https://www.duolingo.com/Hiro_04

Crowns vs Spaced Repetition

These are just my thoughts on the new duolingo.

About two years ago I used Duolingo to learn Spanish. I found that it was very effective in what it did. I was able to learn the basics and jumped off to other teaching materials after making my tree gold. Right now, I am probably at an intermediate (B1-ish) level. Can understand tv and movies at normal speed, especially clearly pronounced stuff like anime and news. Reading is fine as long as it doesn't include uncommon and literary words or long, convoluted sentences.

I returned to duolingo about a month or two ago to give a try at Chinese. I don't know if it's the Crown system or how the course itself is made or maybe the language itself but it's definitely more difficult now than before. I am able to retain words, characters and grammar points but it's a difficult process, especially since Chinese has so many words and syllables that sound alike. Spaced repetition would have helped with this as it really helps with making things stick in memory. With Chinese you have to remember three thing (character, pronunciation, meaning). As is, I keep having to worry about whether i should advance through the course, get a higher crown or redo things that i think i forgot.

It's sad since duolingo 'teaches' the most words and looks like it has the cleanest interface.

Any thoughts, is it just me, the language or the course??

Any free language apps that teaches the basics like old duolingo style??

3 weeks ago

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/CarolinianJeff
CarolinianJeffPlus
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Chinese is considerably harder than Spanish no matter how you approach it... it lacks all those wonderful cognates that make Spanish so approachable, you have to memorize tones in addition to consonants and vowels, and worst of all you have to memorize characters.

The Foreign Service Institute estimates that English speakers progress to their level 3 in Spanish in 24 weeks of full-time study, while the same level in Mandarin takes 88 weeks. It's hard. Having started with Mandarin, switching to Spanish (and then adding French, which is also easy) made learning a new language seem like the easiest thing in the world.

Having done Mandarin in both, Duolingo's approach is much more efficient than a classroom. There are things it could do better - sometimes the audio is wrong, they don't teach stroke order, and so on - but it's pretty good. If you do both Duolingo and either LingoDeer or Hello Chinese you should be a pretty good place.

As for crowns vs. spaced repetition, you can still do spaced repetition by going to https://duome.eu/Hiro_04/progress and clicking on the Practice button (the dumbbell icon) for whichever lessons you've fallen below 100% on.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hiro_04

Thanks. I think I'd try LingoDeer. It looks like the app I'd want and then go back to duo once i advanced more.

And Wow. You're at Level 25 in the two languages i want haha

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/floer
floer
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Have you tried Duolingo's Practice? I don't know if it is exactly spaced repetition, but it is different from working to obtain crowns.

You might also check out the free app Lingodeer. It is similar to Duolingo, but each has its advantages and disadvantages, and you might learn better by using both of them together.

Aside from that, keep in mind that, at least if you are starting from English as your native language, Chinese is MUCH harder than Spanish and you should expect to progress at about 1/3 to 1/4 of the speed. So if you are progressing rapidly with some app then you are probably not really learning the language.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hiro_04

Duo's practice doesn't feel the same as the previous system.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LorenzoCabrini
LorenzoCabrini
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You might want to try some other sources to help you with the characters at least. You could try memrise, which has quite a lot of decks, some good, some less so. Memrise is SRS.

Or you could give Anki a try. I use Memrise and Duolingo (I came back recently), but I always rely mainly on Anki. There are lots of ready-made decks you can download, however I prefer to make my own. Over the years I have created a few 100 thousand cards.

What I like about creating my own cards and decks is that I can tailor everything to how I personally like to learn languages. I feel I need to tune my ears to the language first. A good example is Vietnamese. I really struggled to say anything in Vietnamese for a long time, simply because my ears could not yet distinguish the subleties in the tones.

So I start with cards where I hear some sentence and I have to translate it into Italian (my native language). Once I get comfortable, I reverse it. I see the Italian phrase and have to speak out loud the translation. Then I more or less do the same with reading/writing. I create reading cards first.

Once I get a bit more advanced in a language, I can begin to add more interesting stuff, like audio/video clips with a question I have to answer. Here I can cut out Italian entirely and work only in the target language.

I am not suggesting this would be the right approach for you. But you can experiment until you find what suits you. I have used Anki for well over ten years now and have tried many different cards types until I now have something that works for me, at least for now.

With Chinese you should learn to distinguish the tones first. In Mandarin, this is quite simple, since there are few tones (four) and they are relatively easy to make out. Cantonese gets a bit more complicated, at least for my ears.

Personally, I feel that Michel Thomas Chinese course is a fairly good way for a beginner to learn the tonal system of Chinese. I am normally not a big fan of Michel Thomas courses, but this one, IMO opinion is good at introducing the tones.

But there are many other good resources out there for learning the Mandarin tones. Google around and you will find quite a bit. Sift through youtube. There are some good things there as well, if only you look around long enough.

As for the characters, at my university (many, many years ago now), we used Noah Brannen's Japanese by the Total Method, which was super boring, but actually drilled in all the foundational Japanese sentence structures and taught roughly the first 800 kanji. This may not seem much, but once you get a hang of how Chinese characters work, it somehow isn't so difficult any more. (That is not to say that it is not a struggle to remember several thousands of them).

Since I was in a hurry as a young man, I went out and got Remembering the Kanji (there were two or three volumes). Funny enough, his method didn't work very well at all for me, but I went through the characters, wrote them over and over again and kept saying the meanings out loud.

In Japanese, I found it useful to learn meanings and pronunciation indepently, since kanji have both on and kun readings, it tends to get quite complicated at times, if you try to memorize both the character, its meaning and all possible readings at once. However, in Chinese, I find I can learn a character and its readings together. (The "Chinese" reading of a character in Japanes is what is called the on-reading).

Anyways this is getting very long by now (and most certainly boring). I just want to end with a bit of advice to help you or anybody else struggling with memorizing characters.

  1. Set reasonable goals in the beginning. 100-300 characters in the first year is quite good.
  2. Don't give up after the first few hundred. After you have learned the first 500 or so (and understand radicals, the building blocks of Chinese characters), learning a new character becomes learning which radicals it is made up of, not the 20 or so strokes you need to draw. This helps a lot.
  3. Have fun!

Thank you for getting this far.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hiro_04

Thanks and here's a lingot for your effort. I tried memrise before but using multiple apps confuses me and i didn't like it that much. What i did before was finish duolingo, used it as my base. and then moved on to other resources. But Duo Chinese w/ Crowns doesn't seem to work for me. I' ll try maybe Lingodeer before Duo or something.

So you've tried Japanese & Mandarin. Awesome!

3 weeks ago

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