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The crown system is not effective for learning

I have been using duolingo for about 3 months and I am on an 83 day streak as of this writing. I have spent an equal amount of days of my streak - before crowns and after crowns.

Here's why I feel that I am not making any meaningful progress even though I am keeping my streak with the new crown system.

It is common knowledge that repetition is the key to learning. With the crown system, the moment I learn a bunch of new words, you can no longer see those sentences again. You are forcefully exposed to new words, even though you barely remember/recognize the words you just saw. Memory for new words decays fast. I am completely and absolutely frustrated that even though I am making visual progress, mentally I am getting worse. I dont get the opportunity to memorize words and understand the context of sentences because i just dont see those sentences again. With the previous system, I could repeat and get better and recognize them.

I have a background in cognitive science and I am not making things up. I cannot stress this enough "Repetition is the key to learning". Thats how your brain strengthens neural connections and makes things recognizable. The less I repeat, the slower I learn.

I used to recommend Duo to friends. Now I cant. Do something soon, otherwise you're just gonna be left with a wonderfully designed gamified platform that does something, but does not assist in learning.

May 18, 2018



Don't you just repeat the same lesson as in advance the crown levels and you get the same words and a few new ones.

That is my experience. That if I repeat the same skill, there are the same words, even the same sentences plus a few new ones. Is this not how it works for you?


Even duolingo suggests to not go to level 5 right away in the basic. they want you to gradually increase you level in differnt badges. Which is insane coz then we encounter too many new words without repetition.

Thats precisely my problem. Should i just get to level 5 on the lower badges before proceeding to the upper ones. That would feel like I am learning too little coz seeing the same words over and over again until reaching level 4 or 5.

Still doesnt solve the problem of seeing sentences that I actually liked, found interesting, or useful, or could use to form my own sentences.


So your problem is that you don't know how to find the right balance for yourself between repetition and variety? This is a legitimate problem, and the developers have announced they are working on it. However, this problem has little to do with the crown system, and you are not being forcefully exposed to new words.


I agree here. There should at a bare minimum be an FAQ to assist in finding a balance that works. There should also be some way to monitor if you are progressing to quickly or slowly onto new topics


You, and the others with this complaint are holding yourselves back. You think you need to commit every word to memory before you can move on. That is not necessary. Duolingo gives you ample repetitions in each skill to review new words. You may not get the exact sentence two or three or five times in a row, but you will see that same sentence many times. It’s called spaced repetition and it is a cornerstone in learning. I’m surprised you are not familiar with it due to your background in cognitive science.


Isint the whole point of the crown system is to not get to level 5 on all the basic levels but to gradually increase your level on the different badges?

What about familiarity of sentences? You see a sentence that is useful, and you want to see it again, because you remember it can be used somewhere. How can I do that now? How can I form my own sentences based on an existing sentence I saw. I was struggling with a few words that are very similar sounding and spelled, like question words, and words like this, that, those, these etc. Everytime i practice a lesson, I level up. But whats the point, I havent internalized those words.

How can someone learn without repeating?

I agree, once i get to advanced level, crowns might be more fun to do, because i will already know most things. But as a beginner or intermediate, i need to go back and look, and understand and familiarize.

If you give a child a language book, and tell them they can never turn back a page once they read it, do you think they are gonna learn faster?

I am pretty sure its not possible for people to encounter 15 new words in a day and then be able to form sentences out of them in subsequent lessons. I dislike tapping on previously seen words to see their meaning if I am on Level 3. Thats pointless. Right now I am on level 3 on many, and I am still having to see the word meanings. Why? Is it because I have bad memory? I dont think so.


I like your analogy here :

If you give a child a language book, and tell them they can never turn back a page once they read it, do you think they are gonna learn faster?

I agree with you.
This is exactly what the system does.
If you want to read that same page again, you'll be in the process of levelling up.
As the level goes up, you get more of the same.
You do more of the same exercises even more frequently. So as time passes by, you'll end up reading that page even more & more & more.

