests - with Duolingo who is our host -that bears the cost of keeping things running. I also respect this, and hope we all choose to strive to be good and respectful guests, and follow the guidelines that are set by Duoloingo.
To pay cash for bells and whistles, and things like that, I would suggest are vastly different from enabling the core of Duolingo to remain free, at not cost, for language learning.
lindakanga, the Activity streams were certainly not simply "bells and whistles" and something social. ShellMarg explained this eloquently in her comment only a couple of hours ago (a comment which you acknowledged).
It was an incredibly useful way of learning from the contributors and other knowledgeable users, often about grammar and usage topics that one didn't even know about (and thus couldn't conceivably start a Discussion thread about!). I don't believe that any amount of fixing the Discussion page can substitute that.
So please don't assume users didn't use the Activity stream for learning! This ability to ask, reply, discuss, and simply follow discussions was what made Duolingo special compared to other resources out there.
I agree with you @annika_a, but I also think some were using the activity streams to target people for downvoting. I went through a period where everything I posted was automatically downvoted and the only way I could assume they were doing it was by tracking my activity stream.
I requested and secretly hoped that there might be some way for a user to be able to deactivate the view of one's activity, even if only temporarily, and/or only allow select viewers to see it, but, alas, I was told it was not an option.
I continued to post because doing otherwise gives victory to the bullies who seem to be rising up in all walks of life these days. It's a pity there isn't more that can be done to thwart it because it allows bullies to act with impunity and creates a negative environment that some might not want to be a part of or ever return to. Until something can be done about it, I encourage all of the positive, encouraging types out there to be strong and not let these bullies drive you away. When you do that, they win. Don't let them win.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I might have more to say later but for now, quickly, let me say these things:
I have absolutely no problem with Duolingo seeking ways to make money for it to survive and continue to offer language for free to the world at large. As long as I've been a member there have been many ideas brought forth from the community including the most simple and straightforward one, a donate button.
The bells and whistles are , in at least a few instances, a part of its method and a reason for Duolingo's success. It is the "gamification" of language learning (like the use of lingots and streaks) that have enabled it to retain users and have helped users maintain regular language study. Luis says so himself in his opening post above:
Virtual currency has always been a part of Duolingo – the ability to earn rewards and build a daily ‘streak’ is part of what makes Duolingo the most fun way to learn a new language, and it’s part of what makes it an effective teaching tool. Learning a new language is hard work and rewards keep learners coming back every day.
The objection in my previous post is the use of cash to bypass strengthening skills in order to restore health and allow the user to do new lessons. This immediately gives a specific advantage to those users who are able to pay over those who are not and are either (a) forced to wait five hours or (b) forced to go through a "strengthening skills" session avoided by those with money.
This advantage, available to those willing or able to pay the money, contradicts the reasoning behind the establishment of the "health" system. We are told that it is to ensure that the user solidifies his or her knowledge and avoids doing too many new lessons and experiencing burnout or a superficial grasp of the new lessons. However, a user willing or able to pay money can continue forward anyway, without even having to review or do a "strengthening skills" session.
This then creates a divide among users, between those who are forced to submit to the rules of the health system and those who can escape those limits with the use of money. It contradicts the ideals of Duolingo of free language learning for everyone. It means free but less learning for everyone, and more learning for some, but not for free.
Finally, we are not merely guests we are contributors. All of us are, whether because we've offered help or advice on the boards, or we've actually contributed in constructing the language trees, or we've used courses in Beta and therefore helped improve them, or just by being users because we've been used as guinea pigs in the testing that Duolingo runs continuosly on its courses, we've all been contributors to Duolingo's success.
I would imagine yes; I don't see how they could implement this otherwise. I don't plan on updating quite yet because the decision would be hard to undo if, as many people have voiced here, this is a cumbersome system that limits my choice in how I learn. If I suddenly look at my phone and notice health and gems, I suppose I'm wrong. To my knowledge, however, new courses will not become available on outdated software, so if I want to learn Hindi when it comes out, I will have to upgrade to the new system.
I hate the health feature. Overall I'm glad it's not on android. On the days when I feel the lowest, health just makes it worse. It is efficient if you have the right motivation to work hard and learn that day, but otherwise it is deadly to a person's ego, and motivation to continue on the long journee of learning a new language.
Wait, we are going to get Health systems now? That's really fcked up. I get you all want to make more money and stuff, and I already see you doing so. I didn't mind the ads at first, then you switched the familiar skip-ad placement to that of a "go ad free" option, and having it appear way more often than it used to be (it was only after completing a lesson, but now it appears even when you quit a lesson or a test midway). Then you guys introduced the "Duo plus" thing, which did seem fine at first, THEN you put buttons everywhere that leads people to the Duo plus page (I'm talking about the download buttons). This already makes Duolingo way more of a begware than it used to be. You know what? Let's say it's fine. But if you're going to even limit the amount one can learn per day, that's going too far. That's basically turning a supposedly useful learning app into all other Candycrushing Clanclashing microtransaction-hungry games.
You said that if one binge-exercised with Duolingo, it may give negative impacts. But when you force such a system on us, wouldn't it also give a negative impact? It pressurizes us as users to "always make correct decisions", and not to "learn from mistakes" like the bird has always said. It might just end up encouraging users to use google translate whenever they are not sure about an answer. If anything that's not improving one's learning, but making them rely on tools to make sure they don't lose their opportunity to learn. Please remember that not everyone has the money to pay to bypass these things. The ads were fine, and let's say they are still acceptable, but imposing those Health system and whatnot? fck off.
That's actually a very good point and I really hope your post gets noticed and answered. If the spaced repetition algorithm were working correctly then then the user would be getting plenty of review no matter how fast or slowly he progressed on the language tree. Does this the creation of the health system then mean that the algorithm has not been working?
I teach English to native Spanish speakers, and I have historically encouraged them to use Duolingo as one of their practice tools.. But now some of my students are telling me that the Duolingo mobile app health 'feature' forces them to stop paracticing because either they made mistakes or ironically because they did well and blasted through a number of lessons - this is terrible and if it continues as a so-called 'feature' forced upon app users I will have no choice but no lead my students away from Duolingo to other practice apps. Even if you believe that this 'feature' is to promote more effective learning stratagies (discourage binge sessions etc.) the app should give the user the choice to engage that feature. The vast majority of app users who have this 'feature' now on the phones are complaining about it. I guess I am fortunate to have an android phone that has not yet been polluted by this 'enhancement'. Also I see that many folks are suggesting that since you can buy you way out of the lack of health condition it is just a backhanded Duolingo ploy to raise revenue. Sad to see.
Since I can't test it myself I can not say for certain - but whatever the reason the app (IOS) will sometimes stop a user from continuing (unless they pay $) and they have to wait some hours before continuing. My students hate this and I don't blame them a bit. There is no way that this 'feature' encourages learning and practicing, but rather it does just the opposite. How folks like Luis can not see this fundamental flaw in the 'health feature' is beyond me. And for what it is worth, I have definitely seen a number of posts from people were say they were locked out of continuing to use the app because they finished 'too many' lessons. Again, whether the app stops you from using it because you made mistakes or because you did very well is just plain wrong and that is why so many people are upset. If I were a user of the IOS app and I had that 'lockout' experience that apparently this 'heath feature' can create, that would immediately be the end of my use of Duolingo. Luis does not seem to care about this problem and to me that speaks volumes about the negative direction the Duolingo seems to be going in.
No problem with ads, but my wife has been subjected to the Health system for about two weeks (I haven't) and she is close to quitting. She has used Duolingo for over a year to learn German (she speaks fluent French and English), and enjoyed the experience, but finds the health system frustrating and limiting. My guess is that she will stop Duolingo shortly and continue with options that don't place arbitrary roadblocks in her learning path.
Please no Health or Lingot-to-Gem conversion on the website. From the sound of it, there's a severe "devaluation" in going from Lingots to Gems and I really resent that because the Lingots represent all the time I've spent practicing on Duolingo.
It's not just symbolic, it really represents the amount of study I've put in over the past year and if I suddenly went from 1500+ lingots to 300 hundred or so gems I would:
be really pissed off
discouraged (especially if I'm not given any warning as with the taking away of the activity stream) enough to go back to my old textbook and use some of the other free alternatives online that will not play games with its users under the guise of A/B testing and
have another negative experience to share with non-users that could discourage them from becoming new users.
Also, creating new hoops for users to jump through to complete their lessons could be bad for you in the mid and long term. It might be working now, but I can see it getting tiring over the course of a several weeks and months, especially if other free alternatives to Duolingo pop up in the near or not so near future.
I was forced to switch to gems on the App. My exchange rate was 2:1. So, I now have 980 gems where I had 490 lingots. Here's the best part, though: bonus skills, which used to be 30 lingots, are now 500 gems. It also costs 350 gems to recharge your health.
In other words, all of the progress I've put into this system, and all the lingots I've gotten out of it, are now next to worthless.
You wouldn't lose your lingots as such. The few people I have seen share their exchange rate have all received more lingots, at 1500+ your rate would probably be between 1,2x and 1,5x. The devaluation comes from increased prices. The example I have seen is Streak Freeze going from 10 lingots to 600 gems.
I didn't mind the ads when the button to dismiss them was at the bottom of the screen, but now that's been replaced by a button to subscribe, and dismissing the ad is done with an X at the top-left corner of the screen. This is rather annoying since my fingers are always at the bottom of the screen throughout the lesson.
Thanks for the update! I was very concerned about Health, but it sounds like immediate review may put my worries to rest- my objection was being forced to quit learning/practicing during the time set aside for it. Sounds like instead it is 'forced' practice and the user is allowed to continue. I cannot necessarily conclude that's a bad thing. It looks like it's a done deal at any rate. I hope these changes meets duo's needs. Cheers!
You probably won't see this and I probably won't get a reply, but I can only try:
Are you planning to add a quick revision option? Repeating skills can be great for some people and under some circumstances, but it's also way too slow and inefficient for others. Revision by redoing skills equals reviewing only a small amount of vocabulary and also poorly targets what vocabulary actually needs revision (things people got wrong previously). This extremely slow and non-targeted reviewing method leaves a lot of time to forget a word before it's brought up again later. A quick revision system (by typing - web) can easily allow students to review 10-20 words each minute (600-1200 / hour!). Probably even a bit quicker with flashcards only (mobile - but likely also a bit less effective compared to typing). This means that 10 minutes of "quick reviewing" a day would enable people to review the entire voc of a tree (let's say 2000 words) in less than 20 days. Next to that, quick reviewing would also enable people to more easily split their time into a good balance between revision and new content.
By filtering the word list for words the students already know perfectly and by pushing words they don't know to the front of the queue, it yields a very high frequency of targeted revision wherever it's needed. Without even exaggerating I'm convinced this, when implemented well, would enable many people to have a higher retention rate in half the time spent. The main challenge here is to implement it in a way that's not too boring for the general public.
The same thing would also be great for conjugating verbs, but it would also be more difficult to implement. (can be rather boring)
The option to do the quick revision could get enabled / disabled based on a certain algorithm that decides whether quick-revision or skill-revision seems to be the best option for a user. (in case you're scared that (or based on test results) the quick revision option is bad for some people)
Atm the options for revision are:
Redoing skills: slow and inefficient
Web only, the "words" tab flashcards: quick but no option to type (would be fine for mobile) and no genders being asked. It's also in the wrong direction (target language to "from"-language)
Tinycards: moderately slow - the same word gets repeated several times - no option to only do "to target langauge". But it does have some strong points: you can choose what to review (by skill) and genders are included.
Health would be a problem. Nobody likes games that limit binge playing, and just let people do what they want. I have a few thousand lingots so I'm fine but other people with just a few would probably quit, and I want to save mine, not spend them on something I should already be allowed to do.
I had around 490 lingots, which were converted to 980 gems (they're still lingots on the website). It costs 350 gems to recharge your health. Gems are sold at a (maximum) rate of 1,000 for $5.00. I've been using DuoLingo for over a year, and all I get is the ability to recharge my health twice. It's not good even for people who have been on here for ages.
Yes. It's as if, by reaching the conclusion that the previous currency was inflated, they decided to replace it with a new one which was made artificially worthless beforehand. Since Lingots were not actually representative of a real-world economy, though, we never suffered with them the hardships that inflation tends to cause in the real world. With Gems, however, just because they were designed with very little value, now we are experiencing something close to what inflation really is like. The tons of Lingots we acquired before now are worth close to nothing.
Contrary to Luis' comment, I am finding the new "Health" feature negatively impacts my review as I can only practice the random exercises selected by Duolingo rather than focus on the ones I know I am having trouble with, or the ones I have not reviewed in some time. I find most of the practice lessons selected by Duolingo are filled with only the most basic review... there is only so many time I really need to translate "Il mange une pomme" before I feel quite confident I know that material. If you must keep the health feature please adjust so we can select the content we want to review!!! I really need to practice the most recent lessons... NOT the most basic beginning lessons. I am ready to delete the app... NOT give you my money!!!
I guess this health thing is why in two days, Duolingo was fun, but now is no fun at all and almost completely useless for me. I'm going to give up my streak of more than 400 days and basically cease to use the program regularly. I like to use the speed feature because it makes my brain work faster. Studying by the slow method is very tedious. Obviously when a person is trying to type at super speed, it is impossible to avoid hitting the wrong key at times or leaving out a word. Mistakes are obviously going to happen more frequently than if somebody is simply trying to do a stupid slow lesson in a day. Being forced to repeat easy lessons over and over again just makes the whole process extremely boring. In one day, you have wiped out the incentive of having gold trees for me, the incentive to maintain my streak, the ability to know which skills I have practiced recently and the ability to progress in the language. I will no longer be recommending Duo to language learners. PS. In recent months you have also wiped out the ability to have any communication with friends on Duo so why would anybody even want to friend anybody?
I'm sorry to hear that. I don't have these new features yet (actually I still have the activity tab, even), but after I accepted this as the future I also realized I won't be using Duo when the changes reach me. At least not until I need to just go over material I already know.
I think most of us all tend to get motivated and proud of our streaks when they build up.
As to whether they will continue to also reward us with on top of that giving us gems/lingots, that is something none of us can predict. I am not speaking on behalf of Duolingo. It is IMO (In My Opinion).
I think it is unlikely that they would stop doing this. I think it is likely that they will retain giving lingot/gem rewards also at significant times as we maintain our streaks.
Luis, I hope you have the time to answer a concern of mine even though this is an older thread. In another discussion I came across this message by Rob166169: It's only in the ios version, go into a skill and there is an option Master Skill - "Prove your mastery - Skills lose strength. Pass this test to keep this skill golden for up to 30 days. TEST FOR 200 GEMS" So basically if you want a golden tree, its based on spending GEMS rather than your learning."
Is this one of your new and exiting features? It doesn't seem very helpful in terms of learning. What does gems have to do with learning? SO far I've mostly trusted the Duolingo algorithm to know when aI need to strengthen something but if this is a new feature that everyone will get, the whole algorithm becomes useless (at least for me). I've had an Android app update pending since yesterday, I think, and I'm actually scared to let the app update, because I'm not sure what new and not-so-improved features I'll get with it.
Strengthening was already enough of a PITA at times and now they have an incentive to keep the skill strengths artificially low? That's great. I'm not saying they will but I wouldn't put it past them. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/22225104/Update-on-Skill-Strengths
Duo loves nothing more. I actually saw a letter written by Luis to one of the staff members saying how much he enjoyed watching people struggle relentlessly to do the same thing over and over again, repeating mindnumbingly boring tasks ad infinitum. He even mentioned he was currently training a new staff member whose sole purpose is to go from member to member, weakening their skills and changing them from gold to colours. Last week someone mentioned that Duolingo was actually giving money to Donald Trump during the elections. Personally I think they're selling your skill strengths and information to the Russians.
I had stopped following this discussion since Luis had clearly lost interest in anyone's opinion. Everything I could gleen about this new concept, or at least its implementation, suggested it was a terrible idea.
Well, today, as I feared because Duolingo is server-driven, despite not updating, this new feature was nevertheless foisted upon me. So I can now confirm from personal experience that it is a terrible idea. I got penalised for making a mistake with a new word that appeared for the first time in a question, without being introduced! Remember also that the app does not provide introductory notes.
Not impressed. This feature is very dis-incentivising in its present form. It far worse than the old hearts system. Especially if one gets penalised for mistakes in the course. For example, 'They came to ask peace' is a nonsensical sentence in English which I just encountered as an expected answer in the Portuguese course!
One example of how the Health feature dis-incentivises learning is that I now find I am very much more cautious when answering a question. Whereas, if before I thought I probably knew an answer, or would at least would get pretty close, I would give it a go. Now, however, the negative consequences of doing that and getting it work mean that I am much more cautious and if I have any doubt will tap the hints, if there are any, and/or check a dictionary.
Others may feel differently, but this, to me, feels like a giant leap backwards, and a detriment to building confidence! I feel the most important consideration when learning a language is building confidence. Something I previously believed the Duolingo team understood.
The health system would pretty much destroy my way of using Duolingo as I never use the hints. I just enter one letter to see the correct answer and then try to understand and remember it when it comes again. And then I repeat the lesson right away (and usually get most of the sentences right).
...and another thing; the quality and accuracy of the speech audio and voices varies enormously between courses. I just lost a life from the Health in a listening exercise because I mistook 'caro' for 'quero' in Portuguese. There have been a number of occasions in various languages where the audio has been corrupt and/or otherwise indecipherable. Again, is it fair that we learners be penalised for the quality of the course.
Before this Health feature, it was just 'one of those things' and of not great importance. Now it is a major annoyance.
Although not at all the fault of the creators of the Welsh course, but good luck with that anyone studying that course now!
...continuing with that train of thought, I can't imagine it will be very long before I lose a life simply due to the poor standard of English of the America course creators and/or of their lack of undestanding/interest in how it is used elsewhere in the world. Their choices of acceptable answers are quite often perverse or simply unintelligible!
Again, something that was previously only shrug-worthy or would just elicit a guffaw is now a serious annoyance.
One thing I forgot to mention was that when the app announced it was converting Lingots to Gems, it completely locked up and froze. Presumably this was because no-one at Duolingo had bothered to test this with anything but the latest version!
I feared, as happens from time-to-time, that it wouldn't record or would undo the lesson. Something that is particularly annoying when it happens - apparently at random.
I went through nearly an entire course (Esperanto) before realizing Tips & Notes existed, because I started on the app. I use the website for new lessons because of that--I've stayed on the app for review though, because it circles back to the questions I got wrong. (As a result of never using the app for new lessons, I think I can avoid the health bar altogether. So that's my recommended course of action to people worried about health...)
I agree Chris. I think definitely people can have their opinions on a free program, but demanding that Duolingo MUST have Tips and Notes doesn't seem like the best way to seek for that wish. It's better to request than demand for something--especially when it's free. Duolingo is an excellent website that has empowered me in my Spanish language ability, and I'm very thankful for it. I'm so thankful for it that I'm doing a month of Duolingo Plus right now.
