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

Finally finished off the new French tree: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I'm a long time speaker of French, and I had my French tree all golden when the new crown system came and the new French tree. But since the new tree came I've finally finished the whole thing, all golden.

The good: There's a lot of content there. I tested out of all of it one lesson at a time, but if you're new to French, you should have a good foundation by the end of that tree. Grammatically I think everything you need is covered, and there's a lot of good vocabulary.

Frankly I was surprised at how long it took even though I already spoke French when I started. I was also surprised to learn a few new things, and the grammar review was really good. I think the contributors did a great job in creating a rich tree with a lot of good and relevant content. Even already being a French speaker, it was a long long slog, and I'm just sure that for beginners, if you make it to the end, you will have learned more than in a year of college French for sure. I'm confident now when I get to the end of my German tree, I'll actually have a good foundation.

The mods: The French Mod team is awesome. I was continually impressed with the number of long and thoughtful explanations, and patient banter with myself and other users who often doubted the mods' choices and expertise. Sitesurf in particular is a great resource, and n6zs clearly has put years of effort into the French tree and moderation. Thanks for entertaining my questions and ignoring my rants. Of all the languages I've studied here, the French Mod team may be the most active and helpful.

The bad and the ugly: No system is perfect, and if you are into technology and innovation, you know that you can't wait for a system to be perfect to release it. Books like "the Innovators Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen have a lot of things to say in support of moving ahead quickly and then fixing things once you have a user base the way Duo does.

That being said, there were a number of times I had to get up and walk away because I was frustrated with Duo, and I hope Duo listens when people say that the errors are often too much. And while most of the errors don't lead to learning things wrong (most errors are with the English not the target language), sometimes it's more than a person can take.

It's never the contributors - it's always the infrastructure that is sometimes madenning - the bots that are sometimes completely incomprehensible, the really funny English, the silly suggested answers, the fact that the voice gender doesn't match the sentence - and these issues have persisted unchanged for years now, and sometimes bad sentences that have been uncorrected for years. It's a good system, but there are a few things that need fixing.

Conclusion: The French tree was a great review for me, and I thank the entire team of contributors from the bottom of my heart for all their hard work. Now I can get on with my German, Spanish and Czech, just in time for a one month tour of Europe in September, where I'll put it all to the test.

Duo has revived my long time interest in languages and provided an accessible platform to study. It's been effective, and continues to be part of my daily routine. For years now it's been a personal goal to be fluent in five languages, and in the last two years Duo has been helping make that a reality.

August 1, 2018

49 Comments


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

Well-reasoned, well-articulated, well-thought. Thank you.

I too had finished my French tree before the Crown implementation, and have noticed in my re-ascent that the lessons seem more dense, more intricate. It's nice to have my crazy affirmed.

Based on your example, I am yet more enthusiastic to blast my way through to a new golden tree.

Have a lingot. (Not that you need it.)

August 2, 2018

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

You said: "That being said, there were a number of times I had to get up and walk away because I was frustrated with Duo, and I hope Duo listens when people say that the errors are often too much. And while most of the errors don't lead to learning things wrong (most errors are with the English not the target language), sometimes it's more than a person can take."

Very well expressed. I've read about this frustrating experience from a number of other linguists on duolingo. And, as I learn French and Spanish, I can tell you I've often felt the same experience. I really like your description of this.

But somewhere along the way, I learned that I needed to trick myself into being 1) Not frustrated! 2) Just enjoying that I'm engaging in something I love doing! (learning a language) 3) Not smoking crack cocaine or taking meth! 4) Learning about stuff I don't know! 5) Not committing assault on the silly computer programmers (I'm one of them)!

Seriously, the key for me is to focus on the repetition, not the finish line. I just try to enjoy the experience of getting to run through a test a second time as simply the experience of getting better in some way, if not linguistically, by doing it again. I know, some of these lessons where you understand the sentence, and you know how to translate, but you JUST SIMPLY MISSPELLED A WORD--OR IN THE CASE OF FRENCH--LEFT OUT A FRIGGIN HYPHEN! F$*KING_CRAP%SDRE#! Um, sucks...but hooray!

Having said all that, I don't know how many times I've jumped up from my desk shouting expletives and causing my little Chihuahua and Jack Russel to scamper away in fear! Just saying, none of us are perfect, especially me, this is just my humble advice based on what works for me.

