Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

Perfect Example of Why the "Health" System is Extremely Ineffective

Foolishly and naively, I am hoping for someone from Duolingo to respond to this thread, but I'll settle for a good response from anyone who believes in the "health" system. I'm perfectly willing to change my mind if I hear a good argument.

Yesterday I got to the "Idioms" section of Spanish. This is difficult, as it's about long sentences that work together and not word pairs, matching pictures, or translating very short phrases. Because I wasn't just looking at each underlined word and typing in the English, but rather actually trying to learn each idiom in total, I made five mistakes pretty quickly and lost my health.

Duolingo stopped my lesson immediately. I had time, so I went to the practice section through the health meter, and did five practice sessions. NOT A SINGLE WORD of those five practice sessions related to anything in the idioms section or any of the mistakes I had made.

How is this helpful? How is this going to help me learn Spanish? What effect is this system meant to have other than to increase anxiety and get me to buy gems? I already pay $9.99 a month for the premium version, so am I not doing enough for the monetization of Duolingo? Can we at least not pretend that this is about anything but money?

Someone--from Duolingo, ideally, though I'm not holding my breath--please explain to me how I'm wrong and what benefits to my learning Spanish this experience is meant to have.

1 year ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/taliaandel

yes, I definitely agree with you. For school we do french, and every few days we do duolingo. However, we are often lets with no, or little health. That means all I can do is bots or strengthen, but i dont want to strenghtn, because i dont need revuew. if dont want to waste my class time doing reviews! Please, duolingo, get rid of halth

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien
ISpeakAlien
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 6
  • 550

The idea that Duolingo for Schools has Health is really bad for a supposedly effective language learning service.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jimnicholson
jimnicholson
  • 24
  • 24
  • 22
  • 14
  • 8
  • 8
  • 2
  • 2
  • 1287

I believe Duolingo for Schools features are web only - so no health.

If, however, students are using iOS mobile devices, that is their choice I guess. Unless the school is making them use the mobile devices.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete
psionpete
  • 25
  • 21
  • 21
  • 20
  • 19
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 1722

I don't want to strengthen because I don't need review

That is exactly why the health function was developed. Lots of people rushed through their tree without review of older skills and when they finished there was lots of words and grammar they had forgot because they did want to review them.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoshiLikes
YoshiLikes
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

Honestly, this needs a POSITIVE 7 score. Its very helpful and a lot better than other answers.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien
ISpeakAlien
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 6
  • 550

Cancel your subscription. I recently found out that someone I know who used to have Health no longer has it, so they might be starting to remove it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

That is GLORIOUS news. Thank you!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien
ISpeakAlien
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 6
  • 550

The bad news is that Health is enabled when you're using Duolingo without an account.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/benhamil

Use the web version of DL instead of the app. The health feature only exists in the apps.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien
ISpeakAlien
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 6
  • 550

It's only on the iOS app.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

That is true. However, why should there be such radical differences between the mobile versions and the web version? Absurd!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
  • 23
  • 15
  • 10
  • 697

I tested the Android app on Bluestacks (Android emulator).
The app version I tested also had no such IOS things like health / gems etc.

One of the later versions seems to switch the strengthen excercise to a "Timed practice" excercise instead of a normal one (like on the web version).
You might get around this issue by installing a bit older apk app version from the archive sites.

UPDATE: It has been said in two other threads that the latest Android version has again removed the annoying timer practice (completely) and switched back to normal practice mode.
I updated / re-installed it and I can confirm this.


However, I would not encourage you to use the app for strengthening anyways, because of the reasons I listed here (German text): https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23135604$comment_id=23199126

Multiple-choice and tapping excercises do not really test IMHO your RECALLING rate, but only "test" if you can select one correct answer (eliminate the other options or even guessing by selecting one option) or REMEMBER some words.

The same is being testing to translate from your L2 target language to your native language (e.g PT-EN / PT-DE).
What is very important is the testing of your RECALL rate from your native L1 source language (DE/EN) to the L2 target language (e.g PT).

This is one of the reasons I heavily make use of Memrise user scripts from Cooljingle, like "all typing" to review vocabulary.

"Learning mode" (multiple choice, tapping, and finally 1-2 typed sentences), mixed L1/L2 translation tests should be IMHO different than "Reviewing mode".

As you are typing (e.g DuoLingo web interface) and you make some errors, because you were not 100% RECALLING the L2 PT sentence (all words correctly), you will learn.