That's interesting as I have avoided updating by having turned off automatic downloads for apps and their updates, so it hasn't been foisted upon me .... yet. I had that turned off long before the announcement as I like to decide what and when I update (and when to leave well-enough alone).
Unfortunately, unless the Android app is very different from the iOS one, which I think unlikely, it is largely driven from their server(s), even most of the UI presentation. The apps appear to be largely just providing a dedicated web-interface. So you may get this feature imposed whether you like it or not - as happened to me.
This is something that can cause major issues/bugs when Duolingo don't take into consideration that not everyone will update immediately. This has happened with me on some previous occasions when they've introduced changes, such as the Bots. Things tend to only half-work or can fail or lock-up unpredictably.
I find this annoying, because occasionally Duolingo introduce bugs. So I find it preferable to maintain a consistent and reliable interface once past the early part of a course. Once I find a stable version that is not missing a major new (good) feature, such as the Bots, I prefer to stick with that version until I have completed a course. Sadly, Duolingo do their utmost to prevent that.
I think Duolingo will have to learn to understand that if they start charging, even if only virtually, things that may be tollerated in an entirely free version, free of advertising, soon become unacceptable. Their willingness to communicate with their users and explain exactly how a new feature works needs significant improvement.
Duolingo have stated that the apps now make up the most significant usage of Duolingo. That being so, and with the introduction of this Health feature, which penalises even the tiniest of mistakes, it is now inexcusable that the Notes and Tips are not available with the apps.
The Health feature is especially annoying within the apps because the mistakes I make most often are silly mistakes where I have tapped the tiles quickly, believed they have all taken, but not noticed that a 'the' or 'and' has not taken. This is most likely to occur when going over something one may be already very familiar with. So I believe this Health feature is in no way a measure of anything meaningful, but just an unnecessary annoyance that detracts from the pleasure of learning a language.
Regrettably, Luis appears to quickly lose interest in any discussions of his rare announcements, or in this case, more a pronouncement. I humbly suggest this is most unfortunate, because until now Duolingo has been fantastic, but they appear to be using as a metric of success for a feature, an idea which this discussion would suggest is entirely unrealistic.
The Ja → En course still has the old interface complete with lingots. I wonder if Duolingo have thought through the changing of Lingots into Gems for courses which change later.
Given that the initial change was buggy and couldn't cope with non-latest versions of the app, I would not be at all surprised to discover my 4900 Gems being lost by being replaced by the zero or small number I may have built up when they change Japanese over!
Yes. I've just quickly checked and it's affecting all the languages I'm studying except Japanese.
However, I have a new (possible) theory. Luis said somewhere that it doesn't affect people learning something new. I took that to mean that it didn't apply when you tried a new lesson - but other comments suggested otherwise. I think now, maybe, that what he meant is that it doesn't kick-in until you reach Level 2, say.
I still think it's odd, though, in that case, that Japanese still has the old interface. So maybe it's just because it hasn't reached it yet or because it is only newly released. I was originally waiting until I'd completed the Portuguese tree before beginning Japanese, so it may a while before I find out.
I was happily in the middle of doing Ja-en when they flicked the switch and I suddenly got the hearts on the next skill.
You can probably guess what happened next: I failed the new lesson, got bored of practicing the old ones to regain health (they were all gold anyway), and switched over to android to be able to continue :-)
Penalizing mistakes on completely new items even the first time you come across them is downright crazy for a pedagogical method. Although I doubt duo has learning in mind for this system :-/
because it is only newly released
I think that's the reason. Many people pointed out that the health system is a particularly bad for courses in beta because these often have quite a few mistakes. There was a post on the forum that the health system is no longer applied to courses in beta.
Duolingo underling tasked with reading comments: ❛ Luis, Luis! The learners are revolting!❜
Luis: ❛ Yes, I know they are but they need let us experiment different [sic] ways to pay the bills without getting up in arms. They have to learn what is good for them. They'll never leave. Let them eat Gems! ❜
More seriously. Since no-one bothered to explain precisely how this Health feature worked, I got the impression that like the old hearts feature it would kick one out of a lesson when you lost all the lives. It turns out, to be fair, that it doesn't do that. After a particularly heavily listening-based lesson in Portuguese with the male voice, which is sometimes very difficult to differentiate between words, I lost all five lives. It turns out one can pay gems to restore 'health' to complete the lesson.
So, not as bad as I thought, for me, with a 727-day streak and 4640 Gems - for the moment. However, this penalises new learners and people beginning languages which work on very different systems from their own, Japanese from English, for example. It imagine it will quickly discourage people new to Duolingo from continuing. Also, as others have pointed out, this feature makes it very difficult for anyone with Dyslexia and/or learning difficulties.
It also penalises learners for failings by the course creators, poorly constructed or un-grammatical questions, for example. In some courses, notably French, one is put at a disadvantage if they don't speak in Americanisms, and their education system has no such concept as 'grade point averages' for example, or use 'awesome!' for every other word.
Having completed the Welsh course some time ago, I can forsee this Health concept putting a lot of people off from starting or continuing with Welsh. There are several reasons why this will be a particular issue with Welsh since this has a number of differences from other languages on Duolingo.
Firstly, many of the people studying Welsh will have come to Duolingo specifically to study/practice Welsh and will have not have previously used Duolingo. This is because the Duolingo Welsh course has been widely publicised and promoted by the course creators within Wales, some of whom already had a long-term involvement in teaching Welsh in Adult Education. In fact, the Duolingo course is closely based upon the Welsh Government backed Adult Education courses. Many are likely to be Welsh wishing to brush-up on Welsh they learnt in school or gain knowledge ofva different dialect. Others are likely to be from non-Welsh speaking areas of Wales or the other British nations who have moved to a Welsh-speaking area. These groups may never wish to learn any other language on Duolingo.
Secondly, there are some significant technical problems with the Welsh course. By some accident, that it appears could not be corrected, many of the questions do not match the clip-art pictures or are highly ambiguous. It then becomes a sometimes 1 in 4 chance of picking the correct answer at random.
There are further technical difficulties with the Ivona text-to-voice engine which sometimes make it very difficult or even impossible to follow. I found it mostly pretty clear, but several native speakers had some criticisms of various aspects. It is anycase an attempt to pick a neutral to South-Walian accent which is on occasion (according to comments) difficult for North-Walians to interpret. To further complicate things, some words change their meaning depending upon area or can sound like different words depending upon area.
Welsh has several dialects and potentially several (often radically) different ways of answering the same question. It has been saud in the past that there is a different dialect for each valley or village. Also, in the past it seems many South Walians were taught Welsh by North Walian teachers causing further confusion on what may be considered a correct answer or spelling. In the discussions there are often dozens of combinations of what is considered an acceptable answer for any particular question. Even within one variant of a dialect there can be several radically different ways of providing what could be considered a correct answer or a valid spelling. The course creators have done a good job trying to cope with all this, but there are still challenges.
For once, a Duolingo course is firmly based within British culture and not American-centric. This is natural since, apart from Patagonia, Welsh is firmly wedded within British culture. It's amazing how difficult or unwilling some American speakers have found the adjustment showing particular ire for words such as 'cuppa' or '(a pair of) trainers' or dinner.
The point I'm meaning to make is that people beginning the Welsh course now will most likely find they continually run out of Health on every lesson, at least to begin with - and at periodic points throught the course. If they are beginning Duolingo for the first time, they won't have a pile of Gems available, so they will be constantly punished and penalised and will quickly lose interest. Welsh is an amazing language, but it can be difficult, even without the additional deterrent of the Health feature. It is a shame if people are put off learning the 2nd native British language. For many attempting to learn Welsh, it will be their first exposure to Duolingo, so they will be unlikely to come back or to study any other language.
For these, and other reasons I've previously given within this discussion, I think the Health feature is poorly thought through and implemented. I think it produces the exact opposite result to its stated intention.
It appears the Duolingo Health system is based upon the same principles as the American Health System! If you are rich (in Gems, in this instance) it'll be OK. Woe betide anyone without Gems - they get sent to the Workhouse. Very Dickensian! Neither fair nor civilised.
...and what exactly is the learning benefit of gambling on picking a chest for a random reward of Gems? One person completing their daily target may get 30 Gems, whereas another completing the same lessons might get only 10!
Of course, Duolingo is a private commercial company. They are not a democracy, more akin to an absolute monarchy. They can introduce whatever changes, whenever and however they wish. But, any company only thrives so long as it satisfies the needs of its customers. If they introduce changes that people don't like, they can simply ignore the complaints or suggestions for improvement. However, if they do, dissatisfied users, or customers, as we are since it went commercial (adverts and virtual currency with some real money), may vote with their feet as soon as something better, or less annoying, comes along.
I hope Luis and co. see that the majority of the comments here are coming from a good place, expressing opinions where the implementation of the Health feature seems flawed and counter-productive to the (previously) stated aims of Duolingo. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people, who like me have been greatly enjoying using Duolingo for a long time, have a lot of goodwill towards Duolingo. That may change if you continue to ignore peoples concerns.
I have no fundamental disagreement with Duolingo wishing to fund its operation or indeed generate a profit. But this Health feature seems ill-conceived and implemented. If people start paying for a service, by whatever means, and thus effectively become customers, they will have greater expectations that the service should meets their needs. If it becomes too much hassle and the company appear deaf and aloof to concerns, people will leave. Even a free service is only going to used so long as it is useful and fits with one's needs.
"Our research shows that if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned."
So, instead, you take the prerogative away from the user; that is absurd. And you've asked people not to get upset? Well, when you remove a freedom of choice, then people have good reason to get upset. And, you may have collected research, but have you personally been involved in education? I truly doubt it. And, I have more than three decades of experience in education, so please do not patronize me with research results.
re: health and purchased gems --- This is the first time, I have ever heard anyone in education say there is such a normal life behavior as too much studying. And, these days, writing the words "studies say..." without listing the studies, is suspect of a big profit motives. Besides, health at age 16 and health at age 64 are two different things.
For me, an elder who has time, much of it on public transit, the constant visual repetition of greek or russian phrases is most helpful. Unfortunately,I can see the same word a hundred times and yet swear I've never seen it before. Yet the 100th time I see it, it clicks. However, the new system of wanting lots and lots of gems to retrieve some so-called health after only a few attempts at a lesson ... it feels like punishment for trying too hard. The whole idea is senseless and I doubt any educator would setup something like this willingly.
If ’binge' learning were detrimental to learning, why encourage it by having XP and levels in the first place? Why set a goal? Why base Duolingo upon the concept of gamification?
This supposed problem of binging makes absolutely no sense.
If this Health system had any real benefit to learning, would it not make more sense to have it tied to the daily goal one has set for oneself, rather than a have the same fixed limit of mistakes irrespective of level of ability or keenness - or the complexity of the language being learnt?
as a person who is very guilty of binge-learning i'm very happy to hear about this health feature! i cant wait to try it out for myself! (i'm thinking of restarting my Swahili tree because i binge-learned it haha....)
Edit: okay but for languages that are very new like Swahili, there are many ways to get a question wrong even if you're right. (ex: saying "the giraffe" when the system wants "a giraffe", this is ridiculous when you remember that Swahili has no definite or indefinite articles. ) so with that specific language i'd be a bit wary just because unfair losses of health are bound to happen.
don't get me wrong though! i still think this feature will be amazing :D
Have you done any market research on how much a typical user is willing to pay for Duolingo Plus or are you considering adjusting the cost based on usage? I would love to help donate 'pay' but I think the price is pretty steep compared to other services that also add a Pro feature with little usefulness, which becomes more of a donation. $120 a year is pretty steep.
Even though that is Duolingo's slogan, people are paying for this "free" education. As Luis stated, it costs over $60,000/day to just keep Duolingo afloat. Duolingo Plus is optional, so it still is in keeping with it's original mission.
Because I've benefited tremendously from Duolingo, next week I'm going to do Duolingo Plus for 1 month. I'm not going to do this because I'm forced to or because I'm getting anything out of it; I will be doing this because Duolingo has given me so much already, and I want this platform to be sustainable.
If I could, I would continue to do Duolingo Plus, but for right now, the least I can do is do Duolingo Plus for a month.
Even though that is Duolingo's slogan, people are paying for this "free" education.
From what I understood, venture capitalists are paying for it, and they will be doing so because they think that, eventually, it will turn them a large profit. I want Duolingo to be sustainable too, but do bear in mind this important difference between Duolingo and a charity.
I don't just give to charities. I give to causes I believe are worthy of support, and Duolingo is one of them.
Luis' post wasn't about venture capitalists. He was writing about how Duolingo is trying to make money outside of any venture capitalists so this platform can be sustainable.
Giving $10 to Duolingo won't hurt me, but I will be investing in helping others become language learners. That's $10 well spent.
Please note , the following is all In My Opinion (IMO), and not in relation to the other roles I strive to fulfill to the best of my ability and resources for this community.
For quite some years I have now been a learner and observer, and continue to volunteer to strive to contribute, to the Duolingo phenomenon.
And during all my observations and experience, I do have trust in Duolingo, in its stated goal of providing language learning to the world for free.
I see that the most valuable part of Duolingo is the courses ( trees ) and the knowledge in the forums. For the model to be successful - it requires that the things that really count, will always need to be accessible for free. However things such as streaks and lingots, are bells and whistles that are fun and good incentives. However the true wealth is in the courses and informative discussions. So these additional costs, even like Duolingo Plus - as even Luis has said, are aimed to not be a barrier of a fee, but are in a way a donation towards making it all possible as well.
For it is the community through the donation of their skills and resources that make this site so powerful and effective. It is because of us as a community, for those that volunteer their time for the benefit of others, that is the key success of Duolingo. I see that Duolingo, as well as those that count in this community, recognize this, and that to maintain that will also require the continued commitment to the core objective that has been consistent - to provide language learning to the world for free.
You and I a trio be,
Learner, Guide, and Admin be,
That all together we can clasp,
For a better future within our grasp.
Hello Lindakanga, Thank you for your kind words below. I could not reply directly to your response so I am posting to your original note. I am using Duolingo for English to French. I follow Sitesurf, n6zs, nicholas_ashley and others because they have stood out in responding to questions regarding grammar. Sitesurf in particular is more than stellar. Since I "follow" them, their dialogue in the individual lessons is streamed on "Activity" and all the sage advice they give in response to grammar questions is collated to "Activity" for anyone who is following them to review. This means, when they answer a grammar question which one person has asked, everyone who follows them gets to see their advice on "Activity". It was invaluable. I was able to learn new grammar rules and reinforce those I knew. Duolingo has its strengths but grammar explanation is not one of them and these contributors have made the program work for those who are interested in more than a somewhat rote learning model. Their one response taught a huge community. This is key! Sitesurf and the contribution of others to Duolingo is equal to the basic English to French Duolingo program in my assessment. Why Duolingo has chosen to stifle this is a question that deserves to be posed to Luis. I can only think that what is/was happening on the English to French forum is not common to other forums with regards to the excellent grammar advice we are/were getting and therefore was not considered in the decision to cancel "Activity". I hope this explains my disappointment. Best wishes.
ShellMarg said “I can only think that what is/was happening on the English to French forum is not common to other forums with regards to the excellent grammar advice we are/were getting and therefore was not considered in the decision to cancel "Activity". Bless you ShellMarg for trying to accept the situation, but I think your instinct is probably correct - there have been stars like Sitesurf for other languages too: for instance Immery in Polish. I’m sure there were many others and I hope one day they may be allowed to shine again!
Activity was invaluable for learning. One was able to follow the Course Contributors who are answering grammar questions and see a multitude of grammar advice. The loss of the Activity has changed Duolingo immensely, at least in the French tree, IMO :)
I hope Luis is aware of how the Activity stream was being used by many who were searching for grammar explanations which are not part of the core Duolingo program but provided by "crowd sourcing", by those who have been generous and kind enough to spend their time helping others.
I find the Discussion stream full of irrelevant postings for those who are hoping to continue to learn, "I Completed My Tree", "What do I do Now"... Activity was what kept the community in touch and continuing to achieve Duolingo's goal of language learning.
Just my two cents. Have a great day.
I am with you, that I am very sad at the loss of the Activity stream. I also agree with you that it was a great asset at allowing the community to form friendships, and deepened for many of us our culture and commitment to log in almost every day. It provided a means of brainstorming ideas, and a way to to help reduce casual chatting on the forums, as people were able to be directed to the activity thread.
I know there are still more changes coming through, and I am hopeful that new things may help address in a better way the benefits that Activity provided our community.
I greatly value you input into this discussion. It is of high value ! Thank you for being a part of language learning community and being such a valued member of it by the caring and relevant way you have and do connect with it.
Can you also give more information on how you found Activity of value to your language learning ?
I'm planning just to do Duolingo Plus for one month and then end my subscription before the 30 days ends. Why can't other people do that, too? That $10 will go to a very good cause. Maybe Duolingo will look into a $5/mo option, but I really can't argue with the $10/mo option because Duolingo is worth that and more to me.
I'm currently paying $14/mo to do 600+ Spanish lessons on Fluencia.com, which I plan to complete in 6 to 8 months. After I finish them, I'm seriously considering getting a tutor for 3 months, and I want to do 24 30 minute lessons. (I am just trying to figure out how I can finance it.) That will cost me at least $240. That will at least be $240 for only 3 months...
If Duolingo is awesome right now, I think we're just seeing a small glimpse of what a sustainable platform can look like. I can't expect that people will continue putting resources, thought, and energy behind this brand without being compensated.
The idea of encouraging revision is the first step I've seen Duolingo take in a long time that attempts to directly benefit the learning of the users. I'm so happy to see this and I'm crossing my fingers. Even if it faces teething problems, I really would like to see it flourish.
I for one am fed up of features that give absolutely no benefit to my learning as a user (like the beloved Fluency Meter or the 12,346 lingots I still have sitting in the top right of my screen) when there are so many problems that have not been fixed since conception and so many ideas that have yet to be implemented.
It is solely thanks to Duolingo that I've moved a brand new country and can speak another language fluently. I have so much to thank for it and I wish it the very best over the coming months.
Edit: Also, this new website is lightning fast :-)
Again, this is probably going to get buried, but I just wanted to comment on a few things.
A few months ago,
Luis, that was almost a year ago. Time flies, doesn't it?
...if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned....Health is a way of pacing the use of Duolingo to discourage binging behavior, which is shown to be ineffective for learning a new language.
Now that I think about it, that's actually a really good idea. I am usually vehemently opposed to apps having "health" like that, but the way you've described it makes it actually seem like a good idea. I have a question, though: would you still be able to hover over words to see their meanings, or would that be reserved only for new words? If you can, would doing so impact your health at all? And will health ever be introduced to the website? Just curious.
...Lingots converted into a new currency: Gems
Sort of related to what I said above, will lingots eventually be entirely replaced by gems, even on the website? if you use both the website and the iOS app (like me!), how will that work? What is the conversion rate between lingots and gems? Will gems be able to do everything that lingots currently can (donating on forums, etc.)? Will lingots be able to do everything that gems can (buying health, etc.)
