https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

Tremendous Disappointment in Duolingo

As a language professor (over 30 years) and a language learner (even longer), I was overjoyed to discover Duo, and I promoted it far and wide. I am so sad to say how much that feeling has changed for me. I have been repeatedly disappointed in the thinking behind Duolingo changes. I have found the program less and less engaging, less and less useful, less and less compelling as time has moved on. The decline now seems to be moving at a remarkable speed.

This last revision -- the crowns -- is the absolute worst I've seen. It is utterly anti-motivational -- particularly in the way it's been imposed on long-time users.

Someone should be shutting down whoever it is at Duo who thinks that having the power to change something means you have to change it.

What a horrible deflation of something that was so good and so promising.

April 6, 2018

52 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinnoir

I'm sad to say I find myself in agreement . I use to look forward to my daily language lessons on Duolingo. While I will never leave this still excellent language learning site, it is becoming changed in ways I can't understand. The removal of the Activity stream was, in my opinion, a serious mistake, and now this crown system which is confusing and unhelpful. I've recommended Duolingo to many people, but the changes over the past year have been very disappointing.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anita98586

I'm now embarrassed I just recently recommended duolingo to yet another friend. Now I"m worried she is stuck with these crowns and I want to run back and so no no no I don't recommend it any longer.

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gamekkeut

I can definitely relate to this. This is my third account on Duolingo since beta a while ago, and each time I went away, it was because of a lack of interest.

At this point I am here strictly because it's the easiest way for me to access a good base of content in the languages that I want to study, without having to gather different resources for vocabulary, grammar, etc. And, I do trust the contributors of each course to an extent, and can trust the quality as well.

It is sad that many features are gone or 'broken' now, because Duolingo really is a great quality platform for its purpose: free language education.

The direction of Duolingo most certainly has changed, and I don't know if I can necessarily call that direction 'promising' either, as well. But, I do hope that you'll be able to keep your studies up elsewhere, if you do choose to kick Duo's bucket. :-)

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimSeymour1

I agree with you, Professor. I just deleted the Doulingo apps from tablet and phone. Only logged back in to voice support for your observations.

Personally, as someone who's studied Spanish, French and Dutch in the past, so I'm not new to the whole learning of a new language thing, I found the mindless repetition somewhat annoying. But I was willing to sift through the mud and gravel for the gold. When that mindless repetition was made so much worse with the "crowns" and "health" thing, it turned from annoyance to overwhelming frustration.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Charles215113

Believe me, I couldn't have put that any better myself, even if I'd typed what you just said, while you were dictating it. The loss of the golden topics as you complete them is just about the most demoralising and demotivational thing I have been through.

It sounds overly dramatic but it's true. Since I started learning with Duolingo, the trees in both my languages (Dutch and German) have upgraded twice, and both times I've wound up having to start from scratch again.

All the negative comments we're making are probably falling on deaf ears - even though Duolingo say they don't mind positive or negative feedback, you can bet the positive voices are being listened to much more than those of us who think this update sucks like a barnacle on a ship's hull.

I'm glad I didn't pay towards Duolingo, or I'd be like several other members, who are now demanding refunds from the site, claiming (quite correctly) that their experience is ruined.

Duolingo have gone too far in simply slapping this pile of wet, sloppy horse manure on us, when only half the users out there got the chance to test it, before we were all subjected to it.

It makes a train wreck look like a disney film. To call it crap, is an insult to crap.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimSeymour1

"I'm glad I didn't pay towards Duolingo, or I'd be like several other members, who are now demanding refunds from the site, claiming (quite correctly) that their experience is ruined."

And to think: Just a couple days ago I was considering paying for Duolingo so lessons would be available when I was off-line. I kind of sort of figured I'd make the decision when flight time approached. Glad they sprang this surprise on us before I did that. Boy, I'd have been hopping mad if I'd paid for this!

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mesjasz3

I just love how fanboys(and fangirls) are attacking you here and defend the changes. Some of them even admit that they have not seen them, but they're still think that they must be great since duoligno team made them.

I still remember how many downvotes I got when I wrote that we should get the test back (anyone still remembers the tests?). Honestly, duolingo will end up as a a doom-style game where you shoot translations from a shotgun at floating sentences and some people here will still argue that's the best thing ever, and attack people who complain.

