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My Wish: More unforgiving response to typos.

I have just started to refresh my Czech language skills again and Duolingo looks like a very helpful tool.

Czech has a lot of words distinguished by accents or diacritical marks, as do many other languages. I often get these wrong, and I effectively write a completely different word by omitting or misplacing ž or ý for example. These errors only get flagged as typos, and then the next word or phrase comes up. For myself I would the correction to be more unforgiving and force me to redo the mistyped word until I get it right.

I wish there was a user setting where we could choose between permissive response to typos and a more unforgiving response to typos where they are treated as errors that needs to be practiced again.

What are your thoughts? Perhaps this been discussed in the forum earlier.

January 1, 2018



I like that the typing is forgiving. You note the error in the accent but you don’t get bogged down with it and can keep moving forward. It makes the course less tedious and makes it feel less like “work”.

For a difficult language like Russian with many vowel irregularities I would be lost without the typing forgiveness and would have dropped the course a long time ago.


I agree, it can be frustrating. I remember one exercise in particular I had to type:

да, всё отлично, благодарю вас

but I accidentally typed отлична instead and it marked the whole thing wrong and I remember feeling a little like the wind got sucked out of my sails. But, on the flip side, I'm more cautious against making that particular error.

I like balance. Memrise is absolutely unforgiving

"Alright Comrade Urso, spell отвратительный perfectly from memory! NO! You forgot the soft sign! AGAIN!"

Which I value as well because through repetition I start to see patterns in pronunciations/spelling with Russian. Though I think if Duo were that strict as well I might be a tad more disheartened.

So, the leniency on Duolingo combined with how strict Memrise is really strikes a harmonious balance in my learning. All that to say...

I think it's fine the way it is.


Agreed. È is not e.

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I am not good at typing. I am here to learn a language not get marked on my bad typimg. Iam very grateful that Duolingom shows a little discretion onthe typing. Sorry my keyboard is sticking. It is very frustrating when I kn ow something and get marked down for the ntyping


Well I guess that would depend on the language. I you want unforgiving for Czech, I understand it, but for Spanish it is irrelevant. In addition, I make lots of typos while typing on the little phone screen and I would refuse to repeat tasks just because of typos. So - no I dont agree with you. Just be more careful if you want.


This is very true. For some languages, removing or adding an accent changes the meaning of a word. For other languages, it may not matter, at least, when you are spelling. Just as long as you know what you're writing. For French, accents do matter a bit because saying "J'ai mange" versus "J'ai mangé" makes the sentence confusing, as no one knows if the writer was trying to speak in present or past tense (though, I would assume past since there is the presence of "'ai" and the writer could have simply forgotten the accented "e"). You can get away with typos in French easier than you could with Czech, I assume. I would suggest keeping Duolingo the way it is with typos. The user should just pay more attention to their spelling if they find the system too forgiving.

French pronunciation, however, is different. It's not as easy to get away with mistakes there.


You're right. That's why I wrote that I would assume it would be past tense if I saw a sentence like that. Perhaps you missed that part (read the seventh line)?

My apologies. It was a very bad example to use.


I see. I'm sorry. Thank you for explaining. ^ ^


If the OP had suggested it should all be like that, I might agree, but they just suggested it as an option. If you didn't want to use it, or it wasn't relevant for the language you were studying, it would make no difference to your experience.


I'd prefer to have the unforgiven option, and I completely agree with what you are saying. Although many people might disagree with me saying this, answers with major typos should be marked wrong. I only want this because it might confuse some people since they might not know which one is actually correct.

Thanks for bringing this up though :)


I agree, this would be great. I think it would be terrible if it was obligatory - with so many people typing on phones and other devices, and so many beginners, it could be very dispiriting. But... as an optional setting? Yes, it would be excellent. Especially if it was a sliding scale, so you could edge it up as time goes on.

In my experience, Hebrew in particular is way too kind to me sometimes, but I don't think there's a single language where I haven't occasionally got something right and thought "Okay, no, that shouldn't have been accepted at alllll." And for sure, when languages have a lot of diacritics, it's way too easy to be lazy, and to get into bad habits.


