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Article about crowns and future offerings

I found this interesting.


A couple of highlights:

"But until today, users have seen only part of the material the service had created, much of which it wasn’t actually presenting in the app. “I would say we were throwing out at least half of our content completely,” says Karin Tsai, the engineer who oversaw its new revamp. “Some sentences and exercises were just way too hard for users at the beginning level.” With its update, called Skill Levels, eager students have the option to do more-complex exercises, even from day one. Duolingo also announced that it’s working on additional exercises, such as reading and listening comprehension, that will roll out later this year.



Listening and speaking exercises have always been part of Duolingo, but it’s about to offer a lot more. Tsai’s team is working on a phonetics module, for instance. Learners will see a letter combination and choose, from a selection of audio clips, the correct sound they make. They’ll also listen to a sound and choose the appropriate letters. “We want to have phonetics challenges, starting in the French course, because French is a difficult language to pronounce,” she says, with a chuckle.

New exercises on the way include (from left) phonetics, listen tap, and reading comprehension. Duolingo will also add a similar feature, called Listen Tap, in which users hear an entire word and have to select from a multiple-choice list what they heard. Going even further, there will be listening comprehension exercises, in which students will hear someone speak several sentences and then answer questions about what they heard. There will also be written versions of the same exercises for reading comprehension."

Seems like we have a few things to look forward to!

April 9, 2018



Hello zanzaboonda

My profile just changed to the crown systems. I read the comments of many people that their profiles changed a couple of weeks ago. I did not find too many people happy with that change.

Personally, I like this crown system because for each duolingo topic one can go deeper and deeper. I was exactly half way with my Spanish journey in the old system, yet I had many weaknesses with the verbs, adverbs and some other grammar topics. So now with the new system I am starting all over again increasing each topic to level 3 (with the Spanish - English) and to level 4 (with Spanish - French) it is just repeating the same lesson but reinforcing the base. I will need somehow between 25 to 30 days to catch up where I were but advance after that surely and happily.

Yet, the new crown system needs some improvements as it copies some exercises from the old system and some of these exercises have some weakness. However, it is already a beginning and a positive one.

Yes, I am looking forward to this new system and keep on improving my Spanish.



"Personally, I like this crown system because for each duolingo topic one can go deeper and deeper."

Except it doesn't. It just repeats the same things over and over and over.


Honest question: Are you redoing the lower levels? I ask because I see a lot of people trying to make their tree gold again, and that isn't the way the new system is really designed. If not, can you tell me more about what you're referring to (e.g., maybe an example)?

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Do you have access to all the sentences from previous units if you don't go back and get everything to level 5 again?

As I understand it, the point of levels 4 5 is to introduce more complexity.

So, logically, if everyone was capped at level 3 when they were moved to the Crown system, then they're missing all the level 4/5 content from earlier skills.

Or is that not how it works?

Honestly the explanation of the Crown system from Duolingo has been fairly lacking. They haven't addressed this, nor why they're now pursuing this non-decaying system that encourages binge-practice and never encourages people to revisit older content, when their mantra up to this point has always been "spaced repetition". Nor why they've removed the ability to see the new vocabulary introduced with a skill.

Between that and seeing cross-platform bugs where credit isn't applied for completing exercises, I'm immediately turned off this system. I honestly can't see any benefits to it at all, only bugs and obfuscation of the content.


Hi! If I'm understanding your question correctly, and please let me know if I'm not, I don't believe that levels 4 & 5 of each section need to go together, as the new system is designed to allow flexibility. So, if you already have a good handle on Basics 1, I don't think you need to bring that up before going on to a higher level of Basics 2.

I think the levels are building on top of each other within each lesson and are not necessarily intertwined thoughout the tree. One you pass level 1, you can continue down the tree, just as you could in the old system, and now you can pick and choose more easily what to focus on.

IIRC, the levels assigned to you when porting over represent how many times you'd been exposed to the words in that particular level.

The Crown FAQs didn't answer everyone's questions, I know. But I believe they said they are working on redoing the SRS aspect. I don't think it was super accurate before, and I know now that my tree was way lopsided because of it.

