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  5. Duolingo, what gives?


Duolingo, what gives?

Just like the title says: what gives?

I opened my app this morning (iOS) and got this cheery notification that my lingots were converted to gems. So instead of 270 lingots I had 750 gems. That sounds reasonable, right?!

WRONG. Now a streak freeze is 600 gems. WHAT? That implies you have to basically accumulate a hugely long streak to be able to get a streak freeze?

This is obviously a money grabbing strategy by DL. Streak freezes are being made prohibitively expensive with in-game currency that now you will have to buy cash streak repairs more often.

I'm really frustrated with it. My streak is "only" 145 days, but I've been a good user for about a year now. I lost my streak when grad school started, but otherwise I have been really dedicated to my use of Duolingo.

Duolingo, as a dedicated user, I want you to know you may lose me as a customer over this. I would much, much, much prefer to pay some small fee ($3-$5 ish a month) to have access to Duolingo's services than feel like I have to occasionally pay in to some gimmick. I liked how Duolingo's in-game currency wasn't ridiculously hard to accumulate, and I'm frustrated that my whole stash has been massively devalued.

I could have bought 27 streak freezes with lingots and now I can only buy ~1.2.

Duolingo, I'm also a paying member to Babbel. I like DL better, but this is frustrating to me. I would much rather pay a small fee than buy in to this new system. My Spanish tree is completed so at this point, any other language learning app would work to maintain my knowledge.

May 28, 2017



FYI, you'll find:

  • here a[n older] discussion about the same subject: "Please get rid of "health" it is HORRIBLE".
  • here another one few hours later: "Please remove the Hearts system."
  • here another one: "IOS Health Bars - Please Remove this."


Oh fantastic. I don't use the discussion feature much so I didn't think of searching. I'm glad others are upset.


the discussion feature is almost all we have left to find out things like this that get in the way of learning, or that enhance learning. And it makes for good company, so I hope you'll use it again!


thank you jrikhal!


Thank you, I don't see why they thought it would be a good idea


Agreed, if it is necessary for us to pay for DL, don't make it gimmicky.


That does sound a lot like a money grabbing strategy... I've seen a lot of posts about this kind of stuff lately.


Yes, Duolingo is removing all of its good and useful features ;(


If it's any consolation, you still have lingots when you log on on the computer and streaks still cost the same as they always did. And they've said that for the time being they don't plan on changing the website to gems.


That's true. But I wanted to voice my opinion before it progressed too far.


This is another step in the long process of waving good-bye to the free Duo and instead of improving it into e.g. a fully fledged language course for all levels they try to sell existing features to the user. On their way they tend to forget that this user built the whole thing to an extent, which is even larger than on comparable platforms. However, this is not unusual. For example vinted.com a platform to sell used clothes did some very similar things during the last two years at least in their German version. I stayed there for most part of 2016 only because it was kind of funny to witness them implementing one stupid thing after the other. However and so far rather different from Duolingo, they realized after about a year that they are not able (and never will be) to offer the level of service they would have to, if they would keep the fees and abandoned it again - a selling platform without sellers did not promise roaring success. Duo without dedicated users, who develop and improve the language courses does also not look like a recipe for economic breakthrough. I fully understand that Duo somehow wants to make money but it is my strong impression that there is a disturbing lack of conceptual thinking behind this wish. Converting lingots into whatever will certainly not do the trick.


I totally agree with you, a small monthly fee would be better than pretending the app is still a handy (and free?) tool for learing for those of us who don't feel like paying extra to be able to finish the most difficult lessons. I want to be able to learn from mistakes, not pre-study the topic before I attempt a lesson in the app.


This reminds me of willy wonka's chocolate factory teacher.

