Duolingo and dyslexia: common issues & solutions
Dyslexic language student here!
Learning a language as somebody with dyslexia can be very challenging, but also extremely rewarding--if you can progress and succeed in something you know is supposed to be very challenging for people like you, you can be confident that you can succeed in almost anything you put your mind to!
As I've started to reengage with language learning recently, I've been using Duolingo alongside other programs and resources. I've been so happy with the speed at which I am progressing.
However, I have noticed that one or two features of Duolingo are not so dyslexia-accessible.
For example--when using the app on my phone, I'm often answering those questions where you arrange words in bubbles to create the correct translation. Sometimes I get the words in the wrong order even though I've clearly understood the sense. E.g. "The man in is the shop". It's not that I think words go in that order (and if typing I would never make this mistake) its just that dyslexia can impact my ability to order and distinguish similar shapes when thinking at speed. The problem feels very artificial; one I'd never encounter in the real world.
There are some discussion threads about similar issues that already exist, but they're all a few years old, meaning that nobody is responding or viewing them anymore, and the software has changed.
Please comment below if you encounter challenges with using Duolingo software due to your dyslexia. If you can, be proactive and think of what solutions might be possible for the issue.
e.g. for my issue: What if there was a that you could tick a box to tell Duolingo you're dyslexic, giving you certain allowances? Can the algorithm be altered to accept minor word order issues in those bubble questions?
I have exactly the same problem, and most reccently getting the same question wrong multipe times because I cannot spell beautiful especially not in a timed condition, and chosing two super similar looking words, I can see why the spellings and word orders do have to be marked wrong quite strictly to ensure we do actually understand but it does suck sometimes
Thanks for your quick reply! I have that issue too, I get my 'i' and 'e' the wrong way round when writing words like 'receive', especially in timed practice. I appreciate the typo function when typing in the language you're learning (it's something I think Duolingo does a lot better than other programs), but I wish it could extend a bit more into your native/fluent language that you are translating into.
I also understand why they're strict, it does make sense. I guess just find it strange that the program would assume that you would have such a basic problem with word order in the language that you speak fluently/proficiently enough to learn a language in.
Yh i see your point i wish we could have the benefit of the doubt for our native langauge, i think i have made more mistakes due to english than spanish, especially due to the very phonetic spelling of Spanish, may not be able to say the same of French though. In class I used to constantly pronounce huit as hut xD
Hmm that point about pronunciation got me thinking even more... There's been recent research suggesting that dyslexia is related to difficulties hearing and distinguishing sounds. This is probably why I found French so hard--the vowels are intense!
If you could somehow tell Duolingo that you're dyslexic, maybe they could increase the frequency of oral questions because we are likely to find pronunciation more challenging.
That is interesting I had never heard that before but if it is the case it means there is plausibly quite easy ways to greatly improve accessibility for dsylexics which is pretty cool
I have dyslexia too and it can be hard when my brain just sort of gives up trying to spell anything, lol. I'm glad Duolingo has the "almost right" feature but it's frustrating when you can't spell right, especially in timed practice. Learning syllables and spelling rules help a bit but it's not always enough and takes practice. And then I personally will sometimes forget to write entire words and "skip" them. Especially the tiny monosyllabic ones.
The best I can suggest for dyslexics on here is to make sure your spell checker is on (which is what I do) because that will save up some frustration. They used to have a Duo-lexia userscript on here but from what I heard it doesn't work now. :(
Hey! I've not heard of Duo-lexia, what did it do exactly? Shame that it doesn't work anymore.
Timed practice seems to be a pretty common issue for dyslexic learners. At school and university I've always had the option to ask for accommodations like extra time in timed test conditions. I'm thinking that concept could be adapted so easily for timed practice. If you could tell Duolingo that you're dyslexic, then you could maybe get extra time in timed practice--like starting a session with 45 seconds or something similar. What do you think?
Duo-lexia used to be an add-on for the computer that helped those with dyslexia type. Most of the Duolingo add-ons aren't working anymore because Duolingo has been changing their program and the add-ons were made by people who were not part of Duolingo.
And yes having the extra seconds would be useful. Even for those without dyslexia but type very slowly. Sometimes I will spell things wrong three times in a row and then get a sentence I can't type quickly without messing it up.
Is this the Duo-lexia extension that you're talking about? Duolexia on GitHub
If so, I can try to get a replacement going. From the looks of it, a CSS stylesheet via Stylish should be sufficient. Might take some time to try to get working, depending on what hooks became broken, but I can try a few things and see what happens.
Just a suggestion - the website doesn't use the "pick the words in the right order" exercise.
That's definitely true--but the risk of repeating a response that I hear a lot on these forums, sometimes people want to use Duolingo at times when they don't have access to a computer.
They should have it on the web because it helps with grammar as well. I used to use my tablet a lot for this reason but I switched to computer because I like challenging myself and I wanted to learn how to type on a computer's keyboard in some languages.
Full disclosure, I don't have dyslexia. That being said, some friends have given me anecdotes supporting font swapping. I know fonts can play a part in dyslexia, so trying different fonts might help.
Now, this doesn't help for users of the app, but the font of the website can be swapped out either using a browser extension (such as OpenDyslexic for Chromeor a CSS stylesheet. CSS stylesheets can be implemented with an extension like Stylish for Chrome or for Firefox
An extension like OpenDyslexic would apply to any website you visit, whereas a stylesheet through Stylish only applies to that one site (though, a universal stylesheet should be supported in the browser directly).
Here's a list of recommended fonts to try with stylesheets. If anyone wants to try using a different font with a CSS stylesheet but don't know how, let me know and I'll write a guide for it (didn't have the time as of writing this.) Just be aware that not all fonts support all ligatures or writing systems, so that can impact some languages. That being said, the more popular fonts should be mostly/completely fine.
Now, I think it would be awesome of Duolingo had native support for swapping between fonts for dyslexia and other purposes but in the mean time, extensions and stylesheets will have to do.
That's great, thanks!
One thing I guess we all have to keep in mind is that dyslexia is often used as a catch-all for all kinds of challenges.
Personally I've never had issues with fonts but I'm sure that there are loads of folks who would find these sorts of resources very useful.
I have a dual form of dyslexia. I cannot seem to master typing in Spanish. All the other exercises I can do well at. Would love a way to turn off the free typing or I will soon need to abandon the app.
I have dyslexia as well, and the worst part of using Duolingo is that I cannot for the liffe of me see any difference between an I and l. I'm not going to say which is which to prove my point.
I don't have dyslexia, and in the font used there the difference is really hard to see. The l has a teensy weensy hook at the bottom, at least as it shows up on my phone, but I think the font's a bit different in the desktop, and they're even more alike.