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This [Apple app] update is making me so angry, I may quit altogether.

Admittedly, we had it easy. I knew I wasn’t fluent in any other language. Yet my trees were solid gold, streaks intact. I was completing five lessons a day out of habit, not being challenged much, and banking Gems that I would never use. Then came the update.

I was excited! I really want to improve my languages, and I’m planning a trip to Germany (my third), so I was planning on really ramping up my skills over the next year, putting in more time every day. That is apparently not going to happen.

As I started the new update, I worked to get all my circles first to level 3. While doing this, I noticed the more challenging questions that burned up my lives/hearts - no problemo, I thought, I’ve got plenty of gems, and hey, I’m learning. Then I spent more gems to buy more life, then I bought more, then more, and I started to get serious and notice things.

Question: Why is full life 350 gems when I don’t need it, and 450 when I do? Am I crazy, or did we used to get 3 lives to complete a level before we had only to start it over, whereas now we get five lives, TOTAL for the day? And isn’t the rate of recovery (1 every five hours) pretty anemic? If your goal is to provide free language learning and to encourage people, maybe you don’t want to put a cap on how much they can do in a single day. I got the questions wrong, my hand is slapped, why do I have to sit for five hours before I can continue to learn?

Suddenly, I’m watching ads to earn back lives (which is probably what they planned), and considering in-app purchases of more gems. So at this point, the primary goal seems not to be free language acquisition, it’s how much money they can wring from us.

Then there’s the shenanigans. Now I’m second guessing everything, not wanting to waste a life on a stupid mistake, which is not a good state for learning. I double check every noun, pronoun, verb, article and modifier before I hit “submit.” Sometimes I use an outside dictionary, but when available, I use Duolingo’s suggestions. And when your top suggestion for the meaning of a noun isn’t the correct answer in this case, that’s deceptive at best, and under these conditions, downright predatory.

When I get an answer wrong, I remember the correct suggestion because I know I’ll be asked it at the end, and I am prepared to parrot that answer right back. When you tell me, as Duolingo did today, that this answer - THE ONE YOU TOLD ME WAS MORE CORRECT THAN MINE - that this answer is also incorrect and take another life, and suggest a third translation, I want to quit your service. When this third answer is also named incorrect and I lose a third life (as I did today), I contemplate murder.

Seriously, at this point, I’m discouraged from continuing to learn on your site both by the mental state I’m put in before beginning, and the limits you’ve placed on the time I can devote. Further, I distrust your suggestions, and therefore question the whole value of this service. If I’m going to shell out money to learn a language, Rosetta Stone comes highly recommended, and I bet I don’t have to put up with these shenanigans. At the very least, I know how much it’s going to cost. Here, there’s no bottom, especially when I’m being sabotaged.

I’m not out of gems yet, but I’m rapidly approaching a decision point.

April 13, 2018



I guess the answer is to just do it all from the website, now that I’m here. No lives to fuss with, still got all my Lingots, same skill trees, I just have to deal with banner ads and iPad issues - Why is the app different?


The app was always different. Agree just use the website less aggravating. The new crown system kind of locks you in for a very long time. Keeps students from leaving Duolongo for other more advanced web sites.


What are the other advanced websites out there?


Try Memrise. Or even Babel


It's obvious that the health system is only for generating revenue.


I totally agree.


Very well written post. I share your frustration about using Health. When the Health system came out ten months ago, the forum was bombarded with posts from people who despised using it. Why? Because it's unfair and it's not user friendly. It penalizes you for your errors, instead of encouraging you to make lots of them and learn quickly. It's particularly devastating in combination with the new Crown system, where almost every lesson would require using Health if you're using IOS.

And charging 450 gems instead of 350 just because you've run out and need Health to continue... don't get me started on that one.

I've decided the only way to deal with it for me, is to stop participating... stop using Health altogether, and to stop watching those videos that we are constantly bombarded with. I'm still practicing on here every day, but I'm much happier. I made a post about this subject earlier this week. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26895655

Curious if any of you saw the post. It appeared in the new posts briefly, but quickly dropped out of sight. I never saw it appear at all in the popular posts, but perhaps that was just on my feed.