"I've just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we've learned it. "

  • 1805

Does a streak help you with learning the language? If it keeps you motivated then instead of streak freezes or paying for the streak repair (which is only available on iOS anyway) you can do it old school: put a paper on your wall and draw a little streak sign (of watever kind) every day, maybe even stating how much you practiced and if you can't practice write down why you didn't (and be honest). That would be more real overview of how you practice anyway. Streak is just a number, it doesn't say how much you practice or if you learn anything new on any given day. It's like language levels based on XP where you could theoretically repeat the first skill and eventually reach "high language level" while learning 10 basic words. I know the changes on Duolingo don't suit to many people but the language trees are still the same and who wants to learn will learn the same.


A few times I've accidentally lost my streak, and it's left me demotivated and disappointed. One time I stopped practising for weeks afterwards. Streaks help people to practise regularly, so making them harder to maintain makes the experience of using Duolingo objectively worse.

  • 1805

Well that sucks. Although I had a week when I just kept coming every day for minimum XP just to keep my streak and it made me feel worse than if I actually lost the streak. It made me feel bad for not learning enough and the fact that I kept my streak didn't help. I guess we all have it set different in our minds :-)

Hope you don't loose your streak again any time soon.


Different learning styles, I suppose. There are days I probably wouldn't bother practising, but knowing I'll lose my streak if I don't gives me that little extra push.


ally.x, I think perhaps you are harder on yourself than you need to be :-) Look at that persistence, almost 400 days!!

  • 1805

I'm just saying for me personally keeping the streak is not such a good motivator. It motivates me much more when I actually do some learning language work every day (which is not necessarily the same like keeping the streak, which can be done by doing any - even very basic - exercise).


Excellent that you've built up a 128 day streak, even after becoming demotivated. You picked up and continued learning, nicely done!!


I think my previous record was around 250 days, but I'm slowly getting back up there. ;)


The streak helps many people stay motivated. Very few users remain committed as it is. This will make it harder.

Like I said. I would be willing to lose my streak - but to take my business elsewhere.

  • 1805

In my opinion for most learners Duolingo is still more effective (streak or no streak) than other methods. If you feel you would learn more effective elsewhere then just do it :-)


I never said I would learn more.

But I am saying the steak feature is a comparative advantage of DL over other sites. So if they lose that, I will take my business elsewhere.

You don't get my fundamental point. I'm ok with paying - but not for this gimmick crap. Make it be a nominal subscription cost. A cup of coffee a month, whatever. And get rid of these gimmicks.

  • 1805

Sadly I think Duolingo will never care if it loses some users because it has millions of others, some of them even pay for things like streak repairs and ad free version which to me is ridiculous. I on the other hand (and I'm sure I'm not alone) would stop using Duolingo if it was impossible to use it for free. Since there are other ways to learn for free (like Memrise, whose new official language courses are really great.) But I believe there will always be a way to use Duolingo for free (since it's their philosophy anyway...). Streaks are not perfect and ability to buy streak freeze for 10 lingots is funny. I could come every day, buy a streak freeze and be able to go on like that forever because I would gain lingots on the way for "keeping the streak", while actually just buying streak freezes. That proves nothing about how I study or what I know. I am here to learn languages and yes I entertain myself by keeping my streak, but mostly just because I kept if from the day 1 and don't have any problems to keep it. If I am to lose it so be it....

EDIT: (I can't answer nickbii directly since it's too deep into discussion structure). Good point, thanks for correcting me. It just shows I don't use streak freezes ;-) But still, I could freeze my streak for 170 days with my 1700 lingots if I just come every day and buy the freeze, so my point is still the same, the streak would't prove anything about my practicing habits and about how much I learn. Not to mention I could grow the streak by doing one single basic exercise...


The streak freeze is a freeze. My streak is 224, if I failed to complete the required 50 XP tomorrow it would stay at 224 because of the freeze.


I didn't pay much to get rid of ads, it meant I did not have to down tools at then end of a lesson. Watching ads is NOT a free app .. I've saved a lot of time paying a small fee for a year.


gstucken, you are a dedicated language learner, and I'm sorry you are met with devaluation of your lingots! It is not in proportion to your steadfast practice.

curious: Does the app give you 1 lingot for every 10 days of streak? (for example, on your 150th day you would receive 15 lingots and so forth).