Seriously, I sometimes tell myself "You get to practice your typing, if not the language." Sometimes, that's just how we get through it, by tricking our emotional brains into looking for the hidden rewards! I hope that helps someone else. It works for me.

Sometimes...

August 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ID-007
  • 1430

I totally agree with you (unless I am a masochist !-)

August 3, 2018

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

Congratuations! I decided to use the tree to improve my French despite learning it for 4 years now. I'm not a speaker of French YET and my comprehension is improving.

I'm almost finished with the tree myself and can agree with you on many points.

I used Duo back in 2015 and came back. The new tree is quite different

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Isaac36925

Good luck!

August 1, 2018

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

Congratulations. I enjoyed reading your perspective on going through the French course as a speaker.

I myself have never had a French conversation in my life, but am surprised how much I get correct when I am so baffled at times by what I'm hearing.

To me, I hear c'est, ces, sais, and all in the same sentence and am laughing at how these tricky writers are making me really work very hard! Well done, tricky writers of French!

The thing that is really impressing me with this duolingo language is the excellent grammar descriptions. As a former linguistics major, I enjoy grammar lessons that are quite thorough and have great examples of the grammar descriptions. The Spanish lessons need a lot more grammar lessons like the ones in these French lessons.

Congratulations again, Seattle_Scott!

August 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deborah853655

After 894 days of doing this everyday, I was reset to zero with the new tree. I find myself still in the "Gotta get my tree back to all golden" mentality so I was upset and demotivated when I was reset to square one after having to complete my tree twice. I refuse to be defeated although I find myself doing fewer lessons each day - just to avoid going bonkers typing un, deux, trois, quatre multiple times across the levels I already levelled out of. Argh! Not in keeping with how to design adult ed material, but oh well... gotta get my tree back to golden one more time. At least I was a beginner in German so it doesn't matter what they do there!

May 13, 2019

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

ugh, that is awful. have a lingot...

May 13, 2019

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

I suppose you have answered a question for me. I wondered when I finish the French tree (or any tree, for that matter), if another more advanced tree opens up. I guess the answer is no?

August 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joseph733121

You are correct in assuming so. You have to move to another platform if you would like a more developed or advanced sort of language tree.

August 1, 2018

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

How many levels are there within the tree? I see that I can go back to the top of the tree and move up another level ... I am first working through the whole tree at level one, but I see there are more levels.

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thiago307527

You can go up to 5 levels on each tree.

August 2, 2018

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

I would recommend going higher than level 1 before moving on to the next lesson. A single level generally doesn't give you a strong enough understanding. I like to max out a level before moving on. But if it's better for you, you can go to level 3 or 4. In the end you should do whatever helps you learn best. But if you finish your tree and go back to the first lesson, it would probably be really boring, simple sentences that you already know.

August 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/varkentje123

Huh? That seems strange to me. I think it's better to only do a skill once before moving on to the next skill. Save the other levels for practice. At the moment, I do 3 lessons a day: one new one and two repeats (usually from different skills). For the repeats, I sometimes do the test instead, or multiple lessons in a row, if they go too fast.

August 3, 2018

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

Whatever works for you, but also keep in mind that after reaching level 5, a practice button opens up for that skill. This and the general practice button on the side of the page is what I use for review.

August 3, 2018

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

Good to know the practice button appears again... is it the timed practice button, though?

August 5, 2018

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

It's great if things stick that fast for you. I know I have to see new content a lot more than one (or three) times in Japanese to remember them.

August 5, 2018

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

Yeah... Japanese, along with Korean, seem to be languages that Duolingo is having issues handling well with its crown system.

We need the timed practice and skill degrading thing to somehow return (with the crown system) to have those languages work better.

August 5, 2018

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

I tried looking into the "get stuff up to 2lvl or 3lvl before moving on"... but that got REALLY frustrating after a while... and lessons seem to change if you have vocabulary from later on listed in your vocabulary list.

For many courses--with Korean, Chinese and Japanese being exceptions on this--it can work rather well, to go through the course at 1lvl, then return and go through at 2lvl... and then go through for 3lvl. It makes it so the higher level crowns are... more populated (I guess is the best description)

Mind you, I've started moving to "doing an entire row in a tree for the day working on that language" on top of my usual "focus on a language, have a day of rest, return to said language" stuff. Oh yeah... I don't do the "every day" thing... I do the "every other day" so my brain has a chance to store the information properly.