Sorry for so many questions, and thank you so much for everything!
I'm finding the health system is having the opposite of the stated desired effect on two levels. First, I feel I am being punished for trying to learn, which discourages my interest in continuing to learn. Second, it is resulting in me having to practice several lessons in order to get through a new lesson, which is resulting in a new binge-like learning behavior I did not have before. I was having no problem before the health system and now am finding myself less and less interested in continuing - especially when I've lost health due to autocorrect errors I didn't notice, or answers being marked wrong that were not wrong (I did report those). I had no problem learning and retaining new lessons before the health system, and now I find myself less able to progress simply because of how frustrating the new system is.
Just my two cents. I think you should make money of course, but I don't understand how this new "health" thing results in your doing so and I have to say I'm so annoyed with it that after 1.5 years of working with Duolingo, I may just quit it. I hate it when designers of apps and software think they know better than I do about what I do best. And this is a prime example. I want to use the app as much or as little as I want and in whatever way I want. I don't care if I'm not learning as quickly as I might if I used it less...or more. I'm doing the best thing for me and I'm not into all the rewards (or punishment which is the way I look at the whole health thing). I've been singing the praises of Duolingo since I started, but I guess it's time I stop. So terribly disappointed.
I can understand your need to generate revenue, but I'm finding the new Health feature frustrating and counterproductive. It seems to deduct points for errors in fresh modules, i.e. material that one's encountering for the first time, rather than for errors made when strengthening older modules. Today it suddenly stopped me midway through a module, because I'd "run out" of health - in other words, I was being penalised for not knowing something I hadn't, as yet, been taught! Apparently I can "come back later". It doesn't specify how much later. This presupposes I've plenty of free time to devote to Duolingo every day. Unfortunately, I haven't.
If it's kicking the user out in the middle of a module, that is totally crazy. That would damage the memorization cycle for that lesson. That and not knowing when one could start again will drive off all but the most hare-brained users. Thank you for the report. I'm curious if this is a widely experienced effect of the new Health system on ipods/ipads. This didn't come through in Luis' description.
My husband was randomly selected to use the new version. Because of this, he's now quit (and odds are I will too, since he was my motivation to start).
The main concern/issue is the rate at which the "health" for each individual section decays. In order to keep each thing up to date (gold status), it is taking him more than half an hour a day (instead of the 10 minutes he committed to) to keep them up, and progressing to anything new is simply out of the question. He feels daunted and Duolingo used to be something that he was excited about and dedicated to work on. It has now become the equivalent of the worst elements of high school.
If the rate of decay could somehow be adjusted to match the selected commitment so that people don't feel mired and still are able to progress, that would help a lot. I know he's not in a hurry to get through it, but now he's simply given up because of the insurmountable tasks.
Please consider making this change! We are both very sad about this.
Does the new version compel you to keep everything gold? I do that anyway as my poor brain needs endless repetition to have any chance of remembering what I've learned, but that is my choice. Not sure how I would feel about compulsion, especially as I am consciously avoiding some modules that are full of errors in the English translations. I would not like to be compelled to repeat nonsense in order to progress.
This isn't anything new, people have been complaining about it for years (literally). However, your experience might also be explained by this. In that case it should be more of a one-off thing but I don't know how quickly things return to normal.
There are three ways to deal with the problem: sticking with it, ignoring it (you don't have to keep the tree golden) and quitting. I think the best approach would be a mix of the first two. The key to learning languages is repetition so practising those decayed skills is beneficial even if it means slower progress but the algorithm isn't perfect and can't know what you do outside Duolingo, so it will also decay skills you already know by heart in which case it could even be recommendable to ignore it.
I chose to stick even on days I had more than 10 skills decay. I did what I could (granted, that was probably more than 10 minutes) and now I'm averaging about 2 decayed skills per day in my completed French tree.
> "The best thing you or anybody can do to help is to let us experiment different ways to pay the bills without getting up in arms."
NO. Why? Because life is short and RIGHT NOW I want to learn German, and I'm travelling there next December and I'm on a 34 day learning streak because I'm committed of taking my german to the next level RIGHT NOW.
Your experiments are short-circuiting my learning and throwing my progress overboard.
You don't understand that our commitment and our time are investments. I understand you need money and I'd be willing to pay reasonably to keep my investment... but the current system sucks and doesn't offer a reasonable middle ground. I'm up in arms because it seems I lost the time I put in Duolingo and now I have to start with Babbel from zero, our look for a language book, or a teacher... and all I wanted was WHAT I ALREADY HAD.
I disagree with the health option because years ago when they had health on the website, I kept getting the cases wrong in German and I just kept loosing health. This inevitably made me give up because it was too frustrating. I enjoy having the progress bar system as it is more encouraging and its kinder to those who struggle with languages - who often use duolingo in addition to their class at school to try and keep up.
I understand and respect the research that too much language learning impacts negatively. However, I think this can be combated by making people pass the checkpoint test. They would have to practice the skills needed before and after passing the checkpoint test they're allowed to move on. If they fail they have to stay back and practice skills. Don't make it visible like there's a "correct" or "incorrect" after each question. Just have each question after another and give a breakdown of everything at the end. If they passed, give them a reward in xp or lingots or both depending on the %age score they achieved (maybe even putting this on their profile to "show off"?). Let them re-attempt the test once every 2-5 hours or something to make sure they have a rest. I wouldn't mind doing this, I don't think it would create a backlash and I think it's no different from a small progress test teachers arrange in schools.
Another motivator to practice and to not "binge learn" is to give an xp bonus based on the percentage of "gold" skills (full strength). For example 80% is 1xp per 10xp, 90% is 2xp per 10xp and 100% is 5xp per 10xp. I think this would encourage people to go back and practice. ((I also dislike how on mobile versions you cant see how much xp you've done today or yesterday or the week. If there were a page or if you pressed on the streak icon if it would show that, that would be great.))
The only reason I came back to duolingo was because of the progress bar. Other language learning websites like Memrise have a similar kind of progress bar along with weak words. I prefer this because, as I said earlier, it doesn't punish you for a mistake. Of course language learners are going to make mistakes; its part of learning the language. Duolingo has many factors that set it apart from other language sites and at the minute, encouragement and motivation are important ones - don't lose that charm. It seems a little to me that the health bar is a mode of monetisation as you have to pay gems or real money to refill it, but that's just my viewpoint.
Concerning monetisation, I don't mind the ads that pop up at the end of a mobile lesson - they don't bother me. Its understandable that a project like this needs money to function smoothly. Most things on the internet are monetised with ads anyway so I doubt people will hate it if its implemented onto the website - as long as the ads aren't too invasive.
Duolingo plus seems like a good idea and I agree with the notion of offering small benefits for those that choose to. However, I think a donate button similar to reddit gold with a "daily goal" could also be successful.
I don't see what the idea behind gems is as it just seems like lingots. What is the point of this exactly? How is it any different?
I understand I'm late to the discussion but if Luis or any of the developers reads this and takes it into consideration I would appreciate it.
You guys should make a donate button, I would totally donate. And ads that cover the whole screen would be fine, if that brings you guys more money. Because the more money you make let's duolingo be on the internet longer! And duolingo has really helped me with my spanish, I would totally recamend it to a friend if they were't already useing it! Lol, but my question is when will I get the update ( I know this is of topic.) But I'm really stressing over it because I'm worried it might glitch and I won't get it back! And that's how I keep in touch with people who don't see my post were I'm asking questions. But anyway can you easamate the time everyone will have it? Thank you, reply soon! Bye!
You could try adding a "pay what you want" option for the subscription (starting at the "normal" price just to be clear) that would enable people 'to donate' extra money while also "not really" being a donation (donating to a for-profit company is odd). This system is already (successfully) being used by, for example, gamestores selling bundles of indie games.
Donating often results in people feeling like they're "owed" something and they tend to keep feeling that way for a very long time afterwards. Donations are frequently "future oriented", it's given with the connotation of supporting the development of further "great new features". Thus it often results in regret when they don't like a certain change.
While a "pay what you want" option technically isn't a donation. It's rather the person paying an amount they deem as "worth it" and with less future-oriented expectations. When they don't like a change, it will mostly just result in them not paying a "bonus" next month.
If successful it might also enable you to lower the base price of the subscription a bit (11€ isn't cheap). The 11€ might be the most profitable option (within the scope of the tests you've ran) but it obviously also means you're missing out on people who have lower limits of what they're willing to pay. I'm certainly not willing to pay more than 5€ / month. Unless some changes are made that highly increase my perceived value of Duolingo (Quick-reviewing - dynamic Mandarin course). The Mandarin one = that 11€ / month, you'll receive it! Instantly!
In the US it is not uncommon for for profit companies to set up not for profit subsidiaries. I could see it to be conceivable that as the internet continues to grow this becomes more visibly common. I could but won't name several companies which do it. The company could reduce its tax liability by giving money to the non profit subsidiary and also citizens could contribute to the subsidiary and not have to worry that the mother company would profit more.
Or they could spin off the nonprofit company entirely and gain beau coup good will in the process. There are some well published ways that this is done, probably most talked about is the way that Jimmy Wales did with Wikipedia.
Firstly: many thanks for Duolingo, which has certainly changed my life for the better.
Secondly: please do not introduce the Health feature for experienced users. While is probably a good idea to help newcomers by enforcing rest periods those of us who have been using Duolingo for more than six months have worked out a way to use it that suits us.
Thirdly: in order to preserve the financial future of Duolingo have you considered linking up with existing commercial language companies? Could you get a deal with a language learning business whereby they would guarantee to maintain free access to the existing Duolingo material for everyone, while being able to integrate new courses which enrich and expand the learning process?
While I greatly appreciate being able to use Duolingo without having to pay, I believe that in principle those who provide courses deserve to be paid for their efforts. It could be argued that only providing free courses damages the language-learning market and discourages other people from investing in research and development. A collaboration with profit-making language learning companies would be highly beneficial for everyone.
The streak is a negative motivator for me. I never want the annoyance of maintaining a streak, so I will always be sure to skip days every week. I do not care about lingots, whatever they are. Health would just be one more item to ignore.
What I would like is workbooks designed to use with the DuoLingo Site. I recently bought a good structured, organized workbook after realizing that I was not ever going to get the patterns of French from DuoLingo, or grasp the genders, without some structured study and practice. For me, that is essential. Yet I like DuoLingo, and I would have preferred a book that correlated with it.
Just to put in my two cents, I think the ads we have been seeing so far are extremely restrained and unobtrusive. That being said, I personally would be happy to pay a monthly subscription if it gave me access to more content. For example, I would LOVE to see PRACTICE SHEETS on different topics. Also perhaps you could set up a pen pal/chat system that pairs native speakers of different languages. Not to mention to have a set of flash cards that comes with each section would also be an amazing learning tool. While I LOVE LOVE DL and recommend it to all my friends, I felt that I needed additional support and actually tried a paid subscription at Busuu (which was a total bust by the way, the only thing that website offers that is at all worthwhile is the writing excersises), my point is that there are a lot of people absolutely willing to shell out a little money for a better array of learning tools. You could still keep all the lessons free and just have the monthly subscription for the additional resources. I think that would accomplish the goal of keeping learning free while covering costs AND improving the learning experience quite nicely.
Thanks for all your hard work and keep it up!
I agree with many of the comments here... Please do not introduce the health system fully! I have not yet experienced it, but I have read plenty about it from people who have, and it sounds like an incredibly discouraging thing to add. I am more than willing to accept the ads that are currently in there, and I am willing to pay for Premium accounts, but please please please do not add the health system! It will only harm Duolingo because it will strip away a lot of the engagement that makes learning with Duolingo fun!
I wouldn't pay to block ads. I would pay to have an expanded Spanish tree. Having completed the tree and married a Mexican, I realize there are huge gaps in my vocabulary. Duolingo has been a boon to my ability to use Spanish conversationally, but there's still so much I don't know. I will pay you $10 right now for an expansion pack to Spanish that grows my tree by 25 to 50%. I would pay the same amount to have Immersion back. I might even pay for new ways to engage i.e. more than the standard lessons and the vocabulary flash cards. Maaaaaybe for more bonus skills, say $1 per bonus skill.
I've used memrise a bit, but I'm a bigger fan of Anki. I have a pack of the 5000 most common words and I try to use the words in a sentence as I practice them. I'll dig through memrise again, any courses to recommend?
Thankfully I don't have gems. I use Android and web so I shouldn't have to worry about that for a while. I've also got hundreds of lingots so buying those kinds of things isn't a problem. I bought the two outfits on a whim.
Regarding the skills, I don't think I would have paid money for Idioms, Flirting, or Christmas. I didn't really find any value in them and I never practice them. I'd be more interested in something like Deber or an intensive reflexive pronoun skill. Maybe even expanded versions of other skills like Music and Business or country specific slang.
The course I've gone farthest through is "First 5000 Words of Spanish", by Xoviat, but if you're already studying something similar there's probably going to be quite a lot of overlap.
"Advanced Spanish" by RabbitWho seems pretty good, though I haven't gone very far in it. It's mostly vocabulary, but it includes a few phrases and idioms as well.
@Luis For advertisement, rather than random advertisements, can Duolingo listed some of the recommended children's book/single track of the target language? Duolingo will get a referral fee and users will get opportunity to buy good products and practice their reading/listening skills. Win-win for both parties!! :D Furthermore, if you have enough resources, may be instead of put this book/track suggestion as advertisement, Duolingo can build another section, say, named it as "Library", where users who want to challenge themselves can go there, search materials in target language and buy them.
- Will these ads and such affect the web version?
- Personally, I would prefer for the web version to continue to be free, ad-free, and purchase-free (did I mention free)? And for mobile, charge 2.99$ as a one time payment to remove ads. No one wants a subscription... thats annoying. (More so than the ads)
Agree with other posters who dislike the health system. I haven't come into contact with it yet, but it seems like something that could pave the way for more and more money grabs. Being able to refill health with Gems seems like a step in the wrong direction, as it will put people off from learning if they quite literally have to pay for their mistakes. I understand overstudying is a very bad thing; personally I can only study anything for around an hour at a time before everything just starts to mush together. But I think the health system would just penalize people who may be genuinely struggling to learn a new language, and in the long run may put off potential learners.
There are different ways to "binge". If you're just plowing through new lessons to get lingots, then yeah, you're not really learning. But that's not what I do; I "binge" by hitting "practice" over and over, revisiting lessons I've already done. That does help me learn, because it increases the rate at which I'm re-exposed to existing vocabulary and concepts. When I "binge" on practice sessions is really not much different than immersion - and immersion is a great way to learn a language!
I started using the Forvo app for pronunciation and immediately paid the three dollars (which is a pretty standard amount to get ad-free apps.) In Wikipedia, it describes the app and forvo.com website as paying for itself through the ad-elimination fee. That's a one-time fee. Forvo is a for-profit company. It crowd-sources its contents, as does Duolingo, through user development--Forvo has users add pronunciations, so it clearly needs server capacity for storing sound bites. There's not a one to one comparison on computing needs or development needs that can be made, but Duolingo has a larger user base, so ad revenue should be higher--and more people willing to spend reasonable sums for ad elimination. I don't doubt that the daily computing and development sums are $60,000, but I wonder how useful those high development costs are when they result in Clubs and the Health system. Since updating to include Clubs my app crashes fairly often and had not been improved by a second update. Health sounds like a countermeasure to ease of learning, unless you're jonesing on binging and need an external force to make you put down the app and walk away. I'm starting to wonder what's going on here. I don't want Luis losing money. I'd like Luis to make money, but maybe there's a better way to tighten the ship?
I really have to agree with all the negative comments re: Health. I really enjoy coming on here every day, I might only do a couple of lessons but I wouldn't class that as bingeing? I have been on Duolingo for a few years now, and tbh I find the changes have sometimes been detrimental. One of the worst changes I've felt has been taking away the Immersion which I loved. That has been debated to the death so I'll leave that there. Of course the sites expenses need met, and as another poster said, "Years ago she wouldn't have hesitated to pay, but not now". I feel exactly the same, I would have gladly paid an amount as I get so much enjoyment from learning a language, but I would think twice about it now. I don't feel the changes over the years has been for the best, and the proposed changes ie. the Health matter really annoys me. I don't mind the ads, but for me Duolingo is nowhere near the site it used to be sadly. Hopefully the users opinions will be taken into account as this site is one of the best out there. The old adage "If it aint broke don't fix it" comes to mind.
Today, I truly experienced the annoyance of the new health concept. In the past, in fact, for the last 6 months, I have used Duolingo on a daily basis. As a retiree, I visit Starbucks in the morning and work on lessons over coffee. I started a new section and lost health quickly. That ended my learning session very quickly and without recourse.
As a retiree, I visit Starbucks in the morning and work on lessons over coffee. I started a new section and lost health quickly. That ended my learning session very quickly and without recourse.
When that happens, I suggest you open the (mobile) webversion of Duolingo on your mobile device: you'll be able to keep working from there as the webversion doesn't have the Health system.
Duolingo received massive funding from Google and that is a fact. First, what happened to the funding? Second, you are providing us with an expense of $60,000 per day without itemization (general). Perhaps we all need to be enlightened before we determine which "plan" or lack, thereof, will be used. By the way, I am quite certain that you're not CEO for gratis. What's your take in the big picture from a financial perspective?
My son-in-law and I conducted some financial research pertaining to Duolingo and we were both shocked. Duo has many, many financial backers, not just Google. There are, no less than 150, 000,000 users but only 60 employees. Duo is doing translation for profit.
So, the question arises as to why business entities and individuals would financially fund Duo. Entities and people do not back businesses with the intent to lose money. Financial sources expect to make money, lots of money. And, there is nothing wrong with that. I just do not want to be sold a bill of goods not based on full disclosure. So indulge me with some simple math. If Duo charged each user only $10 per year, then the gross would be 1.5 billion dollars. Luis claims that operating expenses are $60,000 per day and we shall accept that for now. Consequently, total yearly operating costs would be just over 38 million dollars. So, if we perform some substraction, we discover that the estimated profit margin would equal 1.46 billion dollars. Undoubtedly, that is a hefty profit margin, is it not?
Some of you are willing to pay $9.99 per MONTH to block advertisements. Based upon the realistic numerical possibility that I just presented, do you truly believe that your decision is wise?
Realistically, using a basis of 150 million user, Duo could charge only $5.00 per annum, per person, and still make an outlandish profit.
That being the case, then this entire health/gem concept is utterly absurd. Furthermore, it is not necessary.
Why not get rid of health but keep the gems? The gems could be used to buy more bots or create more avatar outfits. Then let people earn gems by reviewing more rather than just bingeing through the tree. Also add a warning if someone is bingeing one language. You an still sell gems to people who want more outfits or bots faster while still rewarding for reviewing.
