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The Crown System

[deactivated user]

    Since being switched to the crown system a couple of months ago I’ve tried to persevere with it in hope it would eventually yield some benefits.

    When the switch happened I had already completed my language tree 5 months previously and so was awarded about 170 crowns out of 370 possible for my chosen language. I now have 290 crowns with nothing below a level 3, but the thought of needing another 80 crowns to complete the course has become an exercise of mental endurance rather than expansion of knowledge and skills.

    I’ve found under this system that:

    • A skill that had about 8 lessons previously has about 90 lessons to get to level 5.

    • The distance between levels increases as you go so that some skills have about 40 lessons to get from levels 4 to 5.

    • Most of the sentences in lessons are the same from my original completion of the tree.

    • Some 'new' sentences that now appear are not new at all. The appended discussions for these sentences are old, but the sentences only began to appear for me post-crowns — as if they had been suppressed from appearing until the crown system came in to use.

    Although it is welcome to have some new sentences to expand learning there’s not enough in comparison to increased volume of lessons.

    The original tree I worked through was really good and gave me a great base to work with in my chosen language, but that tree was built for a pre-crown system with a much smaller number of lessons in mind.

    I'm not feeling the benefit of grinding my way through hundreds of lessons to achieve these crowns. It’s not fun, it's not interesting and I no longer feel I’m getting anything out of the process.

    June 17, 2018

    36 Comments


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arowea2

    I agree with this completely. Since the switch my usage of the service has fallen off a cliff. The 'Practice' trigger repetitively forces through the same lessons again and again. My old system of skipping around different areas doesn't work because I can't review - it just keeps adding more.

    I totally get not wanting to review things endlessly to get skills back up to gold but this version seems to make keeping up different skills impossible.

    June 17, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

    I was just about to make a post to vent about this! I have to get 40 more crowns in French to have a complete crown level 1, and I hope with that I will get my gold owl shiny again.

    My level 25 owl in French has been grayed out since this new crown business, and I feel bad for it.

    But my, it is a slog to get these lessons done. And not exactly fun, it is so repetitive.

    June 17, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeletedFriendlie

    The crowns didn't do that. If I'm correct, (I used to be learning French here on a different account) that was due to a tree update, which was better than before, so you shouldn't feel bad for it.

    June 17, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/merkavar

    Is this a crown issue?

    I guess firstly you don't have to get crown 5, if it is too much, just stop I guess, take a break, do something else. come back later or focus on the skills you feel are your weakest.

    But prior to crowns you would have gold and ungold skills. You would repeat these until you decide to stop, it was unending, it could end up being hundreds of lessons if you so chose.

    Now with crowns, you have 5 crown levels, with a finite number of lessons, once you get crown 5 nothing degenerates or becomes ungold. So still you can choose to do 100s of lessons like you mentioned but now with crowns there is an ending.

    So under crowns there is less repetition, less grinding and there is an ending, which is the exact opposite of what you and others seem to be saying. It all comes down to your choices.

    June 17, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      Although skills decay hadn't begun to trouble me in that way, I can fully understand that it might feel relentless.

      June 17, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dogomolo

      Nice answer!

      June 17, 2018

      [deactivated user]

        I am a pretty experienced language learner. I know what works for me. This crown system does not.

        I'm currently just using the Duolingo Lab stories. That's really the only thing on this site right now that I find enjoyable and useful.

        June 17, 2018

        [deactivated user]

          Duolingo Lab stories aren't yet available for my language, but that would be a great development to have.

          At the moment the thing I find most useful is the discussion forum for my language. I find the people on there are so helpful and have helped me a lot to understand better the subtleties of the language.

          Also I've found that clubs can be a useful opportunity to practice what you've learned.

          June 17, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Furstin

          Have you shared your tips on learning languages? I need some

          April 17, 2019

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lrtward

          the thought of needing another 80 crowns to complete the course has become an exercise of mental endurance rather than expansion of knowledge and skills.

          So don't do everything to level 5. Move on to another resource that can help you improve.

          I doubt I'll ever get everything to level 5 in Spanish; there's simply no point.

          Czech, on the other hand, I think I'm going to be at crown level 5 on "Basics 1" and still have troubles. It's a tough booger-bear for me for some reason.