Yes, that is how it works! So I received 14 for hitting 140 days. I also use the double or nothing bet. Each completed tree lesson section also grants 2 lingots.

I would spend mine on streak freezes (probably an average of one every 5 weeks?) and the proficiency quizzes.


thanks! I didn't know if the app worked that way. It's the same I have on the computer version. I haven't bought a streak freeze since maybe a year ago. I spend my lingots on giving them away to commenters! :-)


thanks lingot elf!


Would also be nice to know how many (if any!) gems you get for every 10 days of streak.


That means buy buy buy before everything is converted!!!


You cannot stash lingot store products unfortunately.


Go use the desktop version. It's not garbage like the mobile app.


I prefer the desktop version.

But experience tells me changes in an app migrate to the rest of the platform.


They already said that it won't be on the desktop, because they don't want to deal with using credit cards.


Why don't you just use the website then? It works so much better and it has none of the problems you discussed. Duolingo is still great, though I agree the app from what I've seen isn't.


I am 58 and decided to better myself and become a better world citizen by taking up my Spanish where it left off in high school. On the face of it, it appears that I haven't applied myself to lessons over the last several years. Interesting note: here it shows 722 lingots. The mobile app posts 1210.

I respect any app trying to monetize their work. However, DL efforts have been poorly advised. Why not offer a subscription rather than offer irrelevant ads appropriated from my Google history. Why penalize effort by taking away learning opportunities.

The user interface has become a clustered mess. The ads, intrusive. The lessons have become frustrating, opaque, demoralizing. This app struggles to contribute to the greater good.

Sponsors will respond in time. They don't want to be affiliated with loosing propositions. If the community reached out and told sponsors to pull their advertising then, maybe, DL would redress the issues cited.

I see no reward in streaks or lingots or "health" if I'm not learning, if I can't communicate with others, if I am failing to better myself or become a better world citizen. There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. My path may change, my goals have not.


Make sure you leave an appropriate App Store review. They'll see the post-update cratering of the star rating and it might spur a change.


That is an excellent point. Thank you for the reminder!


Good reminder!!


I think they'll include something like 1 free streak freeze / month for premium (paying) users in the future (they've said something along these lines / are thinking about it). They always seem to be quite slow with additions or try to implement them gradually.

I'm going to wait till I ever get the health system before making too many statements about it. But I do wonder if complaints just stem from an aversion to change or whether there are some (big) issues with the system. Issues there will be for sure though (no system is perfect).


$10 a month is absurd though. Babbel is half that and is, in my opinion, quite a bit more extensive. I like DL like I said but I'm personally not willing to go with all these changes.


And you can quite easily get a further discount for 6 - 12 months of Babbel. Even though I haven't used it since when I bought my last Babbel subscription of 1 year in december, I've paid 33.3€ (37$) for it. Which is 2.78 € / month or 3.1 $ / month. (1€ is currently about 1.12$)

But Babbel has some issues too. Firstly, it's premium is for just one language. "Babbel complete" (all languages) costs 96€ = 8€ / month (only a year's worth is possible) and they purposely try to hide the option too. Their 1 month for 1 language price is also rather high at 10€ / month (if you're not willing to commit to a longer term).

The biggest issue in my opinion is that their lessons are waaaaay too slow, to a point where i get annoyed by it very quickly. It's at a slow student or kid speed, often without an option to speed it up (enough). Babbel bores me easily.

A plus of Babbel: good sound quality (better than Duolingo). The "more extensive" seems to be true. By their own count they have a voc of 3000+ words, while I think it's actually even more (at least for some languages).

