Feature Request: Duolingo should create a hard mode, for learners who wish to challenge themselves
Currently, Duolingo forgives typos and missing accents. While I think that's great for new learners, spelling and accents are still an important part of learning a language which is why I propose for duolingo to create "Hard Mode", where incorrect spelling or accents count as a wrong answer. Maybe it can be bought in the shop like timed practice, or maybe it should just be an option for users to opt into. Do you agree or disagree?
I agree, especially about accents! In many languages, letters with "accents" are really completely separate letters, and in others they contain important information about pronunciation and stress. Counting answers with incorrect or missing accents as "correct" is misleading, especially for English-speakers learning a new language for the first time, because it makes them seem unimportant or extraneous.
I would also love if there was an option to change difficulty to a mode that involved less translating out of target language in favor of more targeting into target language and transcribing.
I have to admit I do have a tendency to ignore accents, even though I've studied enough languages to understand how important they are. I just get lazy or in a hurry, since I do my lessons before work in the mornings. Misspellings can also be a problem too, if you don't get corrected on it, you'll just keep spelling the word that way, and the longer you do, the harder it becomes to fix it. The tow languages I'm focusing on at the moment don't have a lot of accents, so it's not a big worry for me right now, but I do plan on giving German another try once I've gotten somewhere with Russian & Dutch.
At the same time, this leniency has worked to my advantage, since I'm still using the Latin keyboard for Russian. (I've had the Cyrillic alphabet down for some years now, so I'm not too worried about it) It tells me I have typos, but passes it anyway.
Be careful and check the corrections. The system may seem lenient when you have just started, but its tolerance it's mostly for typos. If you strive for perfection, in most trees DUO will point out those careless typos. So you can learn from them, if they weren't typos, but mistakes due to lack of knowledge.
As has been said many times, it would be much better if the screen saying that I have a typo but was accepted had a separate color from green and red (yellow, for instance) to make it easier to note that there was indeed a problem.
Spelling. Accents. Punctuation.
All of it is important.
Your idea is amazing.
I vote for it.
I’d certainly like if they’d utilize crown system’s full potential, having very challenging sentences on level 5. I’d also like if they could implement an SRS Grammar Practice button with an algorithm that would throw you sentences based on what grammar it thinks you need to practice at the time.
An option would give everyone a choice from word bank to typing with mis-spellings to getting it right.
I would say that the forgiving mistakes such as leaving a letter without an accent makes me less likely to remember it in the future.
Eh, not a bad idea, but if they put some effort into creating a Hard Mode, I'd be disappointed if it was just a set of spelling drills.
Obviously, correct spelling is important, but as someone whose first language uses a number of diacritics, I can tell you that I use an English keyboard for everything aside from formal documents. So do a lot of other people and we can understand each other just fine because our brains automatically fill in the diacritics based on context. Being able to do that is important for a language learner, even if it adds an extra layer of difficulty. If you can only understand words/sentences when all diacritics are present, you have your work cut out for you.
I'm very much in favor of a Hard Mode, but I think it should introduce more complex grammar, academic or specialized vocabulary, as well as common idioms, collocations, slang, etc. What matters is getting people to the point where they can easily read a complicated text in their target language. Once you can do that, correct spelling is something you pick up naturally.
I agree with you. I've been thinking about this and just now a friend told me how cool it would be if Duo had like skills merely for speaking maybe in a hard mode or something.
I think I would like this option, if it also came with retirement of the Health system (currently on iOS - shuts down learning full stop after too many mistakes). I would be more supportive still if "hard mode" enforced accent use, but still allowed grace for misspellings - or at least, misspellings in ones own language (where it is probably not a learning mistake but truly a typo). Nothing is more frustrating that to fat-finger "car" to "cat" on my phone (between ridiculously tiny fonts in the app and small onscreen keyboard) and lose Health over it.
Sure, if I was trying to LEARN English, it would make sense to mark that as wrong, but since English is my first language, it's really NOT that I don't know the difference between those words.
I wholeheartedly agree! Maybe as a choice when you start a lesson/practice so that casual learners don't get discouraged. I definitely want to be challenged, though.
