https://www.duolingo.com/AnIsAPandah

Perfectionism and Language Learning

So today, after a couple months off of Duolingo, I looked at my Irish tree and wanted to restart it, which I've already done. Twice.

Those of you that know me know that I restart my trees more than I can count with my ten fingers. And it all boils down to this: perfectionism (and laziness). I wanted to know if anyone else has the same problem I do? or is it just me owo

4 days ago

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/rev._mother

A wise person once councilled me: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” I took it to heart and remember it often. Pursuing perfection above and beyond a “good job” often has diminishing returns and with a language like Irish, it might cause you to jump off a droichead. Forge ahead, don’t go down every last rabbit hole. There should be a good seanfhocal (proverb) for this principle, I am at a loss though.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/exp271828
exp271828
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I agree so much! From a higher vantage point, you generally have a better perspective ... and the ability to grasp so many of the finer details in the language. The problem is that sometimes that higher vantage point is a bit precarious, and you yearn for the safety of the lower levels (chuckle).

Somebody or other once said that the best way to become proficient at a language is to be willing to make at least 200 mistakes a day in it. Phooey on perfection - have fun, make mistakes, use it!

Perfection paralysis is what happens when you're so afraid of making a mistake that you stop trying to go beyond your comfort zone. I suspect that the only people who never make any mistakes at all are the ones who never do anything new ... and that may be the single biggest mistake anybody can make.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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I'm wondering if this is perfectionism or a symptom of Duolingo-addiction, lol.

If your aim is to perfect your language skills I guess there are better ways than redoing your trees over and over again. :-)

  • buy a good grammar book and look up things you struggle with more into detail in the grammar book. I'm currently learning Chinese and bought a grammar book relatively early into my learning process. I insist on buying a good grammar book, as there are many dull grammar books that will only make things look more complicated and annoying. If you're ready to buy one, take the time to read on-line reviews or ask other students on-line.

  • only progress into your tree when you have looked up at least once all the grammar details you struggle with in your grammar book. This will considerably slow down your progress into a tree, but will be more efficient in the long run. I alternate between progressing into my tree and repeating previous lessons until I reach 3 or 4 crowns per lessons and have really understood all the nuances.

  • do a reverse tree in the language you are learning (for example if you are learning French from English, well do the English from French tree). Unfortunately this is not possible for Irish, but it is for some of the other languages you're learning (and might be helpful for other people reading this post).

  • Even more challenging than a reverse tree is doing a combo tree, repeating one of the languages you are learning with one of the other languages you are learning as a base. This is highly efficient as it eliminates the tendency to translate everything back to your mother tongue, which is not a natural way of learning a language (children never learn a new language by translating back, but simply by associating concepts with words, expressions and situations). Learning a foreign language from another foreign language is another way to do this. Admittedly it will be much more difficult, but also much more gratifying in the end!

  • listen to folk songs in the language you're learning and look up the lyrics on-line, watch movies in the original language, first with subtitles in your mother tongue, then with subtitles in the original language. I don't know if it is possible to find videos in Irish where you are living, but for people learning other languages that is a great way to progress in a language next to and beyond Duolingo.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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I've been at the Duolingo game for over 6 years, and you just reminded me how much I still have to learn about utilizing this tool. Thank you so much! Combo trees, are a brilliant idea! I have done trees through French, but I practically know that one! Maybe I will try something like Swedish from German, get myself a second Swedish flag and confuse some folks!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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@carpe-idiom @Andrealphus

Quote Andrealphus: Maybe I will try something like Swedish from German

Unfortunately, German as the base/source has very limited courses available (English, Spanish, French).

http://incubator.duolingo.com

Sorry to say, but there are no reverse trees for the three Germanic languages Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch.

Neither there are laddering trees available from those three languages to any other.

Quote Carpe-idiom: Swedish from German sounds like an excellent challenge!
And highly rewarding afterwards!
Because both languages have declensions you may even find it easier to understand some explanations from German than from any other language.

I also wonder why I cannot learn - as a German native speaker - those three Germanic languages from German but only from English!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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Sorry to say, but there are no reverse trees for the three Germanic languages Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch.

