On starting again, after losing a streak
I loved my streak. It was super motivating and I received positive feedback for the ever increasing numbers displayed. For me, having it was a big reason why I was able to keep coming back, day after day even when I was tired, or sick, or on vacation. Some people don't need external motivation, and they are often eager to share that fact whenever anyone mentions a streak. For me, however, I needed a bit of assistance to stay on task. Learning a language was important but, due to a brain injury, often frustrating. But, I had a partner, a streak, that was going to help me get through it.
So, cue back to almost a year ago. I was laid up in bed, sick. I had a streak freeze solidly in place. Waking up, I thought, ok, it covered me yesterday so I need to get another freeze or else try to sit up and focus long enough to do a lesson today. I had a prickling sensation in my spine. Had I been in bed for most of two days or three? The prickling feeling turned into a sinking feeling as I thought, that actually I might have been in bed for three. Loading up Duolingo confirmed my suspicious. I had just lost a 980 day streak. And that was that.
I decided to focus on moderating and other things and give language learning a break. Between now and then, I've had maybe a 7 day streak at best when I was helping out as an alpha tester. I studied a bit of sign language off line, but, even that seemed to have dropped off. There were just many other things to focus on and do that weren't language learning. (In some ways, losing my streak had been liberating. I no longer had to keep my backpacking trips under three days!) But also, in a big way, I had lost my drive. I felt like I had failed a project and 980 days might as well have been 980 pounds that had landed on top of me, holding me down.
Present day: I just looked up and realized I had a 19 day streak. It's an interrupted streak. I've forgotten several days as I've had other things on my mind. But, I had a streak freeze handy. Why a streak freeze? Because I find the climbing numbers comforting. It doesn't feel the same as it used to. It doesn't feel imperative to have an unending streak. It feels more imperative that I finish the Japanese beta tree and build some learning guides for it. So, I figure I'll keep the streak as motivation to get there. After that, I might even let it fall off again for a while.
It feels like a relief to have come back and to have set an attainable goal other than a streak that lasts forever. I wouldn't go back and change my initial pursuit of a forever streak (Well, 12 years isn't forever. But, a 4,444 day streak feels pretty close.) But, coming back to learning a year later and growing a new streak with a smaller goal has it's own feeling that is satisfying in its own way.
So, if you lost your streak and are feeling crushed under the weight of it, I hope you'll consider coming back at some point for a language that excites you. Either the one you were working on, or a new one. It's ok to set a different kind of goal for the next time around. :)
PS, so I don't lose this post again, here are tips on how to keep your language goals from holding you back from meeting them.
Thank you for sharing this.
I used to lost a 376 day streak but I couldn't think optimistically like you.
I feel ashamed of myself, because then I was completely broke, I was depressed and just wanted to give up while you are simply ready to start over.
Anyway, Thank you so much!
Enjoy learning! ^_^
Don't feel ashamed. I took most of a year off. It can be hard to get back on track.
And, it looks like you're already getting back into studying. ^_^ I see that you are Level 2 in High Valyrian. Was it the inspiration that's brought you back? Also, how is it so far? Have you found something about the sounds or grammar yet that you like?
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your insights and these lovely pictures!
Did you hear me blush when I read that there are people who "eagerly" tell about their intrinsic motivation? ;-) Because this is something I (among others, phew ...) do.
I do this because I tend to be upset, discouraged and saddened by external factors, too. In these situations, it helps me enormously to remind myself what my actual, "inner", goals are. And this is something that I try to communicate here, too. (And, for my own happiness, I simply break my own streak from time to time, just to avoid that trap).
Have a wonderful week, everyone! :-)
Thank you :-) No, I wouldn't want to put anyone down -- there's a sufficient amount of suffering in the world, and I wouldn't want to add to it if I can help it.