Absolutely. This is a feature that is frequently requested by serious language learners. I found Duolingo extremely useful for learning French several years ago. Unfortunately today that tool no longer exists.
The Duolingo of today has been dumbed down to the point I've stopped using it. I check back occasionally to see if there has been any improvement, but each time it has been dumbed down more in the name of user retention. I tried some Russian this week, and was dismayed to find I could test out of skills without typing a single word of Russian. That is pointless.
Duolingo's investors no doubt want to see increasing user population and retention, and that clearly is more important to them than building the best language tool they can.
The point they're missing is that many users like myself would happily pay a subscription for a good language tool, with the option to strictly enforce accents, spelling etc. and with primarily answers in the target language. Give us the ability to skip ahead to whatever lessons we want to learn. Don't force us to grind through vocab we don't need yet. If I want to practice specific grammar rules, I shouldn't first need to learn the names of various fruit and vegetables. Unless my conversation partner is also a greengrocer, it just isn't useful.
Learning a language is difficult, and many people will give up easily. Duolingo is trying to please and retain only those users. It is sad, because there is an active community of motivated language learners and polyglots who are willing to pay for the right tools. Right now I visit Duolingo infrequently, and with an adblocker enabled. Bring in the harder settings and I'd happily pay $50/month. I go to at least two language conferences a year, and pay weekly for Italki lessons - I'm serious about learning and I spend a lot on books, lessons and conferences. Right now none of that money is going to Duolingo. I'm not their target market.
This is all so easily fixable with a few difficulty settings. If you want to gamify language learning, gamify it properly. Nearly every computer game I've ever played has difficulty settings. Many casual learners may want to play on Easy. That's no reason to lose those of us who want to crank it up to Hardcore.
This issue has been raised so many times, I really doubt Duo are listening, but I'd be delighted to be proven wrong. My credit card awaits...
I agree so much about the dumbing down issue I wanted to upvote your comment 10 times. Get these 10 gold coins instead, so you can buy some imaginary toy for the imaginary owl friend. I'm afraid that the conclusion is that if you're serious about learning a language, there's just the language exchange apps, buying Assimil, and getting an actual, paid tutor. Outside Japanese, German (DW material) and probably Spanish and Chinese, the free material doesn't go beyond beginner level (the DL tree being only a decent starting point towards beginner level). Even France and Russia still haven't published free material to learn their languages, maybe afraid it would make their networks of cultural centers less relevant?
Many thanks! I only hope Duolingo are listening this time. At the moment Duolingo is useless to me, but it is only a few settings away from being something I'd pay a subscription for.
I really enjoyed active drilling on Duolingo back when there used to be much more typing in the target language. It means I can drill words quickly at full typing speed (I only ever use the desktop version, with a proper keyboard). That's really useful to me and something I can't easily do with a tutor or a book. For active writing practice, that was ideal.
There are online typing tutors that let you paste in the text to type, which is one way to get a bit of writing practice, but I'd rather be actively translating than blindly copying text.
Another thing about the keyboard. The Russian tree should have an automatic transliteration system, in the same way that I use a Latin keyboard to answer Japanese tests on Renshuu. The website automatically changes my input to hiragana. If I used the Japanese keyboard, that would be cheating, because the J keyboard tells you what words (in kanjis) are written with the hiragana you entered. And since kanjis convey meaning, you can often see when your answer is wrong, before entering it.
Depending on your operating system there are ways you can do this. I have a friend who uses it for Japanese. I'd recommend searching for instructions for your O/S as this puts you in control for everything, not just Duolingo (eg. if you want to type in Japanese on some forum somewhere).
I use GNU/Linux (Gentoo + xmonad) and it's trivial to set up keyboard mappings and switch between then. I have my keyboard set to toggle back and forth to Russian when I hit both shift keys simultaneously.
On Android, holding the space bar allows me to select a different keyboard setting, so it's easy to switch. I use that for Russian drills with Memrise (for which I have paid the pro subscription - something I'd gladly do for Duolingo if they'd make it useful to me again).
For Russian, I spent many hours teaching myself to read, write (letters are different when cursive) and type in Russian, so it's frustrating to try and practice Russian with Duolingo and not be asked to write a single word of it.