August 5, 2018

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

Since I can't reply to the relevant comment, I'll just mention here that, in my view (and I wasn't the only one; it was the only language for which I recall seeing more complaints that the degilding was too slow rather than too fast), the skill degrading system didn't really work for Japanese either. Things just stayed gold way too long relative to the retention ability of those of us with no background in the language.

And, yes, at level 5 there's the timed practice option. Of course you can access it whenever you want through the duome site or just deleting the number at the end of the URL and typing "practice".

August 6, 2018

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

New trees show up when the people working on the course have decided to set up what they understand as an improved lesson plan. These improvements are based largely on what are common trouble words and trouble areas... as well as all the "report this as incorrect" stuff that gets done.

I usually feel really happy and relieved when a new tree appears as this version of the course is very likely to be much better designed and handled.

August 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/apgdl
  • 1568

An enjoyable and refreshing read, thank you.

August 2, 2018

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

Congrats! Did you do any straight lessons at all before starting to quiz out? I'm finding the quiz-outs unexpectedly repetitive so have been reluctant to use them too much. Of course, the lessons involve repetition, too, but it's more spaced out. Did you go straight to level 5 in every skill or move them all up progressively one by one (every skill to 3, then 4, then 5)?

August 2, 2018

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

For French I originally did the tree, then after crowns and the new tree I just tested out, one by one, level 2, 3, 4, 5. So it was still a little tedious, but I did see differences in the level, although small. They just make you type more.

I also tested out of Japanese, and I'm testing out of about half my Spanish tree because it's just too easy at this point, although a little review is never bad.

German and Czech I'm struggling through as a beginner, one lesson at a time, and I've noticed when I have zero knowledge in a language, Duo does well with the repetition. It's a very good first level tool for sure.

August 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Catherine966298

Scott, Last week, you got me. I get you, too. Another lingot for success! French is tres jolie! and , so sexy! Keep up the goal. Love, Cat

August 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joseph733121

c':

August 1, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Bravo! Chapeau! Bien écrit.

    August 1, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Guy939641

    i need to start more french

    August 2, 2018

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

    Hi Scott,

    thanks for your interesting French review!


    Germany

    What part of Germany are you going to visit? North? NRW?

    Update: I moved my comment about Wakeparks and Kitesurfing to my other "Celebration of 600 days streak" thread where I had seen you posting before.

    Have fun!

    Viele Grüße

    August 2, 2018

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

    Hi Thomas. Good to hear from you. I'm not sure where I'll go in Germany yet. I'm going from Paris to Prague, where I'll spend a few days, then back down to southern France to visit some old friends, and Barcelona. Taking a month to visit art museums (i'm an artist), and take some photos for painting reference. And just to enjoy myself.

    August 2, 2018

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

    Thank you for explaining that - me and my friend decided to test it and the entire french trees have changed. This explains why.

    August 2, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jim291610

    Back in 2016 I finished the basic French course in Memrise, just in time for my trip to Paris. It helped a bit - just a bit. The grammar on duoLIngo seems much better (to me), and as you put it - more intricate. I am slowly gilding my tree. I am certain that I will hit level 25 before that happens. Can anyone recommend a good intermediate French course after this? Merci beaucoup a tous!

    August 3, 2018

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

    @Jim291610

    Hi Jim,

    Quote: Back in 2016 I finished the basic French course in Memrise

    Do you mean French 1-7 or any user-created "French Basic(s)" course?
    If the latter, which one?
    This https://www.memrise.com/course/1808811/french-basics-35/ ?
    I saw that BenWhately is listed as a contributor to this French Basic course (listed in his teaching course tab).

    I enjoyed the ~6h course "Learn Basic Brazilian Portuguese" with 352 "words" incl. phrases/sentences from BenWhately - in parallel to Duolingo - when I started learning Portuguese and when my DL long tree seemed to never want to finish end of 2016/beginning of 2017.

    I also enjoyed that PT BR 1-7 courses not only show single words, but re-use them in phrases/sentences.

    There is another 100 days course "50 languages": www.50languages.com with native recorded MP3s and sentences.

    It helped a bit - just a bit. The grammar on duoLIngo seems much better (to me), and as you put it - more intricate.