I don't use "I don't need a streak" as a value judgment because I definitely know that I have several areas in my life where I would need "some kind of streak" to get things done. Since those areas don't have a streak, I have huge difficulties managing them. :-(
So it would be very hypocritical if I criticised people for "needing a streak" here, on Duolingo, when the area of learning is -- due to my unrelenting curiosity -- the one area in which I get something done relatively easily, without extrinsic motivation.
My focus is rather on encouraging people to look beyond the streak when I see that they are unhappy due to the loss of a streak. I hope that I have been able to communicate this sufficiently well.
I partially see streaks as a public influence. Streaks are prestigious. Imagine a scenario like this:
A user with two or more high level languages and a 314 day streak makes yet another topic on the Duolingo forum about "bring features to the app" or "fix the crappy gems update" (seriously these have to stop).
A second user with a level 7 Spanish, a level 2 German, and a six day streak makes a post on the forum about "requesting Finnish please" (these have to stop too).
Both types of posts overpopulate the forums, but the poster with the streak will get an incredible surplus of upvotes compared to the other.
Now as Exhibit 2, let's look at me:
Level 10 French
Level 9 Swahili
Level 8 Spanish
Level 2 German
A one day streak I probably won't be able to keep
How well do I rate in the public? I'm definitely not near the bottom, but I'm not the higher class either. My beautiful profile picture definitely helps a ton. But the thing is, people don't see that I have been on and off of Duolingo for over four years now, they don't see that I have had five 40+ day streaks, and they don't see that I have hundreds of upvotes on various posts I have done
Users with streaks a seen as a higher class, are trusted more, and are, frankly, more popular. I'm not trying to say streaks are bad, just they give an automatic positive reputation that is sometimes undeserving.
Apologies for poorly structured thoughts and sentences. Here's a picture of Usagiboy's old profile pic to make it all better:
Some people don't need external motivation, and they are often eager to share that fact whenever anyone mentions a streak.
For some people, getting 1-10xp a day is an accomplishment. And, people who don't understand that don't have the same struggles. It must be nice not to be in the same situation. And, it is a bit thoughtless to assume that when other people get 1-10xp a day it would be for the same reason you would. Is it more of an accomplishment if a person breezes through 300XP a day for a year, or for a person to finish 1 lesson a day for a year and struggle with it each time?
Congratulations on not needing a streak and being insensitive when bragging about it.
That was not how I was trying to come across at all. I didn't explain myself well enough and my first paragraph did sound pretty insensitive and thoughtless, so I removed it.
My point about the 0-10xp is to the people who just strengthen a Basics 1 every day just to maintain a streak, not the ones who struggle with lesson after lesson.
Most streaks are well deserved. But also, most streaks have negative effects too, like the ones you mentioned. Once a streak becomes a number and not a learning motivation, it isn't beneficial.
Congratulations on not needing a streak
I don't see where I said "I don't need a streak". I did mention that I can't maintain a streak, but I have enjoyed every streak I've ever had. If I can stay commited to my streak, then I will.
Thanks a lot for posting; it was a bit motivating to read this!
Losing a streak can be hard sometimes, but sometimes having a streak can be a very heavy burden as well. Although I haven't yet lost a steak, I acknowledge how hard it is to lose it. Simply keep in mind that we all lose at some point, but we won't lose what we've learned. A streak can really be a good motivator, and when losing one, it's common that people will possibly take a break from learning.
Good luck with your new journey, Usagiboy7! You'll surely reach far, and I hope you can reach the goal you're wishing to reach someday! You've done such great things for the community, and your story is very inspiring!
