Norwegian Tree 4: Status Update
Hei, alle sammen!
I just wanted to give you a quick update on what we've been doing for the past few months and the status quo of the new iteration of our course.
Since late July, we've been working on a new version of the Norwegian course. Some of our goals have been to:
Restructure the tree to better fit the new Crown format. This means more skills with fewer lessons in each - especially in the first half of the course.
Make the very beginning of the course a little less food and animal heavy. The first skills have always been a structure inherited from the original Duolingo courses, which does not reflect what we think should be taught at that level. However, making changes early in the tree is much more difficult (and risky!) than making them later in the tree, due to how everything ties together, so we're making smaller alterations rather than a complete revamp.
Make sure the thematic skills stay on topic after the structural changes. This is actually one of the most challenging things we do, as we also have to take into account learning progression, sentence dependencies, and overall structure, but we believe it's crucial to a good user experience.
Add words and word forms we've been missing for the past year, without drastically increasing the overall corpus.
Prune the tree a bit, removing or replacing some non-essential words.
If there's interest in a short teaser thread for the new tree, I can make that happen.
While we started the work on Tree 4 with our usual enthusiasm, the Incubator has been woefully slow as of late. Repeatedly losing work due to server timeouts is not the most motivating situation, and has made us slow down and put some of our planned changes on ice.
We would like to invite a couple of alpha testers, but at the moment the Testbed is not syncing up with the course, and so there's nothing to test. This has been reported to the devs, so we're hoping for a fix, and if that happens we'll post a separate thread about the testing and requirements. Basically, we'll be looking for active users who are good communicators and familiar with at least the first half of the tree.
The overall structure of Tree 4 is now in place, and all but a couple of the new lexemes have been populated with sentences. What is left is the following:
Triple-checking that every word is where it's supposed to be. We lost whole lexemes due to server time outs, and I'm more than a little bit worried some may have disappeared without my noticing. Because of this, we'll have to go through the whole tree systematically. Good times.
Proofreading and adding alternative translations to ~2k new sentences. While we can never hope to think of every conceivable translation, we always make an effort to polish the tree prior to testing. Even with a new tree, we want you to feel like learners rather than guinea pigs.
Processing some old error reports so that the ones for the new sentences can rise to the top and be fixed more quickly once we launch the tree. You can help us in this effort by following the guidelines set forth in the Reporting 101 thread.
With the Incubator being what it is at the moment, the above is going to take some time. We could perhaps be looking at a Christmas tree, as was the case for Tree 3, but I'm not making any promises; we never relase a tree before we feel it's actually ready. Hastverk er lastverk. :)
Once we're happy with the new tree, we'll ask the powers that be to start an A/B test where its performance will be compared to that of Tree 3 - the current tree. These tests usually go on for months, and the new tree will have to beat the old one if it is to be released to everyone.
I'm feeling confident that the new tree will perform well, but there's always a chance that it fails the test, in which case it's back to the drawing board for us.
Nice to hear (read) that the Norwegian course (which is already one of the best ones here, if not the best) is still improving. Like the goals you have set yourselves.
Let's see if I'm able to make my tree "golden" before the change happens to be visible ;-)
Hah, I'll race you! Shame there's no test-out option for tree building.
Still 200 crowns to do. On average I can tackle 2 per day, so I guess I need about 3 to 4 months. The race is on.
Bah, and I'm going on vacation tomorrow! Let's see what I can get done tonight then... :)
All orange tree (L4) now. Still slightly more than 100 crowns to do ...
also in the learning books collection Assimil (to french speakers), Norwegian is the best one. Is that not funny ? All those books are good for the learning process but... in the Norwegian one, the dialogs are much better, more natural with fine humor, so we remember easier.
Heia, heia! :D
We're still waiting for staff to add some new checkpoints, but at least we're getting the start of the tree alpha tested in the meantime.
got it! all golden. Now I'm ready for and looking forward to the new tree. Godt nyttår til deg (dere) også!
I'm sure I read recently that you are a volunteer! I hope that you are amply rewarded for your tireless work for us, and that goes for the other moderators, too. Tusen Takk!
Yes, most of us are volunteers.
However, Duo also has paid staff working on their own versions of some of the bigger courses. They are referred to as "experts" - as opposed to whatever we are. :p
Bare hyggelig, Nic! I did get a t-shirt once, with Duo on it and all.
Wow, Norwegian learners are so lucky to have such a deep course here. The course just might be the best here.
jeg er ny paa Duolingo. Jeg allerede snakker norsk, men med masse smaa feil. Derfor skal jeg ta den Duolingo kurs til aa forberede meg :) :)
Velkommen skal du være! Øvelse gjør mester, og du er allerede flink.
I really appreciate you all working so diligently to improve the tree! It means a lot to us!
Tusen takk! Jeg liker treen sin! Deres Arbeid betyr mye til oss. [Does that make sense? I hope it came out right :) ]
As a native speaker I do understand you (not a problem) but I take the liberty to correct it grammatically; "Jeg liker treet ditt. Ditt arbeid betyr mye for oss." In the last sentence, ditt is more common, since deres is very formal. Unless you refer to more than one person, than deres (their) is okay.