There was another post where someone shared techniques for using the new system that you might find helpful. If you haven't seen it, let me know, and I'll hunt down the link for you.

There is the potential of binging involved, depending on how people use the system. But I've learned so much more with the restructuring. I've been able to see patterns in sentence structure, and I focus on listening more; I can't really explain the latter, as it seems to just be happening naturally.

I don't have access to any more information than you do, so some of this is speculation on my part, and some is from reading all these posts voraciously.

I think Duolingo will continue as they always do and A/B test everything. Once they get a better version of the SRS established, I'm sure it will return in some form or another, even if it's not quite the same.


Today I leveled up the Languages skill (on the row of skills 33-35) in the Chinese tree to level 4. I could not see any difference when I tried it on level 4. So I did "Shopping 1" for which I have 3 crowns once and "Languages" (level 4) once, counting the different kinds of exercises. (They are both on the same row.) For my level 4 round I did not get to translate into Chinese at all. To conclude, I see no change in the content (but I have not written every sentence down, so perhaps there is something minor there), and even worse, the choice of exercises are similar at best, even easier at worst.

I can only come up with one reasonable explanation. (I actually thought of it before I tried it myself, since there seems to be a lot of confusion in the discussions.) There must be an A/B test in place giving increasing difficulty only to half of the users. I feel a bit cheated since I did all that grinding for nothing. (And I was really looking forward to the possibility of increasing difficulty.) I might choose to go to level 5 on a skill even further down the tree to make sure, but I have a gut feeling that I should take a break from duolingo for at least a few weeks. After all, an A/B test is like a poll, and I should signal that Crowns without benefits is a bad idea. So far I have not seen anyone saying otherwise, only people bashing each other for claiming to have different experiences with the tree. Don't know if it should make me laugh or cry. I mean everybody knows that Duo is obsessed with A/B tests, so expecting that others should have the same experience is very naive at best.

ETA: But I would be very happy if someone could prove me wrong and tell me how to get access to the more advanced exercises.


Hmm. Very interesting. It could be the A/B testing, but I think (don't quote me on this) that there might be some differences between romance languages and others.

My initial understanding/expectation was that it would be the same content but presented in different ways (e.g., lower levels would be all drag and drop, and this would gradually taper off, etc.). That has been my experience with Japanese so far, but I haven't tried leveling up beyond 3, yet. I'm trying to get an even foundation, first. I've been really pleased with it, in that regard, and have retained SO much more.

The article surprised me a little, and I wonder if it applies more to the languages that have been established on the platform for a longer time, like Spanish. I vaguely remember there being certain issues with Japanese and Chinese that made typing difficult, etc. But I honestly don't know if that's changed.


If it works for Japanese it should work for Chinese. I would at least expect more translation into the language studied and a removal of the easiest exercise types. Of course, to be certain I should level up something in French or German. But at the same time an A/B test is the most reasonable explanation for what people have been saying in the forums for some time now. "The increasing difficulty is great." "There is no such thing." "Yes there is." "No there isn't." "Yes there is." "No there isn't." And so on.


Isn't repetition the core of language learning?


I really agree, and that's pretty much the exact approach I'm taking. Before, with the decay, I really didn't have a good idea of where I was or what I needed to study. Now, I can see where just using the strengthen option made my tree lopsided. It did not give a good overview of where I was as a whole. The crowns have actually helped me tremendously.


I'm glad to read this, because I'm struggling through the opposite experience - without the decay I feel like I can't tell anymore what I need to study. I hope I can learn to adopt your positive attitude.


I hear many people with this same experience, and I'm realizing that many of us had different approaches to using the software on a regular basis. I had gotten into the habit of using the strengthen option because I was a little overwhelmed, and I think it went in order, top to bottom. Now with the number of crowns, I can see which areas I've been exposed to more or less. And not having the different types of exposure all mixed together, I find I'm learning and retaining so much more.


Interesting article, thanks for sharing! It does confirm that the update is mostly geared towards app users, bringing the app and website experience more inline.

Phonetics exercises sound great, but I hope they use a better tts before introducing them, especially for french.

