https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost

At such a low level after finishing all possible "checkpoints"... flawed system?

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I've been studying German for a fairly long time, on and off. I know it reasonably well.

Here on Duolingo, I did all of the checkpoint tests, I just now did the last one of them and I'm at level 11. I was at level 11 even before the last test so I didn't jump even a single level! There's also the problem that some "skills" are still grayed out, basically the "final" checkpoint is missing.

So this obviously got me thinking... this means that even a native speaker cannot get to a higher level without wasting time mindlessly drilling the stuff they already know, and that someone at level 25 could actually have fairly weak skills. (I know Duolingo is not supposed to get you from a complete beginner to a native-like fluent speaker, rather just help you with the basics.)

So is it just simply like this, or did I miss something? If it just is like this... why? I thought the system was supposed to be "dynamic" so that you could pick a suitable starting level if you have prior knowledge (for native level speakers the "starting level" should automatically be "more than 25"...). It doesn't seem to work that well at the moment, the exercises I got in the tests were much too simple. I did encounter one or two words I hadn't heard before but on the whole, doing those exercises again would be a waste of time even for me. I actually think there could be content there that would be useful for me, I just don't know how to get to it.

But yeah. Really confusing, and enlightening, that advanced speakers are de facto capped at a low level, and that when you see someone is at level 25 you'll think "I might have vastly better skills than him".

May 15, 2018

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/SteveT503096

My suggestion would be that if you are getting through the exercises with little or no errors, then you should supplement your learning with other material. I like Deutsche Welle (www.dw.de) myself. I think of Duolingo as something to use every day just to remind myself of the basics, as you pointed out.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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Absolutely, I've been watching/reading/listening to German stuff quite a bit over the years (I just tested at C1 in listening, unofficial).

I was mainly wondering how do the levels/checkpoints really work and are they supposed to be like that. I felt like it really stalled at the last checkpoint, it said I learned "20 new skills" but only got 360 points.

I'm thinking how does it then work for other languages, and whether it's different if you actually do all the exercises? If the courses max out at such an "easy" level, that's something to consider in how much time I want to spend doing them.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nadapanda
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The levels reflect the amount of work you've put in. Someone could be at level 25 and earlier in the tree than someone who is level 19 and has finished the tree. It all depends on how much XP you gain.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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Sure, I understand basically how the point system works. The main point was that it's flawed (in the way I described it). The first 2 checkpoint tests worked pretty much as expected, they give you over a thousand points at once, which of course results in a big jump in level as well. Then, like I said it stalls hugely, the last test gives you much less points even though as I understand it, the higher the level, the more points you need to get to the next level.

To be clear, I was talking only about the checkpoint tests. I have no doubt that a native speaker could get to whatever level they want, easily (by wasting 50+ hours doing the exercises), I just think the system is a bit funny that way. I have no personal goal of getting to a particular level here, especially not in German (it's just a good reference language since I knew it well decades before this app existed). In fact, my whining might be also/better directed at the Duolingo "central" or some such. Not really familiar with the different forums as I'm so new around here (just realised that's not visible to others as far as I can tell...? I joined 10 days ago).

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nadapanda
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Sorry, I seem to have misunderstood your text. Yeah, you're right. Duolingo seems to think every skill is worth the same amount of XP making it so much more difficult to reach the next one!

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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I saw a rough chart somewhere on the forums, the number of points needed for the next level increases exponentially. You need about 1000 points for level 7, 4000 points for level 12 and 30000 for level 25.

But like it was mentioned, the levels are very approximate, at level 11 you could be a native-like fluent speaker, "kind of average" or anything inbetween :)

As long as it's fun :)

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thibault11898

I don't think exercice difficulty is based on your language level (11 in your case), but I may be wrong

Exercices are all starting "easy" and you have to level them up (max crown level is 5 per skill). Level 5 skills are harder

But yes, it means you have to grind them currently. However, crowns is new so the system will probably evolve to allow advanced speakers to get more difficult exercices

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MN_Honigdachs

A point about points: Levels and points are based on either testing out (and yes you can only test out so far) and completing exercises. The levels are only really a guide.