I agree with you but speaking about deceptive services that just want to take your money, Rosetta Stone is NOT any better.


yeah I don't think Rosetta stone is highly recommended...


I entirely agree, it is so frustrating, I could have written this post myself! As a point of principle I wont buy more gems, goodness only knows I have enough gems but will not be blackmailed. I agree also on the misleading prompts, very frustrating.


Unless there is is difference now in Health that I'm not aware of, you can refresh your lives by practicing instead of using gems or watching ads.

Duolingo Plus does offer a Health Shield that turns off the Health system.


But you can't control what you practice, and your practice doesn't advance you or affect your tree. You're just running in place in order to get more health.


It's my understanding is that it's the same algorithm as before. While it doesn't gild anything anymore, it still has you practice what are your weakest words just like at used to.


I found the full screen ads so annoying and time-wasting that I forked over $ for "plus" status. But that is the only $ they will get out of me! No buying gems or health! Incidentally, people with plus status are thanked constantly and given bonus gems when completing a skill. I take them, but I feel guilty. Also I agree that their insistence that you use the exact translation they are looking for in order to get credit is very frustrating. My favorite part of this program was the mini-dialogues with bots (on the phone app) but they seem to have disappeared...


My approach has been to only use the app a few times per day, so I don't have to worry about lives. I've also abandoned practicing my more fluent skills (German) for which I will wait until I can test out of crown level 3 to an appropriate level. I do the harder work on the computer, so I can feel free to make mistakes. I've also added a new language, Swahili, for which I will have no problem practicing over and over again the first two lessons. You can practice and regain your "heart strength" in one language and lose them in another...



sorry, can't read your text in total.

Why don't you try the DuoLingo web portal or Android app, e.g on an Android emulator software (KOPlayer, Bluestacks, NOX, Memu, etc.)?

If I’m going to shell out money to learn a language, Rosetta Stone comes highly recommended

And who actually recommends RS?

Look around some forums and websites especially those you professionally used it as a teacher.

Do they (RS) maybe recommend themselves? :-)

I once tried the RS web demo for Portuguese. Didn't like it at all!

Rosetta stone reviews: https://language101.com/reviews/rosetta-stone/


I love your post. Have a worthless lingot.

The disingenuousness of claiming to be "free language learning" next to a constant drumbeat of third party ads or ads to subscribe in order to avoid more ads is so appalling and disappointing in an educational/language tool like this. Equally disappointing are replies from the community that say "use the web based version." Some people actually don't have laptops or PCs and the browsers on their mobile devices are clunkier than the apps themselves (that's why there are apps).

It's a worthy complaint even without mentioning health. But with the health system, you are encouraged to undergo this dumb series of anxieties you describe, you're completely taken out of the educational spirit. And now it's worse with crowns. "Go away. You've made too many mistakes."

Truth be told, DL's approach is emblematic of where tech is right now. If they really want to be about education, they would be non-profit (and still able to make a profit). But not exploiting the mistakes you have to make while learning.


Excellent points Chooch. I agree with everything you've mentioned. Duolingo lost their way on this one. I hope more and more people speak out on how outrageous the Health system is. It's kills motivation to be penalized for every mistake, and makes you want to go study elsewhere.


what is this Health System everyone is talking about?


it only appears on the DL iOS device apps. If you don't use those, or study only on the web, you don't have to worry about it. But to answer your question, health is really a counter that records the number of mistakes you make in a day. You only get five. If you make five, you strike out and can't use the program for 25 hours. A counter-intuitive language learning tool to say the least.


thank you - I only use the web and that works fine for me


I'm hoping to go to Germany next summer! I've felt frustrated with the app as well and don't use it much. Somehow I think not using it, is really the only way to get the point across. The more ads you watch, the more it makes sense for them to have the health system.


09/04/2020, 230 day streak, I'm quitting Duo because it's too easy and too repetitive: I spent an entire lesson revising "Brot und Wasser"...


that's what testing out is for. Click on the key in the upper right corner to jump ahead. For most of the languages I've learned here, I do one lesson and then one test for each level until it gets harder.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.