...Yo soy un nino, tu eres una mujer.......has to be repeated more & more & more & more as the level goes up.
To me, that does not make any sense.

[deactivated user]

    New to duoLingo, but could not disagree with you more on repetition being the basis of learning. It certainly is one way to learn, but not the only way. It's also a good way to develop habitual mistakes. Too much repetition can also make learning knowledge or a skill very boring, and possibly make students lose interest in learning that skill at all. I would compare learning a language by repetition to learning algebraic equations by memory but not actually understanding them.

    Age, interest and intent are all key factors. Given some of the rankings I see next to some member's avatars, I doubt very seriously that some people are actually trying to learn so many languages, but perhaps their interest only goes as far as basic conversation/communication.

    I don't think anyone who is here with realistic expectations, expects to become fluent in the language(s) they are learning soley by using this website. It is absolutely necessary to be exposed to fluent speakers.

    I don't know how the system used to be, but unless the words are ingrained in my memory, I take a lot of time, listening to the phonetics, understanding the words and sentence structure and I always say the answers in Spanish before even looking at multiple choice blocks or typing. I think if people are just competitively rushing through the lessons, they aren't really going to learn or retain much. On the other hand, I am taking my time, actually learning and retaining the lesson material. I have no illusions about becoming fluent in Spanish solely from duoLingo, but for me, I will always have duoLingo to thank for starting me on my path to actually learning Spanish.

    Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I am able to review everything I have learned by selecting practice.


    Yeah by the sounds of it some people seem to hate the crown system because they are trying to rush through it. I don't quite go as far as you by saying the sentences out aloud but certainly I am trying to select what I practice smartly

    [deactivated user]

      I am not in a position to make a comparison between the old system and the new one, but I find the system as it is has a very good balance of repetition. One thing I have also begun to do with word blocks is to look at the options I know are wrong and and ask myself why they are wrong? So, after quickly choosing the correct word blocks and selecting them as my answer to the question, I now read some of the other word blocks and by knowing why they aren't the right answer it helps me remember those words as well and reinforces correct sentence structure and vocabulary.

      [deactivated user]

        You can use the "practice bar." It only gives you questions from the lessons you have already completed and skills you are weak in. I've finished my Spanish tree and it really helps me to use the practice bar.


        If you have finished your tree, you are at a completely different stage. You have already internalized many of the words. I would be comfortable with crowns as well as only doing a practice lesson daily.

        But you gotta admit, it takes a while to get there and the crown system isint helping.


        Finishing the tree in one go, all skills at crown level 1, could be the solution to this problem.
        Once you finished the tree, all the lessons are unlocked and the whole structure of the tree and the content is visible to you.
        From that point on you can decide for yourself which skills will need more time & practice as you repeat the tree and study it for "real" this time..
        But this second time around, you have the advantage of knowing the path of the tree and knowing which branches to go to.
        You also have the freedom to choose your own repetition frequency/scheme.
        That 's how I'm doing it right now.


        I am thinking of doing the same. But that just means the first time i do the tree to level one I am just trying to get it done so that I can repeat. Do you not feel that its way too much exposure of new words in the first go to get everything to level 1? Thats my struggle. But I agree, maybe I will just do that. I just feel that I am lying to myself that I am at level 1 in so many things, but wouldnt really know much. But its one way to deal with the crowns. I will try.


        I take notes; it helps.


        First of all, I want to thank everyone who offered suggestions.

        Here's my overall understanding so far. My general strategy, based on the old system was to expose myself to a few new words daily, while trying to practice as many lessons as I could of the ones I had already seen. Especially, i would redo the lessons from the past 2 days to refresh my memory. That gave me a decent balance of new and old. I tried to use that strategy in the crown system - take a new level 0 lesson for word exposure, and try an redo an old lesson at level 0,1 (which now gives you new words, because you cant really practice what you saw yesterday anymore). I think thats the cause of all my misery. My leveling up strategy was - Stay on lower levels on several badges and practice and familiarize and only then move on to higher level. I personally dont wont enjoy seeing that I am at a level 5 on on several simple badges but at a level 1 at more intermediate/advanced ones.