Maybe, the question is: What are your goals? Duo alone will not get you to a fluent level. After completing the entire tree at a minimum of level 2, I have just under 2700 words listed in my word bank. As with many learning programs, if you already know the material well, then you will struggle to find those new nuggets of information.

If your goal is to conquer Duo, then you just have to power through.

Either way, don't give up because you're feeling stalled. I can't tell you how many times I've written: "Mama trinkt Kaffee." Now with simple things like that, I find that I don't translate any longer...I just know them in my head.

Good luck!

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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Thanks! To you as well!

Where's the word bank? Haven't spotted such a thing yet. (Google didn't help :( )

My goal is really to use Duolingo for what it's good for, which my gut tells me is basically getting to a level where you are more readily able to use other sources, or as an adjunct. Or fun, just messing with the program, reporting mistakes etc., helping out especially if I know the language :)

I'm not actually feeling stalled, I meant that the course seemed to be plateauing, heavily. I'm expecting a different experience with different languages and different methods. I just found the general topic interesting, since I also have prior studies in other languages, not really enough to skip anything though so German is/would be a good comparison.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/slamRN
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The word bank implied is found at the top of your screen under Words. It took me a little while to realize that. It is a good resource.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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Thank you! There seems/seemed to be a bit of a problem with it though, it was nowhere to be seen, then I went to my profile settings and the "Words" link suddenly appeared on the header bar.

It's also visible only on the German course, if I switch to any of my other courses it's not there and the mentioned trick doesn't make it appear. Maybe only some courses have it or you need to reach a certain level to get it? I don't know.

Otherwise... seems like a useful feature indeed.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/slamRN
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Mjetkost - If you click on the word in the word list - on the right the word appears and has the gender and the speaker symbol to hear the word.

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MN_Honigdachs

Odd, I find W├Ârter in my German>English course. Also somewhat fun is to look at this: https://duome.eu/USERNAME/progress
Replace USERNAME with your name. If you click on the lessons it gives you a list of words used in each lesson as well as the "tips and notes"

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ally.x
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Levels just say how many XP you earned, it says nothing about your actual language level. With higher levels it is increasingly harder to get to a higher level. For example difference between level 24 and 25 is bigger than between level 1 and level 12 :-)

Please refere to this: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2261330/XP-needed-per-level

(like I am level 12 in my native language because I did nothing else but tested most of the Czech tree and finished the last lessons, similar to what you did with German...)

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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Exactly ;-)

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LSadun
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It used to be that getting through the German tree once required about 5000 XP. With the crown system, that figure has probably gone down, but each new crown takes more XPs than the previous pass. My guesstimate is that if somebody started from scratch it would take about

3-4K XP's to reach 1 crown (level 11)

6-8K more (9-12K total, level 16 or 17) to reach 2 crowns

9-12K more (18-24K total, level 21-23) to reach 3 crowns

12-15K more (30-39K total, level 25) to reach 4 crowns

15-20K more (45-59K total, still level 25) to reach 5 crowns

That's assuming that you aren't getting XPs from other sources, like stories or timed practice. (For reference, I've got 28K and I'm only about halfway through my 3rd crown.)

German has an especially long tree, so crowns in other languages should be quicker --- maybe 40K XPs for a golden tree in a typical language.

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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That's probably about right. Skipping everything with the checkpoint tests gives you 3800 points, which is still at level 11 but close to 12.

One of my main gripes was that there is no "final" checkpoint, I've tested out as far as is possible and there are 18 skills still grayed out. Also, I don't actually know what would I need to do if I wanted to unlock them.

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LSadun
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The last 20 skills are about 1/6 of the tree, putting the total for one pass close to 4500.

The way to unlock a skill is to finish all the skills at the previous rungs of the tree. Trees at the same height all get unlocked simultaneously. So you need to do Business 2 and Future 4 to unlock Sports, Perfect 2 and Arts, you need to do those three to unlock Passive V. and Religion, and so on.

Once you've unlocked a skill, it stays unlocked forever. By working on that one skill repeatedly you could get it up to 5 crowns without getting any of the previous modules past 1 crown. But I wouldn't recommend that.

