Replace fluency percentage with number of words target ?
I've seen a number of people commenting that the percentage of fluency is not that useful or responsive to practise using Duolingo. I've also read that the number of words you have learnt and mastered significantly dictates how 'fluent' you will be in day to day life. 1000 words is 85% of daily life and 3000 is 98%. Therefore should one of the many targets incorporated into Duolingo be the word count and keep those words well practised, rather than the fluency percentage ?
Before this post, I was at a loss understanding what information the percentage of fluency was based on. And frankly I still think it's a bit nutty, attaching a percentage on something that's infinite. Still, I'm a sucker for competition, self-competing, and in way this silly fluency rating spurs me on.
However, it's really very empty. If the fluency rating is based on word count like you said, I don't believe word count is much help, since the number of words you know is really only the first part of understanding a language. Grammar is essential because grammar provides structure and context for not just for words, but thoughts and concepts. And the third element is idiom, which to me is really where language comes to life. Idiom contains history, culture, playfulness, nuance and true communication in a living language. And yet that's the hardest part to teach.
The bots and the stories that Duolingo is playing with provide a really good direction I think, but no doubt they require a great deal of coding and scripting. I'm really beginning to yearn for more sophisticated back and forth, as you might get in an immersion class. The bots and stories I think are inching toward that. Getting comfortable using the language on the fly, to organize thoughts and processing information in another language is really where fluency comes in. Not just the number of words you know.
I think this would be a great change to Duolingo. You're correct that the current fluency meter is essentially useless. It'd be great if they could somehow implement the feature that you describe in such a way that the count only includes "mastered" words, rather than just words that you've been exposed to in the course.