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Chinese Tree Skill Decay

Does the Chinese Tree's skill decay behave differently than other languages? I finished my tree but there are some days where I will have upwards of 7-8 skills no longer golden. Two days after re-golding them, some of those same skills will require practice again.

Also, I noticed that the lessons that I've tested out of (via a checkpoint, but not the single lesson group tests) have never decayed to the point where they require practice? Are they set to not decay or just set at some high value that takes way longer to decay?

Also, noticed Chinese has no Words page on the web version?

Are these things related to the tree still being in beta?

December 9, 2017



As a bilingual English and Chinese speaker, I believe it has to do with how Chinese works as a language.

There is no grammar section, unlike the other languages for this simple reason.

Chinese is a very contextual language. As such, many words share the same pronunciations and even the same writing but could mean a totally different thing depending on the context.

I usually tell my friends to treat learning every new Chinese word like meeting a person. I am sure you know several Johns in your lifetime, and you don't ever confuse them despite calling them the same name even if you are meeting another John for the first time.

Over time, as you meet more people, you will learn to understand the relationships across the different phrases, sentences and words contextually.

That being said, I believe what's lacking in Duolingo Chinese right now are introductory courses on tones. This, in my opinion, is the most challenging aspect for someone learning Chinese for the first time.

I believe this may be a limitation due to the Duolingo framework (which was initially started in Spanish and then expanded to several European languages), and its design is more suited for European languages.

Good luck!


Very good comment! I love your describing learning Chinese word as meeting John, so much that I gave a lingot to you.

I immediately thought about people asking why John wore a hat or why John changed his shoes, or why John's cousin showed up, and grinned.


Thank you. I found this the best way of explaining Chinese to non-native speakers.

Unfortunately, this is the case because it is not alphabetical. I noticed several learners have commented on learning pinyin and are struggling with learning characters right away.

Personally, I think it is far more effective (but slower) to attempt learning Chinese without pinyin.

Going back to the John analogy, this is akin to recognizing John by meeting him again. That's right. Every new word you are encountering in Chinese, learn to recognize the appearance of it, just like you would for a person you are meeting for the first time. Sure, you can add John to your facebook and attempt to remember how he looks, or you can simply keep meeting him and eventually there is no need for "memorizing" how he looks like.

We all know when we add too many new people we have just met on Facebook, our ability to remember them actually diminishes.

Pace yourself the same way when learning Chinese. Work hard at "networking", but don't rush for the sake of it.


Personally, I think it is far more effective (but slower) to attempt learning Chinese without pinyin.

This resonates with me a lot. I initially started learning Chinese (years before DuoLingo) with Pinyin and I kind of had a realization or breakthrough when I just cut out all Pinyin and started focusing on reading Chinese characters. The language was designed with the characters, and it's more intuitive that way. I find the language's internal logic is more evident that way too...which makes for deeper learning.

It may be harder up front, but the long-term payoff seems large. I find Pinyin useful only for typing or looking things up in a dictionary (radical dictionaries are still very cumbersome).


I too would like to see a words page developed.


Missing word page difficulty – possible temp fix:

User testmoogle discusses a similar problem in “Where is the 'Words' tab on Japanese?” (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25496012)

If studying two or more languages (including one with a working words page ex. Spanish), you can induce a word page in Chinese.

For example using Spanish to produce Chinese word tab help:

Step 1. Switch to Spanish course. Step 2. Click "Discussion". Step 3. Duplicate tab. (So you now have two tabs on Spanish course viewing the Discussion page.) Step 4. Current tab: Switch to Chinese. (Can close this tab once it loads.) Step 5. Other tab: Click "Words".


Not all languages have the Words page, just the major courses. I've not had any issues with the skill decay, my tree is still perfectly golden (or, what's done of it. I'm just past the first checkpoint, cause I'm just keeping it low, and using it to accompany my class.)

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