https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

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Good morning, afternoon, evening, fellow learners...

Disclaimer: The following text is my own personal opinion, so I won’t be trying impose my opinion on users or staff. This’s not supposed to be a rant, but a constructive criticism. No disrespect meant, on the contrary I highly appreciate the elegance of this website and the effort that was invested in creating it. :)

First of all, CLUBS aren’t compensating any of the lost functions of streams. Regarding this, I don’t know where to start from; the inability of communicating directly with native speakers, contributors and moderators; or the restrictive nature of clubs! It’s even hard to share your club’s code with friends without streams.

The exclusivity of clubs makes them less useful; an example is, each club concerns one language. The inability to join more than club for the same language makes sense, but that means that friends would be dispersed amongst several different clubs especially with the restricted number of members.

Needless to say, that users would like to be in contact with other members who don’t necessarily share the same interest of languages or even staff/moderators in case of serious emergencies.

~SAFETY, SAFETY & SAFETY~ Moreover, it’s so obvious that clubs don’t enjoy that substantial privilege of transparency and overtness needed to keep this website a safe learning tool (i.e. posts can be seen be by everyone). If I were a parent, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting my child join some random club, that’s not subjected to the staff’s supervision.

The website is shifting strongly towards an app-only/like-style ignoring the vitality of the purpose of the website. From my very personal experience, this had led many of my friends to quit this website or just exercise the minimum amount needed per day to maintain their streaks. This has come along with the termination of immersion, which was in my personal subjective opinion the paramount of this learning tool.

Those users, so-called Duolingo Veterans, might have been that 0.5% users of immersion or whatever percent users of activity, they were also those who helped and guided new users, answered their questions, moderated and helped official moderators. I know a group of nice ladies here, who voluntarily dedicated their time to moderate young users accounts to make sure that they enjoy a safe learning environment.

Those users have helped new users to retain what they learn, to learn more effectively and kept numerous users from quitting prematurely. I hope that there were some statistics that would enlighten me if my notion was a certainty.

I don’t think streams would stand in the way of more new users, ads or new features. I can’t direct the staff into granting my wishes. However I’d like to ask them to take it in consideration, if there was a less costly way to bring streams back or any similar feature that serves the same purpose. For example, enabling streams for users who reached level 15 in a language or level 12 in two languages or so. This would make such features available for serious learners only.

We also still have the problem of translating from target language to English (this issue is more pronounced on the app). From a personal experience, the reverse trees didn’t helped much. Back when I used this website more than 3 years ago, sessions were harder and I was more able to retain more of what I learnt. A friend once advised to keep revising gilded skills, so I’ll get more translations into target language. It might work out, but it’s too exhausting & boring to overdo a skill. Besides committing a mistake once is sufficient to switch back to translating into English, which makes it more frustrating. (Don’t count on this, this’s a personal experience based on trial and error).

Another personal subjective opinion, that the overly simplified design of lessons on website makes it monotonous and less lively. It actually discourages me to use the browser to practice. I think this would push more users like me to use the app.

So some might wonder, if I was that unsatisfied, why wouldn’t I just quit? Duolingo has become a part of my life, I’ve even travelled through 4 countries in a month and managed to maintain my streak. I still try to support Duolingo financially. One shouldn’t just leave, but try to contribute and fix what’s broken. This contribution could be sometimes a constructive criticism. ;)

tl;dr Streams were an essential learning tool that used to provide the experience of communicating more effectively and efficiently with users. Other persistent issues regarding new design and level of difficulty of sessions, such as lack of translations into target language.

Have a nice weekend. Schönes Wochenende wünsche ich euch :)

Edit: I’m not against clubs, on the contrary I do support the idea. I was just pointing out that in terms of communication they aren’t as effective as streams. Streams contained useful features leveling up and completing skills were amazing and motivating. See what others are doing and how they’re progressing was not only motivating but entertaining. Thanks to AKicsiMacska for bringing those points up. :)

October 21, 2017

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AKicsiMacska

I really like the clubs, except that I cannot make announcements or anything except for in my french club.

In my Norwegian club, I was trying to make a post telling everyone that if they go weeks without getting a single XP, I would remove them from the club, because out of the entire 15 club members, 12 of them haven't gotten any xp since they joined. and I am one of the 3 that has.

I do partially agree about clubs not being safe for younger people, but as someone who isn't younger, it is kind of nice to not feel like people are constantly breathing down my neck.

