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  5. Decreased interest in Duoling…


Decreased interest in Duolingo due to changes and grammar police. "Your weekly progress" email.

I had to laugh today when I got an email from Duolingo making note of my decreasing efforts at Duolingo. I know we have been making tons of comments about our frustrations about Duolingo. Are they hearing us? Maybe they could note this trend as reflecting on recent changes rather than trying to motivate us to do more?

One complaint that I have sent to Duolingo several times is the change on the app that makes the word selection to build sentences with such a small print that it discourages older members. No one should have to find their reading glasses to read something on a smartphone. There is plenty of space to use the previously larger word buttons to keep them legible without special lighting or glasses.

The discussions and frustrations about the new crowns system has been discussed exhaustively.

In addition, in my German course, a few persons have taken such a strict grammatical stance that they are trying to apply word order guidelines as if they were hard grammatical laws (not noun, verb placement, but rather order of time, manner and place descriptive words). This has become ridiculously frustrating and sucks all the fun of learning a language without actually teaching real language! I'd like to hear from Duo if they still have the motto that learning should be fun. The commenters that want to apply guidelines as rules like a grammar police are chasing away serious language learners who want to learn languages as they are used in the real world, want to build confidence speaking second languages and enjoy doing it.

May 21, 2018


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What you call “grammar police” are probably just people that have a good grasp of some of the more complex grammar points such as German word order. In order to produce correct German, these word order rules must be observed. Variations in word order are possible for various reasons, but they are not random.

Feel free to ignore such valuable input at your own risk, but please do not complain about people that take the time to provide more grammar information than DL does. I strongly doubt that “serious” language learners would feel discouraged by people trying to help them master complex issues.


Actually, the person was criticizing English word order and many German speaking and English speaking persons agreed that the sentence could be written in different word orders depending on the context, which, in Duolingo is lacking. Word order TMP DOES change with context in German too, but even more so in English!


I agree with you. I've quit the German course, as the contributors think they know English better than me.

I think they need a few more native-english/fluent-german contributors, not just fluent-english/native-german ones.


That makes me sad. I've fallen in love with the German language and people since I clicked on my first lesson 2 years ago. Don't let a few wet blankets on DuoLingo ruin it for you.


I've found the contributors and forum people very helpful. I've had a number of alternate suggestions accepted where appropriate but also various explanations of why there is a difference in other cases where I thought there was not. This is very helpful, especially since I come from a third language (Swedish) which has a lot of connections to both English and German and thus lots of traps in the form of false friends and not-quite-synonyms.

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Then you can only ignore them. Don’t let discussions like that frustrate you. They come with the territory.

I find it more frustrating that often valuabe comments are downvoted and hidden just because some people don’t agree with them. I’ve seen discussions where it seemed every comment was supporting the same daft argument, until you discover that the few wise voices had completely disappeared from view. But that also comes with the territory. :(


Less concerned about myself. I'm tough and can handle it. What concerns me is all the people who are struggling to get basic grammar together to build a sentence, are proud of themselves for getting it right and then pulled down because of overly strict application to guidelines that are being claimed as rules. Then are offended for listing their concerns. I get mixed up in the negativity defending others.


I would suggest that you not put too much stock in what is discussed in the discussion threads. The meat of Duolingo is the practices, not the discussions. I only peek into the discussions when I have a legitimate confusion or curiosity about a specific point. Otherwise I pass them by.

Also, a lot of the "criticism of English" is really just the practical matter that the grading system cannot accept every possible variant. This is frustrating and sometimes leads to you getting a correct answer marked wrong, but it's probably better for your learning and your peace of mind to just let those cases pass by and move on.


I do not ignore valuable input. That's why I check the discussion areas. But I will retain the right to disagree with invaluable input. German and English can be flexible allowing emphasis to be made to clarify importance. German can be beautiful and poetic. It is not all law & order.


You're right about the reduction in font size. Given the relatively small size of an iPad or iPhone screen, the Duolingo web designers have little scope for varying font size. Basically they have choose the right font size and stick to it. It's not a choice. They just need to accept the laws of physics.