    I think we can learn a bit more from the Memrise courses (incl. 1-7) when we actually understand the used grammar (e.g imperative, verb tenses, etc.) by having conquered the Duolingo tree or a grammar book once.

    August 3, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jim291610

    The Memrise course I completed was the French 1-7. I had two semesters of French many years ago at University, but had not spoken it until our vacation. After we came back, my wife bought me the Rosetta Stone 1-5 French Course for my birthday. I used it and got through to about level 3 before returning to France last summer. I was able to converse with a taxi driver near Tours who spoke no English (had never had any Americans in her cab before us), but I found myself having to "simplify" what I was saying so that she understood me better. It is my goal to one day live in France, and this is my motivation to learn as much of the language as possible. I am looking forward to completing the expanded "new tree", but have not been upgraded yet.

    August 3, 2018

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

    is level 25 the max level for languages?

    August 3, 2018

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

    Currently, yes.

    Duolingo, however, still keeps track of how much experience you earn on a language beyond the level cap.

    This is prolly why Duolingo does not remove the level cap--as it will result in people instantly at the next level cap.

    August 5, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Math482480

    Bravo, je suppose que cela n'a pas été facile (je sais pas exactement à quel point c'est dur de l'apprendre vu que c'est ma langue maternelle) avec la conjugaison, le genre des noms, toutes les exceptions et parfois même des exceptions aux exceptions.

    Bonne chance pour les autres langues!

    August 4, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Louise882264

    Congratulations on finishing the French tree. I am a beginner but have been inspired to continue having read your story. Thank you for sharing.

    August 4, 2018

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

    Thank you for posting this. This makes me more motivated to learn French!

    August 4, 2018

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

    I've been with Duolingo for nearly two years now (Summer 2016)... and I've seen several of the languages I am working on change their skill tree. I've only ever finished one tree--the High Valyrian one (I've not double checked if that tree has been updated)

    Usually a skill tree gets updated around the same the time that language has become "the worst on Duolingo"

    There is progress with improving Duolingo... and yes, it IS excruciatingly slow progress with the improvement--but there is a slow amount of improvement.

    This is why I'm not inclined to get bothered when a new skill tree update is made... as it almost always a better set of lessons.

    But good job in it helping you as well. I've only been going slow on each language I am working on--in hopes that I learn each of them better... so I've not picked up on a lot of the nonsense... but... yeah.

    August 5, 2018

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

    Congratulations! I also finally reached Level 5 golden tree (the past subjunctive is just not something I'm going to master in my lifetime, but I did finally get through it!). One thing I'd like to add to your excellent post is: there is no fanfare, no confetti, no acknowledgement whatsoever when one reaches this milestone. I'm being silly, of course, but it was a real anti-climax!

    October 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/337baby

    Bravo ! :)

    August 1, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      Félicitations encore et bonne chance quand vous voyagez en Europe. Congratulations again, and good luck when you go to Europe!

      August 2, 2018

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

      I can't wait until the day I can say "I'm a speaker of french."

      "It's never the contributors." LOL. Who do you think putting in those "funny English, the silly suggested answers"?

      August 2, 2018

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

      There are algorithms that make the funny answers. Just yesterday though Duo made a huge improvement in fixing the issue with strange suggested answers. It appears to be across most if not all languages.

      August 2, 2018

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

      Ah, if you're referring to the inappropriate contractions and digits popping up in unexpected places, then I see what you mean! If it's not either of those things, though, then I think it is the contributors.

      I don't see how showing the suggested answer fixes this issue, though. I think the system still tries to match what you typed if your answer is counted wrong, which means it could pick a strange entry.

      August 2, 2018

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

      Congratulations, Scott! Like you, I had a golden original French tree. Now I'm working toward a gold revised tree—but man, is it slow going, as you say. I've been staying with each lesson through all five levels and then moving on to the next. At times the repetition is numbing, but after all that exposure, I feel like I know the lesson cold. Is that how you did it, or did you use some other approach?

      Seeing your phenomenal point accumulation has often encouraged me to keep going, so many thanks. You're really a leader here. Thanks for the insightful review, and I hope you have a fantastic time overseas next month. —Gabe

      August 3, 2018

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

      Impressive work, Scott. Well done! Good review too.

      August 3, 2018

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

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us! I will take your advice and use it to complete my French Tree, someday. Good luck learning Czech! Je to krásný jazyk.

      August 5, 2018
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