I only use the mobile apps from time to time to learn new words / sentences in the first round (you progress faster and make easier XP points - the same is true for the Memrise Android app to learn new words/levels).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gatiquo
gatiquo
  • 25
  • 25
  • 24
  • 23
  • 21
  • 18
  • 1385

This entire health procedure was clearly not thought through well. It is an impediment to progress in learning. Personally, I would not buy health.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

Holly, I get it. I was an educator for 36 years, and the entire health system is counterproductive and destroys motivation.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

Yeah. Two homeschooler mom friends of mine have given up on Duolingo after their kids got frozen in the middle of lessons. It really sucks.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

Yeah, it does suck! And even more so when someone is virtually at the end of a lesson, only to be shut out. Furthermore, the user leaves discouraged. For example, I am retired and sit at Starbucks ever morning JUST completing review lessons. Because of the foolish consequences, I will not attempt a new lesson until I'm in front of my computer. Again, that makes no logical sense. Holly, there are TEN MILLION users at least. So on the low end, charge $5.00 per year and that is 50 million dollars gross income. However, Luis has represented operating costs of $60,000 per day. Okay, I'll account for that overhead. That equates to 2.2 million in overhead. Thus subtract the overhead from the gross. The results are obvious! Someone is not being forthcoming.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
  • 23
  • 15
  • 10
  • 697

Pardon, why should a mom even try to encourage their kids using an Iphone and an app?
Because they are sitting already the full day in front of that and therefore just trying to make use of that?

Now both moms have "given up completely on DuoLingo" even there is a working web interface (without all the IOS testing stuff) which you can use on a PC and normal browsers and which is IMHO more effective with the "tips & notes" sections and typing excercises?

I admit the DuoLingo web interface may be a little bit harder (recalling vs remembering retention rates; support "making user errors", learning something from your own errors, etc.).


Do you think DuoLingo top to down tree (with all skills locked and skills heavily relying on each other (previous words) in sequence) is the "best teaching" method to learn something in a more didactical way and which also strongly focuses in the first 3-6/9 months to learn the most important skills / words to maybe actively use the language for speaking / writing and trying to express your thoughts and feelings better sooner than later..... ...... or to follow one of the Polyglot suggestions "Speak from day 1"?

Maybe a really good didactical book developed by language professors, some interactions, active speaking, hearing native sound (vs TTS), drilling content, etc.,... in a group right at the table might be the better choice to see good results in 3-9 months?

I had found a website (blog) linking FSI / DLI material where they compare the available courses and try to highlight some of the points like drilling (repeating) of the content, excercises for classroom environments, etc.

I think anyways that DuoLingo, because of well-known limitations and strengthen / words list database bugs, shall (can) not be used only alone!

When I look at my Digital Publishing English/French language course CDs I can see that there are quite different concepts / ways to try to teach a language (interactive person dialogs, fill in 1-2 blanks in a sentence, showing recorded speaking percentage comprehension, maybe trying to teach phrases/sentences which you may be able to actually use, native recorded speaker/tutor)........

.....on the other side that seems to be too much to me for my zero French and I think I will happily return to DP once I have finished at least some French basic lessons on Memrise/Mondly/DuoLingo ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 6
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

When a phrase doesn't mean the same as the words alone, or its meaning can't be inferred from the words or from previously taught grammar rules, then contributors should add that meaning as a phrase hint, and you are alowed to report it, although it's true that many courses are quite abandoned becouse they already reached beta.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoshiLikes
YoshiLikes
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I have to disagree with you, the shortcuts are for those who already know the words. Those who do not know those words, use the normal setup. For I see why you want the shortcut to be easier, it makes it to fast and your learning won't be as effective. If you disagree with my statement, then thats fine. I hope to see you again.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

No short cuts are being promoted so you have little or no grasp of a reward system. The concept, now don't get lost, is to reward people for successful attempts. The reward enhances motivation and, therefore, promotes learning through a reward system. Why would anyone embark on a new section, when their chances are virtually impossible to complete it without fully depleting health? By the way, that is a rhetorical question.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoshiLikes
YoshiLikes
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

You have a fair point.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

Well thank you and I can provide a personal example. I was just working on a new lesson auf Deutsch. The primary vocabulary was new, but I plodded ahead and was making mistakes. That can be expected if one is not using a translation application as well. Why would anyone use a translation application in conjunction with Duo? Because . . . ( considering the mobile version ) the user is highly unlikely to complete the lesson. So, rather than use trial and error, the trial aspect is removed by using a translation application. Should that be the goal? That's a rhetorical question because the answer is that the goal should encompass the promotion of trial and error learning. But, the penalization is so severe, on would rather use a translation application than to be unilaterally stopped in the middle of a lesson. In my case, that is precisely what happened. From a psychological perspective, what does that promote? The answer is clear. A user will leave the mobile application and complete the lesson on the web just as I did. Another question is then brought to light. Is it educationally sound to literally have one standard for the mobile application and another standard for the web. Again, the answer is NO. Both forms of media should be consistent, but they are not. Luis has consistently blamed this on tabulated metrics relative to binge learning. I take exception here as well. No doubt, binge learning is ineffective, but it is not totally counterproductive. Why? Because the user has seen the vocabulary at least once No, I do not subscribe to binge learning, but one cannot say with complete conviction that it has absolutely no value. People are individuals with unique learning styles, thus making a blanket statement is naive at best. The key to learning is repetition. And studies show that it should be done in small amounts but repeated frequently. Thus, repetition is the key. We need some reality and Luis is espousing anything but reality.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zig_Zag_Wanderer