April 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

I've been with DL for 602 days, was doing so well, I'm completely lost now. Am I right in assuming the app does not coincide with the Web version? Both are totally different. Our weird Italian male voice now clearly says LA UOMO and UNA RAGAZZO. I'm trying to be positive. Help!

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dewluca

Same problem here. The ipad app seems totally messed up. Spanish and Dutch totally disappeared and my Italian tree reset to say I have done zero lessons. Ugg.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FowlLanguage

Do you have a screenshot? Are you sure it reset and not just that you haven't done any lessons in the next level?

April 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dewluca

Totally agree. And on the ipad you don't even get any explanation of what the change is going to be . . . just a flash screen about "upgrading" with no explanation. I thought I had no choice so I clicked. Big mistake!! Not only is there now no record of my previous progress in Italian (I had completed the whole tree), the Spanish and Dutch trees TOTALLY DISAPPEARED on my ipad. All I see there is a blank white screen. I had been coming back every day to refresh my Italian tree . . . time to stop worrying about my streak and let it go . . . I've learned much more from the Coffee Break series of podcasts . . . because they actually EXPLAIN the information you are learning . . . rather than rely on rote repetition. And they are also free. https://coffeebreakacademy.com/

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

the Spanish and Dutch trees TOTALLY DISAPPEARED on my ipad

This certainly sounds like bug report territory: https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/204728264-How-do-I-report-a-bug-

Your Italian progress is now represented differently. That's what ought to have happened for your other trees, too.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pentaan

the Spanish and Dutch trees TOTALLY DISAPPEARED on my ipad.

They are still visible in your profile
https://www.duolingo.com/dewluca

At the moment, many people are complaining about these kinds of issues in the iOS app.

You might submit a bug report via
https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/204728264-How-do-I-report-a-bug-

Workaround:

  • Switch to Duolingo's web version on your phone/tablet

  • www.duolingo.com will work in the newest version of the Chrome or Firefox browser on your phone or tablet, if you have rather good Wifi (or LTE/4G with an Internet bundle)

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rBhr5

dewluca: I looked up Coffee Break and it looks great, but how are they free? As far as I can see, every course accrues a fee (some quite expensive). Am I missing something - where are the free courses? Also, many languages are absent. It does look fun, though.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dewluca

I typed a long reply but it disappeared because duolingo logged me out while I was typing it. There are both paid and free versions of the Coffee Break Series. They're adding languages all the time. Real people are teaching the courses and preparing the podcasts so a bit different than duo. I'll try to find the direct link to the free versions, but the easiest way to try it out is to go to any podcast app and type in Coffee Break or Coffee Break [language]. Coffee Break Italian has 66 episodes so far. I also did all of My Daily Phrase Italian (an earlier series by the same people; 100 lessons). Here we go. Radio Lingua was where the free options originated. https://radiolingua.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/236124828-Using-our-free-resources

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rBhr5

Thanks very much!

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NoahS2003

Hey admins, are you reading this?

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Charles215113

You must be joking. They only like the positive stuff.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chrichrichi

Change just because of 'Having the power to change something' - thought the same - is just stupid

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StevenWath

Have you read the post that explains the Crowns update:

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26739837

The lessons remain the same, and many of the older courses have had more lessons added. You can still work through the Tree in order, you can still strengthen skills. They got rid of the Fluency Badge which was poorly thought out and widely misunderstood by users.

In what way do you think Duolingo has gotten worse?

I'll grant you that Duolingo does not communicate well with users and they seem to make changes arbitrarily without explaining what they did and why.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

And yes, I read the FAQs and updates. And the discussions that followed.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dewluca

I had completed the tree. After Crowns it now says I'm starting over. I tried a few lessons to see if they were "more in depth" as described in the Crowns FAQ . . . sorry but no. And there doesn't seem to be any way to find where my weaknesses are because all my strength values have also reset to zero. So how is this an improvement??