This is all so easily fixable with a few difficulty settings
Exactly. No need to put off all those people who don't actually want to learn a language - but allow people to use DL to do so.
Here's a better suggestion - if you want that, take a college course in your target language. Focus more on online chat with native speakers. Read books in your target language. The goal of Duolingo isn't to discourage people who are trying to learn a language, nor is it to make you on the same level as a native speaker, but to expose people to a language at approximately an A2 level. Trust me, if you want perfection, take a college course where you will get every wrong accent knocked off your grade.
True DL will only take you so far - but DL's repetition means you can end up drilling the wrong spelling due to sheer laziness. Why bother switching to an accent when DL will accept it without? After hundreds of repetitions that then becomes your default and to fix it will need more repetitions to un-learn.
If you are a serious language learner, someone who needs that language to survive on a daily basis in a foreign country, you are going to take a college class. I've done both college classes and Duolingo. Duolingo is great for language learners who want to be exposed to a language, but are not going to be using it on a daily basis for work. If you want perfection on accents, you would be better off using Pimsleur language CDs. I use them as I drive to work to get down accents and pronunciation. As for accents in spelling, if you actually read in your target language, you will remember which words have the accents and which words don't.
Everyone seems to want some tidy little phone app like Duolingo to be their one source of learning, but if you are really serious about learning a language, you need other sources as well. Read books in your target language. Use Pimsleur CDs. Talk to people online who are native speakers.
Reading is important, but it's passive. To really learn accents (written, not spoken) and grammar we need the active component of writing as well. Duolingo used to demand more active production of writing in the target language, and this was great. Unfortunately now it is possible to test out of skills without ever writing a word in the target language.
Pimsleur is great for speaking, as it demands active participation. When you don't have a speaking partner available, this is fantastic. I often use it when out walking. It doesn't help with reading and writing though.
The active phase of courses like Assimil is good for speaking and writing as it forces you to produce the target language. That's what I'd most like to see return to Duolingo.
Listening, speaking, reading and writing all have their place. I used to use Duo for active writing practice, but sadly now it is no longer useful for that. Typing in one's native language (or clicking on word banks) is a waste of time.
I have always been a poor typer. The reason I love DL is that it is not typing-heavy. If I were to be marked wrong for every typo I would become frustrated and stop using this platform. You receive training in pronunciation with the listening exercises and also can hear many of the Spanish sentences to be translated if you click the speaker button. Accents are very important and we are shown where they go in every sentence which is written in Spanish. As Bradypsychie pointed out....be careful and check the corrections.
That's a great idea in my opinion as well, thinking about challenging myself with Japanese as my favorite language I want to learn and not only. After spending several months on Duolingo I started studying Turkish only here using no other sources, I realized that completing lessons here is much easier than using your knowledge in a real conversation. Still lessons really help you learn so much and if practicing enough you will eventually improve a lot. The idea of this Hard Mode is very good either put as an item that could be bought from the shop as the timed practice or just as an option you could always use in your course.
There is little point forgiving typos. Duolingo identies my typos as errors and my errors as typos. My most common typos are typing "The" instead of "They" and "is" instead of "ist". I cannot tell Duolingo to identify these as typos. My missing accents are nearly always errors, so should be recognised as such.
There is a place for a testing section to measure current performance across a language as a whole, but this place is still empty.
Actually, I think we don't need such feature since, at least in the languages I'm learning or have learnt, whenever you make a typo or do not include or include an extra accent, the correct spelling/accent usage appears on the bottom of your screen when you press "check'.
But, the problem with that is the contrast. These corrections come written in a dark green on top of a light green, which is a really dumb combination to be honest, unless you don't want users to see their mistakes, which is also dumb.
You are missing the point. This discussion got a bit too much focused on correct spelling and special characters. That alone won’t make DL harder. Something like working exclusively into your target language in level 4, for instance, would be a good starter (and that is what the plugin I linked to actually makes possible for all skill levels).