          The crown system was designed to be flexible. Make it work for you; use it to your advantage. Don't set unnecessary goals for yourself that don't benefit your learning.

          June 17, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PotatoSanta

          "So move on to another resource"? This is another reason I think the update is a failure and that it is less flexible. Learn the language their way or move to another resource, Duolingo was the best and most effective originally, now I have to go elsewhere.

          June 17, 2018

          [deactivated user]

            My expectation of the crown system was there would be more to learn, not necessarily the introduction of new skills and words, but using the vocabulary already taught in a tree in more complex ways, and giving more variety in sentences.

            I don’t think that the crown system is a complete loss, but it could benefit with some tweaking. With a progression of complexity of sentence structures and language usage and a bigger variety of sentences building up through the levels, there would be more to gain than just XPs and crowns.

            June 17, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

            and giving more variety in sentences.

            As you mentioned, sentences that were previously hidden have returned. This was a feature (both the returning now and their previously having been hidden), not a bug. Those sentences were hidden by an automatic system that monitored when sentences were being missed too often. Now they're back, adding a new challenge for those who have been around for a while. Since it's harder sentences that tend to get missed, these sentences increase the overall difficulty of the trees on aggregate.

            Apart from these reintroduced sentences, it is fair to say that the sentences that make up a tree are the ones that were there before (at least as of the time of the crown system introduction). The fact that more difficult sentences will no longer be automatically hidden in the same way they were before should give impetus to contributors to add harder sentences. Contributors are certainly aware of this change. How much they "rise to the challenge" will certainly depend on the individual teams. The crown system certainly doesn't allow new sentences to just write themselves.

            I'd suspect the Greek team is focusing on getting the new tree version ready, so new sentences they're writing will probably come out mostly as a part of that.

            June 20, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PotatoSanta

            Maybe if they just made timed practice usable again or added a test out feature for advanced users or even brought back the purchased tests. I really don't see the point in not having those.

            June 18, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

            Lrtward, that's a fair point, but I think getting the whole tree to even just crown level 1 is both repetitive and tedious. I enjoy learning playfully, and this isn't it!

            June 17, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

            Getting the whole tree to crown level 1 doesn't much differ from just finishing the tree before (whether a first time, or after a new tree version). Attaching this criticism to the crown system doesn't make any sense to me.

            If your criticism is of the way Duolingo introduces new tree versions, fine, but I think the "owl recapture" with a new version may actually be a good deal easier now post-crowns. For instance, there is a new Portuguese tree version as of a few weeks ago. It took me only a couple hours to get the owl back, but it was much, much more work to get all the lessons in my user data (e.g. what is shown on duome.eu) to get back to "learned," and it's possible that's what would have been required to recapture the owl pre-crowns.

            June 20, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JAndrzej

            Well, when using the app you kinda have to achieve higher crown levels if you want to get more difficult exercises (I mean those where you need to type your answers).

            June 17, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NtateNarin

            Thank you for posting this, and I agree with you, Lrtward. There is no point in continuing something if it feels like a chore or if you feel you know the material already.

            Like when I read a French language instruction book and they give me a huge list of vocabulary, I just pick and choose what I need to know now, then I will likely come back to get more vocabulary when I have time.

            June 18, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PotatoSanta

            The crown system is not more flexible, it is less flexible. It was clearly designed with younger and beginner users in mind, deliberately leaving no test option for more advanced users. Since Duolingo has removed most other features you kind of do have to repeat until you reach level five because that is the only option besides completing the tree once and stopping there. The only good thing is that it slightly increases the target language phrases, however, that could have been done better, 40 lessons on one level is far too many. With the crown system you just end up memorizing the answers and not really learning. I agree with owlielovesbooks. It is not fun, not worth the effort and far less effective.

            Duolingo used to be a free service for anyone in the world who wanted to learn and could use the internet, it is really disappointing to see it decline in so many ways.

            June 17, 2018

            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

            After you learn everything here why stick around?

            June 17, 2018

            [deactivated user]

              It's a reasonable question to ask. I considered just moving on without a word, but on balance of all the pros and cons I do like the Duolingo system and thought it worth the effort adding to the debate. I was interested to see if any other users felt similarly, and maybe those that feel more positive about the crown system would give me a fresh perspective.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PotatoSanta

              Songve because people may want to keep working on their skills. I can survive pretty well in Spanish and Japanese but using timed practice I was able to review or improve in areas I felt weak in or was forgetting. You will never learn everything and people can even benefit from studying their native language.