I solved the problem by giving up use of the iPhone app altogether. I now use the web version of Duolingo displayed on a 60 centimetre wide TV screen. Perhaps not the result Duolingo was aiming for.

The original Duolingo I started using two years ago was simple, user friendly and fun. It's been odd to see it getting worse over the past two months. Why are they doing this? Is there some kind of crisis at Duolingo HQ? Foolish changes are being made simply for the sake of change.


I agree entirely. One day the font size was completely ok and then the next day the same number of words were suddenly shrunk down to "huh?" I had just convinced my 76 year old mother that she could learn German again in a much friendlier situation than when she tried in school 70 years ago...now she can't read the font. :(


I'm glad it's not just me. I miss the immersion area where we used to be able to translate articles, not that it didn't have it's own problems.


I don't understand why the crown system is so disliked. Before it, I just past the lessons, but kept making mistakes because there was just not enough repetition for me to grasp the concepts. Now I actually learn the grammar and I even started understanding TV shows like Supernatural and Game of Thrones in German. It would have taken me more than my 71 days of learning with no prior courses to achieve that with the old system's false sense of achievement.


My first and favorite German-dubbed TV show is Star Trek: The Next Generation. I don't know if it's on Netflix, though. The German Captain Picard is spot-on, but the German Wesley Crusher is even whinier than the original, like Guy LeDouche on MXC. LOL. I'ma hafta check out GoT in German. I actually followed the Ollie and Sasha storyline on the German soap Verbotene Liebe from start to finish on Youtube and learned a lot of common colloquial expressions. Some of the documentaries on the website for the German ZDF channel are great, too. I learn some history and culture and the presenters speak clearly. My favorite German multi-part docs are Deutschland - Wie Wir Leben, Deutschland-Saga and Die Europa-Saga. Also, the Tatort crime mysteries on the website for the German ARD network are great, too. Babylon Berlin is a good, high-production-value German show available on Netflix in some countries that I just started watching.


Thanks, and I'll pass this along to other German learners I know too!


Are you getting Supernatural and Game of Thrones in German from Amazon or Netflix or some other service? I'm not learning German yet (it's on the plan!) but I would love it for French.


You might want to check out Engrenages, a French Law & Order type show, Un village français, a period drama about the people of a French village set during WWII, and Les revenants, a supernatural mystery about people returning from the dead in a small French mountain town. They're all really good, and I think at least two of them are available on Netflix, depending on which country you live in.


Awesome, those sound perfect for me. Unfortunately I don't have Netflix so I'll have to see what I can do, but I definitely want to watch them. Thank you!


The English words "I" and "a" have particularly tiny word-buttons. Or else I have freakishly fat fingers.


The grammar police are users like you. Downvote them, if you find their comments particularly annoying. Or reply and start a discussion. You can turn off notifications, just look at your account settings.


I agree Klgregonis and have tried to reply on behalf of someone else who was being attacked for a very valid point. Then he began to be negative towards me as well. I ignored DL German for a week to back away from the negativity, so that's why I probably got that email from DL! I would also like to see this program improve in a way that stays both educational and fun for everyone. It was a moderator in one instance, who does have more control on what responses are accepted, that I felt was taking word order too strictly for the English translation and there were a lot of frustrated comments regarding this.


I'm really sorry they're pulling that "I'll fix your English grammar before you can learn another language" business on you. I guess I would just try to remember, it's the internet. People can be carrying any angers or complexes or other issues of their everyday lives onto here, and it's unfortunate that it happens, but it's just a reflection of the real world. They probably feel out of control or something in real life, so this is the medium where they can put others down. Try not to let them control you and make your life worse. Knowing another language is a gift, they can only ruin it for you if you let them.


I am already fluent in German, so they won't ruin it for me, but I think Duo can be a fabulous program for people who do not speak languages fluently. Especially those who have no confidence in speaking other languages. I can only imagine what the creators of Duo would want, but from reading their mottos and articles on line, I believe they would like to create a world where more people can communicate with others without language barriers. When people get hypercritical of other people, their sentences and their points of view and even worse, hypercritical of their native language translations, I know a lot of people will give up and that is a tragedy. I'm advocating for Duo to live up to its potential for people to learn, enjoy learning and enjoy having the confidence to speak up! In Japan, language and travel are very valued, but learning styles demand such a perfection, that someone capable of writing a book in English or too nervous to ask simple questions. A part of language acquisition is building confidence to use the language. Being marked wrong for rules that don't exist keeps the perfectionists from really learning a language. I hope Duo eventually makes a sweep to clear the negativity and false perfectionism that discourage confident language use!