I agree. I could use more discipline especially in the accent dept. In Shop is a great idea. Call it "High Stakes" and up the point/lingot rewards. That should automatically generate more keyboard translation into target language. ¡Dos pájaros con una piedra!
I agree, But maybe it can be practiced after you pass the first Checkpoint with at least 5 Gold Study things.
I agree with you! I'm Hungarian, and currently learning Czech, and the Czech have a whole bunch of accents, that Hungarians don't have. But at least Duolingo gives us a wordpad, on which you can select letters with accents that your language doesn't have.
Yeah I like that Idea because I really want to challenge my self in French. Good idea!
I think making it standart would be too much. I still mess up the punctuation in german occasionally and I'm a native speaker.
For new learners it'd be way too frustrating.
Usually that would be true, but most people don't use websites like this one to become good at a language, they're just looking for a fun way to get some of the basics (for example to prepare for a vacation or to decrease the frustration at the beginning of the learning process before using other sources to get better). For those people fun is more important than efficiency, because they can't keep up their motivation if they feel like running into a wall at high speed right from the beginning.
The goal of Duolingo is to get people to be able to communicate in a language. You can communicate just fine without proper spelling and punctuation, and if some people never learn a language just because they are frustrated about getting marked wrong for using è instead of é, then that would be a real shame, I think.
Edit: That being said, I would like to be able to opt into it as someone who actually enjoys spelling and the like. Maybe it'd be nice if it got more strict with spelling when you got to the level 5 exercises.
you can communicate just fine without proper spelling
Not if the spelling reflects the pronunciation. If you are spelling Hungarian wrong chances are high you are saying it wrong as well - and, no, people will not understand you.
Well, sure. I'm not saying that these things don't matter at all. What I'm saying is that I think by applying stricter spelling rules, you would probably see more people stop learning early, and I think it would have a net negative effect on how many people learn a language through Duolingo. Many English speakers don't understand some pretty basic stuff about English, yet usually you can still understand them fine.
A native French speaker came into my job two days ago, and it was the first time I had every gotten to speak with someone in French, and I got all nervous, started shaking, and said, «J'apprends le français. Je n'ai pas parlé avec un autre personne qui parler le français.»
I noticed the mistakes later upon self-reflection, but as I stumbled over the words he was like nodding and smiling to show he was understanding. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a great experience for me, and I was proud of what I have learned. I just don't want people to lose sight by focusing on every minute mistake. That's all.
Spelling and punctuation are extremely important for even the basics of communication. Spell or pronounce something wrong, and you are potentially saying a completely different word.
As far as punctuation is concerned, the following is an extreme example on how it can completely change the meaning of a sentence. What seems trivial has intense changes in meaning.
Are you ready to eat, children?
Are you ready to eat children?
I don't disagree entirely, but in your example, I don't find it very likely a native English speaker would actually get confused about which meaning was meant. Even if it technically means something else, people would understand. Most native English speakers don't even know how to use commas properly.
@LaurynnSnow - sure, in this example there is a "sensible" interpretation but that is not always the case. And some big court cases have hinged on where a comma was placed.
Native speakers wouldn’t be confused by the example I gave, because it is intentionally extreme to show how different a comma (or very slight pause in spoke language) will completely change the meaning of a sentence, from a normal situation, into a horrifying to most civilizations thought. It isn’t meant to confuse a native speaker, but to show the vast difference of meaning.
I actually had a real life example with this punctuation error earlier this week. One of my coworkers is Mexican, fluent in Spanish and mostly fluent in English, but does make a few careless mistakes. He was collecting a few orders for lunch, and assumed another co-worker knew this and said “what do you want chicken?” This co-worker Heard him being called a coward and took offense. A few hours later he realized that the intended question was “what do you want? chicken?” Was the intended question. It did cause a bit of tension in the office, even though it was unintentional.
But there are multiple real life instances where spelling and punctuation in both written and spoken language are important.
I am native in spanish and I always leave out some punctuation or orthography it's not that easy but as an option it would be great
Edit: that said saying no me rindo is not the same as no, me rindo
I've heard that they will eventually add B1 and B2 content. However, there's no way to know how long that will take.