I am 100% behind ads and subscriptions, but health is problematic. For the more complex languages like Hungarian and Japanese, it is way too easy to entirely flunk out of a lesson, the first and only lesson you attempt in a day. Health might make sense if it stops you doing too many lessons, but not if it means you have to go do 5 review lessons immediately even if everything is gold just to get another chance at a single new lesson. I am alpha testing Japanese and health has been a horror. I can start my first and only new lesson of the day with full health and a fully gold tree, but with a language as different from English as Japanese, it is very easy to get 5 wrong. I can imagine the same being equally true with Hungarian. Even being a 'good' language learner, sometimes I would get up to 35 or 45 goes before I completed a whole Hungarian lesson just because it's a challenging language without the option of slowing the audio. It makes getting anything wrong very stressful, because then I fear not being able to finish a single lesson. It is the opposite of engaging. It's not holding me back from doing too many. It's holding me back from progressing at all sometimes and makes mistakes scary. I never felt that way before with Duolingo.
I don't like that you can't pick your own review either, that it only counts if you use the health button. I mean, I have studied Japanese before, so I am already pretty good at reading hiragana. It would just be asking me dead simple things I had aced over and over rather than allowing me to grapple with the new material properly. It really doesn't work with my learning style at all, which is a pity, as up until now, Duolingo has worked the best with my learning style of anything I've used in the 17 years I've been studying languages.
It is also a mixed message to say everything is gold, yet you need to do 5 review lessons to go on. You may need to get rid of the gold system entirely if you want to do this because it is extremely frustrating to review things that I know the algorithm doesn't think I need to review yet.
I would also request it not apply to the entire account. Whether or not I am able to go on in Swedish has nothing to do with how ready I am to go on in Polish. I noticed it seems to be across the whole account rather than done by language. I know in the past you have not wanted to divide things up by languages, but this could make someone practice a lot in the language they already know well because it's easy but use it to do lessons in another language they aren't ready to go on in, which defeats the point, or more annoyingly, mean I have to review in a language I'm 100% ready to learn something new in because I did badly in a different language. It would be like saying you had to review chemistry because you did poorly on a history quiz.
Hint for Duo: calculate a general failure rate for each course and calibrate the health system on that number, allowing more mistakes with more difficult languages.
AB test then the calibrations. Users with more allowed mistakes versus users with less allowed mistakes, everything being a percentage of the total course failure rate.
Yes, this is a real issue. Duolingo is built by volunteers, so having something that will make them have to release a perfect course or nothing is a lot to ask. What is better is having a system that will take the imperfections into account so more courses can exist and be usable even if they are not perfectly paced or there is some other issue. I have seen how long it takes to fix courses here and we are talking years. Most trees have not had a second version released. The majority here have only gone from beta to stable, not to version 2.0. Version 2.0 trees are typically the ones most similar to English. I can't think of one I've seen for one of the more challenging languages.
I would like to reiterate what iwc2ufan is saying, and also add that THIS PROBLEM ALSO APPLIES TO ME WITH FAMILIAR ROMANCE LANGUAGES. I personally, owning an Android, have not been exposed to the new health mechanic, but I have read an awful lot about it on the forums, and I can positively vouch that for more complex lessons (the past subjunctive in French, for instance,) I often go into the forties or fifties on number of questions because the exact rules of conjugation and verb use and word order are hard for me to grasp right away. (I remember stumbling through this back when we had HEARTS on the app and I cannot remember how many times I got too frustrated to continue a lesson). I have been learning French for a little over three years. I'm not a beginner, but I can still make tons of mistakes.
Often with the more complex grammar lessons, I will spend twenty or thirty minutes going through the lesson, taking the time to carefully read over every wrong answer I submit and compare it to the correct one. When that sentence comes around again, I have to remember what I got wrong the last time, and this often takes two or three tries to get it right. But I feel that this method of trial and error with feedback every time helps me far more than simple rote memorization every would.
I read Luis' explanation for why Health was introduced, and I think it's great, in theory. I am certainly guilty of the late-night language-learning binge, and yes, I'm cognizant that I'm not retaining it as well as I would if I practiced every day. But there are other factors to consider, and I'm sure the feature could be improved without being removed entirely. So this isn't another wall of text calling for torches and pitchforks. It's just my two-cents, and hopefully something to think about.
Actually, thinking back, you are right even about Latin and Germanic languages. There are a few really tricky Dutch lessons further up the tree. It's not as though those languages have nothing challenging them. And even though we can all go a little overboard from time to time, it's not like we can't review of our own free will.
This made me think if they have language specific AB test groups (if that's even possible). By far most English people study Spanish and French which are quite easy languages (especially at the beginning) and share a lot of vocabulary. Same goes for the opposite direction. If 54% of Spanish <-> English learners are okay with Health because those languages are already easy, the metrics on average will be positive even if everyone studying a non-Romance, non-Germanic language quits. (I'm of course going by all accounts registered for a course as I have no way of knowing how many are active and how many Spanish learners learn Russian etc.)
Yeah, I can see why it has tested well as most people here who speak English are learning Spanish, French or German. I don't think it would have held me back with anything Latin or Germanic, but it is wildly unsuitable for anything more different from English. I like being able to fight through the lessons in the more difficult languages with sheer persistence. This health system means persistence no longer pays, but rather, perfection or paying. Perfection is unusual in a brand new topic, so paying is the most probable outcome. I mean, if health comes in full time, rather than being able to pay for no ads, I'd rather be able to pay for unlimited health so I can learn my own way rather than having to shell out for each failed lesson in a difficult language. Paying for your own repeated failure is just too depressing.
I totally agree. I think I can live with Health for many languages -- French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc. --- but the idea of Health terrifies me with Hungarian. Not only is Hungarian challenging for English speakers, there is no way to slow down the audio. Health would have been very discouraging had it existed when I first started learning Turkish, as well.
Has there been any thought having different Health levels for different languages?
Your comments perfectly reflect my experience. The fact that I've had to contend with the health meter while testing Japanese (where there are already some bumps that make mistakes more likely) has made that more frustrating than I've experienced with any other course. And the option to strengthen other skills doesn't help if the skills are all golden- I can practice them as much as I want and it doesn't improve my health.
And the option to strengthen other skills doesn't help if the skills are all golden- I can practice them as much as I want and it doesn't improve my health.
Oh. So you're forced to quit all together if you keep your tree golden? That defeats the purpose on the language learning side. I guess you could set up a 'dummy language' that you basically ignore except to regain health?
Luis said they will be fixing it so Health does not apply to Alpha and Beta courses. I'm not sure of the timeline on that. If the Health thing disappears for you whenever you work on Japanese, will you let the rest of us know? (I don't know if it will work for anyone who has used anything other than the legitimate way into that course.)
Mag . . . you are correct. Ads may be annoying, but they are not a form of punishment for attempts at problem-solving. Must say that I am thoroughly annoyed with these changes. For me, I'll conduct all business through the web. However, then I lose the "bots" which have been wonderful and the clubs.
You raise an excellent point in your last paragraph. I'm taking Spanish and Danish simultaneously, and I'll binge on Spanish because it's largely review after several years of coursework. Danish is new to me, and I'm well-aware that a marathon session of blazing through the tree would be counterproductive. I would probably have a screwed-up health score in Spanish, but it's a completely different situation than learning a new language from scratch.
This. There are different ways to "binge". If you're just plowing through new lesson after new lesson, then yeah, you're not really learning. But that's not what I do; I "binge" by hitting "practice" over and over, re-plowing lessons I've already done. That does help me learn, because it increases the rate at which I'm re-exposed to existing vocabulary and concepts. That is, "binging" on practice sessions is really not much different than immersion - and immersion is a great way to learn a language!
This is a new event and it will blow your mind. As has been noted, Duolingo metrics shows that too much time spent at one time is detrimental to learning. Thus, or so we've been told, the implementation of the health/gems system.
However, today I received my Daily German Remdiner based upon an 186-day streak. People . . . this is a direct quote: "Today's goal: Learn the skill Business 2."
Business 2 consists of FIVE (5) lessons! Therefore, if I wade through 5 segments pertaining to one subject, is that not binge learning? This suggested goal is contrary to what has been preached?
If this nonsense continues, then Duolingo is on a path of self-destruction! So now Big Brother is telling me what content and how much I should learn for the day.
The entire health/gems concept is absolutely counterproductive to the educational process. A user is penalized for attempting to ascertain the correct response. Consequently, more users will resort to outside sources rather than attempt something meaningful such as problem-solving. Now, for me, after over 180 straight days of participation and I mean serious participation, the iPhone app is useless!
I have a question/suggestion about the ad placement. I know you said you don't have control over the ads, so this might be a moot point, but can you change the language of the ad? For example, someone who has just finished a Spanish lesson would be shown an ad in Spanish. It would feel more relevant and provide an opportunity for people to use their language skills.
As for the health system, at first I was frustrated with it but now I really like it. I find it very helpful for figuring out how to pace my studies. I am taking Spanish, French, and Italian all at the same time (I have a lot of free time and it seemed like a fun idea so I was like why not?). I do one lesson in one language, then another in another language, and so on and so forth. Every time I finish a lesson with less than full health points, I strengthen a skill. When all the trees are gold I usually stop for the day. This usually takes several hours, but it feels like time well spent and the words and concepts are solidified.
I would like to contribute money for Duolingo. I use your service on four devices, but I am receiving the option to contribute only on my Android tablet. I do not want to leave my credit card with Google Play or the other options listed. How can I access a sign up screen from my Windows PC? I appreciate your program a lot. Thanks.
I've asked about this before, but have you considered serving languages in the learning language? Is it something you have control over?
I would consider adverts in my target language to be more practice and so I'd read them more carefully. Presumably that's something advertisers want.
A suggestion which I discussed with some people on the Swedish section previously which would bring in revenue is physical content. I personally liked the idea of short stories written by users of Duolingo wanting to practice the language they're learning, whilst benefitting from reading stories by others. They'd of course be reviewed before making it to print. But I'd buy physical book of short stories written by others (and maybe even have a go myself).
Just updated the app hoping for bug fixes since it keeps crashing after the update adding clubs. The badges or whatever under profile include after midnight and early riser use. I qualify for both by posting before and after midnight. But these badges are not a good idea for teenagers. Sleep deprivation (with all its bad consquences) is rampant in this age group. Wouldn't be a problem if phones and computers were confiscated at night, but that isn't going to happen. Adding those badges is not useful. I view the badges collectively as even less interesting than the fluency score. Won't be opening that tab again. I just feel I'm too new to start this as a topic, and the badges have been mentioned in this thread.
Edit: And really? There's a badge for 100 XP in a day--when Duo is planning a health index primarily on not binging? Kid attracting but not kid friendly.
Why don't you guys accept donations? I'm guessing you need multiple revenue streams but if donations was one of them, wouldn't that go a long way to helping you make enough money to keep duolingo going? A lot of people want to donate, we just aren't given the option and we have no idea why...
I would love to subscribe but I feel £9.99 (UK) is quite a lot for this sort of service. While I totally understand that you need to make money, perhaps you should try a lower monthly cost. To me, paying £3 or so a month would be an absolute 'no brainer' for this type of service and you would probably get a lot more subscribers. I'd love to support you.
I really hate ads and have actually stopped using Duolingo quite a bit as I am really irritated by them and they make my tablet crash and run slower. plus I absolutely detest those stupid popups - there should be a way to turn those off. it takes twice as long to do a lesson with the popups and ads, so it has demotivated me completely and I have searched around and paid for a number of other learning options
I love this app. I would be glad to pay for it. But you've lost me with Health. The one thing one doesn't need when learning a language is to be discouraged from learning, or feel such pressure at making a mistake -- teacher will slap your hand if you get a letter wrong and send you to the corner!! I'm a polyglot. I know French German Dutch Italian and Swedish pretty well. I've also been working on Greek Russian Swahili Irish and Spanish. I had a streak of over 240 days going in all of those up until the Heath change appeared. Now I'm discouraged from trying Russian Irish Greek etc. because I make mistakes. Before I learned from them and made progress. Now I'm just frustrated. It's not that I don't review. Many days that's all I do. I know one must practice and practice to learn a language. On a daily basis. But this Health feature has so turned me off this program. Charge me for the app if you want, but drop Health. I'm looking elsewhere.
Luis; apologies I can't quote or find your relevant reply, but currently your faster website does not really work with the discussions on iPad. Scrolling through is almost impossible.
I believe you said in one reply that you knew people were not put off by the new health feature because you had not seen a mass of people stopping or cutting down their use of Duolingo. I think this is a false measure. I really enjoy learning languages and using Duolingo (until now, perhaps) on the iPad. There is no-where else like Duolingo. So unless you make it completely impossible to use, I'm going to stick with it, unless or until something better comes along. But if I find it so frustrating because of a new ill-conceived fearure that I no longer enjoy using it, I am going to search harder to see if there is a better (or at least less annoying) alternative.
Using your current method of evaluating this you will not be aware of a problem until suddenly you find everyone has deserted Duolingo overnight! That would be a great shame.
As many have pointed out, the application of this to new skills seems bizarre and very counter-productive. Especially, when all the languages are American-English centric, usually exclusively so initially. This means native speakers of non-American are often confused by what is expected because what is being required is simply bad English in their usage and/or non-American spellings are the only accepted answers. When I went through the French a couple of years ago, many of the required answers were simply nonsensical in English (even American)! It is very bad to penalise keen learners because of the failings of the course!
I am very keen to learn Japanese when it is released, but if this feature is difficult from one indo-Euopean language and another, I can forsee it being impossible to learn Japanese.
Incidentally, since you actually appear to occasionally look through this discussion, any news as to when the Chat Bots will finally make their appearance in Italian?
I understand that it cost a lot of money to support this project and I have nothing against premium subscription, but there is one thing that makes me really mad - is that the way how the application first shows the button "no, thanks" at the bottom, and after couple more exercises at the exact same place it shows "go ad-free" and redirect user to subscription page. This is done exactly on purpose that people that do not pay a lot of attention will press that button and pay for the subscription by mistake and in some countries you do not need to enter credit card number - money will be taken directly from cell phone account, and knowing the fact that kids using the application and sometimes they are not careful enough - there is high chance they will buy it without even knowing... Of course it is the parent's responsibility and the user must read everything, but usually, this "trick" is used by online casinos, adult-content applications, and not by one of the best online educational projects that was promoted to be used in school.
Okay, now I'm really not pleased with this. I've just been given gems on the mobile app. Apparently I can spend 1,000 of them to unlock a bonus skill. On the desktop version, the same skills cost 30 lingots. The conversion apparently is 2 gems to 1 lingot. So, in essence, you're raising the price of skills to 500 lingots (also $5.00 worth of gems).
That's ridiculous. No, I'm not happy with this change at all. I think I'll be sticking to the desktop application entirely, thank you very much.
On a side note, I also notice that the Spanish fluency test is also missing from the lingot shop on the website. Why is it gone?
Have you thought of a subscription for advanced content? I have continued to use Duolingo almost every day long after completing my Tree as a small part of my French study. I don't learn much new, but it does help to reinforce the basics and keep me honest with daily, active study where I'm forced to respond to something rather than just passively read or watch. I would certainly be willing to pay a small monthly subscription fee for more advanced lessons that would include some combination of expansion of vocabulary, listening, and writing practice. I'm guessing there are a lot of other users who would be willing to subscribe if the service were priced right and offered good content beyond the basics.
I don't mind ads but I hate being intrupted in the middle of a lesson asking for money. Ask for Donations like Wikipedia before or after. If you really wanted to delay people instead of make money you wouldn't sell - ingots? to continue. I agree that "Nobody Rides for Free" but you could do it in a less annoying way. It was fun while it lasted.
I understand bills need to be paid, yet duolingo is a business case not a non-profit organization. So no offense meant, but:
How do I know that the monetization is there to break-even and not simply the beginning of the end? Is there any transparency on the costs and where can we read that? I may sound cynical, but freemium games showed me the worst of the freemium model. And one day Google may want its 83m US$ investment back unless it was a Christmas gift.
It is not hard to imagine a "Five words a day for free, complete your lesson today with an extra 100 gems. If you buy now, it will not cost you 5$ but only $3!".
I ask because I spend my precious time here to learn a language. I am very thankful for the possibility to do that. I understand that the bills need to be covered, and also I gladly feedback and participate to make the place better. In fact, once done, the community spirit and gratitude even make me feel I want to give something back to the community - say by translating a course. But obviously I won't be doing that in the future when the goal of free language to the world was sacrificed somewhere along the way on the altar of profit.
Of course I could shut up, and wait and see, but I am kind of curious what the answer will be. And it may prevent me some disappointment in the long run.
I'm not crazy about this health concept. I'm not a very good typist and sometimes I'll make a streak of errors due to tying poorly, or on my phone, because I don't catch autocorrect. Also, I think it might discourage trying something new. Hebrew is difficult because I have to open a second keyboard. I end up making a lot of mistakes. I don't want to lose my "health" because one language is difficult.
Anyone who has updated know what the changes in iOS v5.0.16 actually are? Hard to know since it only says the usual 'Bug fixes and performance improvements' in the App Store. In the past Duolingo have introduced major feature/UI changes under this guise, including 'Health'. Almost every update recently has been a step backwards!
More specifically, does anyone know whether they have improved, or preferably ditched the odious 'Health' punishment/learning-deterrent feature?
I note in passing that the ranking in the App Store has taken a sudden nose-dive - with 'Health' specifically given as the reason. If they refuse to acknowledge our criticisms here, perhaps they might take more note of those 'metrics'! Somehow I doubt it. They seem ideologically wedded to this feature, come what may!
And, the nonsense continues with respect to "health" on the mobile applications. This issue has been thoroughly examined and the majority of people, many from the educational field, have expressed dismay. In general, the entire concept has not been supported by the users for sundry reasons which have already been enumerated. However, despite all of this, it is still in place and is counterproductive to learning.
Furthermore, Luis doesn't respond and others with administrative authority do not respond. Thus, we're throwing our thoughts into the wind and they are blowing right back into our faces.
I wrote a piece on funding based on the 150 million users and, no, it would not be free, but the price per year could be LOWER than $10 per user per year. With that in mind, the company would still gross over 1 billion dollars even with the $60,000 per day expenses.
If you're paying $10 per month to eliminate advertisement, then you might want to examine the big picture more closely. Why? Because, frankly, you're taking a beating and others are reaping the benefit of your folly.
Personally, I changed my review dramatically through the Apple App Store and the review reflects the changes in the mobile app.
So, I can review with the mobile app and the "bots" are still fantastic albeit no new "bots" have been released. However, new lessons quickly become a problem. Frankly, my goal is to finish the German tree and then continue to review extensively. Ultimately, I want to learn the language and this is not a passing fancy.
Do whatcha gotta do.
Learning languages is a vital aspect of an intelligent society, and the ability to do so and begin that step with no cost is something that is extremely underappreciated. You're doing amazing work, and monetization is required to continue such work.
Whether it be ads, subscriptions, whatever, you have the support of the majority of the community behind you. As long as at the base level the service is free, there won't be much to complain about.
So far, I have found the ads to be unobtrusive and not at all a disruption to the learning experience; if this is what will pay the bills at Duolingo HQ, I have no problem with it. I wonder if anyone has considered making the ads part of the learning - making them something you can translate. Most language classes I've taken have used ads, whether print or commercials as part of their teaching materials since they're a common and natural way to encounter the language.
since they're (the ads) a common and natural way to encounter the language.