I agree, as long as it's an option. I'm brushing up my French, and would like to be able to spell it as well as possible, but for Russian, which I'm learning from scratch, I would prefer a more forgiving environment. A user setting would give us the best of both worlds.


Having had language teachers who were permissive about spelling and language teachers who were strict, I don't think looseness of spelling does me any favors as a learner. Even when a spelling mistake doesn't change the meaning of the word, it clutters up the memory with junk spellings; it makes recall blurred and slurred and hesitant and muttered when it should be quick and precise; and it slows down the familiarization with letter patterns necessary for fluent reading.

In the Duolingo context, allowances have to be made for typing difficulties. I'm not finding it a huge problem in German, where the system normally accepts ae/oe/ue for umlauted characters and "ss" for the sz thing I don't have on my keyboard, but I'd hesitate to start a course if I had to take my fingers off the keyboard to mouseclick an accented character. Now that the subject is brought up, what I might do is install an alternate keyboard mapping and get used to touch typing on a German or French layout.

The other thing to take into account is the theory that even children learning to write in their mother tongue shouldn't have their creativity or their self esteem harmed by having their spelling (sarcastic airquotes here) corrected. That school of thought has a lot of advocates, and there's not much chance of putting your case for precision across to them.


For better or worse, literacy is judged in part by spelling. It matters in written communication. It matters in job applications. It matters in matters of respect given. If I know someone is fluent in English (not a beginning learner or a young child) I simply don’t respect a muddled, misspelled slangy jumble of text.


You'd probably be well-served by an "international English" keyboard. I don't know that there's really any reason to get used to the "a" and "q" or "y" and "z" keys being flipped when you can easily get the accents while using the letter layout you've used all your life.


I tried out some French/German exercises with the International English layout, and I'm finding it a good solution for Duolingo purposes. The German dictionary program I use has the same trick (" + a = ä) for inputting umlautted characters, so it's been pretty easy to get used to. Thanks for the recommendation.


I have tried sites that require acurate spelling. I don't use them. Of course an optional freature would be fine.


I prefer to have typo acknowledgement. While occasionally this means genuine errors get accepted as typos (à la "No, Duo, that wasn't a typo; I just didn't know how to spell it"), the vast majority of the time it's honestly a typo.

I type quickly. Really quickly. I'm a professional writer, have a special ergonomic curvy split keyboard, etc. On Duolingo, this means that I can blaze through material I find easy to quickly get to stuff that's more at my level, and if there's an occasional typo, so be it; it flags it anyway, so it's not like it'll escape my notice, and if it is an error, I'll know, and so learn.

Regards accents / diacritics / letters that are otherwise accessed via the same key in common keyboard layouts, again, I'd rather they be flagged as typos as in many cases I'm just going quickly and making a mental note as I go, regards which letter version I actually mean. I know the difference between "el desayuno" and "él desayunó"; it's just quicker to type without, as only I am reading it. And if I didn't know? The thing would pop up to tell me anyway, which is a good feature.

For me, I enjoy that DL gives me a quick yet surprisingly solid grounding in the basics of a language I don't know, or allows me to keep on top of the basics in languages I do know. I don't think it has to be a Victorian schoolmaster with a cane, to accomplish that :)

[deactivated user]

    As mentioned above I think typo tolerance might depend on the language. I can only speak for the German course which I think has achieved a decent balance between what it's allowed and what it's not. A next to zero tolerance would become an annoyance especially if you're using the app.

    But yes, to each his own... a typo tolerance option could easily be implemented. Tinycards has it.


    I've sometimes written the verb in the wrong tense or person and had it flagged as a typo, but not marked wrong. I think that is altogether too forgiving on the part of the system. Correct verb conjugation matters.


    good at times turns out to be food or vice versa and gets counted wrong on my end. but eventually it comes up again shortly where i can type it in more carefully. then at times i know i am wrong but it gets accepted as a typo and counts it correct.

    [deactivated user]

      I think that would be great as an option. I have seen others suggest that it should be changed to this permanently but that would be disastrous. Only as an option would this work.


      I agree with you!

      The Russian course allows typing Зто instead of Это. The first one is just wrong. Not a typo.

      Why not leave it up to the user to flag things as a typo or not Duolingo?

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