Thank you for sharing this, it is encouraging. I never intended to have a long streak, it is just that I cannot let it go. OK, for a day, even two with a weekend streak freeze, but then I am here again. I do not know what will happen when it is gone. Maybe I would just continue and build a new streak, maybe I would move on to something new. But I've already decided that I won't be sad ;-)
I've never really got a streak going before the beginning of this year. I've frequented Duolingo since 2013, but somehow hadn't gotten a streak up until this year. I do agree with your statement that climbing numbers are comforting, and I'd previously manifested that in starting lots of little courses and watching the levels go up as I got my toes wet in the depths of another interesting and bewildering language. However, through time I've found that while learning new languages to small degrees is very interesting, it isn't really useful in helping me to reach a proficient level in any - the highest actual qualification I have in a foreign language is A2 German, despite having worked for many hundreds of hours on Duolingo and other language-learning software. So this year, I made a goal to keep a streak and focus on one language at a time until I felt I was really comfortable with all of the content of the tree. Now I'm nearly at 200 days, and although I haven't stopped exploring languages just a little bit, I do feel much more contented that I can keep a little fire kindling while learning all the while :)
I hope I won't lose this streak, but I know when I do, I can just build a new way inspired by people like you :) Thank you for being on Duolingo - you really do make the community a better place whether or not you have a streak!
When I took my first language course, I feel like I would have had a lot less learning anxiety (and from that a wall of perfectionist frustration) if I had started by sampling a lot of languages with no pressure to finish them. I had no idea how to learn a language with any sort of grace towards ambiguity. Instead, I felt like the first time I encountered something I had to immediately learn it, instead of building familiarity over time.
It's great that you adjusted your strategy to fit your needs at various places along your language journey. It's a good approach to take. :)
Thank you ^_^
You are not the only person to think that. I am fascinated by the number of folks who think I am military affiliated due to the username. O.O Also, a ton of people think the bunny in my icon is an elephant or another thing. But, I don't recall what the other thing was. :)
I love this post. Losing a streak, no matter what some users may say, can be very disappointing, especially if you're like me and think beyond the numbers. When I lost my 180 day streak, I was in shock. But then I forgave myself, and realized I could start again, make a longer one. Plus, the weekend I lost it, I was having so much fun, and that's what mattered to me then (and now!). The next time I lost my (much lower) streak, it was a difficult reminder of how I was simply not being on Duolingo enough to keep it. So I left for a couple of months, and now I'm back! Hopefully this streak will last for a while, but if it doesn't I think I'll be okay with that. Contentment is a hard place to reach, but we can do it.
P.S. Me and my little brother loved the adorable bunny pictures!
I lost a years worth from my streak
But that was because I had no longer access to a computer
It is nice to have a computer
But countryside so much nicer
got doughnuts to keep motivated
A streak can be used for motivation, as you said. Every number that gets added to the streak everyday is something your brain notices, and rewards you for.
I wonder if it might also be nice to, along with showing the streak, place a visible number on how long you've spent on Duolingo, or how much EXP you've gained altogether. This might just give another reason to work hard on Duolingo.
Thanks for sharing!
I lost a 564 days streak back in December. I actually went through the five stages of grief because I was so upset. The day I found out I lost it, I told myself that I had to try again. My goal is to reach 1,000 days for my streak and so far I'm doing pretty well. Once you fall you got to get back up again.
P.S. Those bunnies were very adorable. I want a pet bunny now! :D
That is a big streak! And, it looks like you have made pretty good inroads to reaching your new goal. :)
If you do get a bunny, don't get just one. They are social creatures and can get depressed and have mental health problems if they are isolated. And ignore the pet store if they try to offer you a cage for it to live in full time. It's best to bunny-proof your house (Do some internet research and protect any wires/cords!), potty train your bunnies, and raise them to have free reign like indoor cats and dogs. Happy bunnies are healthy bunnies. ^_^
I love my streak! I've wanted to learn Spanish for so long and I think the streak is what is finally different for me this time. I'm about to reach 100 and it's so exciting!
I had a friend visit a few weeks ago from the UK, and there was a few days where I wouldn't think to practice until after midnight, thankfully the streak freeze was always there. I spent nearly 60 lingots during that period on freezes, and completely worth it!