Just a short statement:
I agree with Duolingo, that they have to make money to keep the things going.
But I do not agree with you, that ads should be used for teaching languages.
Commercials are far away from beeing natural. The producers are creatives and their goal is, that ads respective the product should be remembered easily. One of many ways to to this, is to 'play' with the language and so they purposely use wrong grammar, spelling and more you wouldn´t learn in school.
Two examples in German would be:
"Da werden Sie geholfen." (completely wrong grammar. Correctly it should be "Dort wird Ihnen geholfen.")
"Das König der Biere." (Wrong pronoun, it should be "Der König der Biere." or "Der König unter den Bieren." - but can a beer be a king?)
As a German native speaker, these sentences sound absolutely weird to me. But nowadays even German natives use these sentences now as if they were correct. Firstly it was a joke, but slowly the younger people seem to forget, that these are constructed sentences with wrong grammar and they use them in common language.
Yes, I DO remember them easily (but interestingly not the product), but would I use them to teach a foreigner my beautiful language? Surely not. If you were in a classroom, this is the subject of a lesson and a teacher could explain the grammar and spelling problems in these sentences and why they are used, then it would be ok, but in Duolingo it is not.
Btw. I just remember a scene in the Science Fiction movie 'Demolition Man' with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, where they listened to the simple music of old commercial spots as if they were valuable music ... ;-)
So please, earning money with ads in a not disturbing way and other methods may be ok, teaching languages with ads is definitively the wrong way.
Not to mention that the Finnish in Duolingo adds is usually the result of a machine translation, which means, they are utter nonsense, so I don't have high hopes that I would get any better adds, say, in Hungarian. Also the products seem to be mostly the worst kind of scams companies try to push to people. Every now and then there's an actual add in the mix, but mostly it's just rubbish.
Yes. I don't have a huge issue with ads per-se, in they way they presently do them at the ends of lessons, but here in the UK also they rapidly degraded to spams and scams and otherwise rubbish, PPI and dodgy investments for example!
My greatest concern is that, since they clearly aren't vetted in any way, they are potentially dangerous if they include links to websites or download sites containing trojan malware.
...but do the advertisers pay for those classes to use those ads?
Or do the teachers just get copies of the ads after the advertisers pay for ad space to reach audiences that are native speakers (more likely to understand the ad and go buy what the ad is selling)?
For example, suppose a company pays a German-language magazine for ad space to sell things to native speakers of German, and then a teacher clips that ad out of the magazine to show a class learning German as a foreign language. The magazine, not the teacher and school, gets the ad revenue.
Meanwhile, when the company is trying to sell things to native speakers of other languages instead of German, it's more likely to try to reach them with ads in their native languages instead of German...
I would love to try reading an ad in Spanish. This morning I translated the menu into Spanish in my head while i was waiting to order a breakfast burrito. I was amazed by how much I have learned in the past several weeks. That would be an interesting sociological experiment. Are new language learners more likely to buy a product if they have to translate the ad. Does the attention you are forced to give it in order to translate it make you more likely to buy. Hmmm...
I agree with you, I don't mind the ads at all as long as it will help pay for duolingo. I do however have a major gripe with the current ad setup in the Android app. The ad takes up most of the screen and they only have a tiny X button at the top left corner of the screen, to close the ad. And it usually takes several tries until I finally hit it, and I usually end up triggering the ad instead, which would be OK if it was something I was remotely interested in to begin with.
I understand that IOS still has the large green skip button which I really liked. Why can't you give us back our large green skip button? Or at the very least just a little larger skip button.
Ads drive me absolutely insane though, and I don't usually have money to get rid of them, either. I hate them so much that I often don't pay for services to remove ads out of principle.
Thankfully, however, Duolingo hasn't been showing me ads for some reason, so I think I'll pay for the service :)
Thanks for the updated information Luis!
For other folks:
I imagine people will call to have Immersion back as a money source, since that's what has happened in the other discussions about this topic. And since some folks found this comment helpful elsewhere, I'll bring it here:
To add to jimnicholson's comment, it wasn't just that Immersion wasn't earning money, Immersion had become a legal liability. Duolingo couldn't guarantee that people in the EU wouldn't work on sponsored articles. It left Duolingo open to getting sued. (People were also uploading content that was in Copyright to other people who had not given permission, another liability.)
As for costs, I haven't seen anyone mention it yet in this discussion, but it costs Duolingo $60,000 per day just to stay online. (Thanks for the update in figures, btw. I wasn't sure what the new staff hires were adding to overhead.) While I prefer they lower the cost to around $5 a month and I wouldn't be able to afford Duolingo Plus if I had to pay for it myself, calling anything about Duolingo "overpriced" drops my jaw.
For the whole picture: what Duolingo is offering is everything, the courses, the forums, the apps, the features. What Duolingo is asking, is for people to consider making a set donation (in legal terms it's not a donation. In practical terms, it functions the same way: It isn't mandatory and it keeps the courses, the forums, the apps, and the features running.) So, when folks pay, that money doesn't go to just keeping ads away, it keeps Duolingo existing for all of us and the perk for that person is no ads and access to a few a/b test feature things the list of which I don't have.
Removing ads might be more expensive than some of us can afford. But, nothing about Duolingo is *overpriced.*
last year I would not have hesitated to pay a high subscription to duolingo as I loved it, but now, not only with immersion gone, all my activity stream gone, poorer quality on the tree itself and a lot less functionality I wouldn't dream of paying - its like rewarding duolingo for taking away all the best services. What's happened to the activity feed? - it used to show loads of stuff and the last few times I looked its blank -its not even showing when I reach additional levels or anything my friends have done.
This "health" idea sounds terrible. So I couldn't learn with my own pace or make up for the previous days if I'm learning in a x-lessons-per-week system, because the site would not allow me to do lessons? I would understand if this was a suggestion or something optional. I really hope this won't be introduced on the web version...
You can! If you don't make any mistakes, you can go forever. However, once you make enough mistakes, it's a signal to the system that it would be better for you to practice previously learned stuff (or to take a break). When you practice, your health goes up and you can do more new lessons.
Binging is not good for learning.
The problem is that good/bad for learning is not what is annoying. Limiting the user's ability to choose for themselves is what is annoying. Especially as someone who does a lot of tiny mistakes for a multitude of reasons, the accidental wrong answer is already enough of a punishment. Getting locked out would be tenfold worse. I would hate to see the best language learning platform online turn into an annoyance.
It's the principle of the matter that I am against, so trying it out doesn't really affect my opinion in that sense. (EDIT: I'm actually fairly confident that with the way I use Duolingo, I would barely notice the health system.) If it somehow works without affecting anyone's enjoyment, that's amazing and good for everyone. But making decisions and limitations in the user's behalf is something I'll still be against.
Also, yea, I understand that's an impossible promise to make. But I remain hopeful for now.
I did try it and it is intensely aversive to my learning process. I joined Duolingo last year and used it only sporadically. In the last week I've come back (improvements in how I'm rewarding productivity). Predominantly I use Duolingo to work on my Hebrew. My native language is English and Hebrew is very, very different. It is very easy to make simple mistakes while still learning. For the last couple days I have been reviewing lessons, but today I ran into a lesson that, while completed previously, I remembered absolutely nothing from and needed to redo from the start. This means today was my first time running into the new health system.
For me, there are two immediate, related problems: I find any sort of negative feedback disproportionately punishing I am not a good language learner and spend a lot of time making my best guess. As a result, for one lesson! My first lesson of the day! I lost all my health. This is not me learning obsessively, this is not me reducing my own ability to learn, this is Duolingo punishing me for making good faith efforts.
(I use Duolingo on iPad and not laptop because the iPad is more readily available when I have downtime, and I find the slight lesson differences more useful to me on iPad than desktop.)
I don't know whether the health system will make me drop Duolingo altogether or switch to desktop or neither. I do know it is a huge hassle for anyone learning a more difficult language.
Well I tried it and hated it. Please let me learn the way I want to learn. I've been perfectly happy and learned well for the last 1.5 years, going at my own pace, repeating lessons as I want etc. And if I'm not learning as fast as I could why should that be a problem for YOU??? I am so fired up I probably will delete the program. I am all for your making money but not like this. Ugh.
I'm curious... You say, "...metrics indicate it really isn't that annoying," make me wonder what your statistics and user testing reveal its percentage of "annoying" to be, and how you created your tester base, current clients, or people unfamiliar with the app/site, or a good and measured mix of both? Limiting -how- people can use your language-learning program, strikes me as ... ungood, even if you've got the best and best-performing intentions behind your desire to add Health. (I work in ux, and have seen sites that block visitors from doing what they want to do, and lose users/visitors so often, when their blocking isn't necessary for any business reason. I like the option mentioned above, to allow it to be a toggle, on/off.)
Metrics are the usual stats about how many users leave Duolingo or lower their commitment after the new changes.
Obviously you can add whatever you want and people won't suddenly stop learning a language, a long, difficult, challenging and demanding personal commitment. They'll try to survive the changes.
That's why I stopped using Duolingo, a costly decision but maybe the metrics will show that at least one person left due to the awesome new features.
"Our metrics indicate it really isn't that annoying." You may not mean it this way, but that statement is really arrogant. You're telling people, who actually have used this system, that it's not as bothersome as they think it is. Why not ask people, rather than relying solely on metrics?
This forum here shows me that there are a lot of people using it who do find it annoying. I'm not going to use the iOS app anymore. If it comes to desktop, I probably will not use the website anymore, either.
I actually tend to do this regularly I realized, I like to move through the skill tree slower than most other people, and re-practice lessons over and over again so that they're ingrained in my head. If I rush through the whole thing I won't remember much :P. I'm still not sure about the health idea though, so I would suggest to make it an optional feature instead of a permanent one, maybe you could go to the settings and activate it? We'll just have to see, a lot of people like the idea, a lot don't. I personally think we should at least be open to trying new things, if it doesn't work out, that's fine, though we should be able to toggle it off if we want to.
I think every new lesson in a day should not have a health bar, but that health bar should only appear if one tries to learn more than one lesson a day. As it is now, you are simply stopping people from completing a lesson, which can be VERY frustrating, because every new lesson brings on a lot of mistakes, so it's only natural to fail.
This looks like a way to monetize mistakes to me, if the health bar is correctly adjusted it could be alright, but if it only allows 5 mistakes or so then it's just a slap in the face.
It's a bit better now than it was with the original hearts back in the day. If you lose all your health mid-lesson, you can continue by spending some of your gems. I should also emphasize that there are ways to earn gems without spending money (for example, you get gems when you finish a skill or when you complete your daily goal).
In your post you state that you will not be selling access to educational content, but by locking users out of educational content when they make mistakes, but allowing them to purchase access to that temporarily restricted content, it sounds exactly like selling access to educational content. Am I misunderstanding how the system works, or is that an accurate assessment of the proposed new system?
I think you're misunderstanding it. You don't need to pay to unlock the lessons: you can simply practice the previous ones and Health will be ok again. People can pay for unlocking them, practice a bit more or simply wait, and Duolingo is "still letting anybody who wants to learn to do so entirely for free" (and in this post I didn't see him saying that they will never sell educational content; what I understand is that they can sell educational content provided that we can still access it without paying).
Personally, I think Health should be switched off for alpha testers. However, the Japanese alpha test is an odd situation anyway, with testing being restricted to iOS. Normally alpha and beta courses are made available on the web only, so Health should not be a problem. Only near the end of beta, do courses sometimes become available on mobile. Error rates are lower by then. So unless Health comes to the web, or alpha/beta testing on mobile becomes the way forward, there shouldn't be a problem. Just my opinion.
So basically, you are proving that this "health" thing is not in the best interest of the users, but just an annoyance designed to get people who are annoyed enough to pay to get rid of the annoyance. Sad.
It is already hard to commit to learning a language for fun (and not out of necessity). Make it just a bit more annoying - and you'll see a mass exodus out of this app :-(
I would like this. I am planning on signing up just to support Duolingo even though the ads don't bother me just because this site has given me so much. If you had a donate button, I would have hit that a long time ago. I was going to sign up as a donation mostly, but I would like unlimited health or very near it to be a perk of it. I would really feel that was valuable. I mean, the kinds of people who will subscribe are probably going to be pretty hardcore language learners who have been here for a while (and some people who just really hate ads). Most of us already know our limits. I get that newer language learners might benefit greatly from them, but this is not an area I struggle in. I already have a good rhythm with review that varies from language to language depending on how close that language is to any other I know well. I got through the Catalan tree pretty quickly for instance since it's so similar to Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, but that was still meaningful learning (and I am still reviewing even though I've been through it for a while - I've leveled up several levels purely with the slow, ongoing process of review), while I am taking Guarani nice and slow with piles of review before doing anything new because it's like nothing I've ever studied before. Sometimes I also want to do something quickly as a review. For instance, I probably bombed through the Italian tree, but I'd taken several years of Italian previously and just wanted a big review before taking my in-laws to Italy. It was absolutely enough. I spoke to people just fine in Bologna. I got what I wanted. Basically, the health system to me is like being handed crutches when I feel like a healthy runner in language learning terms. I get that not everyone feels quite so robust, but I'd be happy to buy my way out of the problem as I know Duolingo needs money and I'd love for it to not change much from its current configuration for my own purposes. It would be win win.
Loved your analogy, Dutchesse722, and in homage to both you and Usagiboy7, I've come up with one of my own that I hope nobody could be offended by.
I think we can all agree that brushing one's teeth in binge fashion would not be good for them, but daily brushing (and even better, brushing after every meal) is quite beneficial. Even if you did want to spend gobs and gobs of time with teeth cleaning (because you find it fun and you think it makes you a better person and increases your ability to contribute to the world ... is there anyone who doesn't love fresh, clean breath and nice, white, pearly teeth?), you would at least want to switch it up a bit with other activities -- a little flossing here, a little mouthwash there ... perhaps even a visit to the dentist.
If you venture outside of the Duolingo universe for just a bit, you will find a myriad of other tools and techniques (many of which are free) that can supplement what you are learning here at Duolingo. While Duolingo may be a tasty toothpaste that keeps you coming back for more, don't expect that toothpaste to be your floss, mouthwash, and dentist all in one tube. After all, you wouldn't expect your dentist to come brush your teeth every night, would you?
I have also just listened to a report by Lynne Malcolm All in the mind - ( ABC radio Australia ) "Learning to learn."
In an interview with Ulrich Boser who has published Learn Better
This link includes also a transcript.
It is well worth listening to.
Not often, but not infrequently either, I will repeat a lesson on one of the lower branches simply because I am too tired to give a new lesson the full attention it deserves. Were it not for the streak system, I would probably wind up not doing a lesson at all, but that interest in keeping the streak alive drives me to do at least some type of lesson, even if it is one I know well.
Do I feel as if I should be rewarded for such activity? No, not at all. The reward is simply keeping the streak alive on a night my mind isn't up to "branching out" for more. If Duolingo doesn't want to reward me for such activity (or even, dare I say it, wants to punish me for it), I will readily put my wrists out for the proverbial whack of the ruler (supposedly an old Catholic school practice I've never had the "pleasure" of being subjected to).
edited You have a point here, and it is one that I know many people are studying.
This is also why Duolingo is doing the things that it does.
For this is also a theory.
Possibly some the theories they are testing are:
- Is it better for language learning acquisition to ( and other types of learning ) to engage for ... lets say for over 20 minutes intensive study in any one study period.
- Is it better to have ... say lots 5 minutes of study 4 periods spread over the day?
- Is it dependent on the material, and the presentation of the material under study ?
- For the presentation of the material in Duolingo - could this be the optimum way to enhance learning at faster rate - to have 5 minutes at a time , 4 times a day. Or is it better to have 20 constant minutes ?
Or greater, or lesser - in any of these parameters, or other parameters not yet under review ....
Then into that mix - of a broader community study, or large scale benefit, you have what is appropriate for the individual.
And that is a different study again.
And in that - there is validity to the issue - I would suggest - that you raise.
Your explanation seems to be a lot fairer than the way other people described it. Based on your explanation it does sound like something I support.
If possible could you please read the following reply about an alternative reviewing method?
That makes more sense now, thank you. I'm curious if skipping sentences with the "Skip" button is counted as a mistake in that system? I've recently started using a method of learning on Duolingo in which I skip a sentence (or have it marked wrong, since for now the result is the same) till I know every word in it and can translate it as whole without hover tips in this lesson. I found this focusing more on short-time memory the first time I see new words extremely helpful to me.
Dear Luis, Thank you for this update. It is always a relief to get clarity on the topics that have been going round as rumours.
While I have absolutely no problem with the adds and I can totally understand the idea of Duolingo Plus, I do have a problem with the concept of health. Apart from it being totally demotivating to get punished for learning and for making mistakes on new (!) material I would consider it also a business risk. If I was shut out of Duolingo for five hours I would certainly start looking for something else to do in the meantime. I might just find another language learning site that does not shut me out and get stuck there. Have you considered that?
We've spent months considering this! I'd like to emphasize a couple of things:
You're not shut out of Duolingo for five ours. You can always practice previously-learned stuff!
Our metrics indicate that people in the new health system are sticking around as much as those who don't have it.
I still don't understand how can that be, as far as I've seen, Duolingo has been against any kind of adjustments that make the system harder (like with accents) as they could discourage users, but this new "irritating" system (according to many people I've seen) is actually successful in retaining users? I'm not saying it's not effective, nor I'm defending it. (Android user) I'm also not accusing you of lying, of course, only wondering how this is explained.
(several edits to clarify)
But do the users who stick around use the app exclusively or do they also use the website? Because, if the users you're talking about are also using the website then the metrics aren’t really telling you how successful the health system is. Those users could ultimately be abandoning the app, but perhaps keeping it on their phone for something simple like keeping their streak up while traveling.
"You're not shut out of Duolingo for five ours. You can always practice previously-learned stuff!"
Yes you are. You haven't attempted a difficult course, you don't have an opinion.
"Our metrics indicate that people in the new health system are sticking around as much as those who don't have it."
Your metrics mean nothing.
Luis, how about allowing practicing the lesson you have the problems with, like the old heart system did? Maybe shut out progress to the next lesson until you've "waited or donated", if you're really worried about people not learning efficiently enough for you...
I've been around a while, binged a lot and learned a lot, I even liked the heart system. Imposing a timeout on progress by penalizing mistakes is extremely frustrating for me. Am I the only one who learns from mistakes? I admit you'll get me in the end though, I'll most likely give in to "3. Our metrics show that the health monetization system works". I still like duolingo too much to leave, and will be able to afford to stay :-)
I'm sure they have -- note how he talks about "research" and "metrics"?
Duolingo measure lots of stuff. Some of the stuff they measure Luis mentioned as "(number of lessons people do every day, fraction of people who come back, time spent on app, learning outcomes, etc.)".