Another downside is that they sometimes try to misdirect their users. For example, they send an email pretending to give you a special discount or free months while in reality no discount is given but the usual price for longer term premium. (they however do give real discounts sometimes)

For anybody thinking about Babbel: get an account, and click on buying premium, go up to the paying page but don't complete it. Next wait a few days, perhaps redo an incomplete payment attempt and keep on waiting. Sooner or later you'll get a nice discount (50%) - not for the "complete" package though :(. That's how I had gotten my first premium which was a personal offer of 3 months + 3 for free (20€), the 2nd discount premium I bought (12 months) was a "global" offer (for everybody). I've received the first personal discount offer a day after checking out premium but not completing the payment process (as I wasn't willing to pay the price).

Edit: I don't think 10$ / month is absurd. But I also do think that it's not what I'd value Duolingo at either. But 10$ could be worth it when more features get added.


I understand that seems frustrating. I however do not think paying for access to Duolingo is at all worth the complaint.

The complaint is that a gimmick costs more in game currency, however that gimmick has nothing to do with the experience of Duolingo. It doesn't have an impact on learning the language any better or worse.

At the same time, the lingot system NEEDS a change. They are ridiculously easy to accumulate and are near useless, currently the only thing I can actually use them for is the little gambling for more of them which is pointless. I suppose I could spend the lingots on streak freezing but I have no use for that. I would buy more app only costumes before buying a streak freeze but that would require they come out with more of them.


The changes overall make for an objectively worse experience for users. It's like they looked at the very worst ideas from free-to-play apps and decided that's exactly what they want their app to be like.

And had the gall to claim they're improvements.


Considering that the experience is not worse for users, but rather certain parts of the experience are worse for a certain group of users, I disagree with the use of the word "objectively" here. Such a phenomena is known as "subjective".


For those that have received the update, their pseudo-currency buys significantly less than before, and there are new restrictions (health).

As there are no positive changes to counterbalance those, I think it's quite fair to say that it is objectively worse for them.


I agree with you, StephieRice.


If they're going to make drastic changes, they could at least TALK to us about them. Duolingo used to communicate really well with their users. I miss those days.


Duolingo used to communicate really well with their users.

I must have missed that period of time (maybe they were before 2013?)... :(


Honestly, it probably was that long ago. I used to report issues with lessons and get a response within a day or two. Now I'm lucky to get any response at all.


Go to the website on your phone and check there the website is still in lingots (today)


For now. If they don't get told how much we hate it, they'll "improve" the website too.


Yes, someone else already recommend scoring the app down in the istore which is what I've been pushing. That and don't use the iOS app use the mobile website instead


"improve" got it.


Luis refuses to acknowledge all these complaints because only a tiny fraction of DL users will leave... what does 200 more or less matter to them? As long as they're making money...


This looks like mind reading...unless you have facts--not opinions--to prove your claim about Luis. Do we really have the ability to read someone else's mind?


I'm just stating from what I've seen from the discussions. (The many, many discussions.) If you know otherwise, then please say so.


I hear you. I dealt with the ads and even the little bit if paid content. I would gladly pay for an extended tree. I pay for memrise with no complaints there. But I screamed when I saw my lingdots converted into gems. I might delete the app and just use the desktop version.


First thing first: I know that you find "Streak freezes" to be very important. But the truth is that, although a good motivator, the courses remain the same with or without that number, so that wouldn't get duolingo out of the "100% free learning" category. On the other side, there are those annoying bonus skills. And they are no more achievable for free. So, here goes the "100% free education" out of the window.

PS: Although annoying, I must stress out that the Idioms that I learned in German helped "a lot", and I mean "A LOT!!!" with my, let's say... integration in Germany.


I kinda wish they would update Duolingo so we can practice talking in another language to an AI so not only can we practice writing and typing in another language but speaking it as well


This is ridiculous! Finally i found an enjoyable way to learn a new language and then this s**t happens! really? If this doesnt change soon, gonna switch to some program that is at least more open about costs. It rather pay a subscription than be penalized for getting answers wrong.

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