Oh sorry to read that. I admit I didn't check if Swedish-German was a possible combo before commenting. I just assumed there were many more languages with German as a base, especially for the Germanic languages.

As a NON native speaker of German, but with a good command of German, I find German forms an excellent base to learn new languages once you've reached a comfortable level in German. Its grammar is so logical and well structured, and also includes a broader range of grammatical issues that you don't find in English or most of the Romance languages.

I guess it is more difficult to find volunteers with a perfect command of both German and another language, besides the three ones already covered.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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I guess I will just have to keep looking for something to combo with!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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Wow, Swedish from German sounds like an excellent challenge! And highly rewarding afterwards!

Because both languages have declensions you may even find it easier to understand some explanations from German than from any other language.

I forgot to add to try and read the comments in the foreign language (the ones that appear when clicking the bubble after an exercise) when you are doing a reverse or combo tree. :-)

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carbsrule
carbsrule
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You can only learn English, Spanish or French from German at this stage, it seems.

But you can do German from Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or Turkish.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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German from Portuguese might be good! Both languages I have problems with.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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@Andrealphus

I definitely can recommend the Portuguese->German course.

  • good practice writing in Portuguese on L0 - L2 (L3) crown levels

  • NEW vocabulary (other than EN-PT)

  • connector words (Einleitungs-/Verbindungswörter, Wörter als Zwischenbau (Nebensatz), etc.)
  • nice practical and long sentences directly from real life
  • "jumping Subjunctive" even in earlier skills
  • etc.

Great course!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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Unfortunately, even if you do ladder (the term usually used on Duo) between two non-native languages, you don't get a second flag on your profile. But it is VERY useful, not just to start eliminating the translation, but with similar languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, to point out the differences between them, and make it easier not to mix them up.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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@Klgregonis

Unfortunately, even if you do ladder between two non-native languages, you don't get a second flag on your profile.

This is true for duolingo.com and forums that there is only one language flag.

Fortunately you do indeed get multiple language flags (with different little base flags) on your Duome.eu user page (http://www.duome.eu/USERNAME).

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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Thanks for mentioning the Duome.eu user pages. Very interesting!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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@Klgregonis That's a good point. There are pros and cons to laddering [thanks for pointing out the official Duo term :-) ] either two genetically related or two unrelated languages. Ultimately, it all depends on our own preferences, how much challenge we're looking for, how much different our own mother tongue is from the two non-native languages and how we're wired for language learning.

Confronting two genetically unrelated languages, or languages that are not so similar, may prevent some kind of circular reasoning and bring that new perspective needed to understand the nuances, peculiarities and intricacies that would otherwise be taken for granted between two similar non-native languages. This is especially true if the two languages have many similarities with our own mother tongue.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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I realized that after I'd said it, when I saw I lacked a second Spanish flag. I've got Spanish from both English and French.

3 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/labradore1

One of the biggest single lessons you can learn about learning languages is to embrace, accept, and have fun with your mistakes. In fact, making mistakes - sometimes with hilarious consequences - is probably more important when learning a language than learning almost anything else.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
Thomas.Heiss
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Hi Annie,

I know you are a long time Duo member, but I don't know you personally or have seen any previous tree statistics.

How long was your break on the Irish course?
3-6 months?

Yes, I have heard from the one or other moderator that they regularly RESET their tree after a while or once per year.

I looked at my Irish tree and wanted to restart it, which I've already done. Twice.

  • Had you completed the full tree on crown level L1?
  • What crown level had you reached before? L3-L5?
  • Golden tree?

For a competition see the new icons (legends) on the top right: https://duome.eu/en/ga

If not, this makes not much sense to me. Why?
Now you have to go over again the first BASIC skills (animals, food, etc.) and you basically "waste" your own time....won't bring you any further for reading, speaking or writing in this language.

I know this stuff how it exactly feels from the first 3-4 months of my Portuguese tree when I started in 2016, not a time and stage I really like to look back at or want to force this experience again by resetting my tree.

..(...)..

Perfection probably then means:

You are not testing out the first skills which would mean that you miss the one or other vocabulary and sentence anyway?!