              June 18, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stardust103158

              I was actually getting tired of trying to keep my skills gold under the other system and using other methods to expand my vocabulary. A lot of people are here to learn multiple languages. Those are the people who will finish a tree for a language that they might feel they need for their career, then try a new language for the fun of it. This may surprise you, but even knowledge of a moderate amount of a language impresses employers.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

              What impresses employers most is mastery of skills. Most are not interested in the dabbling of dilettantes.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

              dabbling – or babbling – is the first step to more and better communication. It also shows willingness, flexibility of thinking, and openness to new situations. When I look for people for a team or project, these all are important characteristics.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stardust103158

              Here's the huge different: In the previous system your skills "decayed" if you did not constantly waste your time keeping everything gold. With the crown system once you have completed the levels, it says gold and it is definitely in your long-term memory. Is there too many lessons? Perhaps. Will I ever forgot the information? Highly doubtful since I've gone over it so many times. Is this any different than the constant repetition to keep your lessons gold in the previous system? No, not really. The people who were obsessed with decaying skills easily did this many lessons to try to keep their skills gold.

              The reality is that if you have really learned this language, then you are actively using it by reading books and watching French videos on YouTube. Before a person could reach Level 25 by only doing a few skills repeatedly.

              The new French tree has actually added a lot of new words, around 500 by my estimation. I had already finished my French tree too, but I love the crown system. Yes, all you have to do to get your owl back is a mere Level 1 on everything and it pops back. Although there is a lot of repetition, turning all of the skills to Level 5 (if you want) will definitely put the lessons in your long-term memory, thus allowing you to retain the language so that you can actually use it for something other than just saying, "I completed the French tree."

              Here's something I'm learning from a couple of my other trees. You can get through a tree fairly quickly if you just go to Level 1 and be able to say, "I finished the Irish tree." But that doesn't mean you know it. I'm about halfway through my Irish tree and I have realized that if I plan on knowing anything about this language, I will need to go back and work those skills up to a much higher level. At Level 1, you actually don't retain much of what you have learned. But once you reach Level 5 you know that information backwards and forwards.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ngraner42

              I think of crown level 3 as a equivalent to an old completed gold tree. Crown level 4 as getting to level 25 and getting from 4 to 5 as long term maintenence.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thomas.Heiss

              Quote ngraner42: and getting from 4 to 5 as long term maintenence.

              I up-voted you for the first part of your sentence.

              But how does this fit into the "translation into the L2 target language" world when this happens (should happen) only on a higher crown level, and not on the lower L2-L3 levels (lower ratio)?!

              Translating into the target language and RECALLING words is the real benefit of a language learning site, once you have completed the first beginner level (or maybe the complete tree = golden owl).

              But DuoLingo tries to optimize THEIR metrics (not my metrics) that users (especially younger language learners) do not drop-out too early....

              If you stick - in PARALLEL - to better 3rd party flashcard applications with a defined spaced repetition (SR) interval like Memrise, Lingvist, AnkiSRS, SuperMemo, etc. from day 1 this will be the real win, when you are FORCED to think in the target language.

              So I have to vote against, that crown levels L4 + L5 are just to be used as a "long-term maintenance", sorry.

              IMHO these higher crown levels are essential for forward trees (and might be counterproductive for reverse-trees) to get the maximum out of your learning, once you passed the beginner phase!


              I still do believe (as an IT specialist and Java EE (backend/database) developer myself), that:

              There would have been much easier DuoLingo options/features for beginner vs intermediate vs advanced/native level, if staff would have just added a few more user settings which you can adjust as YOU like them in contrast to introducing crowns and all the (corrupted) tree conversion and level-up pain which we have to go through now.

              Personally I do not see much benefit in upgrading ALL my crown L2 skills (not a single got converted to L3 with their "simple conversion rule", big fail for the first half of my 1,5 years DAILY practiced tree!) to L3 for my finished EN-PT tree, which got recently upgraded.

              Honestly, it was much more fun for me, to use the (hidden) "skill test-out" feature for those old / converted crown L2 non-grammar skills and to re-strengthen them back to 100% (old "missing_lessons" variable had been RESET for multiple converted skills).