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

First, let's focus on crowns (the newest bad change). From an instructional perspective, anything that erases the appearance of progress already made is an error, plain and simple. Learning is reinforced by a sense of accomplishment. If you want to enhance lessons, increase difficulty, expand exposure -- then offer a second tree to gild, a flower garden -- something more, not something less. When you finish gilding your tree you can build and gild something more. You motivate by giving people something even more or better to achieve, not by telling them their prior achievements were illusory and are no longer honored or honorable.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tonywangtj

I approve this message.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CpB870277

I agree with each and every word written by Jaimie. These stupid crowns do not mean anything. Gold showed clearly when you had reached a certain level. Now all the work has disappeared. When I think that I have recomnended Duolingo to my students, I do not feel happy... I do not think I would do that again.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

Gold showed clearly when you had reached a certain level.

Maybe your experience learning Hungarian is very different than mine, but getting a skill to gold was like the beginning of the beginning of learning or refreshing it. Simply not a relevant marker.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/frootloop40

yes i know they need to put more work into it

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Charles215113

That's like saying the Leaning Tower of Pisa has a very slight list to one side.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iFail

You offer no specifics, but just a general complaint, which makes it hard to respond to whatever specifically it is that you dislike. Duolingo can change nothing and be at high risk of getting surpassed by the competition, there already are more and stronger competitors compared to when Duolingo was founded. With change automatically comes resistance. But to stay relevant and to maintain it's competitive position Duolingo has to constantly improve itself. Next to that Duolingo seems to also be focusing on "really" teaching languages rather than to just be a popular piece of entertainment that makes people think they're learning a language without much actual value.

I do not have the crowns system myself yet (thus cannot fully judge it) but I do like the concept and I like the fact that Duolingo is trying to improve itself.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

I offer a number of specifics. And I'm happy to summarize them here again. Specific # 1: Rather than advancing progress and adding ways to show the progress, Duo has erased the signs of progress made. Specific # 2: Rather than adding actual advancement, the crown levels seem to do endless repetition of the same words and structures. Nothing new, nothing tested. Specific # 3: Duo's model goes counter to the best instructive models: it removes incentive, it makes accomplishment less rewarding, it allows no way to show more advanced abilities (e.g., testing out). Specific # 4: Duo's model imagines that progress requires going back to the beginning. Progress actually demands integrating basic skills in more advanced applications. For example, rather than asking 150 times how to say "I am a woman," the basic phrases can be incorporated into more sophisticated constructions: "I am a woman who wants the world to change." "He eats an apple while he bakes a cake for his children's party." "Are you drinking water because you are the driver?"

I've also made recommendations for how such things can be done.

Maybe you'll be more inclined to agree once you've been forcibly transitioned.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iFail

Ok thanks for highlighting your points.

I agree with 4: that it can be annoying for those who have already progressed in a tree to have to repeat early skills if they want to reach a high crown level for them. But that doesn't apply to new students, but yeah annoying for veterans.

2: I'm about to find out how bad it is :P. But, in general that's indeed a bad thing, but it's something which was already happening with the old repetition system too - and something I disliked about the old repetition system - as I've also said in a reply to somebody else in this thread.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Perhaps best to comment when you have been "crowned". It is not really possible to comment on something one has not experienced firsthand. Look forward to your post later on. Kind regards. L.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iFail

His comment isn't solely centered around crowns, which he mentions as just being the last in a series of disappointing decisions by Duolingo. Nor was my comment about anything crowns specific, but rather very zoomed out.

Edit: I have crowns now :P.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anita98586

Since you don't yet have the crown system, you haven't yet seen how it is now forcing you to repeat and repeat and repeat.... Hello. Good morning. Good night,. I am a boy. He is a man. over and over. ridiculous

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/siciIy

yeah it's trash, i got updated this morning and i hate it. 24 mind-numbingly easy and boring lessons just to gild basics 1 again, else words i already know and have committed to memory will keep showing up in strengthen sessions and practices. no thanks.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Constanza99442

The point of Duolingo is not to see shiny gold skills. It is to learn a language. No one is forcing you to do lessons you have already done. Can't you just continue with what you actually need to improve, and save your 'gilding basics 1' agenda for a day when you just need to keep your streak alive and aren't interested in buckling down on a skill?