And of Course (no pun intended), I miss the activity stream!! It was good for more than just talking to people,, it also showed when people level up (something clubs doesn't do) and when people accomplish things. (Clubs kind of do that, but it didn't say anything about me completing the tree, which was kind of disappointing)

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

I completely agree with you and like the way how you use clubs. :) I’m not against clubs, on the contrary I do support the idea. I was just pointing out that in terms of communication they aren’t as effective as streams. Especially if you want to communicate someone who’s not learning same languages or isn’t in your club.

The features that you talked about as leveling up and completing skills were amazing and motivating. I think that I should make a small edit based on your comment. If you don’t mind of course. Thanks a lot. :)

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MasterZsword

Many of the things you stated were things I wish more people would fearlessly emphasize.

My main issue with the disappearance of streams is that you can't directly notify a moderator about issues going on in the forums (spam, inappropriate activity, etc.). Also, you could directly communicate about a suspicious user (whatever the case may be). Without the streams, the efficiency of contact is lost. On another note, I know many people did not use the streams to actually practice their target language, as it was basically used as a system for idle chat. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing because I did make great connections with other users. And, I was more likely to ask questions concerning a language with them on the streams rather than the discussions for the very reason of friendship. Other than that, I can live without the streams.

Further, I really did find benefit from immersion, but I understand why it was removed. Many people say that they didn't like it, but for me I think people often take these wonderful features for granted. While I was in high school, it helped me with my reading comprehension so much, I can't accurately describe it. It helped me to actually grasp the general idea of an article rather than to translate mentally one word by another. Now, I'm using clozemaster to help me with this. However, immersion was a tool that benefited me and without it Duolingo, at least to me, lost 1% of its appeal. Though, I am still excited for future features.

The things about clubs is something unfamiliar to me because I don't use the app. Regardless, I'm glad you shared your opinions to the community. ^ ^

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

Thank you very much for your response and taking time to read my post. :)

In agree, a sent report to Duolingo might take time to be processed, while contacting a moderator directly would be visible to the moderator and other moderators. This’s can be very hand if there was an urgent matter, besides you might try to contact other moderators if you didn’t get a response in time.

I also used streams to idle chat and I’m of your opinion. It helped building good friendships and enriched the experience and the community greatly. People here are highly kind and supportive.

I couldn’t use immersion that well, due to time restrictions and to be honest I didn’t like it that much. However thinking about that, I know that it’d have benefitted me big time, if I’ve invested more time in it. It’s funny that immersion at certain point of time was the whole idea of Duolingo.

Clubs aren’t bad, on the contrary, but they don’t fill the shoes of streams. I’m glad to read your response as well and know that there’re users who share my concerns. Thank you! :)

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ifphigenia

@ Heidel.Berg I agree with you wholeheartedly, although there are many good things here there is no question that Duo has lost it's soul and it's deep sense of community. Those of us who know what Duo was like before are still painfully aware of the extent of what we have lost, newer users almost certainly do not miss what they never had, sad but true.

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

Thanks a lot, Ifphigenia! Those old features were the spirit of the learning experience. Let’s just hope for better new features. :)

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ifphigenia

We live in hope. :-))

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/baerba

I agree. I have been on Duolingo for nearly as long as it's been alive, over various accounts because I forget my information a lot. :) The streams were my favorite part of Duolingo. In my circle, we would have impromptu challenges to gain points and practice languages together, as well as just chat back and forth about life and random ponderings. Duolingo felt like a true community then, one that transcended language completely. I remember chatting with people all over the world, and building some close bonds that went past Duolingo (yes, I will admit we were a bit sneaky!). My longest online friend, I met here several years ago. She just sent me an email half an hour ago. :)

Immersion was also something I was sad to see go. It helped bolster my love for translation, and I met a lot of great people through our "translating parties". Thinking back on it, I remember there used to be a few immersion clubs! Oh, those were the days. Duolingo was not ever a true one-stop shop when it came to language, but I honestly believe it was much closer to that before the past couple of years.

Nowadays I just come back to refresh my knowledge of the languages of my choosing. I browse through the company-posted threads and see old friends still chugging along in the comments, but without any way to contact them 'privately' (aka through their stream), it's just a smile and I continue on. It doesn't feel as close knit to me anymore. Many old faces just do not appear. We all keep to ourselves, it seems. :(

I'm one of the 0.5% veterans, and I truly do miss the old Duolingo.