I'm still not a fan of the current Doulingo update. I really wish that I can go back to the previous version.


Whenever I'm annoyed with the grammar in either Spanish or German, it's more often than not that I'm being taught a construct and I'm still missing something. The German tree is actually the best one I've seen so far in terms of breadth, and lack of errors. Despite its shortcomings, and there are a few, Duo has radically increased my knowledge of German and Spanish, as well as the languages I already speak.


I personally like the emails and discussions. However, I very much disliked the crown system at first. After coming to understand how it works, I have become tolerant of it.


Me too. Just not ones that get abusive. Most of the discussions are educational when I get the answer wrong or they confirm my disagreement with Duo's answer. I have found that the German Duo is less receptive to other interpretations to their sentences and without the context, other interpretations do happen. I've appreciated the Spanish Duo that is willing to admit there are other options. Funny things is, I am fluent in German and new to Spanish and therefore trust my opinion in German much more!


I can't stand the crown system! I use Duolino as a way to review and strengthen my German, but I am near fluent in German from school, so the early crown levels I personally find to be extremely repetitive. How many levels are there for each lesson?


well it is fact that german grammer is not as loose as english grammer. and if you really want to learn a language you go along with it and try to get the grammer right. (normal people would do that) you can change a lot in german sentences but there are still rules, if you want your sentence to actually carry your meaning. one must be aware that a changed word order can change the of the sentence and that there are word orders wich don't make sense at all.

well you can try doing it as you please getting everything wrong and if by chance you need to speak german some day no one will understand what you are trying to say and you make a laughing stock of your self. because you said something you didn't want to say or because you said something wich didn't make sense. go ahead and enjoy .


Actually, I speak fluent German. The only laughter I've ever gotten was 25 years ago, when not knowing the German word for "coat tree," I gave "Mantelbaum" a shot. My friends love the word and have kept it in their vocabulary. But as you read above, the grammar police were attacking other people's English (not my German), which as you said yourself, is looser than German word order.


Kelsey Grammer is a great actor.


you have to go to your profile and say don't email for anything


This difficulty about word order has not struck me up to now, but I shall keep an eye on it.


For those who are focused on German word order, I've copied and pasted an interesting comment. Those who agree with Jileha that I shouldn't disagree with the "grammar police" would benefit from a thorough read of this. German can be poetic and dynamic. It is not all law & order!

Here is a link to where the quotes come from. https://yourdailygerman.com/german-word-order/

Actually, other possibilities, depending on what is being emphasized (and the context is missing here, so we have to use our imagination) are correct. A few good phrases from the link you left are worth reading. "When it comes to the order of boxes in a German sentence, there aren’t really rules. There are tendencies." " I know it’s a step but you have to let go of the notion of right and wrong and start to rely on intuition. Every sentence has a default word order. That’s the order we get when we just let the forces balance each other out. It’s the most natural order (for that sentence) and it has very little emphasis. But we can use a different order too." "Emphasis. The more unusual a spot is for a box, the more tension is created because we’re going against the natural tendencies there are. " The current moderators are really trying to emphasize strict word order, but it really is not a rule. When I read the sentence, I imagined that the sentence was about a German person trying to dispel the myth that Germans are always eating sauerkraut. They are tired of being "typed" as a "❤❤❤❤❤." So for me the most important part was about Germans, so I left the subject at the beginning of the sentence, but placed sauerkraut is the second most important noun, so I placed it after the verb. The speaker is conceding that it is eaten, but the most important part is the people and the food. If you interpreted sauerkraut to be the most important part for the speaker, you could also write, "Sauerkraut essen die meisten Deutschen nicht oft." The dynamics of the German language and its ability to emphasize what's most important is part of its beauty. I hope the moderators on DL will eventual agree so people spend less time flustering over word order and focus on the actual rules of the language.

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