There isn't anything harmful in repetition.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KWarren365

Filling in all the golds were something of a target for me after completing the tree. The basics were almost always gold leaving me to focus on more difficult topics. Now I'm stuck learning "hello" a thousand times because I'm a completionist. They could have at least been a little more generous on the earlier topics.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Me too, DL taught me to be a completionist. Now? We shall see if I can unteach myself.. Regards ...L

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xerofax

The point of Duolingo is learning through gamification. And forcing people to grind for stuff implements one of the worst parts of F2P games, the part that is neither fun nor rewarding. No motivation = no learning success.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Ciao Constanza. Thank you, have just realised I can dip into whichever skill I fancy. And yes, Repetition is vital, agree totally. I liked the guidance of the "old" system, like a real teacher, and knew how I was progressing. Will keep positive however, tho LA UOMO and UNA RAGAZZO is unforgiveable in Skill 1 Italian web version. Ouch. Hopefully it will be corrected. Ciao, L.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/theShmuli

Your logic is flawed because without a spaced repetition system there is no way to know what you "actually need to improve"

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anita98586

great term "mind-numbingly boring" YES. you nailed it. that's the problem, this forcing you to do useless lessons below your ability. Now if duolingo could sense that you are getting every answer correct and pass you onto higher levels, that'd be something, but it doesn't it just makes you repeat over and over these 3 word sentences with the simplest vocabulary.

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaryJoKittle

I HATE the new format. Please, restore the old Duolingo format.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/1Edle

Me too

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anita98586

I agree. Having completed the spanish tree and the reverse spanish tree, my challenges are of a more complex nature. This crown system is forcing me to trudge through HUNDREDS of extremely elementary lessons... they just seem to be practice in keyboarding, a total waste of time... PLEASE allow us to revert back.

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

Old dogs and new tricks spring to mind :-D

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

They haven't added new tricks, alas.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

You surely appreciate the importance of active use of a language. Up to now there has been a big, gaping hole at the core of Duolingo: a yawning lack of such active use. The amount of translation into the target language has been minimal. From what I'm seeing, this is a problem no longer. (And I'm seeing increased difficulty in the other translation direction, too.)

Sure, one may cite reverse trees, but they were a clumsy, kludgy workaround to evade the problem that Duolingo has at long last tackled head-on.

April 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jcasella

To address the majority of the complaints, I think Duolingo could do 2 things:

Test Out of Skills: I completed level 5 of my Basics 1, it was mind-numbing, to say the least. Make the test as hard as you want, but please allow the more advanced users to quickly move through the old stuff.

Weak Word/Skill Indicator: Not having the decay feature forces me to guess which skills I need to work on. If there was some sort of indicator or something like a "top 5 skill sets to work on today" ... that would be a huge help!

Just trying to brainstorm some solutions, since the latest update seems to be frustrating a lot of us!

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

They've said they're trying to add both a test-out feature and integrate SRS with the skill levels. Certainly I think both these things would be widely well received.

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dksjr123

i respectfully disagree but not because i am entirely happy with the crowns. i find duo lacking in adequate spaced repetition. like OP, i was become increasingly less engaged by the old system. what i like about crowns is that it gives me new levels to work towards, which i find motivational. however, i would really prefer to see a system that directs me back to areas that need work (at the appropriate time). I expect that the crowns will motivate me until i get everything to level 5. After that....

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marghvran

My reaction was identical. I was an enthusiastic user of Duolingo and regularly recommended it. I no longer recommend it and have reduced my use to a minimum.

Duolingo was always a game as well as a language app. Duo's first mistake was to build up a loyal group of players and then change the rules while the game was going on. That's simple cheating and it inevitably caused resentment.

Duo's second mistake was to cover up by patronising the users. They were told that the changes had caused them "confusion". They were told that "this change is necessary to improve how we teach". That is the users were told to accept the superior wisdom of Duolingo staff. But confused people don't spend their spare time independently learning foreign languages. And it's quite likely that they are free learning outside any institution because they get irritated by arbitrary decisions imposed by self important people in offices. Independent language learners are the wrong group of people to annoy.

Have spent a good deal of time on Duolingo in the past, I will continue to follow the story with interest. Is there a crisis within Duolingo's management? Will Duo fall as rapidly as it rose? Or will it simply recruit replacements for its original users and continue to grow?

May 21, 2018
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