"True perfection" would be IMHO to reach the double golden full L5 tree: https://duome.eu/en/ga


With a resetted tree you now have the problem that Duolingo thinks you are a TRUE beginner:

  • There is no spaced repetition (SR) algorithm to assist in appropriate words decay, hinted (peaked) words and to re-strengthen weaker skills (words with lower strength value from 0.0-1.0).

  • You cannot really catch up your SR intervals as Duolingo - like Memrise - has no true support for "Overdueness" reviews.

It took me two years to get this English->Portuguese tree forward and to regularly re-strengthen skills.
And finally to see some nice / useful (longer) sentences in my EN-PT and PT-DE courses.

I can perfectly understand that for some more difficult grammar skills you would want to downgrade crowns from L3-L5 to L1-L2 or reset crowns back to L0.
This would be really good (e.g for my four Subjunctive skills) to REDO the single L0 lessons.
Unfortunately we are not allowed to do this.

Alternative approach

[HOWTO]: Different ways for spaced repetition with skill strength: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29304553

Depending on your concrete situation, and that we can of course not really compare Portuguse with Irish, I would have now focused much more on the skill PRACTICE re-strengthen buttons.

The "timed practice" is quite hard for me, even more after staff has tweaked their code a few weeks ago.
It now is REALLY challenging to get >10XP!

I think it is much more important to focus on specific skills especially at the last 1/2 (50% / 33%) at the bottom of the tree.
Even with just re-strengthening previous skills, someone has to put MANY XPs into it per day / week to actually get to the bottom as so many previous skills degild.
So the strategy concept to pick single skills, re-strengthen them (on your Duome.eu progress page) and to level them up to higher crown levels L4-L5 would have probably benefitted you more than to go all over the first skills and re-complete them.
At a time you want to write in Irish, not type in English, don't you??

..(...)..

AnkiSRS would have at least supported you with "Overdueness" and setting the next SR interval to a better number when you still know the word.

Do you also use Duolingo to practice single words?
Honestly, I think it is better to practice the single words in a 3rd party flashcard tool which you can review on a daily / weekly basis.

I literally hate that no Memrise/AnkiSRS vocabulary course is available for my Portuguese->German course and that for now I have to strictly rely on Duo's build-in word practice and SR intervals.
I really miss the Memrise 4h + 12h short-term review intervals to practice NEW (planted) words.
I can not do so many XPs on Duolingo to catch-up with a real 3rd xparty flashcard app :(

De-gilding to 75% has already started and now I have to focus again on the wrong skills from the top, instead of repeating the recently learned bottom completed skills or to REDO the lessons in my two unfinished skills :(

Wish you much success for your Irish course!!

For some reason there is no Irish->English reverse tree so you could have practiced Irish writing on lower crown L0-L2 (L3) levels.

My 2cents

Best regards / Viele Grüße

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025
angus390025
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That's austere. I use the test-out feature regularly. My strategy is that if I miss one question (lose one heart), then I immediately abort the test and do a few more individual lessons before attempting to test out again. You have me beat, not only aborting tests, but an entire course. If it works for you, then that's grand. If you're missing out on some of the more complex skills because of it, then you should probably rethink your strategy.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LaurianaB
LaurianaB
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Čo máme, o to nedbáme a za iným sa zháňame. Bascially, "we disregard what we have to chase things which we've not."

I'm a raging perfectionist. If it were up to me, I would start the tree over every day. But I realize this does more to hinder me than to strengthen me. I shouldn't disregard what I have (the work I have already accomplished) to chase doing it all over again. And why restart? It was your work, it was honest, and you used your brain power to accomplish it. Of course it made a difference. So, maybe go back and strengthen old skills, but let your hard work show for you and for others and use that motivation you had to complete what is done so far to power you to new heights.

Perfectionism can be a tool to do things right, but if you don't keep it in check it will put you at one step forward, two steps back...every single time. So let it be a strength, do not let it develop into a weakness.

Best of luck, Annie! <3

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maughanster_
Maughanster_
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I fall under the spell of trying to be perfect far too often, especially on Duo. I reset, restart, redo my trees way a ton, and also I do timed practices until I do one in which I get all the answers correct. I have some weird obsession with getting things perfect, but I guess that that's not the way to do things, I should just learn at a pace that fits me, and not one that my perfectionism forces me to follow.