I guess it depends as some computers or laptops who use the downloaded version are unable to easily access the correct accents on the letters. If this changed then I think that Hard Mode would be a great idea for Duolingo users
All modern computers on all major operating systems have easy access to correct accents and letters for pretty much any languages. You just have to add the language to the system's input method's list of keyboard languages, it only takes a minute to do so.
The physical symbols on the keyboard may not exactly match the actual letters typed, but for most keyboard layouts there is usually only a few letters differences that you'll just have to memorize and get used to.
Indeed. Anyone serious about learning a language with accents or different scripts should spend a few minutes to figure this out with a quick Internet search. Accents and foreign scripts are part of the richness of languages.
On my PC I still have the little box with accents - although since the latest "upgrade" they are almost impossible to see (grey on grey)
I agree with you, except none of my keyboards have accents and I don't know of any way to access them. So, I don't want to be penalized because I don't have accent keys.
Phones and tablets have accents if you hold a key. For computers DL should provide a little area under the question that you can mouse select accented letters. However it is so hard to read since the latest update I finally installed the Hungarian keyboard. Easy to switch with Windows-space and a spirit pen works as well as an overlay on the physical keyboard.
This has been discussed in another forum. I have downloaded the software described in this post. It makes using the accents very easy on a PC.
On my keyboard, the 'Alt Gr' key pressed with one of the 5 vowels places an acute accent on it. The Alt key can be used with the number pad, e.g. 'Alt 136' to help me type my wife's name, Yên. As a Windows laptop with a touch screen, I can easily set up the computer to have on-screen QWERTY keyboards for French, German, Italian and Vietnamese. Many other languages are possible. ï still requires 'ALT 139' to be remembered as this appears in words like haïr in French, but not on the keyboard. When I had a Mac, there were more keyboard tricks.
Currently the font is much better, but before a few weeks ago, I couldn't even see the accents (it is still difficult for me to see, just not impossible). Sadly it came with garish coloring that prevents me from spending as much time as I'd like.
So, how do you type accents? I use the on screen buttons, which takes a lot of time. Not so good for doing timed exercises, or when I don't have much time. For me it's good to know, I don't mind the reminders, I do think it would be super annoying to HAVE to use them always.
Maybe I need to figure out a way to program them into my keyboard?
Back to the point of "hard mode", I really like the test out lessons. I wish I could choose those even where I'm level 5 golden. They give much better coverage of the entire skill, while also avoiding mind numbing repetitiveness.
The tests are much easier than the actual skill levels. Much less material, each test is more or less the same for all levels and translations are almost always into the source language. You can get by with passive knowledge. No need to know verb or noun inflections or recall vocabulary. You nust need to recognize them.
So, how do you type accents?
On tablet/phone hold your finger on the key. For my PC have just loaded the Hungarian keyboard (as I cannot read the screen buttons since the update). You can switch with Window-spacebar.
I disagree about the test out mode - it just picks a few random sentences and doesn't cover all the vocab and grammar.
That's not really a hard mode. What is much harder and more interesting is to get to a level where you can actually start having conversations. That level is called "B1", knowing a Duolinguo course will just get you to the previous level, A2, in which you can struggle to make 3 sentences in a row, if your life depends on it, but more likely won't have the opportunity, confidence, energy and vocabulary to say more than one sentence once in a while. There's really no point in knowing to the perfection the basics of a language without going further.
I have a simpler, alternative suggestion: Allow users to flag their "correct" answers as incorrect. This could be used to address the issues you mention, as well as situations where you got the answer correct in terms of proper word and grammar construction, but you did not learn the concept being taught. Just click on a "Mark your answer as wrong" button and move on. No higher levels of Duolingo logic required, and you can ignore it or address it as need be.
I'm not as focused on my writing/spelling/reading as I am with my pronunciation, listening comprehension, and sentence construction. I wish Duolingo had more focus on these areas rather than buzzing me if I misspell a word.
great idea, i like it! i had a similar suggestion for an option that would enforce correct usage of accent and diacritic marks: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/28739324
i unfortunately ignored the accent marks when learning spanish but i now realize (based on feedback from native spanish speakers) that they are very important, so i'm trying to re-learn them. :(