        Based on all your suggestions, I will change my strategy, use notes, look into tinycards etc.

        But I need to bring out an important point of how I am looking at the crown system now. And of course, you don't need to agree with me. I am a hobbyist. Given that, the learning curve feels a lot more steeper now in the crown system to to the enormous word exposure right away than it was in the previous system and comparatively requires a lot more motivation and discipline since you have to rely a lot more on external notes, books, language groups etc.

        [deactivated user]

          I think this new system will lead to a lot of binging and then quitting. They could have kept the trees the same as before and had the crowns reference the existing skill strength levels for the entire course, while making the 'gilding' of trees customizable by the user. So, for example, a casual learner could choose to have their skills still showing as gold with a strength level down to 2 or 3 while more serious learners would aim for level 5. Duolingo could have made higher strength levels more difficult to attain in exchange. Yes, crowns would decrease regularly, but wouldn't be so difficult to get back, if the user wanted. Plus, all the practical benefits of the old trees would still be there, including being able to test out.


          Yeah. I 100 percent agree. If I was not already a Duolingo user, I would not have stuck around if the crown system was the first thing I had encountered coz I would find it much more difficult to get started.


          I had finished the French tree last year now this is almost impossible.

          English that I am already fluent, I make some mistakes that did not occur before, mainly by wrong translations of the own platform.

          This terrible new system does not allow the choice to repeat the lessons which is essential, they apparently tried to do something like Rosetta Stone and did not do it right.


          As an "advanced" user I can say the crown system is definitely better than the old system as it facilitates the learning of new words and sentences. It is much more difficult though, so I can see why some people at lower levels would not be happy with the change.


          There's a lot more repetition now than there used to be. I had started writing words down in order to remember them; now you meet the words several times in each lesson and it was an improvement when they started to force you to repeat an exercise until you get it right. I use practice, have two language partners and a tutor; Duolingo is not my only experience in Spanish but it definitely helps.


          It feels like the crown system encourages the strategy of - 'Come here to practice, but learn elsewhere'

          I am gonna start using duo more as a 'self test' system and perhaps use books as a source of learning.


          It is a resource but certainly not a complete language learning package. My main criticism is that it concentrates on translation, which is what you don't want to do if you want to communicate in a language. It is useful for learning vocabulary and grammar but is certainly not a complete language learning package.


          Yeah. Its good once you are advanced because the previous system would get repetitive. Its very discouraging when you are a beginner or intermediate.


          Ryansukale, as other folks have said, you should take notes. ☆ and on paper ♡.

          The act of writing - not typing or tapping will strengthen your understanding and learning process, just as you learned your own native language back in school.

          If you can, try to find a mutual language exchange you can attend in person, you help a Spanish speaker in English, they help you in Spanish.

          Just a couple of ideas that may help!

          ¡Buena Suerte !


          I think you are also getting to the harder lessons which would make you mess up or make you feel like you are missing more.


          You could be right. I am at level 3 in many badges, almost halfway through the tree and many of the badges I did in the last month are still very weak, which are of course more difficult that the earlier ones.

          I will be patient and try to use the suggestions people post in the forum.


          I would suggest using tinycards With the new system, I could not see and go through the words for the lesson; it slowed me down quite a bit. Now, I spend half of my time on tinycards, and it really helps me.


          I find the new system is better for learning... before i breazed half way through the tree in a little over a month... with the new system i am working towards 4-5 crowns per topic before moving on.

          i also started using tinycards.... now i work with those to get the vocabulary of the topic and really have the topic down before i finish the 4th crown.

          we all learn differently and at different rates... figure out what works for you


          Christophe makes an excellent point!

          we all learn differently and at different rates... figure out what works for you

          I'm certainly finding this!

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