              I also saw much more complicated sentences (hidden, abandoned) from 4-5 years ago, even with my skill test-out!

              So the sentence mixing of varying difficulty was, what I had been interested in!
              And since most always the last 20th question was the most difficult one, I often had failed, when I lost three lifes before :-)
              .
              .
              Personally I will just wait for the promised "crown skill test-out" feature for the rest of my (vocabulary) skills and I will concentrate all my efforts on the much more difficult verb tense / grammar skills (for Romance languages) to level them up.

              My new strategy concept for my forward EN-PT tree will be a combination of:

              • the dedicated review of "tips and notes" for those skills I do not know too well
              • to re-strengthen those decayed skills (25-50% strength) 1-2 or 4 times back to 100 strength% (fully golden)
              • and once the skill is back to golden status (strength 100%):
                To move it sequentially (by mixing multiple skills) and random from crown L2 to crown levels L3, L4 and finally L5 (crown gold); this might take years, well, who cares...

              Let's see what the next software iterations from staff will be in the next ~6 or 12 months and what features it might bring with :-)

              June 18, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ngraner42

              I see your point. I personally have not been as concerned with producing the language, but for those who are, that is a lot of crown level to get through before getting good production practice, especially for those who had completed their trees.

              June 18, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

              hear! hear!

              June 18, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

              And the crowns system allows YOU to decide when you want to stop. You can stop at any level you and there is no compulsion to exceed level 1.

              June 17, 2018

              https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

              my compulsion is to have fun while learning, and I'm missing the old format.

              June 17, 2018

              [deactivated user]

                Ok. I have no compulsion to exceed beyond level 1, or review any of my completed trees, or complete my unfinished trees. Ah, freedom! I guess it works!

                The original idea beyond Duolingo was it made a game out of learning language, but for that to work, you need people to want to spend time in the game, not feel like they can just take a pass on deeper learning because they are bored and just want to get it over with. This is a very broken idea of "gamification."

                June 17, 2018

                https://www.duolingo.com/profile/australsk

                Owlielovesbooks you have created quite a discussion, well done! Perhaps it may lead to modifications in the crown system.

                I have never worried about having the tree all gold or having all the crowns what I want is to improve in the language I'm learning. The intention of the crown system may be to stimulate younger learners as has been suggested, but I thought it was to provide a more in depth look at a skill.

                Unfortunately, what is happening is a small number of sentences being repeated constantly. The benefit of which it may enable you to discern patterns in the sentences that are not apparent on a smaller sample. The downside is that you may memorize the sentences and no longer really learn from them.

                A weakness of Duolingo has always been the predominance of translating from the language you are learning to English and not the reverse. I would have liked to see progressive crown levels to become predominantly translating from English to the chosen language. For me this has the benefit of learning correct spelling, learning sentence manipulation to arrive at correct structures, and, if you are a native English speaker, as I am, this would best mimic what I would do in the 'real' world: I would probably think what I want to say in English and produce it in the chosen language.

                The crown system is not any worse than previous versions, but if it demotivates you to learn the language you are studying it may be time to take a break from Duo, or to reset your daily target to a lower level and do only that (if you are wanting to maintain a streak).

                All the best, Owlielovesbooks, with your language learning

                June 20, 2018

                https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

                I think the biggest takeaway from your account is that you've mastered the Greek tree. Congratulations! That is something to celebrate!

                Crowns or no crowns, that was a thing that was going to happen eventually . The crown system on balance gave you a bit more to chew on before you hit that milestone and so pushed it off a bit, but nonetheless you have arrived. Pre-crowns I guess you could have engaged in the indefinite ritual of keeping the tree gold, but if you know the content, far better to keep it active by engaging with the language through other means. Duolingo (well, at least for any one tree ;) has an endpoint, and when you've reached it, you've reached it. Looks like you've embarked on the reverse tree. That seems like exactly the right course of action if you want to keep on with Greek studies on Duolingo, at least until the new Greek-from-English tree comes out.

                Again, congratulations on your great learning success! Greek isn't an easy language.

                June 20, 2018

                https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sammakko

                I wasn't sure about the crowns at first, but now I think it has made me really learn the things I thought I knew. And it is a relief not to have the basic things keep losing gold and trying to decide whether to select new lessons or go over old ones.

                June 17, 2018
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