Thanks for the corrections! So I actually meant to refer to the mod team in general, so I was trying to use deres. I see if I wanted to be consistent I should have used Sine too, instead of sin.
Was there an issue in choosing Sine over Dine though? I think I understand the distinction, but sometimes I get confused and i'm curious which is more natural.
"Sin/sitt/sine" can only be used to refer the ownership back to a 3rd person subject.
"Han liker hunden sin."
"He likes his dog."
Since the subject of your sentence ("jeg") is neither 3rd person nor the target of the possessive, it's not a good fit.
Team Norwegian, you are just incredible. Entire trees languish without any form of attention at all (hello, Italian!) and you're back, hard at work. Tusend takk!
Thank you very much for the update and the excellent work you are doing! It's very, very impressive to read, in particular taking into account all the technical issues that you have to deal with.
I hope that "amusement park" is one of the lexemes that are not crucial and have been thrown out. I can never remember that word, and I'm not an amusement park visitor. ;-) Many thanks!
Bare hyggelig, Heike!
I will let you live in suspense until launch - and watch you race to the Compounds skill. ;)
Tusen takk på informasjonen Linn!! Certainly, I'll appreciate the changes, because the Norwegian course is one of the best courses on DL! Good job Norwegian Team.
Likewise! Always a pleasure to see a familiar face - or letter, as it were. Makes me nostalgic for Immersion and activity streams.
Hey Warrior Cleberz, it's seems you're here on Duolingo for many years ! And you fullfill. Incredible ;)
Does that mean once I finish making everything level 5 there'll be more exercises to do? I sure hope so! Any chance of a slang bonus skill? Skåm introduced me to a whole world of slang which meant nothing to me!
Unfortunately, we don't have access to bonus skills. They've been bugged for going on four years.
What I could do, once I have the time for it, is to post a thread about it here on the forum. It could be part of my (Not-So-)Weekly Norwegian series. However, I have to admit, I might not be quite young and hip enough to be an authority on slang anymore. ;)
Oh man, you guys just never stop, do ya? Compared to other trees the Norwegian one is simply epic but you still see room for improvement and work on it. You are extraordinary people! If you need a professional tester you know where to find me ;) I'm still 47 crowns short of a golden tree, but I think I'll manage to finish it on time :)
Thank you, Peter! You flatter us.
Our testbed is still not budging, unfortunately, but we'll see.
I'm always happy to see improvements...but for those of us who just started our Norwegian tree fairly recently, what will this do to the work we have already done? Will we have to repeat all the first lessons? Will it recognize which circles we had already completed? Thanks!
Since this will be the first tree we release post Crown Levels, I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure how it'll work, but this is what I think:
- Skills we haven't touched should keep their current state of completion.
- Renamed skills will be treated as new skills, as they do get a new ID in the system.
- Old skills containing new words will show as incomplete, but you'll likely only have to actually redo the lesson(s) with the new word(s), not the untouched lessons.
- Skills later in the tree that have not been altered by us, should keep their current status and stay available to you, even if earlier skills become undone.
There's unfortunately nothing we can do to minimize the impact it has on your tree, except not making the changes which we believe are for the better. I can only recommend using the test-out feature on skills you've previously done and mastered - or leaving them be if you're not the completionist type.
Do y'all plan on adding a separate course for Nynorsk in addition to Bokmal in the forseeable future? Norwegian course is picking up my interest, I wanna do it after finishing russian
There are no current plans for a Nynorsk course that I'm privy to.
Personally, I would love to see one. However, it would have to be made by someone else, as Nynorsk is not my primary written language and thus I'd be unable to do it justice. Our team is also stretched thinly enough as it is, with Luke currently lending the Japanese team a hand, fveldig holding down the fort in the sentence discussions, and Andreas being inactive.
Here I've been thinking about taking up Norwegian and... a new tree coming? I'm going to have to give this a try!
Hello from Russia :-)
Theron! I was going to link you something the other day, but then I didn't, and now I can't find it. :(
Since your personal life is basically a story arc in the course, I think it's only fitting that you return and claim your rightful place as a living Norwegian course legend.
Lol, he's not our beloved PM, though there has been some speculation as to whether his Norwegian bride-to-be, who may or may not be hiding out in Russia, could be.
A couple of old threads if you wish to read up on the gossip:
Well, if I'm "THE Theron" then my legend must have grown further than I realised ))) I'm not the chicken myself, she's my betrothed. Though until Deliciae replied I had a moment of panic that I'd been immortalised in the Norwegian course in an unanticipated way.
I know, nothing's safe in your hands. You've already made a mess of my private life, what more can you do? But I can't escape. Try as I might, I can't forget my first true love - the chicken, and she keeps calling me back...
Seriously, I moved to Russia not long ago and I'm still getting settled in, but then if I have time I do intend to take up Norwegian again. Does it make sense to wait for the Christmas tree?
Oh, I don't know, there's always your professional life.
Congrats on the move! I hope everything's going well. Since I can't guarantee that A) Duo will start the test as soon as we request it, and B) you end up in the right test group, it's hard to say.
