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New developments at Duolingo

It seems like lots of attention is being given by Duolingo to add awards, skill points, badges, and other meaningless bells and whistles, but very little attention is being given to making the actual language lessons any better or more extensive. I would much rather that they add another suite of lessons or grammar drills or anything that actually pertains to learning a language. All the points, gems, badges, streaks, and other game-like parts are lame and a waste. They need to improve the learning tools, especially if they want us to pay money for it.

January 9, 2018



The courses aren't handled by Duolingo specifically, but by course contributors. Sure Duo is responsible, but features being added sitewide are going to be a different sport than adding features in language. Also, the bells and whistles draws attention, which means more ad revenue and more possible premium subscribers. This means you still get to learn for free, even when they are growing. Any positive change is a good thing, even if it seems like it's not.


I understand, but attention doesn't help if when people get here they find a poor product covered in bells and whistles. Some language courses are barely being maintained anymore, some are buggy, and some are just inadequate. If Duolingo were to create better incentives for course contributors and the courses grew and improved over time I should think that would mean more use, more ad revenue, and certainly be a better value to attract premium subscribers.


What about:

Duobots? Stories? Podcasts? Adding new languages that require extra work due to the fact the alaphbete system is different from English, such as Japanese? The new skills feature that is coming sometime this year?

you mean, besides all that?


They are in fact adding new difficulty levels and course materials if you look at the sticky posts. New levels of difficulty are being added to courses to make them more comprehensive.


My apologies if some courses are getting better treatment than others. My experience is primarily using the Italian for English Speakers and English for Italian Speakers programs (the latter of which is very buggy.) There have been no improvements or additions to these courses for many months and it doesn't seem they are even being maintained. Some incorrect answers have been flagged hundreds of times by users with no response.


They are doing both, actually.

They have developed "Stories" in four different languages now. Those stories are more difficult than the normal skill tree.

They also have developed bots, which allows you to practice your conversational skills without the awkwardness of making a fool of yourself in front of strangers.

There are bonus skills in some languages, which adds to the content of the basic tree.

And there are clubs, which are getting better all the time. They now have activities that pop up randomly asking you to describe a scene or caption an image. You can also help your fellow club members and ask them for help with something that's giving you trouble.

They're also testing other stuff that is not available to us, or may only be available to some people while the idea is being A/B tested.


They do add new stuff. Just look at the new skill levels feature they announced. I really want that feature, now! Developing such features is a bit more work than just adding a bit of gamification to keep the users interested (that's the science behind gamification).


Something in me wants to work for Duolingo as a developer (in fact, I am a developer) because I see so many ways the platform can be improved. Unfortunately, their required programming languages are not thaaat common for web development and I am going into a completely different direction. With a different tech stack, it would be quite easy to improve a lot of things here. Just my two cents. Maybe someone important sees this message :)


> With a different tech stack, it would be quite easy to improve a lot of things here.

So, you want them to change their development languages to ones you already know, rather than learning, yourself, the languages they've already invested in heavily. Right.

"It would be quite easy to improve . . . " So you say, until the rubber meets the road. How long have you been a developer?


They are looking for python and scala programmers. That's not how most people do webdev. This not only limits the number of applicants but also slows down the development process because there are definitely more productive tech stacks out there.


But they're already invested in what they've got, and it seems to me that they just fairly recently added Scala. Which would be a bigger slowdown: re-training their programming staff and possibly hiring new people and completely converting their system, which is in production, to something new, w/ all the pain that entails, OR going on as they are?

Neither of us knows Duolingo's situation. Could be they're working on at least a front-end rewrite as we speak and are about to hire you to implement the change since you don't know Python and Scala. I doubt it, myself, but it's possible.


Well, I am not saying they should do anything, just pointing out my thoughts based on what I know from their job pages.

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