Thoughts on the new "crown" system
Hi, a few months ago I had a completely gold tree in French, and my routine was pressing "practice", getting some random and only-slightly difficult exercises, and doing them, and I felt this was really improving my command of French. I then took a few months of vacation from Duolingo, and a few days ago, came back, to find the new "crown" system. It seems that while I was away Duolingo picked (how?) a "crown level" for every one of my skills. I got between 1 and 3 for all skills. It looks very random - for example in the most trivial skill, I got crown level 1. The question is, what am I supposed to do now? I tried going to specific skills and taking "lessons" to reach higher crown levels. The problem is that this is extremely boring: The first skill, at level 1, keeps asking me sentence on the level of "la femme, l'homme". This is ridiculously easy and boring. To pass to crown level 2, I had to pass 8 "lessons" of about 14 questions each - that is over 100 boring, repetitive, variants of "femme", "homme", "fille". It's definitely too boring to do in sequence, and I'll need to do different skills one by one to at least get some variety. But, sadly, the "practice" button doesn't do that (I don't know what it does, apparently it does nothing with the crowns) so I need to manually pick a skill. Oh, well.
My next surprise (even shock) is that apparently, it no longer matters how successful you are. For example, I finished most of the aforementioned "femme"/"homme" exercises with zero mistakes, which means I'm pretty good with this material already. In the past, finishing exercises with zero mistakes got you a golden skill for longer time, which means you got back to it less frequently - which is great (if you're already very good with this skill, no need to practice it often). However, today, it appears that making zero mistakes gets me nothing. For example, after I answer 50 questions at crown level 1 with zero mistakes, couldn't it get the hint that I'm done with this level, and don't need to do 50 more to get to crown level 2? When Duolingo guessed that I'm in level 1 on some skill and level 3 on some other skill, this shouldn't have been a one-time guess. It should be able to guess again based on my performance. If I make zero mistakes on level 1, I should quickly be moved to level 2. On the other hand, if I got to level 5 but start making a lot of mistakes (either because I never should have got level 5 in the first place, or I got rusty), I should be demoted a level until I don't make as many mistakes.
The crown system, in my opinion, feels more repetitive in nature than the last set up. Repetitiveness can help those who are struggling to grasp the subject and keep the concept fresh in their minds;however, it can feel so overwhelmingly unrewarding at times, especially if one knows the material already (like you said.) I think members should feel more rewarded for knowing the material rather than making each exercise so exceedingly repetitive.
I used the previous Duolingo before the crown system was implemented (like the op), and even though I do the exercises daily and constantly, I feel like I felt more engaged when I felt more rewarded. Positive reinforcement without grueling repetitive (24-48 attempts in a single lesson) made me psychologically remember content more than I do now. Repetitiveness can be helpful for those who want to continue practicing, but I think maybe a test for each lesson can be implemented so those who know the basic material do not feel the need to get the basics up to level 5 after an excess of tries. This does not prevent those who know the material to desire to go back and quickly review the lesson, like I did in the previous setup of Duolingo.
There might be higher engagement in the long run, but lessons may need some extra bits to keep people who know the material engaged, like:
Tests for each lesson to see if the person knows the material already.
If tested, the tests can unlock an intermediate/expert level of that lesson that would incorporate those terms in much more complex sentence structures/phrasing that implements the terms well.
More positive reinforcement for those who complete their lesson without mistakes.
Re-introduce lesson sneak peaks when selecting the lesson (by showing what you will be learning.) It helped me understand what I would be concentrating on, rather than being thrown into it.
Delayed depletion of "strength" after a period of time of not practicing. This was effective for me, but not sure for other people. It helped me practice at a more reasonable consistency rather than constant repetition.
These are just my opinions/suggestions for those who may not enjoy the crown system as it stands. I apologize if I come across as too argumentative at any point.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I have stayed with Duo a long time, going to great lengths at times to practice every day, but this new system is just getting me thoroughly bored and frustrated for all the reasons you mentioned. I dislike being forced to use the Duo App scenario, rather than the more interactive Duo Forum method. Sadly Duo has, in my opnion, lost so much of the fun and interaction it used to have.