I don't think the idioms section is part of the main course. That could be why they don't turn up in practice. I must say I don't have the same health system (on Android and not updated), but my fluency sits at 1% all the time. I just ignore it, the lessons still work :)

I will probably be buying the subscription. I like the idea that duolingo allows so many people to use it for free. I don't see anything looking like a cash grab in what they do, quite the opposite, in fact.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

I completely understand that they have to make money; I just wish they wouldn't do it in ways that actively prevent learning. Wait until the first time you have to completely stop studying because you're doing what all learners do and making mistakes. Very demoralizing.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

Holly . . . the number of users is staggering. By charging each person ONLY $5.00 PER YEAR and deducting the daily operational costs, the profit margin would be in the billions of dollars. I have done the math.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pollyperki

You are brave.One lingot for you.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

BTW, the experience of using the Premium version vs. not is basically identical, but I pay it because I appreciate and benefit from Duolingo. Just don't expect to see fewer ads, to be allowed to make mistakes and keep learning, or anything else you may be used to from learning apps.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jenny06162007

There's no such thing as premium version. It's just a no-ads subscription. If it were a premium version, why can I access all of Duolingo without the "premium" version?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

I don't know what else to call it. I pay money and I still see ads. What word would you suggest?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zig_Zag_Wanderer

It's called duolingo plus. You get no ads, and you can download lessons for offline use.

If either of these do not work for you, I'd suggest contacting support and reporting it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chordata96
chordata96
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 3
  • 2

You said this right after she told you that she DOES get ads. Seriously?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jenny06162007

An optional subscription.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

Thank you; that's a good way to put it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elvper
elvperPlus
  • 25
  • 22
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 2
  • 841

The "idioms" skill is a rather poor example as these are quite different from all the other skills.

It is about more than money. There's plenty of people who rush through trees, who expect to become perfectly fluent in a language just by completing a tree. Thus they rush through it like there's no tomorrow, without even paying any attention to or even trying to remember what they're learning. These people are pretty much guaranteed to fail: after completing the tree they barely remember anything they've learned. Once they realize this they'll be highly demotivated. When you're demotivated, you will learn a lot slower and have a lower retention rate. Thus when rush-rush-rush without any review and without any regards to your actual progress or retention rate, you're strongly setting yourself up to fail.

The health system is ment to prevent such a thing from happening. In a bit of an exaggerated way you could see the health system as: "So you want to rush through without any revision eh? K, if you're not going to learn seriously anyway and set yourself up to fail, you can at least pay us for the resources we're wasting on you and also pay for the education of other while at it.".

Is the health system perfect? No. Does it have some downsides? Yes. But overall it's likely beneficial for students their retention rate - else it would most likely already have been removed. I also understand that it can be frustrating and it would probably annoy me too from time to time. But it's good to know that it's there for a reason.

Overall the system could work well when a) make it a bit dynamic (it might already be, I dunno) and b) add some features to support the system, i.e. replacing ~half of the reviews with quick+targeted revisions and c) make the value of system more clear to students. One thing I've noticed a lot is that people fail to see any benefits of the system.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hollymcloughlin

The idioms are a good example, in my view, because they require more than rote memory--they require the ability to think in the language, much more so than tapping memorized word pairs. The health system is so detrimental to actual learning because it stops you in the middle of making the mistakes that help you learn to do that and sends you back to memorizing random things that may or may not relate to what you're making mistakes on.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful reply. It seems to me that the hypothetical future regret of someone who possibly didn't benefit from Duolingo as much as they could have shouldn't outweigh the serious detriment to present learning expressed by dozens of non-hypothetical users whose studying is being affected negatively right now.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elvper
elvperPlus
  • 25
  • 22
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 2
  • 841

I disagree with you on that. Idioms are rather difficult ("should" only be learned after completing a tree in my opinion). I don't really think that they force you to think in a language since they're often not logical, but are rather a "weird set of words" that you need to remember.

non-hypothetical users

That the health system is detrimental is also hypothetical. But I would agree - through what I've heard - that "no health left" should be treated differently. Like allowing you to completely the exercise and then force reviewing - with the downside that this would inevitable have to include not resetting health over time as long as no reviewing is done.

1 year ago