I've only been on Duolingo for 2,5 months, but it has taken a very significant place in my life. Things are not going as they should, and I find it very difficult to maintain even the simplest of habits or chores. Duolingo, with its daily reminder (on the app) was somehow moving me to do it every day, especially when it proposed the 7-day wager.
When I lost my streak after a month, I was so angry with myself - why couldn't I even keep up this tiny daily task? It took me over a week to start again, as I figured it no longer mattered 'if I do it today or tomorrow'. I am glad I started again.
In a very weird way, this streak is the only thing that keeps me going - and not just on Duolingo. It's not as long as it could have been, but it works like a scar: it serves as a reminder that I've made mistakes, but also that I've overcome them.
Thank you for this post! (the bunnies helped a lot!)
When I started Duolingo I was in a really bad place too. I've been here several years now, and fortunately, my life is looking better now. It still has it's upsets, and I'm still ill. But, parts of it have improved. I hope you will also look back and be able to see improvements in your life.
In general, I find maintaining habits difficult too. And, sometimes I feel badly about that. But, feeling badly about it hasn't necessarily made me better at maintaining habits or doing chores. :P So, I've been trying to do what I can and go with the flow when I can't and try to be gentle on myself. I only push myself in degrees that are healthy. Beyond that, it is counter productive. I don't know if that helps you at all. But, I hope you will strive for Duolingo to just be a good thing for you. :)
Thanks for posting this. I'm in the odd position of knowing I'm about to lose a 208 day streak. I've looked at ways around it, but short of handing my email password to someone else (not going to happen), it is inevitable. I'm heading into the mountains for a week, thus no internet connection. I tried creating a new gmail account, but it seems DL is linked to one account and one account alone. This is sad (it's also annoying, as it's preventable if DL would only sell week-long streak freezes - I've got the lingots, ❤❤❤❤❤❤!). I find the streak feature the main motivation for keeping me focused to do a lesson almost every day. And keeping some lingots handy to buy the occasional streak freeze for those weekend mountain trips. It is disappointing that DL doesn't seem to realize that the streak thing is probably the major motivator for keeping folks disciplined enough to make this learning app worthwhile. The best I can hope for is to start again from scratch, with a dedicated email addy for DL, one that I can hand over to a friend who can buy a new freeze for me every two days I am away. I'm hoping I have the discipline to come back to DL at all, now, however.
I have a new attitude with streaks. I understand the purpose behind them as a motivational strategy. However, I have lost some big ones and was super disappointed and a bit angry as well. Then I decided, these tings happen. Life gets in the way sometimes. A family member has major surgery, the cat was put to sleep - life happens and you might lose that streak. So ultimately, as long as you love to keep learning you will. Losing a silly streak shouldn't change the joy you have in learning a new language. For me just deciding "what the heck" has been very liberating and I am still motivated and do my lessons regularly with an occasional "oops!"
I don't know if those are examples of things that have happened in your life, but, if so, I am so sorry. Those are rough things to experience.
As for my experience with the streak, I think it was easier to become less attached after losing my big streak. That first long streak served a vital function, getting me used to making Duolingo a regular part of my life. Without the streak being so central in the beginning, I don't think I'd still be here just because I tend to wonder from thing to thing and I don't always wander back. It was tied more towards building consistency with the website than language learning for me. I'm glad that you and I have both returned after losing our streaks. :)
Don't get discouraged. Even just a little bit of knowledge in another language, just a few words even, can make a difference. Here is an example. What I don't mention in that post, is that with my small amount of knowledge in another language, kicked off the effort by posting a call for help on my facebook page in Spanish and English. My Spanish was rough, there were errors, but it was enough. That message got shared across the globe, translated into different languages. And we found a match for the blood transfusion. So, don't give up. Learning a language is like making a friend. It can take time to become familiar. And not all friends will be best friends. Some will just be acquaintances. But, we can still make a connection of some sort or other. And that connection can be enough to save a life, with even just a few words. :)