So I'm pretty sure they have numbers on the effect that Health has on such metrics including "fraction of people who come back" and that they took that into account when deciding whether to keep it -- and going forward, parameters may well be tweaked with an eye on the metrics.
The conversion from Lingots to Gems allows us to add exciting new features
How is this supposed to be true? It's a currency. European shopkeepers weren't thinking "It would be nice to sell cheese but accepting lire/marks/francs for it is simply impossible, we really need a new currency"
If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times),
How do you justify this after the removal of three hearts system? If it only appears in new lessons where we by default learn words we don't know, why would you punish us for not knowing the answer. We supposedly learn from our mistakes and limiting us to 9-10 free mistakes a day seems counterproductive to learning. I can understand pacing users but in that case I dearly hope your metrics/common sense show the system of losing health for a completed lesson is better than this.
European shopkeepers weren't thinking "It would be nice to sell cheese but accepting lire/marks/francs for it is simply impossible, we really need a new currency"
To be honest, the cheese selection in the shops is waaaay better now than it was before the introduction of the Euro... :-p
But you are of course completely right.
I guess Duolingo just wants to start fresh with a new currency, to be able to set new prices freely without people moaning about how everything's so expensive nowadays. (Gosh, those parallels just keep coming.) We've been laughing and sighing at the lingot economy for ages -- let's hope the gem economy functions better.
Hovering is not always enough to get the answer right. Maybe the language has only one word for two English words that are not synonyms. An English example would be a bat, the animal vs the sports equipment. Maybe the language has a different non-flexible word order. I don't know if cases are shown on hover at all. Maybe there's something else that's completely different from the English sentence.
I don't know if cases are shown on hover at all.
When you hover over a Spanish/French/German/Italian personal pronoun, do their English hints always show the nominative case (“I”, “we”, etc.), or do they show the accusative/dative case (“me”, “us”, etc.) or the genitive case (“mine”, “ours”, etc.) when appropriate?
One, esperanto only has the accusative so is not a fair comparison, and it does not work thst way with the other languages, russain rarely gives the correct form in the hover and swahili often does jot even give you the word that the answer is seeking - so you can type a word and it will be marked wrong because they wanted a different word. That even happens in German occasionally and that is an old course.
Luís, I'm all for you finally implementing some actual monetising - it's proof you're treating this venture as a serious business, which is good because that increases my chances of getting to enjoy your product for longer. :)
I also happen to think that this is the best of your info posts so far. It's clear, it follows the given topic well, and it explains what you're doing - and why! - without making excuses. As far as I'm concerned, it's wonderful that you've chosen to communicate more and more, while also doing an increasingly better job at it.
But having said that, I'm still annoyed about how you motivate the gems and health system. You are actively removing a choice from people, while claiming that it's for their own best. Whether you are actually right is completely irrelevant - you're still coming across as an overzealous headmaster making a rule that teenagers may not eat ice cream at any time because it's bad for them. If you had said it in another way, I would have had no complaints. Like this, for instance:
"We've tried it extensively, and our metrics show that this is not an issue for the overwhelming majority. For those that it does affect negatively, I am sorry - we believe that this is a change we need to make, and unfortunately, we have to step on a few toes in the process. I'm hoping you'll find that the new system is not so bad after all. Most people will even benefit from it, which made our decision easier."
There also the additional issue that I'm frequently trying out incorrect answers as a way of learning 1) which alternate sentences may be accepted, and 2) which incorrect answers people might give, and what hints they're being shown if they do get it wrong. This is valuable feedback for me as a course contributor.
Please don't take this the wrong way. I have been vocal in my criticism before, but I am also currently being vocal regarding the many positive steps Duolingo has taken recently. I love the site and the community, and I've put hundreds of hours into creating content for and helping people on it. I just wish you'd hire a PR manager.
"For those that it does affect negatively, I am sorry - we believe that this is a change we need to make, and unfortunately, we have to step on a few toes in the process."
I'm not sure that someone who is being listened to by so many people can safely admit guilt like that, whether or not they should. Many people listening would not think it through like you have, 'grab their pitchforks', and create a lot of bad publicity that isn't deserved.
I like your point about the health system for course contributors, though.
I don't like the health system at all! If you're doing Japanese (which is a whole different writing system), you're bound to make mistakes.
Trying to get through a lesson is hard enough, but now that I have to wait, or do a practice lesson even when everything is in gold, it's frustrating. I'm losing my will to learn with Duolingo.
I feel as if I can't try again. Unlike on the web, every word isn't underlined. Whenever I don't know a word, I can't see what it is, and it makes me frustrated to the point where I go to Google Translate to translate the word.
Can we at least trade in lingots for gems? I have so many lingots but only 50 gems, and that doesn't do anything at all.
I hate the health system with all my heart. If there could be a way to go around it, such as only getting the hearts once you reach your daily goal, that would be so much better.
duonks . . . I saw this comment:
"All very well, but this system doesn't differentiate between frequent short sessions or single binge ones... 5 mistakes in a new lesson (assuming you started it with full health) and you're shut out from learning new material. You can't repeat the new material. You can't learn the new material by repetition. You can't learn."
I fully agree and the health concept becomes ridiculous and counterproductive to learning. And, while we're on the subject, the app frowns on binge learning. And, I addressed that issue stating that although assimilation is unlikely, it still has some merit because the user sees words/phrases at least once. So what's my point?
I see a trend that resembles "Big Brother." Ultimately, who cares if one binge learns or not? Ultimately, it should be the prerogative of the user. And, if there are consequences (not imposed by Duolingo), then the user will learn by his or her mistakes. Appears to me that user freedom of choice is being usurped. What is the motive? It is certainly not linked to creating revenue!
I find Duolingo, with only a few exeptions, is not at all open or clear about anything. If an example were needed, one only need note that the update that introduced the Health and Gems feature, was marked only as 'Bug fixes and performance improvements'! Little openess there.
Despite Lingots being supposedly changed into Gems, the Lingots still exist on the website and can still get added to. I will be intrigued to see if they've taken this properly into account.
Ua tío hoy es tu día 1111 :D Muchas gracias por tu respuesta.
Tengo otra pregunta para ti, hasta qué punto notas mejora en el dominio de las lenguas? Es decir de todas esas lenguas que tienes cuántas consideras que más o menos dominas? La mayoría de gente no tiene tantas lenguas, y las pocas que tiene no están a ese nivel (todas las tuyas son más de 10, osea que les has dedicado horas).
Basicamente, en tu opinión, hasta que punto se hace "leisten" el usar Duolingo diariamente?
Hola, siento decepcionarte: sólo domino los tres que uso a diario, y ya los dominaba antes de dúo :-) Dúo está fenomenal para aprender de qué va un idioma, cómo funciona, para ver semejanzas con otros, ya sean gramaticales o semánticas... Ahora bien, como mucho sirve para establecer una base que luego habrá que complementar con otros medios si lo que quieres es realmente aprender el idioma. Yo lo uso a diario desde hace unos años no para aprender necesariamente, sino porque me interesan los idiomas en general y prefiero "perder el tiempo" con algo útil antes que con CandyCrush, por ejemplo :-p
Sobre los niveles... me propuse en su día completar todos los árboles desde EN, ES y DE, así como todas sus combinaciones. Cuando lo consigo, reviso alguno por el que tenga especial interés, como el irlandés, turco o sueco... pero no suele pasar mucho tiempo hasta que sale un juguete nuevo, como ahora con el japonés (luego me tocará por supuesto el inverso: JA-EN, que ya está incubado desde hace tiempo).
También me he propuesto aguantar aquí como un condenado hasta que salga un curso de Finlandés... Así que voy para rato!
If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times),
In strengthening skills, I have had exercises in which correct answers are not recognized as being correct, and so have used the Report a Problem button to bring them to the course creators’ attention. Since the system regards these answers as incorrect, it tends to offer the same exercises when strengthening skills on subsequent days. Because the course is not frequently updated to accept additional correct answers, this cycle has continued (for certain exercises) for months. My concern is that a person’s Health would be unfairly lost in situations such as this.
yeah not to mention I'm getting older and making typos more frequently so it's super annoying getting questions wrong due to typos.... particularly for languages I've already studied elsewhere and am just brushing up on. Happened to me a lot with French, which I studied for a decade before Duolingo.
If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times), we encourage you to go back and practice previous lessons to restore it, or to take a break while your Health restores over time.
Interesting. So, forcing someone to stay away from learning more for some time eventually makes him learn better?
Yes and no. Definitely yes if you do it the right way. Our capacity to learn something new each day is limited, but that limitation differs from person to person. One person is able to learn 8 new words each day, another person could maybe learn 20 words per day. Once you've crossed this 'natural capacity border' (no idea whether there's a technical term for that), you will increasingly make mistakes or you will forget more and more words you've just learned on the very same day. This means that learning on that very day has become ineffective because you were simply learning too much. That's where the health feature comes in handy - once you make too many mistakes, you've simply learned too much. (So much for the theory - of course there are practical issues that need to be dealt with, e.g. when correct answers are still flagged as incorrect because they haven't been enlistened in the data base yet a.s.o.)
Doing too much physically has a potential of ruining the whole process of physical training, but exposing yourself to more words, both pronounced and written, can barely mean that you will have to wait longer to recover before you can continue, in my opinion. Most likely it would just mean that you are slowing down.
I haven't tried the Health feature. But, back when I was working my way through the Spanish course, I noticed that if I took breaks, I needed to dig deeper into my memory to recall words I hadn't looked at for a while. It boosted my retention so I started working breaks into my daily study habits.
I am trying to be optimistic about this, but the health feature is ultimately a really bad idea. My sister immediately deleted Duolingo after seeing the health. If you want people to do better, you should have an option to turn it off or just have a small reminder that you shouldn't practice too much. Having health takes away our freedom on how to learn a language. Everyone learns differently and some people need to practice more often. Having health is extremely frustrating for people who don't pick up translations as quickly and easily. I have to agree that it is good to help people ultimately have a better learning experience by making sure they don't practice too much, but to have no choice in it at all makes it no fun, and that's what learning a language should be, fun. You are going to loose learners! There are other apps they will turn to instead. Not everyone can learn on the website so it's leave Duo or go on the website, or just have no fun in it at all.
Duolingo has been a humongous part of learning Swahili for me and I'm greatful for what you have done, but with this specific feature, there are so many things that need to be fixed. A very small amount of learners would actually like the health feature.
Agree 100%. It came onto my phone today and I am very upset about it. I had a flow going for the last 1.5 years as to how I approach this and I reallyc can't stand being "babysat" by people who think they know better than I do how I learn best. I feel swindled. They now can ask for payment for this dumb "feature" to be removed. But I'll just consider removing Duolingo which is a shame because I have sent a lot of people to it and besides it fitted my way of studying perfectly. But alas...
I'm not disagreeing with you here, I just don't think I understand you completely.
Having health takes away our freedom on how to learn a language.
Duolingo's research revealed that this health system will take away our freedom to learn inefficiently.
some people need to practice more often
The health system encourages practice. Health is replenished by reviewing.
that's what learning a language should be, fun
Are you comparing how fun the two different versions of Duolingo are to each other, or how fun the version with the health system is to everything else in life?
"Duolingo's research revealed that this health system will take away our freedom to learn inefficiently."
I'm not buying that. Duolingo's 'research' means absolutely f*ck all in any real context. Besides, what drawback is it to duolingo if we do learn inefficiently?
"Are you comparing how fun the two different versions of Duolingo are to each other, or how fun the version with the health system is to everything else in life?"
What kind of question is this? It doesn't just take away any and all fun duo has, it turns language learning into a frustrating grind that rivals teaching theoretical mathematics to a 2nd grader.
I understood from previous discussions that health is only replenished if you review exactly what Duo tells you to review. You can still review subjunctive as much as you want but you won't get any health for that. You have to do an equivalent of general strengthening to earn health.
I agree that that is annoying, but I think it doesn't matter very much. Duolingo encourages reviewing lessons that it detects the user most needs to review. I'm sure it doesn't work perfectly, but with how much review it takes to learn a language (in each total time and time for each lesson), there might be almost no time wasted, relatively speaking.
Duolingo encourages reviewing lessons that it detects the user most needs to review.
Yes, but Duolingo isn't particularly good at making that judgement, in my experience.
I've finished my Russian tree ages ago, still do a bit of general practice every day, and regularly end up with all skills golden and the general review being all about "my cat" and "the bear is in the forest", although there are plenty of difficult skills in the tree that I'm not good at but which Duolingo apparently thinks I'm good enough at.
I've been a longtime duolingo user, and I wanted to chime in on how the health system has adversely affected me.
Just recently I've decided to start Russian along with my German. I couldn't get past the second part of the first lesson simply because I had trouble recalling the Cyrillic characters for the pronunciation. When I went to "practice", I was met with content I had not even seen yet! If it wasn't for my ability to switch to German and boost my health (and of course being a longtime lover of the app!) I would have uninstalled the app right then and there.
I see others are running into the same issues with Japanese. The health system quite frankly does not benefit language learners who have to tackle another script. By the time Ive convinced myself that "r" sound is "р", I'm out of health! If I forget by the next day... well... too bad for me. Good luck with the other 10+ characters.
Though I agree that binging is bad, gating our progression behind a failure mechanic is extremely frustrating and I'm not convinced the best way to combat this.
FWIW - I don't mind the ads at all (wouldn't even care if they were full screen). Very tasteful so far and I'm glad to hear it helps covers the bills!
Interesting to see how you choose to monetize. Very well thought-out and focused on results, love it. That being said, the Health feature doesn't seem to do anything to add to the fun of doing the exercises. Nor do ads. Nor do subscriptions. So basically, to me what you're missing is making the "game" aspect more fun. That's what I've been hoping for and just haven't seen. I'm still waiting for you to add anything new that users can purchase with lingots.
I also don't use the app version because it's bad for my finger joints. Speaking of health. So no new features for me. I don't understand why there are some features you are adding to the app but not the website. It would make more sense the other way around, as laptops/desktops can handle more than an iphone can. I think you should add more bonus skills for real. There are so many more you could add. Like many people need to learn a language for a specific career so you could teach bonus skills focused on various careers. Or even add more holidays besides Christmas. So many possibilities.
You want it "gamified" further? That only appeals to children or those who need shiny baubles as rewards. Language acquisition should suffice as a "reward" in and of itself. Who needs the bells and whistles?
The only thing I want restored are the activity streams, the removal of which have severely crippled the learning environment here.
Who needs the bells and whistles?
I do, apparently. :-) That's one of the things using Duolingo has taught me. I don't care if anyone else sees my streak, but having one motivates me (here and on Memrise). Setting up a similar system offline for myself doesn't work for me.
I really like the new Achievements on the Android app, as silly as they are. I hope there will me more of them, though, as most of the existing ones are pretty easy to reach.
But bells and whistles that pretend to do something (such as aid communication among learners) while just doing it really badly (I'm looking at you, Clubs), are off-putting and simply annoying.
This may be too fancy, but I wish users could turn off the bells and whistles that don't work to motivate them. I like seeing my streak and getting the lingots so I can recirculate them as thank yous. I liked seeing my levels and XP in each language in the app under Profile. That's gone away and I now find badges which feel infantilizing to me. I can live with losing a meaningful Profile, but I'd then just like to get rid of the button. And the clubs. I can see those as useful in a school context in which you know your peers and they're on a leaderboard. It could be sort of lan party-ish. But why not make those things into "premium upgrades" for the schoolkids who pay for such things anyway. Leave the rest of us with an uncluttered app, unless we can get back some interactive communication.
Wow, way to insult people just because they're motivated a little differently than you. If you are on Duolingo, why are you even complaining about the game aspect of it? That's one of the core aspects of Duolingo that sets it apart from other language learning programs and has made it the most successful one in the world.
And for the record, I don't need "shiny baubles as rewards" to be motivated by the language itself. I actually think Duolingo is a really inefficient way to learn a language in many ways - I am 28, I have been teaching myself languages online since I was 14 long before Duolingo existed, have been semi-fluent in French since I was 17 or 18, got a 680 on the French SAT II when I was 17 just from teaching myself, and my original major in college was linguistics (at one of the top linguistics programs in the country, Georgetown). So I think your comment is condescending.
But I find Duolingo boring at times. I've used it to brush up on my French and Spanish, and that got really boring sometimes because I already somewhat knew the languages. I'm afraid that if I had originally learned French on Duolingo instead of the ways that I taught myself before, I wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as I have. Because perhaps I would have thought, "that's it, I completed my tree, and it's way too boring to go back and review it." Duolingo could turn bonus skills into review instead of just having people review the literal exact same lessons over and over and over. That's boring, it's robotic and unnatural, it's not how people learn languages in the real world, and it's really NOT the most efficient process.
Duolingo obviously has some great things, though, or I wouldn't be here. Because I've been around the block when it comes to studying languages, and I wouldn't stick around for something completely ineffective. I do like the game-like aspect. I do think there is some merit to the addictiveness of it. If you think of all the addictive things in this world, well, people will always be addicted to useless things like drugs and video games and TV. Some people have addictive personalities. Would you rather them be addicted to World of Warcraft or to a game that actually teaches them a useful skill such as a language? I see it as harnessing the "dark side" of humanity for something good. The addictiveness of Duolingo got me through the Italian tree really fast, a totally new language for me. I still don't use it much, but probably wouldn't have studied it at all otherwise. And I'm really glad I have studied it even if it was more for fun and mental enrichment than something more practical. Who knows, maybe it will become more useful to me one day.
One day I know there will be a much more game-like way to learn languages on the internet. It may or may not be Duolingo. It could be in a decade, or in 50 or 100 years. But it's bound to happen. I have been thinking about this for almost as long as I've been studying foreign languages. It would be a really complicated thing to create, but I believe eventually someone will come along who is up to the task. There are already language learning video games in existence, just none that are super advanced. I actually started coding one a couple times, but I am really, really bad at coding and completely incapable of graphic design, so I did not get far. With GameMaker, though, you don't need to design graphics to create a simple game.
It appears that one person's opinion is another's insult. I really don't need to be lectured to by someone half my age, so I didn't read your diatribe but I was amused by its length. You might want to grow a thicker skin because, at 28, you won't last long in this world with the one you have.
Btw, what happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression your country claims to cherish, or didn't you get that email?
I'm glad that Duolingo is able to pay the bills and thus will remain.
I'm not sure I understand the health system fully: Do you only lose health if you make mistakes in a new lesson or also if you make mistakes when reviewing lessons?
I like to try some alternative translations to get a better feeling for the language, to see what is accepted and what not. Sometimes I see why a certain translation doesn't work, sometimes I report it and ask in the sentence discussion about it, but either way it certainly helps me to gain a better understanding of the language. Will this behavior be "punished" by the new health system?
And I want to support what others said: some languages are really difficult. Not to be able to finish at least one single lesson a day would hinder learning too much. It would be good if the first lesson of the day is "free" or can at least be finished, even with more than five mistakes.
The more I read about the health system, the less I like it. It seems to be a very bad idea for many reasons (dyslexic people; people who have access to DL only for a short time per day; not allowing to make mistakes from which you can learn, not encouraging to try different translations so you can learn more, ...)