I think the way the article presents the update, more challenging complex sentences, is unfortunately the opposite of what many people are experiencing right now. On paper it sounds great, in practice it has alot of kinks to iron out.


I think part of the problem, just based on comments I've read, is that many people are still focused on turning the tree gold, so they keep repeating lower levels unnecessarily. (Although I liked the aesthetics of the gold tree, it did not bother me enough to not immediately abandon it once I started looking at the crown system and what it was supposed to do. Now, I feel less pressured.)

So, I that's one of the issues that were seeing. However, I have not gotten very far in French and I haven't touched it since crowns came out, so I can't really speak from direct experience for that. I do love the changes for Japanese.

Not sure about the TTS, but it will be interesting to see what they do.


Yes. Agreed. I am not one of those people who need to turn the tree gold, never have been.. I just use it to brush up on grammer skills I know need work but I think this is the frustration. Duolingo is built around gamification, so it is not surprising people still want to succeed at the game.. and are now frustrated, without guidance. I also think a test out option would solve many existing users frustrations. For example, I personally really enjoy the skills once I get to level 4, and would be delighted to crown my whole tree if I could just test out of the earlier levels, but right now it is too much of a hassle. This update definately seems built around app users (and I am actually a big app fan myself) and newcomers. I think it could be good for more ‘seasoned’ users, both in terms of content and gamification with a few tweaks. Bringing back spaced repetition and a test out option would solve alot of frustrations I believe.


Yeah, I'm definitely saving the easier levels for last-minute streak savers. I'm guessing that testing out became an issue with the removal of decay, but that's pure conjecture. I'm pretty certain I read somewhere (Crown FAQs?) that they're working on the SRS part.

So agree about the gamification. I think things will eventually settle down, and I'm also confident they will make some minor tweaks that will help bridge the satisfaction gap. :)

I'm a huge app user, too. I know the website is supposed to be better, but I never remembered to go there. Lol I think you're right and that they're more closely aligning them. The reorganization of things is really helping. It feels more graduated, now, and I'm already learning more.


In phonetics thing: How could that be in consistent to semi-consistent languages, like Spanish?


I honestly have no idea, but I'm very curious to see what they come up with!


These new kinds of exercises don't sound more difficult to me than what already exists, which doesn't necessarily have to make them bad.

What I am hoping for is that we will ultimately be asked to write in the target language a lot more often than now.


You can already do that today: When you use the browser version instead of the mobile app you have the option to switch to typing every time there's a word bank exercise.


Thanks for posting this! With these new exercises, and if they manage to bring back some old ones that were enjoyed and had no problems, Duo will be unbeatable! (That is, unless someone copies their website and just includes a few extra things, but that would be illegal)


Great article! One small comment - I hope he makes a correction on the two crowns thing. He did have two crowns and was working on his third crown. The number to the right indicates the number of practices before leveling up. After completing all the practices for level 4, the skill turns gold and says level 5 50/50 (or however many).


That part bothered me, too! I thought it was incorrect but it made me second guess myself. Lol


I am looking forward to trying the new exercises.


What do you mean by being " global ambassador to duolingo" ?


Hi! I am a local event host. (I volunteer - I do not work for Duolingo.) But there are other ways to become a Global Ambassador, as well. I believe contributors and moderators also qualify. There may be more ways, but I forget. :)


Génial :) Merci beaucoup


Perhaps I am missing something, or others do not care about this other change, but I used to review the "tips" that accompanied each lesson, yet no one seems to have commented on that change. The "tips" (which may not be available on the apps?) were part of the learning experience for me. For example, I found it useful to review verb conjugations before doing the exercises. Or, if I got an answer wrong, I could look at the tips and sometimes figure out my mistake (though the Discussion threads were usually more useful in that regard). Did the "tips" completely disappear? Without them, I am gaining practice but not understanding.


Unfortunately, for some unknown reason they did not take the opportunity of this redesign to allow access to the tips and notes via the apps. :(


Click the lightbulb on the lesson popup.


Are you guys on iOS? I'm on Android and don't see that.


It's on the web version.

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