Also, it seems the depletion in strength over time for words is specific to the TinyCards app, but removed here. It might be that the Duolingo team wanted that to be something specific to that app. I am not sure if they would include that on the Duolingo app knowing that TinyCards offers the same thing.
I completely quit Duolingo after the new crowns system was put into place. At first, I downloaded older versions of the app that didn't include the update but it just felt dirty and lacked updates and improvements etc so I gave up. I also wonder how many others have quit or reduced their usage drastically. Only Duo knows but it comes down to the net result I'd think. They want to have a large user base using the app as frequently as possible, showing as many ads as possible. With the new system they are either earning more or less and have more or less user interaction etc...who knows the case but I'm sure they invested a great deal of $ developing and implementing the new system so the numbers would have to be pretty bad to go backwards I think. I do think the new system is aimed more at beginners vs. more experienced users who want to go deeper and deeper. Maybe that's not a bad thing and Duo prefers that, but I do wish it was all inclusive and would cater to both experienced users as well as beginners. Catering to more experienced users is probably more difficult so I guess I understand their aim. They are a business after all and the users who truly want to learn a language can't rely on an online game to get them there. I will say it was very helpful when it served its purpose for me. If they ever change things up to regain the losers lost after the crown implementation, I'll most definitely be back. My fingers are crossed but I don't think it's likely. -Ryan
I have found the crowns system more useful in the languages I started on Duo. I had felt tied to keeping things golden, and because I was doing multiple languages, I went weeks without doing new lessons, even though I was confident in the lower level material. In the new system, I can do practice if I feel I want it, or I can do new lessons without "worrying" that my other ones were turning colors. It could of course be improved further (for instance, it would be great if the 'practice' button picked a random new lesson in something you had level 1 or above on), but I think it's overall a good change.
The repetitiveness of doing 16 lessons in a row on one subject should naturally lend itself to spreading it out.
People don't like change, and therefore new users are probably more happy with the new system, simply because they didn't know the old system. Also, people used to the old system may still have an obsession with "gold" and are therefore the ones chugging through 16 lessons of Basics 1 in a row, but that will lessen over time, I think.
I see you've spotted pretty much all the flaws in the very flawed new system. Here's the bad news: Duolingo don't care. They are convinced this new system is better for everyone, and any complaints or criticisms have fallen on deaf ears.
I'm yet to find a single thing better about crowns, and crowns themselves have completely killed my enthusiasm for learning as, like you, I find myself wondering exactly what I need to practice now.
To be honest, I am wondering if it is because they might be focusing more on newer users of Duolingo rather than regulars, since a lot of new users do not consistently stay on Duolingo for long periods of time (yet are more prone to purchasing PLUS benefits probably.) It is probably much easier to work with an influx of new users of the application and sell to them than keep up with regulars that may have a lower record of purchasing PLUS? I do not know.
I feel your pain. We all went through it a couple of months ago. Some love crowns, some hate them, and there were endless arguments. However, I'd love to see the recent stats on user engagement - they would tell the real story.
I totally agree. I cannot see any benefit to Crowns. Endless repetition of stuff we already know, while any new words or sentences only appear occasionally and only if you are prepared to wade through the same stuff over and over. There is almost no difference between levels 4 & 5 and the practice sessions, when you finally reach them, are just as frustrating. I don't understand why we moved from a perfectly good system to this one. Having lots of crowns gives me no indication of how I'm doing. The fluency rating in the old system was excellent.
I was lucky, my crown level was set to 3. I am no where near completion, but I think I too would have called it a day altogether if my level had been set to 1. I will probably go back to doing the general strengthening exercises though and ignore the crowns.
All that being said, I appreciate what DL has done, especially the discussion boards. They are brilliant.
I still don't even know what a crown is. I mean...what does it signify? Is it a currency or something? Can i legally enslave people with lesser crowns than me? What's going on here?
Nevermind, i don't care. I just ignore the whole thing and do lessons.