I agree that health feature may be a discouraging concept. Penalizing mistakes is a bad practice which makes people feel less encouraged to learn a language and adversely affects self-confidence which is constantly being questioned anyway when you learn a new language . Mistakes allow people to stretch their knowledge. Sometimes I know the correct answer but type an alternative, that I'm not sure is right, just to see if my understanding is correct. Very rarely I do get it right with the alternative and learn something new in this case, but most often this practice results in wrong answer which also helps me remember what I should not do. I really value the fact that so far Duolingo has not been judgemental in allowing mistakes, so if you introduce any kind of mistake related penalty it will affect my perceived safety when using of the program and eagerness to use it. I would support the other initiatives you outlined fully, but not the health option.
I am opposed to the whole health thing. It's a nanny-type regulation. Let us make our own decisions. Make the health optional if you feel very strongly about it. Some of us with older minds don't learn as quickly as you young whipper-snappers. I guarantee I make more than 5 mistakes in some new lessons in Russian. Don't change my ability to make my own decisions...
One of the most common struggles I see that new language learners have is the fear of making mistakes when speaking their new language. By making mistakes even more stressful with the new health system, I think it could possibly harm the users’ learning in the long term. But since you’ve decided to stick with the hearts anyway, I think it would be good to put the grammar notes in the app version. Since there are users who only know about the app, it would be unfair to keep them at a disadvantage, and I imagine they would just give up once they got to the harder grammar lessons.
Trying to do reverse trees on the app is going to be a lot more frustrating now too, particularly for those studying a language that doesn’t have a course in their native language yet. So, that’s disappointing.
Also, I second the challenge for you to complete a more difficult language like Japanese or Hungarian on the new system. ;)
Go ahead and make the ads bigger if that helps Duolingo. I don’t think they’d be bothersome enough for people to quit, but perhaps ugly enough to encourage more Duolingo Plus subscriptions. :P
would it be possible to have staff publishing the same announcement in the other general forums (for native speakers of another language than English)? At least for the languages spoken by (at least) on of staff members:
I'm pretty sure everyone is impacted and those not impacted yet would also appreciate to informed, not only the English-speaking part of the community.
More generally, could this "posting in all forums" be done each time [the announcement of] a such an important thing is posted?
With staff members posting it on forums they speak the language of and, (only) for the other languages, asking for example the contributors.
Not sure if this has been suggested before. But have you guys considered adding access to something like a discord server for subscription purchasers? Some people like me don't really have someone to practice pronunciation with. I can probably find some people by networking around, but the convenience of being able to pop into a discord server to practice, help others, and get help from higher level people would be great!
I love duolingo but this the health is just a horrible idea. With Japanese, Romanian, and Korean upcoming, and with Hungarian etc. Missing questions is almost guaranteed, and if you peek you might as well not even continue the lesson because it's going to weaken tomorrow anyway.
This creates an artificial difficulty that will completely remove the point of even having hard courses.
I support ads. I even support in app currency. These are just a necessary part of apps these days.
But I would be very discouraged from a learning app that penalizes me for being wrong. It's demotivating. I'd eventually stop using the app.
Could you imagine a teacher telling a student, "You've made too many mistakes today. You're on a time out from learning." That wouldn't happen. The app already doesn't let you move on until you fix your mistakes, and Duo popping in with words of encouragement, "Even when you make mistakes, you're learning!" is perfect. Why introduce something so potentially negative?
The problem with the new "health" scheme is that it punishes you for getting the wrong answer. So instead of trying to get it right without checking or looking it up, learners will be incentivized to always check if they're right before answering anything. I learn better from getting it wrong sometimes, but now when I do that you add roadblocks to progress. It is a terrible idea that I urge you to discontinue as soon as possible.
I am not surprised - these days what start from pure intentions will slowly become commercial. But I understand why this has to happen and support Duo since learning a language on this platform changed my life. But I humbly request that the basic features ( all of them on the Web platform which I use, I do not know about the app) be free. Power-ups, ads, etc. can be added for generating money. But the adds should never get too much. I know of a great app QuizUp. It was wonderful before. Now they added a ton of crap for money - and I don't like it, since the core part of the game - playing a very simple quiz, was lost as they changed everything. There is another example - Goodgame Studios. One of it's games, GGE got too commercial and literally only those who had enough money became the elite and won there. It was only beneficial for those who had a lot of time and money. So I and many others left it. And mostly adults played this game. I hope the same does not happen to Duo. ( I do not look to defaming such sites. They also involve high imagination and creativity and I do not blame anything. It is just the implementation gone wrong. I just love Duo and don't want it to become a bad site.) A good example is Clash of Clans - they really made it fun for all types of players to use and add many good and new features many times that actually help the players, instead of looking to exploit wealth everytime. Likewise, there are many examples on the market from where Duo can learn from mistakes and achievements and be careful when applying such a plan. Good luck and may this platform flourish! Long live Duo! Don't get my above rant wrong - just want Duo to continue to be the best site I know.
Phew! I'm so glad I read the reviews for the latest 'Bugs and perfomance improvements' update for the iOS app, and the comments here, before updating. It would appear this health concept hasn't been well thought-through. I for one am going to hold off on applying any further updates for the forseeable future, or until I can be certain the feature has been removed or radically revamped. Problem is, because the app is largely driven from the server it may not be possible to avoid it forever.
Incidentally, it would be polite if conventions were followed and major changes were acknowledged in the update release notes. I am not at all happy that such a major and apparently detrimental change has been 'sneaked' in.
Binge learning leaves gaps in the memory and one is more likely to forget. The key to successful learning, whether it is cognitive or psychomotor, is repetition. More frequent sessions of lower duration appear to be the best. However, one need not throw binge learning in the trash. Why? Because the user has seen the words/phrases at least once . . . and that's a start. However, the concept of assimilation does take repetition. With that, I will provide an example.
I do some gaming with an older group of men (that's me too). And, we were introduced to the word "avuncular." That is not a common term. However, during the course of two hours, it was repeated more than two dozen times. Consequently, virtually all of us have fully assimilated the word.
All very well, but this system doesn't differentiate between frequent short sessions or single binge ones... 5 mistakes in a new lesson (assuming you started it with full health) and you're shut out from learning new material. You can't repeat the new material. You can't learn the new material by repetition. You can't learn.
Plus different people learn at different rates. Also, if one is already fairly familiar with a language and just wanting to brush-up a little, they are going to cover considerably more ground without much effort. If they are locked out by silly typos or errors in a course, they are not going to find it helpful. Errors are also likely to occur because, if they are fairly knowledgable in a language they may have correct answers that the course won't accept - or the question or accepted answer may not be correct. This may beca particular issue for anyone who has spent time in a country and replies with how it would really be (correctly) answered and not a rigid response required set by someone with only a theoretical knowledge of the language.
The app only (sometimes) allows marking 'my answer was correct' or 'there was some problem with the exercise' but no means to provide an explanation. Whichever, they still lose life.
As it happens my preference is usually to advance through a language tree fairly steadily, but probably considered fairly quickly to some. I then leave it a while after finishing the tree before going back to 'revise' it. I then find it really sinks in more and is more readily retained. My speed goes up or down depending upon the difficulty of the topic and language. If I found something difficult to understand I may well go over it before advancing.
If one has already studied French, Italian and Spanish, Portuguese has sufficient similarities to often proceed through many lessons at a rapid rate.
I think that's a good learning style, especially for more familiar languages, as it greatly increases exposition. Practice can always be done afterwards, but Health completely disregards the possibility. By hindering revision directed to new material, the new system unfortunately decreases the immersive potential of Duo. I'm reminded of Jhumpa Lahiri's words in her book "In other words [In altre parole]":
"[...]For twenty years I studied Italian as if I were swimming along the edge of that lake. Always next to my dominant language, English. Always hugging that shore. It was good exercise. Beneficial for the muscles, for the brain, but not very exciting. If you study a foreign language that way, you won’t drown. The other language is always there to support you, to save you. But you can’t float without the possibility of drowning, of sinking. To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.[...]"
For greater immersion, greater exposition is also needed. Many people who start by progressing fast towards the end of the tree also come back later to review past content. In doing so, if they are also reading the notes, they are probably getting more acquainted with all facets of the language than those who progress slowly. Of course, if the language does not have enough cognates or shared grammatical traits, progressing too much may become detrimental at some point, but the users could surely notice that point by themselves, and then organize their studies in a way that best serves their interests. With Health, however, this kind of flexible planning adapted by self-regulation is not possible.
I agree. Practice is important, but so is exposition. If the latter is overlooked, the tendency is for the easiest parts of the language to be over-practiced, while the most complex ones may be underrepresented in the student's schedule. That's why most teachers who use Duo where I live recommend students to finish the tree before focusing on practice, but now that's not possible in the app anymore. Health unfortunately aggravates the natural problem of over-practice in the first half of the tree that was already inherent to Duo's system of unlocking new content before choosing to expose oneself to it. Now, I would not be surprised if more people reach max level without having given proper attention to many of the later skills in the trees they are studying. Considering I already tend more towards over-practice than fast progress, my learning problems will probably be aggravated by Health.
So I have been using Duolingo for over a year now. I started with German (for work) took up Italian, then Portuguese and Spanish, and Dutch. I was happy until you brought in this "health" idea.
My principled approach is to revise all of the languages every day (Practice, now gone, was very useful for this.. I didn't need to look for the lessons to be revised - they were automatically proposed.. now I have to look and select. No more "killing" two birds with one stone!.
I learn through guessing new words from their context. A mistake is also a learning experience.. so I learn from my mistakes.. Health has killed all the joy.. Now each new lesson MUST BE CORRECT or I cannot proceed. One wrong exercise and I can't learn another language. How does this help me? It doesn't. It frustrates me and makes me scream with annoyance..
Give me credit for each language separately.. Hold me to practice each one to my desired level 10,30,50 etc.. points. Let me choose my pace in each.. Let me make mistakes.... let me learn in my own way.. To date my languages have improved immensely Now HEALTH is getting in the way.. I don't want to waste time "learning French, so I can continue in Vietnamese... Please listen, and at the least make HEALTH an option and NOT THE PAIN IT IS!
A very good example of the (presumably) unintended consequences.
Another thought just occurred to me that it seems a retrograde attitude by Duolingo to blame mistakes on learners and penalise them, rather than considering that a mistake potentially exposes a weakness in the course or the system/application.
A point someone mentioned long ago on the Welsh course, when adverts were first mooted, was that it was all very well Duolingo making money, but what of the volunteers who have expended sometimes considerable amounts of effort to create the courses? Should they not be rewarded by Duolingo if it is no longer free? Their efforts are rewarding Duolingo. It also raises some potential ethical issues about publically funded bodies being involved in various ways providing resources for the courses to a (now) for-profit company. Again, using the Welsh course as an example, this is closely based upon existing courses created by Welsh Universities and supported by the Welsh Assembly. Copyright laws allow exemptions for educational uses that becoming a for-profit organisation probably now violates.
Sadly, as many have already said, the many flaws in the Health feature mean that I can only conclude that the sole purpose for it's introduction was to generate a source of income. It provides absolutely no benefits for learning. Quite the opposite.
That was well said! Health is 100% about leveraging volunteers for personal gain. It has nothing to do with learning and is ethically questionable. If the product is going to go bankrupt wo health the honorable thing to do would be to open source the project. Somebody is trying to get paid from via a buyout - maybe some behind the scenes investors. The thought is the product and the courses are good enough let's cut bait lick this turkey down and sell it off. They are not engaging bc they have have nothing to say but the truth. And if there's no money then the focus is already tiring to how to leverage this stint on a CV for the next job. Bogging down with negative feedback doesn't paint a picture of success. So opaque unverifiable metrics it is. Any one that has worked in a start up knows the drill. Management has warper the mission statement of the company. Usually that's a sign of management looking for a new job. Don't hold your breath about Luis saying oh my bad. That won't happen until somebody writes off their angel investment for a tax break. The best thing to do is accelerate the process of write off and/or open source is to downvote the product on iTunes and choke the revenue flow while health health remains. It's frustrating but that's how pump and dump startups work.
As I'm on Android, I didn't realize the Practice function was dumped. This is all beginning to sound nuts. Really crazy.
If this is the best solution given for revenue raising, it's time to go back to the drawing board. Since $10 a month from a fraction of the users can't pay the bills, the budget needs to be slashed. Forvo.com is for-profit and self-sustaining using only the one-time $3 fee to eliminate advertising from the app. Content is crowd sourced and involves storage of sound bites. I'm going to assume that Duolingo is more expensive to administer, however if Duo can't make it on ads and more reasonable monthly fees, I think Luis should consider slashing the budget. Developer ideas like the Clubs and Badges and Gems and Health are not cutting it. This isn't a bad market for reducing operating costs.
Why not create new features to help increase the value of lingots? Many websites with in-game currency offer a variety of "themes" to choose from, so what if there were themes for each language? You could unlock it for free if you finished the tree, but you could also buy it with lingots if you wanted to? Or what if there was a Duo avatar for each person, and you could buy things to customise it? You could unlock things with each skill, too.
No problem with ads from me. If there were no ads and ONLY a pay model... now that, I'd have a problem with, since so many other services pull that nonsense (and thus I don't use them), plus it goes directly against Duo's claim: "Learn a language for free. Forever."
I'm looking at you, NetZero. >_>
For duolingo plus users, will you consider adding a "skill randomizer" where for practice it will give us sentences from various skills? this would help keep our brain fresh and changes up what we're practicing. I'll step away from French for sometime and then go back and reguild the same stuff over and over, while many skills haven't been touched in months.
I want to start this post by thanking Luis and everyone at Duolingo. You guys easily could have stopped with the major European languages, but the addition of the incubator allowed for so much diversity. When I first saw that Hebrew was in the incubator about two years ago, I was so excited that I'd finally have an accessible way to learn it!
As for the foreseeable future health won't impact me much since I use the website version about 90% of the time. But, it would go against the style that I enjoy learning languages. I try not to hover over new words. Instead I look at the sentence and through context see if I can figure out what it could be-- this doesn't always work that great with the more comedic sentences.
The downside is that this strategy would work horribly with a health system. I rack up wrong answers constantly. I would ask that the health system not be included or greatly modified.
Thanks again and I can't wait to get started on Japanese. I'm going to get a lot of wrong answers in that course....
This is excellent news. I like it that you've hit on break-even revenue combinations. Paying for health is fine by me when there's an alternative to pay--increased practice. I'd rather see Duolingo flourish than worry about whether someone is buying a chance to move beyond their ability to absorb learning. I would disagree with having a set timeout though. I've seen five hours mentioned. That would lock out a user for what might be their only free time in the day. There really are occasions where "binging" is appropriate, of course. And I've not had to struggle with another writing system. Nor have I had to struggle with dyslexia.
The ads are very well done--placed after the lessons and not full screen. I would not use an app with full screen ads. I have uninstalled or stopped using apps as soon as I saw full screen ads. I would have to open up a browser and go to the lessons there. Clumsy, slow and demotivating on a mobile. Thank you very much for no full screen or flashing ads. In exchange for this restrained advertising policy, I actually look at the ads, occasionally click on them and install an app or explore more deeply. I'm very ad averse so this is a big deal for me and I do it because I find Duolingo deeply valuable.
For those not buying into Duolingo Plus who want to contribute, either explore the darned ads so Duo gets more revenue dollars or occasionally buy a month of Duo Plus.
What do you mean "not full screen"? For me (Android app), the add is a full screen after every lesson. Moreover, while the add started as easy to dismiss (press the X on the top left), recently it became harder - there now to be some sort of minimum time (the X is ignored for a few seconds), and also they randomly change the place of the dismiss (sometimes it's an X on the top left, sometimes it's a button on the bottom). Really annoying.
Some apps have ads that flash up a whole new page right as you're concentrating on a new word, the closing function being harder to see than the Duolingo ads. Duo's ads don't flash up, simply come up as the next page after I've savored my accomplishment by watching the orange circle appear adding up my XP. Yes, a recent update has gotten tricky with where the X is. I can live with it. Come to think of it, I haven't been looking at the ads much with that change because the first thing I look for is the X or "No thanks". Once found, I select the X or whatever to get off the page.
Since Luis said above: "The ad doesn't cover the whole screen (that would bring in a lot more money, but it would be annoying!)" that he wasn't using full page ads and since others here said they were okay if he added "full page ads", I assumed that the sort of ads that flash up and cover the entire screen is what Luis was talking about. I very much do not want that kind of ad showing up. And the flashier the ads get, the more resistant I get to looking at them.
Billiongraves (A web-site where volunteers take pictures of cemetery headstones.) has been using the Plus idea for several years. Basic use of the site (Taking photos, transcribing photo information, searching for headstones) is free. The Plus give extra features. It seems to be working as the basic use is still free.
You guys are doing a great job, which is very much appreciated by this low income earner. i would not be able to participate if it weren't for your mission. i have tried to learn languages many times before and duolingo is the first experience that is working for me. so thank you. very much!
I think poor economic and scoial policies hinder your mission. how can we synchronize the 'feedback loop' between revenue and value to include everyone? while i believe the answer lies in better policy, i don't doubt that it will be the programmers who figure out a solution to this problem. it appears that you are actually doing this. amazing.
As for your costs, could distributed networking help bring them down? in other words p2p the content within the app. perhaps you're already doing this.
I am learning portuguese. i have not seen a single ad yet that tried to sell me a trip to brasil. or anything local that is brasilian based. nor brasilian business' ads either! why wouldn't the sao paulo tourism board be all over this? and at a premium too! google and facebook are great and yeah, maybe they are sending more relevenat ads which users might actually purchase from [not in my case. others have said the same thing in this very thread!]. yet people don't want to be tracked, and in this case i don't think they need to be. the writing is on the wall. learning another language is a goal. ads are portals to other goals.
Have you thought about partnerships with companies where your users could spend their lingots at your partners' stores? if only for a discount? that health idea you have [which is a great optimization idea btw] will be your saving grace if that ever took hold. you'd have more users than stars in the universe.
Dating apps. they have match.com in south america don't they? while most people want to meet locally... globalization. skype penpals. get lingots at duo, spend them at match.com, have your first date on skype. and now they have one more reason to click on the tourism board's ad! is it just me?
A final note to anyone who is reading this thread. keep this in mind, especially before posting:
"The best thing you or anybody can do to help is to let us experiment different ways to pay the bills without getting up in arms."
Keep that in mind. there's no such thing as a free lunch... but you're getting one. maintain your integrity by offering up useful feedback to luis and his team or simply do not post. and don't forget to say thank you for lunch...
So Luis, thanks for lunch.
The thing is, it seems the tendency now in the mobile app world is to literally ANNOY the free users, until they get fed up and pay: Some apps show more and more abnoxious ads (full screen video ads, etc.), some apps have you wait artificially before you play (the Duolingo "gems" thing falls straight into this square), etc. But you know what, a lot of users, when they get annoyed, their reaction is not to pay - but rather - to leave the app which gets them annoyed and never look back, and never to recommend it to anyone.