OK, I'm back. Kind of, a little bit. I'm finding that I still remember the basics. Simple sentences like these two: Du er ikke en mann, Du er ikke en kvinne. In another course this might be worrying, but here it's obvious - hvem er du? Du er en kylling!
The chicken! Vi har en kylling. Hun elsker kylling (but as long as hun elsker ikke kyllingen it's OK).
Hvem har kniven? Creepy... Norwegian, we love you anyway, but seriously - tallerken?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "tallerkenene" "the plates" while "tallerken" is just "plate"? And the Russian word is "tarelka"...
Yes, that's right. It's usually the definite plural that really gets people riled up though. :)
That's great. Thank you (and the Norwegian team) a lot for all your engagement and passion for this course!
learning norwegian is the best....most of my cousins are norwegian and it would be great to have more intimate conversations with them...and not have to teach them english
I'm sure your cousins will appreciate your efforts. A language is such a lovely thing to share.
Thanks for the update, and the glimpse into the work you are doing. I'm in awe of the whole team for the amount of time you put into developing the course.
If we do get the tree for Christmas that should be around the time I get a golden owl, so it will be nice to go back and do some new lessons as revision. Looking forward to it :)
Takk skal du ha! Please post the teaser for v4 if possible. Nearly done with all the crowns, need more! :)
Bare hyggelig! I have a plan for the teaser now, but it will probably be out later this week as I have another thread I'd like to post before it.
I'll make sure to link the teaser thread here once it's out, so you don't have to worry about missing it. :)
As my primary language on Duolingo, and what brought me here in the first place, I'm excited to see what happens!
How many times do you plan to extend the tree? If it's infinite that is great for me, but what about for beginners? If there is a large amount of basic language to unlock before reaching more complicated grammar how can you avoid putting people off?
Great questions. I hope you like long answers. :)
How many times do you plan to extend the tree?
When we began our work on Tree 2, it was partially because we were itching to add some more vocabulary, but also because Tree 1 had actual issues that needed fixing. Don't get me wrong, it was a solid course, but when we built it we didn't have the experience that we do now.
Tree 3 represented more of a structural change, where we split up some of the larger skills, but also added new vocabulary - just not nearly to the extent that we did in Tree 2.
Tree 4 is in many ways a response to the introduction of Crown Levels. A change we had little influence over, but which affects our best practises when teaching. Of course, we already had a long list of changes we wanted to make; a perfectionist's job is never done, but it's not like we were itching to start a new tree. It's a lot of work, and at the end of every new tree my thoughts can usually be summed up as "never again".
While tree 4 is going to appear longer due to more but shorter skills, the lexeme count is currently exactly the same as for Tree 3. If the servers stop acting up, we might add 10 to 20 more, but that's it. The new tree is meant to be an improvement, not an extension.
Will there ever be a Tree 5? Perhaps, if we see improvements to be made. Will it be an extension? Probably not. We also try to keep at least a year between each tree release, to give people a fair chance to finish the tree they're currently working on.
If it's infinite that is great for me, but what about for beginners?
We're definitely aware that our tree length is pushing the boundaries of what works within the Duolingo format. For one, it can be a bit daunting scrolling down the tree, and there's also the issue of how far single-sentence translation can or should take you in your language learning.
Some of our vocabulary is so advanced, that a learner at that level should be reading longer texts than what we can provide in this format. This is one of the reasons why we encourage people to branch out and use other resources; nobody is more aware of the limitations of Duolingo's teaching methods than we are. Being volunteers, we have nothing to gain by keeping you here; we just want you to succeed in your learning.
Of course, you always have the option of doing half of the course, and still learning as much or more as you would from some of Duo's shorter courses. It would be nice if we could split the course up and create separate beginner and advanced courses, but we have to work with current format.
If there is a large amount of basic language to unlock before reaching more complicated grammar how can you avoid putting people off?
Actually, what you refer to as basic language is what the majority of our learners struggle with. Grammatical gender, adjective agreement, how Norwegian doesn't use auxiliary verbs when English does. We'd rather spend time teaching and reinforcing that properly than rush to the future perfect. :)
When reading the sentence discussions and the rest of the fora, it's easy to think that advanced language learners such as yourself are the norm, but that's not the case. Most of our learners are brand new to the concept of grammatical gender, they don't know how to identify an object, and they're certainly not familiar with the word "intransitive". Many are not English native speakers, and others again are monolingual English speakers with no experience learning a second language.
On the Incubator side of things, we can identify pressure points quite easily, as the concepts people are not ready for or need more practice with will have sentences with high fail rates coupled with frustrated and angry reports. A sentence with a >30% fail rate is not going to be a user favourite, and a skill that only has that caliber of sentenes is going to feel like hitting a wall.
Of course, we try our very best to cater to all types of learners, and the Crown Levels also lend themselves to that now that it's possible to test out of them. In fact, we strive for perfection on all fronts, and do try to please you all even if we know it's futile, but ultimately, the best course on Duo is going to be the one that makes the best compromises. It's taken me a while to make peace with that, but I'm getting there.