1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Managing skill decay.


Managing skill decay.

The only discussions I've found about managing skill decay are a few years old so I thought I'd ask about it for my current situation. Basically, skills are decaying so fast I'm having to spend hours each day keeping the golden. What's surprising me the most is that the basics are decaying really fast and I'm having to redo them daily. This has forced me to leave most of the skills in the bottom half of the tree completely empty. I'm thinking of just redoing them when I get back down that far.

Is it true that skills decay slower the more you strengthen them? I'm not sure I've seen this actually happening. If so, what's a good amount of skills to strengthen per day?

In that case I'm also wondering if I've been going through new skills too quickly. I've been generally doing one day.I started Duolingo in January (of 2017) and am almost at the bottom of the German tree. Before Duo I'd studied German from middle school through college (and lived in Germany for a couple years) so I ended up trying to blaze through lessons until I got to material I genuinely hadn't covered.

Maybe a suggestion for a future feature might be some kind of test at the beginning of each course to gauge your level if it's a language you already have some knowledge of.

June 3, 2017



Some things to keep in mind:

You do not have to keep the tree gold. If you think you already know something well, you can skip it.

When you review, you might want to start from the bottom of the tree and work up. That will give you review in the skills you've learned more recently first and, critically, will also help you review some of the material you learned earlier. If you approach the tree this way, you are likely to find, from time to time, that you've strengthened not only the skill you were working on, but an earlier one, in the same review.

Doing a skill a day might well be contributing to your problem. That's a pretty fast pace and it means that reviews are likely to come up at a fast pace, as well. Spending so much time reviewing the earlier material that you fail to review the later may also contribute, because the rate of decay is based in part on how many mistakes you make and you are more likely to make mistakes with content you haven't reviewed at all.

That said, anecdotally, there seems to be a very wide range in people's experience of the rate of decay of the tree. Your tree seems to be decaying at a particularly fast rate - if you've been reviewing the earlier skills on the tree regularly, in theory they should have stopped decaying on a regular basis long ago. Given your particularly fast rate of decay, it's probably particularly important that you rely on your common sense, rather than the color of the icons, to determine what you review when.


yeah this has been happening to me for Italian for a few times today I've had to redo the basics from the Italian course yeah


There IS a test you can take to gauge your level. When I started Duolingo French, I took a quiz and I got the whole first section already completed. Maybe you missed it or maybe they don't have that option on the German one.


In French (for English speakers) I would sometimes have 17 "fifths" or 20%s or bars from over a dozen skills decay on me. I would practice most of them, and the next day have the same situation. Just today, I did the Idioms skill in Portuguese and when I finished I was down to 60% in that skill. Very frustrating. I'll use the advice in this discussion and see if the trend slows down. Thank you for the facts and suggestions.


It is true that the more you strengthen the words of a skill, the slower they'll eventually decay.

I've been using Duolingo for three and a half years, with practice every day. I'm also only half way through the German tree, which is the only language that I learn here. As such, my skill bubbles almost always stay golden. About the only time I've seen one of my skills lose the gold is if I do only one "Strengthen Skills" practice per day for many weeks.

When I do work on a new skill bubble, I do each lesson more than once. I repeat the lesson until I believe that I've memorized everything in the lesson. When I complete the skill, I then do the Strengthen button in the skill a few times before moving on to the next skill bubble.


I always start from the bottom of the tree, so even if not gilding as quickly I continue to make errors/learn new things


Oh,. and I wanted to ask if my approach to doing the lessons was also having some kind of effect.

Usually if I come to a word I don't know, instead of looking at the translation I'll just skip or get it wrong so I can repeat it later. I find I'm able to memorize better if I do that, but maybe it's slowing down my progress in the system?

Also I'm quite prone to typos sometimes.


Peeking, once you've encountered a word before and the line under it is no longer yellow, is supposed to increase the rate of decay. Typos may be creating problems for you, since spelling errors also increase the rate of decay. If you're not already, you should also be trying to get the umlauts right. (As well as any other diacritical marks German has, but I don't remember any others offhand.)


It's possible. If you peeked at the word, only that word's strength would be negatively affected. Just getting a sentence wrong or skipping, it might well dock the strength for all the words in the sentence.


There have always been plenty of discussions about this, but the number seems to have gone up still further in the past few weeks. (scroll through the Troubleshooting board if you want to find some)

Review what you think needs reviewing. Duolingo is set up to cater to absolute beginners. It can still do a great deal for those with more experience, but a lot of the set-up certainly isn't as honed. Yes, there is a placement test it looks like you might have missed somehow, and you can quiz out of individual lessons. But, still, it's limited, and the best advice, as stated above, is certainly to use your own common sense.

I suspect there is active testing of decay rates going on, and I'm guessing you've been assigned to a high decay rate test group. All the more reason to not pay it too much mind.


I wonder if the placement test wasn't available through the app. I was only aware of Duolingo through the app for a while before I realized there was a website.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.