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

There’s so much nostalgia in your comment. You reminded of all those details that describe that magnificent experience that we had in the past.

Alas, those were really the days. Have a nice day, fellow veteran! :)

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

http://translatihan.com/ is a good Immersion substitute for the languages you mention an interest in.

I am intrigued by the notion that the translation into English issue is bigger in the app. In the app, I get plenty of translation into the tree target language. It's on the web where that's such a rarity. Sure, there are boxes, but one can develop the discipline to not look at them. Incidentally this makes reverse trees on the app not all that useful (except to the extent they have additional vocab / grammar). They pack their punch on the web.

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

Thank you for the link. I’m also on communitytranslations, which was created by the Duolingo community. I hope the link you provided offers corrections and comments like Immersion. I’ll give it a try, once my life is more settled and I have more time.

I use both of the app and website. I personally get more into English translations in both, but I get the boxes in the app. In the past I used to get more into target language translations on the website. Some friends have reported that as well. What you’re saying is not uncommon though, I’ve heard of that as well. I’m not sure however if we should attribute this difference to another A/B test or to user’s behaviour. I may assume, that someone like you, who has reached level 25 in several languages makes the app obliged to offer you more into target translations.

I totally agree about reverse trees and I think it’s a good idea to use website to support your experience in reverse trees (if the website lacks translations to target language), or vice versa. Depending on the content you get. It’s also advised to invest some time in the process so-called laddering.

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1

I agree, but they’ve been pretty clear that streams are gone, not to return. It’s substantially less robust now as a learning tool.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

I’m aware of that streams are gone for good. However a while ago a new feature was enabled in clubs, which’s the ability to post comments and make posts. Despite the fact it could be a useful form of communication, but it’s still not as effective as streams. I still don’t think it’s wise to implement such features, where we have children who might be enrolled in random clubs. Not all young users are under school teachers’ supervision. Many young users here use the website/app at home.

For me and some of my friends streams were one of the two most effective learning tools here and I’m not going through the same experience as before. As I said this comes from my personal experience and for me it’s less robust now without it. Have a nice day. :)

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Even an Android club admin can not just make free announcement posts!

It seems to be only possible to (freely) comment on previous activities.
That is not enough, if you ask me.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

I can make ones but in certain languages. I’ve been testing clubs for a while. Still it isn’t enough as well.

October 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/BeCreative__

How did Streams function?

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

Good question! Streams were more or less like Facebook Timeline. It used to post a small post once you finish a skill or level up in a certain language. For example, “username learned Spanish Present 1” or “... has leveled up in French”. People were able to comment on that and most importantly post on others streams exactly like posting and commenting on a friend’s Facebook Timeline.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/BeCreative__

Thanks. I was around when this existed. I was wondering if it was something more like a chat-feature. I saw the feature for a brief time before it dissapeared. I read that if it continued it would have crashed the website.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

Welcome. :) If you post on a friend’s stream or comment on their activity. You can chat with them for sure and other friends might join, like Facebook comments. They’ve created a new website and excluded this feature. It’s very possible that this feature might’ve caused issues, still the website with more financial support could’ve tried to maintain this feature. What I see that they’re investing more in game like features that’s supposed to attract (younger users?). Like Duolingo characters, that “motivating” owl that shows up in the midst of the session. I think a feature like streams, that lets you communicate wih native speakers, conduct conversations and ask them language related questions, must be prioritised over other artistic features. Streams were the last resort for many users after demolishing immersion.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/BeCreative__

I don't think it is younger users specifically, but rather breadth of users (and younger users, if they will use Duolingo, add breadth). I see part of what Duolingo is doing is utilizing the game-like structure to attract more people.

There is an amount of forum posts more recently commenting on the ratio of translation from base language to language learned, and while their may have been changes to this ratio before I started, there are solutions (Reverse course, laddering, use other resources, do practice more, and the potential of a toggle feature), I see it as a strategy to give people a taste of learning a language in a fun, I suspect dopamine inducing state, where people can be part of the 'culture' of language learning and speaking. Though I don't think a lot of individuals who use duolingo will really attain much capacity, but they may feel good while they are doing it and some capacity is better than nothing, though it does bug me people talking about being a language learner with low knowledge.

But that is not the point.

I like the notion of streams to see how one is doing and it appears it provided some basic communication capacity.