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/guntunge
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Native speaker here. I did the test just to see where it puts me in the languages i know and to see if some sentences also are slightly weird. I went through German and English without any problem. In the Hungarian course i often encounter, that my English often is not really perfect in the details, but i guess the English test proved to me, that i can't learn better English here, if i effortlessly can go from start to finish line without problems.

I don't know if duolingo has a certain goal which it wants to provide. On this European reference grades A1 to C2. Since i assume my English is not even close C2, i have to assume that duolingo caps somewhere below that.

The level is nice to see a progress, but in the end I don't care about the level. Any exercise should feel to you like you learn something in it. If you don't anymore, duolingo probably is not advanced enough for you to get better skills and just doing stuff to get a number upwards is then a waste of time.
I guess you are ready to actually apply and tune your skills by listening to German music, watch German videos, speak German. Just use the language.

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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I think the courses are designed to get you to at most a B1 level.

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/guntunge
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Sounds about right. I am not that far in the Hungarian tree, but what i know barely qualifies as A1, i think. Getting to A2 or B1 i would consider a great success.

May 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LSadun
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Well, this user is almost at level 25 and you might have vastly better German skills than me! I started knowing next to no German. Now I'm working at getting my 3rd crown on each skill, and it's still hard. I could offer (some) expert advice in Italian or Spanish back when I was level 10 or 15, but when it comes to discussing German grammar and vocabulary I'm a reader, not a writer.

The point is that levels are just numbers of XPs. If you work hard but don't learn anything, your level will still go up. If you don't work hard but learn amazingly fast you'll be an expert but won't have levels. Your mileage will vary. As for me, my Italian is way better than my German, but I have more XPs in German, simply because the German tree is longer.

But in any case, here's my advice on how to tackle the tree.

Go through it once, getting each module up to a SINGLE crown. If you know things fairly well, or can test out of them, this should take very little time.

Then take a second pass, starting at the top, and limiting yourself to one lesson per module per day. If you feel up to doing 100XP worth of work, great! Do one lesson in 10 different modules. If you want to do a 1200XP binge, do one lesson in all ~120 modules. If you're only up for 10XP, do one lesson in just one module, and then do a different one tomorrow. By tackling a bunch of different modules at the same time you'll be reinforcing your ability to combine different aspects of the language, which is much better than just hammering away at one skill at a time. It's also a whole lot less boring that way.

When you've finished the tree a second time, go back to the top and get your third crown. A few months (or a year) later, get your fourth. Then your fifth.

(FWIW, I try to do 50XP/language/day. Even at that fairly heavy pace, it will be years before I get 5 crowns all around. Patience is key.)

Some of this practice, especially near the top of the tree, will be super easy. That's where you can work on the subtleties of the language. If you're translating an English sentence that contains "you", use whichever of "du", "Sie" and "ihr" that you're LEAST comfortable with. If you're translating from English to German, use a less common German synonym, or try out a less familiar word order. Don't just pick out a sentence that DL accepts. Craft a translation that really captures the meaning -- or maybe a different interpretation. DL is a game, not a chore, so remember to PLAY.

When things get hard --- and they will, especially in the bottom half of the tree --- take the time to read the discussions. That's where a lot of the real learning happens, at least for me.

And as others have pointed out, look for learning opportunities outside of the DL tree. These include other DL resources (like the stories and clubs), the German is Easy website (www.yourdailygerman.com), newspapers, books, and maybe a trip to Germany!

Above all, have fun!

May 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mjetkost
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For me, the grammar thing is different. Sort of like, I could discuss it if I specifically wanted to. I've learned German in a "natural" way, watching German TV, changing my phones interface language and all sorts of things like that. I never studied English grammar either, it's just something you pick up on the side. Starting completely from scratch as an (older) adult might be different though, I'm not sure.

The single most effective piece of practice was actually visiting Germany. I decided I'm going to insist on speaking only German, which was easy since basically no one there could speak English anyway. Immediate and noticeable improvement in skills.

I was impressed with how well the German course accepted the different variations for sentences. The singular/plural "you", omitting prepositions, or even much more complex things like expressing with a noun something that was expressed in verb form in the original.

I suppose some other courses are still much more of a work in progress, and things are slow to change.

I will have fun! Then after that, I'm going to learn a language ;)

May 16, 2018
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