I've recommended Duolingo to at least 10 friends who are now using it for fun (none of them have a "business need" of learning a foreign language). If the current annoyance situation (ads, gems, etc.) continues, I'm not likely to recommend it to anyone else, despite all the benefits (of really learning a language) because people who are learning language for fun, are not going to pay $10 a month for this fun - and on the other hand, will not agree to get annoyed for the privilege of having fun.
Thanks all. I am an Android user but can't find any subscription option in the app or on the website or in Play Store. They did say that only some Android users would get it so I guess my devices are not on the list yet. I would really like the offline option as I am travelling a lot just now and want to keep using it every day.
"Our research shows that if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning ... If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times), we encourage you to go back and practice previous lessons to restore it, or to take a break while your Health restores over time."
I think by "do[ing] too much Duolingo" he means doing NEW lessons. So I take it to mean your health will only decline if you complete too many NEW lessons each day – i.e. racing on through the tree without consolidating – and that it can be restored by waiting, or by practicing (strengthening) previously completed lessons. So far from being punished for punished for practicing, you'll be rewarded.
My health declined in my first NEW Ja->En lesson... it was, of course, completely NEW so mistakes should be expected. I tend to learn from my mistakes, not from things I already know.
How is trying to complete 1 new lesson "racing on without consolidating"?
How is parroting simple sentences from otherwise golden skills rewarding?
In the present form, the health system is a hindrance to learning new material. I hope at least it's paying the bills, or else I'd have to question the motives of whoever's idea it was.
Still, one mustn't complain... I still have Android, the web, and my missus' iPad (I'll be sure to keep autoupdates off until I have done all the courses I have in mind).
Unfortunately, I found avoiding the update didn't avoid the Health system being imposed.
I believe the app (iOS anyway) is largely just a lightweight UI presentation skin, with most of the logic being downloaded from a server. I've noticed this sort of thing on a number of previous occasions.
One downside of this is that Duolingo don't anticipate you not updating, and appear not to have tested that. As a result, Duolingo locked up at the after converting' lingots to gems, possibly because it attempted to update an UI element that simply didn't exist.
That's how it appears, anyway - as a S/W developer looking from the outside. I've had a few occasions where a really old version of the interface pops up, for example the hearts (a few weeks ago). Quitting the lesson and restarting restored the normal interface.
I was only a version or two behind. It may be that if your version is too old to support the chanfes, they check and realise they can't perform the update. Alternatively, they may just perform a gradual roll-out and it hasn't reached you yet. The adverts took a while to arrive for me in the UK, but I seem to remember comments from other UK learners remarking about them weeks before-hand. So who knows? Duolingo are known for their love of A/B tests.
There will be ads too on the mobile app? My only concern there is that many of the ads served by these mobile ad networks do a forced redirect to the app store to try to get you to download something. There is no setting on the phone to stop ads from opening the app store and that would be disruptive to learning. It has happened so much to me that there are certain apps and news sites that I just won't use/visit anymore on my phone. Other than that I don't mind either watching ads or buying a plus subscription.
I for one would love to watch video ads in my target language/languages for products that are available in my country.
Completing gap fill exercises on them would be even better, it could be an option, I think people would resent being forced to watch them or answer questions about them.
Here are some samples (for Spanish learners): http://www.ver-taal.com/anuncios.htm
Not sure what you've done, but currently scrolling through this discussion on an iPad is almost impossible. Time lag, repeated swipes necessary for it to respond etc. I guess it may be related to the sheer volume of comments making the page very long and thus very memory intensive. I thought initially it was a general problem with my iPad, but all other sites I try are functioning correctly and scroll smoothly as expected.
I see ads when I use my phone and not when I use my laptop. Is there a reason? I prefer my laptop over my phone but it's unfortunate that I don't get to help out.
Also you should have a donate button somewhere. As much as I've been using this app I should think I would like to help out.
Finally, if there is to be a duolingo plus, would it make sense to give plus users a weekly stipend of 5-7 lingots that they themselves cannot spend, but can give to members on the forums? I think it would encourage more forum activity through additional positive reinforcement.
Love this app and its mission. It's part of my daily life now and I hope it can continue to be helpful for others.
I do not find your new ads intrusive and if they help you add to the site and improve content, I'm for them. I think you may have to tweak your bingeing algorithm a little though to accommodate users like myself who spend a large amount of time on the site regularly. Although I have been practicing daily for about an hour or an hour and a half at a time, my Spanish fluency has been decreasing over the past couple of weeks. I know about your recent blind study, which I must have been a part of, that caused my fluency to drop by ten points overnight, but this seems different.
Thank you very much for the detailed explanation to us, your users. First, I just want to say I feel privileged to be able to use this service for free. I don't think I would have invested in learning a new language, since it is of relatively little use to me. However, it has added a new dimension and joy to my life, so I am so glad I stumbled across Duolingo last year! I appreciate that your goal is to provide free language education! And the teaching methods you use really help to solidify what I'm learning. I am not offended by the ads that I see and would gladly put up with them to keep the education free. Just want to encourage you and the Duolingo team to keep up the great work!!! It is very appreciated!
I had no idea the operating costs were that high. In any event, I wouldn't have anything against adds if that's what you need to keep the website free of charge as long as they're not invasive. I'm certain a lot of users will agree with me. On a related note, isn't there some government agency in the US or in any other English speaking country that would support these kinds of initiatives?
>Subscriptions. We know some people are averse to ads, so we're also rolling out Duolingo Plus, a subscription that turns off ads. Additionally, with Duolingo Plus you get access to offline lessons so you can continue practicing without an Internet connection. Over the coming months, we will be adding more functionality to Duolingo Plus, with the constraint that we won't charge for actual learning content.
Doesn't that already happen? My Android phone doesn't give ads, and I can get offline lessons just fine.
I would still really appreciate keeping the streak bonus or the streak freeze options in the mobile as well. The double or nothing was amazing for keeping motivated to practice daily as well as to get more lingots, or in the potential future gems. So far, that's my main complaint as there really isn't much way to get gems in general and yet things like MASTER SKILL is overpriced like hell at 200 for just the ONE skill bubble. I'm not spending 200 to keep that one bubble gold for a month.
Thank you for all you do. I don't mind the ads. The duo+ is a bit more than what I would want to spend right now... but still not outrageous. At that price I'd be more apt to get it for a month where I knew I'd want to use it offline (traveling, etc). For me to sign up for the whole year, 5.99USD/month would probably have been the point where I would have been like, yeah... I can do that.
I read about how Duolingo is the best business model.. Selling tranlation and having subscribers do the translation.. Selling advertisements on the app is another source of revenue. None of this is a problem for me, this is a great app and I use it every day. Asking for (monetary) support to keep the app free seems like a contradiction though..
You should look into designing an innovative app or channel for the appleTV/Roku platform (based on the users language choice), and show commercials in a similar ethical sense. You might be able to offset the development costs with higher revenue-generating ads.
It could be a series of 2-5 minute scenes from movies in the users language, a news channel with anchors who speak slowly (lol), or perhaps some kind of user generated content. Watching content could give users xp.
Or just make a tv based interface for duolingo to control with our smartphones and stick a commercial at the end.
Also have you thought of showing ads in the user's learning language? It would be cool if you tried to make ads interactive and useful to the learner.
Doesn't sound too bad. Ads in the format as described seem to be a no brainer in an app like this. Doesn't sound too intrusive. Health and Gems, not sure how I feel about that. Will have to see when it's implemented. I tend to do things feast or famine so it may not fit my learning style. That said, lingots didn't really have a big use, so it's nice to see there will be a purpose for premium currency. The real question is on the differentiation between pro and normal versions. I detest subscription models but, as someone else said earlier, you do what you gotta do....and then we'll do what we gotta do in response. Cheers and here's hoping Duolingo continues to be the great app it currently is.
Very interesting to hear your reasons for introducing health. I completely agree with iwc2ufan about this being frustrating in languages that are very different from one another.
I also wonder if you have done any research on your dyslexic users? I am only mildly dyslexic, but I do find the health a bit off-putting as I not infrequently make mistakes because my dyslexia means I have a hard time spotting typos. I believe some dyslexics also have problems with homophones. It does feel like a well thought out and implemented system overall, but has meant I have largely switched to using the website.
Hi Luis, I am a fan of Duolingo and I would happily pay 20 EUR annually for the service, without additional ads.
I think the methods you and your team have decided upon sound effective for both administrators and users. Although, some people express concern with the health system, I don't foresee much trouble with it. Then, again I am only focusing on Spanish for now and I can see where it may be difficult for younger users.
On a side note, is Chinese a foreseeable language on Duolingo? I would love to learn Chinese! (of course pin yin)
Can I just say that I think it is amazing that not only do you guys provide a free language and are so determined to keep it free, but that you are so open with your plans for monetization and genuinely interested in keeping the users abreast of the internal workings at Duo and in fielding ideas and suggestions about how to move Duolingo forward. I think these are brilliant ideas and will only add to the enormous amount of loyalty that Duolingo has established.
I´m happy to see an ad here or there in order to keep Duolingo free. It´s a great resource, but if I had to pay for it I would probably just go back to my Rosetta Stone, which I have long since abandoned in favor of the more manageable lessons with Duolingo.
If you hosted some sort of immersion experience open to people at different levels, or even endorsed some immersion experiences in exchange for a kickback for the referral, I would probably do that, too. I´ve had a hard time finding reputable immersion programs for Spanish that are cost effective and don´t have Zika, and would trust your recommendations.
Though, for example I relearned both Swedish and French. I did make mistakes, but I was able to do three skills/day and still learn all the new words (yes, there were some) and the ones I'd forgotten. I feel like Duolingo is becoming less and less customizable (not that it ever was too customizable). Instead of forcing everyone to work in one way, I'd hope Duo would give us a change to change some learning related settings according to our individual needs and skills. Or that the algorithm would learn our individual needs better.
Thank you for informing us. (Really - I feel like a lab rat when I don't know what's going on, so, yeah, thank you.)
I really appreciate that you're staying true to your mission of bringing free language education to the world. And although I really miss Immersion and (most of all) Activity, if that is what keeps the boat afloat, that's better than nothing I suppose. Ads, subscription and health all sound like an okay solution to me, so you have my support in that.
I've learned a lot with the site over the years. If it's this or having to shut down the website, I'll take the experimentation. Good sites die for lack of funding.
Duolingo has given me knowledge I've used in the real world, a tangible value that's helped me as a nurse. Being grateful to the hard-working people behind the scenes is hardly a bad thing. :)
"Our research shows that if people do too much Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned. So we are introducing another new feature on iOS called Health. Health is a way of pacing the use of Duolingo to discourage binging behavior, which is shown to be ineffective for learning a new language. If you lose your Health (by answering incorrectly too many times), we encourage you to go back and practice previous lessons to restore it, or to take a break while your Health restores over time. For those who still want to binge on Duolingo without taking a break or taking the time to review lessons they missed, they can do so by refilling their Health with Gems."
I totally agree with this. This is a great feature 1) better for learning 2) bringing money.
I am gradually becoming more sceptical of Duolingo's/Luis von Ahn's business model. It seems that the main component of Luis's products is to get people engaged in order to work for free, while he is making the big bucks. Moreover, I highly doubt that the true cost of running Duolingo is 60,000 USD/day.
I'm thankful that even though I believe Luis makes money off of Duolingo, he still allows people like us to learn languages for free. I've benefited greatly from this platform, and on Monday, I will be doing Duolingo Plus for a month because I support the cause of Duolingo.
I definitely believe that it costs at least $60,000 USD/day to run Duolingo for several different reasons:
Duolingo has 100+ million users.*** Source: https://venturebeat.com/2015/06/10/100m-users-strong-duolingo-raises-45m-led-by-google-at-a-470m-valuation-to-grow-language-learning-platform/
With 100+ million users that are growing everyday there are a lot costs that consider like: the ever increasing cost of bandwidth, equipment costs for employees, data storage costs, continual education costs in this ever changing technological field, and they might also outsource some of their work to others as well.
Duolingo has at least 60 to 100 employees. Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2016/03/23/duolingo-moving-to-east-liberty-plans-to-add.html
I can imagine many of the Duolingo employees are not being paid $10/hr for their work in this highly specialized field. Duolingo's end product is AWESOME, and I believe their employees should be paid well for their amazing contributions to millions of people's language learning around the globe.
Duolingo has at least 30 million active users. Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/parulguliani/2016/07/22/duolingo-looks-to-dominate-the-mobile-education-market-with-new-flashcard-app/#450dddf31c1d
It cost Facebook $860 million or about $1 for each active monthly user in 2012. With those numbers, Duolingo should be paying around $30 million per year, but they're only paying around $21.9 million.****
***This source was from 2015, so most likely Duolingo has 100+ million users.
****$21.9 million= $60,000 a day for expenses * 365 days.
I'm very enthused about what has been suggested in this post, Luis. First of all, I am very supportive of your interest in experimenting with different methods of revenue generation. After all, what people say they will do and what they actually do are sometimes two very different things. The proof is "in the pudding" to quote an oft-used English idiomatic expression.
Secondly, I love this idea of adding a "Health" element to the program. Though I have been tempted to engage in some of those marathon competitions because they look like fun and I love competition, I've refrained from entering because I question the usefulness of them to my overall language learning. When Duolingo tells me I answered incorrectly, I really like to take my time and assess exactly why I answered incorrectly. Was it a careless mistake? Do I need more work/practice/drills with a particular verb tense and its conjugations? Is it simply an idiomatic expression I haven't been introduced to yet? Stopping to answer these questions is part of what I consider the pacing process you refer to and believe it is all a part of learning "smarter not harder" (or, less tritely, learning more efficiently).
Kudos to you, Luis, and all those who help make Duolingo such a great place to come and learn a language. I am looking forward to all of the changes you and your team have carefully and thoughtfully considered.
So true, LaNina. Warnings can be quite generous ... if representative of a significant number of others. I suppose a lot of all of this has to do with expectations. When I'm given an opportunity that allows me to learn and share what I've learned with others for free (and on an enormous platform like Duolingo), I take what I can get from it and consider it a huge bargain.
Like anyone else, the more I have to pay for something, the more I have to weigh the pros and cons of that investment. However, when considering just free online services available to beginning language students (or perhaps soon to be "virtually free"), in my very humble opinion, Duolingo has no equal.
Hey Luis! No need to worry about those grumpy people who are for open source and stuff like that. Its all about memes. Its all about them upvotes. Y months ago, users wanted to leave DuoLingo, beacause it's becoming a capitalistic website :///:(( But now, it's all good. All about them memes, all about...
This isn't an open source argument. Luis is no dummy and would not waste money on proprietary software for those servers. I'm confident the per diem costs he's quoting are accurate and do not reflect fluffware. I think he's doing the best he can and we're busy giving him advice. :)
Well, so far I think it's all useful feedback and will help shape questions of how to overcome some issues. By internet standards, they're very polite. :) I'm pleased there's a path to break-even revenue, but the feedback on dyslexia has left me intrigued to find solutions. Finding a better solution to conventional language learning for the dyslexic could be nice breakthrough for Duolingo. It wouldn't have been on my radar without the feedback here. I just came across this course on Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching designed by Lancaster University: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/dyslexia
Can there be a campaign on social media to make the new health feature be viewed positively ? Maybe talking about how it helps to not binge! I know some users who are just beginning a language are turned off by the fact that they have to wait s whole day to practice becuase they don't have too much to practice. Can the health system start after a user is hooked to their lessson and will have various skills to practice while they wait until the next day? Also will the health system restart every 24 hours or every day at midnight? Have we thought about every 12 hours?
A simple test solution for health might be to add a "health setting" where users can adjust it. Frequently I have to turn off the microphone and/or audio because of where I am. It's less than optimal but some duolingo in a day is better than no duolingo for a day. You could track where most users "set" health (for a given language) and use that to help set your baselines. Not a fully formed idea/proposal but hopefully you'll get the gist and maybe it'll be helpful.
Anyone who knows anything about language learning knows that one should be encouraged to make mistakes, rather then not speaking or not writing, or not using the language at all, because one is afraid of making a mistake -- a fatal flaw drilled into us by generations of teachers who are giving grades and expecting perfection. I often guess -- particularly for the written exercises -- and I often get a letter or a word wrong -- especially when it's in Greek or Russian or Irish!! But I learn from that mistake, sometimes after three or four tries, and then I get it right and am rewarded. This Health app discourages all of that, and in the worse way!! Not only do you not get the chance to immediately correct your mistake while it's fresh in your mind, you're actually forced to put the whole exercise aside for hours and then to come back to it, by which time you've forgotten what your mistake was and your make it again!! Whoever came up up with this Health disaster has never studied a language! And it doesn't do any good to "review" because what you're learning is new material in each set of vocabularies, which is where you then generally make the mistake. What this Health app encourages is for one to just tap on the word -- when available -- and get the answer, rather than really testing yourself to see if you remembered correctly. Heaven forbid if you don't!
Very good points. However, one clarification: You said "Whoever came up up with this Health disaster has never studied a language". You're making the mistake of assuming that whoever came up with this health thing did it with any relation to learning a language. That is a false assumption. As you can see, the topic of this thread wasn't "how to learn better" but rather "how Duolingo can make money". The "health" thing is a common anti-feature in free games, where you are forced to wait between games unless you pay real money for "gems" or whatever - hoping that letting you play a bit for free will get you hooked, and then the annoyance of waiting will make you pay real money. It has nothing to do with getting people to be better at the game.
Of course, those that can't or won't pay (e.g., my kids who don't have a credit card!), are more likely to simply get annoyed by the artificial forced pauses and leave Duolingo. Sad.
It is impossible to "view positively" the "health" feature. Look at the title of this thread - it's about how Duolingo can make money! It wasn't added as a feature to improve learning - it's added as a feature for making money! It's really disingenuous to try to pretend that this feature was done with the user's best interests in mind.
A lot of mobile games are using this "gems" mechanism - to play the game you need some virtual "gems" or "hearts" or whatever, which are replenished gradually. So if you play rarely, you don't worry about those, but as soon as you're "hooked" and want to play a lot, you find yourself waiting impatiently for the gems to replenish. At this point you're told that you can get a billion gems if you pay $1, so you do. Or, if you're like all the people in my family (who do NOT have a credit card attached to their mobile), you do not pay, and stop enjoying this game and uninstall it. I'm worried this is what will happen to Duolingo.
It’s $120/year for ad removal, offline usage, and whatever other features might be added to Duolingo Plus. If it’s not worth $120/year to you, then don’t subscribe to it. Since
Ads are currently [Duolingo’s] largest source of revenue, far surpassing other monetization experiments (including Immersion).
these three mechanics [ads, subscriptions, Health/Gems system] will be able to fully support Duolingo’s operation (which costs over $60,000 per day and rising).
it’s highly unlikely that they’ll stop using ads and get rid of subscriptions, unless you can suggest some alternative combination of features that would pay for their operations and provide a financial return to their investors.