I think some kind of chat feature would be more helpful. I know part of the ethos of Duolingo was translating texts from websites, and while I know this, I feel that communication, specifically verbal comunication, is key to learning a language. The story feature I think is great for reading comprehension, and it has a game-like feel. In a way that is a win-win. But I would like to see a capacity on the website that facilitates interactional communication.

If Duolingos mission is to help individuals gain language capacity, communication among the learners would make sense (and I know there are resources in other places).

Moreover, I like the idea of having an incentive to completing the tree. Something that means once the tree has been completed, one has a base level in the language, and there is a new, in what I see as a verbal communication based source to improve from there. I don't think continually going over vocab is the best use of time. Duolingo gets old in this manner. I see a quicker way of communicating to improve language skills after the tree to be good to making a higher quality system.

But like I said, there seems to be an emphasis on breadth—and I think some of the profitability of the system may come from this—but I am for putting people, and quality language learning over this because that is what I think Duolingo should stand for. And that investing in App-based features is not the issue in and of itself, but that there isn't a focus on website, quality-based features of the online system, ESPECIALLY from the individuals, myself and I think yourself, who have been invested in Duolingo for much more time. Like I said, people over profit, I want to see investment in more quality of language learning, and I would like to see Duolingo quality language learning.

And in this case, some of the systems that you advocate, and I do too, I would like to see a response from the Duolingo team, and more constructive input from the community. I think the message can be attained from what some people are saying, but it could be communicated better. (and there are some complaints I have seen recently—not yours—that really seem like non-issues, but are related to a source of being bugged from an breadth based aproach.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

A well established response... Hands down! In totally agree with every single word. Yep, a game like features might attract more users (both adults and youngsters) and might keep the users from quitting. However we don’t just want to increase the number of users on the expense of quality. I personally like characters, but I’m against prioritising them over educative features. I’ve been learning using reverse trees and laddering, which are very good methods. On the other hand, I’m still disappointed with my progress there, since most exercises give you a bunch of words to form a sentence, especially when I’m using the app. Absent-minded, I sometimes form the sentence by choosing words from boxes without even looking at that sentence. Back until Nov. 2014, I think, you were allowed to make 3 mistakes »heart system«, otherwise the session would be terminated and you have to restart it to proceed to next sessions within a skill. This feature was somehow frustrating, but it made me pay more attention to my mistakes, so I won’t do them again. I attribute my very good retention to French tree to mainly that feature and to the abundance of target translations. My main languages of focus are French, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. I can safely assume that I reached A2 level in French, just using Duolingo along with my faint previous knowledge of French. I still can’t say that about my knowledge of the others. I attribute my understanding of written texts in Italian and to some extent in Spanish to my humble knowledge of French vocabulary and grammar. I can understand Dutch and a bit of Scandinavian language from my knowledge of German and English. I totally agree that speaking with natives is the most effective way to learn a language. However some people like me, don’t meet native speakers on daily basis. I’m interested in being able to conduct decent conversations in the languages I’ve mentioned, but I’m only interested in being able to only read some other languages or read and be able to understand what I hear. So I won’t claim that I’m that decent dedicated language learner. :P I salute Duolingo for creating stories. I’ve only tested them once and I liked them. As you said, “people over profit” I cannot insist on this more. I don’t mind the ads, I’d like to subscribe for ad free for a month or two per year or even more, but if I felt that I’m really benefitting from the service. You have a good understanding of the issues here. It seems that people are directing their dissatisfaction towards minor issues. Streams, immersion and a few issues came suddenly one after the another, since the beginning of this year and had lead to a lot of complaints, rants, disappointments. Loyal users would love to be heard and their requests taken in consideration. Again, Duolingo has responded a few times, but it’s very possible that outraged users wouldn’t listen. There was an argument in the past; “should we complain when it’s a free service?” I still cannot give a clear answer, but since the website starte to make profits, I think it’s about time to speak out a bit. Needless to say, in order to improve the quality of content. Sorry for the long response and again “well said, fellow learner!” :)

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

How does DuoLingo manage that longer sentences are shown on the Android app (including 11 or 12 words), which are given as the final solution and you just have to click on the next/continue button, but the website quite often just shows shorter sentences?

I can remember that I was shown one really long sentence in a "timed practice", and it did not come back (I failed to answer within remaining ~5 seconds time to 00:00) when I switched to the "normal strengthen exercise".

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidel.Berg

I’m not that familiar with the Android app, but what I can say that there’re well pronounced differences between the app and website.

October 22, 2017
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