Also nice to see you again, Annie!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells
MissSpells
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I reset a few trees but it was do to aesthetic perfectionism more than language learning related perfectionism. When they introduced the colour coding to crowns, I reset most trees so they would be even in colour. I guess we all have our thing. I have never reset my Irish tree though I think about deleting it daily due to frustration. Pretty sure if I did I would never start it again.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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I used to do that following the principal from an old book, "Approach all things as you would your martial arts," being the principal. I believe that if I cannot complete the tasks in sequence then the real world doesn't care if I can complete them at all, as knowing every word in a language is meaningless if you don't know grammar, the grammar can only get you so far if you have enormous gaps in your vocabulary, and if you have no grasp of idioms, you cannot come off as fluent. I view it as similar to, in that advice though I no longer fight, as having to return to my normal slouched walking stance in between moves while fighting a person. I then realized how many trees I would have if I hadn't kept on restarting and started to view restarting as running away from the challenge, so now I just climb my way through what I have difficulties with and fight through it.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpe-idiom
carpe-idiom
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That's funny, I've also practiced martial arts and agree with your approach. Great metaphor!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrealphus
Andrealphus
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More than self defense, I'd say martial arts taught me that as lazy as I am, there are still ways, strategies, and philosophies on, "this is how we achieve goals!"

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Songve
Songve
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Perfection is a delusion. I suggest a middle path between laziness and delusion.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rev._mother

I am a lazy deluded language learnin’ fool!

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carbsrule
carbsrule
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Why would you do that? (Unless you've finished and are a glutton for punishment)

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mewfu
Mewfu
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But... it isn't documented anywhere that you missed a question when doing a lesson (if you did). And Duolingo is designed for repetition, so you can always just do it again without resetting the whole thing. Am I missing something?

Just the through of starting over, doing everything again... I don't want to be doing the same tree in 5 years. I hope to have moved on to speaking fluently with natives by then.

I guess my question would be, why do you do it and what is your end goal for using Duolingo? That way, maybe there's a way to tame that perfection. Imagine being fluent in the language - a mistake here and there won't mean anything in that context. And you certainly won't be worse at a language because on November 6th you missed a question and didn't reset the tree and practice everything all over again. It won't be the last time you'll be running into those words or that grammar.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Baz16166

My wife frequently describes me as a perfectionist. But she's wrong. I just like to make a good job of everything I do. My standards are high, but fall far short of perfectionism.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Djedida
Djedida
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I used to delete languages if I decided to learn a new language so that I could focus on only one. That never worked out well and I must have deleted French, German, etc a few handful of times. Even Irish and Welsh are still gone.

I try not to delete progress anymore. I'm very indecisive sometimes.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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You can always redo any lesson or skill. While you won't see new words in yellow, you can still hover over the words, look at tips and notes if you're on the web, etc. You just get slightly more complex sentences, and fewer (if any) match the word with the picture questions right off the bat, which actually is not inappropriate if you've gone through it once - you'll be surprised at how quickly it comes back.

4 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aloha_aroha

Perfect isn't always best. Learning a language is a rough journey, and is never "perfect". I used to have the same problem. I had two different accounts where I was learning German and completely gave up on both because I focused so much on completing certain skills in order and trying too hard to keep a streak. I stopped using Duolingo because I thought it was "too hard" when really, I was making it like a competition against myself rather than a resource to assist me on my language-learning journey. I started back up again with Chinese to catch up with a class in school, and suddenly I was getting crowns and gaining experience because I wasn't focusing on what level I could achieve, I was only focusing on learning. Duolingo is a place where you learn, not compete, remember that. That's really all I have to say. Good luck :)

2 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hanspersson
hanspersson
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I'm the other way around. When I feel I know skills I'll test out of them and move on to the next, and a couple of minor errors don't bother me. I know that as I move further in the course, errors from the earlier parts will become easy.

My goal is to be able to understand the language and make myself understood in it, not to pass as fluent (which would be impossible anyway). I'd rather speak three languages intelligibly if not all correct than I'd speak one language perfectly.

1 day ago
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