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Terrible New Change to the App

I know some have already mentioned this, but the more recognition (and criticism, hopefully) it gets, the higher the chance that they revert back.

They've changed the "Translate to x" exercises by making them fill-in-the-blank-type questions, rather than needing to type it all out yourself.

I hope the developers realise that typing a language on the fly trains the same type of language producing ability as speaking the language does, which is many people's area of weakness. Most people have no issue hearing the language and translating to English, it's needing to translate to the target language which is the difficult bit and hence shouldn't be simplified to a fill-in-the-blank.

When travelling in a target language country, you can't just have sentences magically pop out of your mouth where you fill in the blank word and go, you need to come up with the whole sentence yourself, so why are we training poor habits? You're literally taking the mental aspect of language learning out of it.

So to the developers, please revert back to the original way the app functioned, where you actually had to think for yourself to form the sentences. Your obsession with making Duolingo game-like and child-friendly is destroying any true language learning benefits of the program. May I remind you that the majority of language learners on here are probably teens and adults? Children learn languages just by being exposed to them - adults do not. We need to be challenged to learn, and this new change is hindering this.

May 10, 2019



First, I have always had these sorts of questions, but they go away the higher the crown level.

Second, i think this situation is actually quite realistic. In your example of traveling and a sentence pops up scenario, it mirrors a phenomenon that happens to me all the time. Even in my native English I will be talking and know exactly what I want to say, and suddenly, halfway through, the brain just goes blank and I have to suggest to myself a few different words mentally to finish the sentence in my head. This happens to me in German as well. I will be having a conversation no issues, and get to a word that my brain just drops out on. These exercises help in this scenario.

However, all that said, I don’t think they are the best exercise, and they should be limited to 1-2 per 40 or so exercises.


I also recognise those questions, and I also think they seem to disappear with crown level. From what I can tell, the questions at level 0 and 1 are more simple, fill-in-the-blank kinds of questions. The higher the level of the lesson, the more "translate from english and type it all out yourself" it is. And that seem to be the case on both desktop and app versions. If this is the case, I don't mind at all. It's a great way to begin, and as long as it gets more difficult the more you do it, then no problems.


Thanks for giving a good response. I think limiting the number of them like you suggested is a good idea.


no it does not go away the higher the level, I am getting those fill in just the one word at the 5th level. It's ruining the higher levels of things.


You're right, it does not go away. I'm doing Interests 3, level 3/5 (3rd category after the 2nd checkpoint) in the Spanish-from-English tree (on the web version), and these fill-in-the-blank items keep popping up and I hate them more and more. They rob me of the chance to practice translating whole sentences by writing them out myself.


I completely agree. This is the type of thing that will drive away users which is very sad. Duo is a great tool to learn from. But the 'fill in the blanks' are just terrible.


I agree with you, though I hope they don't reset the German course, id hate losing my progress


Once I had them on Level 0, for words I hadn't even encountered for the first time. In retrospect it was probably a glitch, but when I complained about it people told me that I was learning wrong and Duolingo was obviously the wrong platform for me. (They were probably right, but it still wasn't very nice.)


In complete agreement! I turn off word bank to challenge myself in those types of exercises as early as possible. I'm not opposed to the change per se, but it would be nice to turn it off the same way I can with the word bank so I have to create the whole sentence from scratch.


Yes, you're right. I didn't bat an eyelid at the word bank addition because you had the option to turn it off, which I did immediately.

The reason this new change ticks me off is because we don't seem to have a choice in the matter.


If you want to avoid the app - and be able to turn off word bank - just login to the website instead of using the app on your mobile and you will have the option :)


Your last para is particularly pertinent! A lingot....


Thank you. Glad that you agree with my comments.


I agree. And this is why I rarely use the app because I do not want word banks either. I really wish, in general, duolingo asked me to translate sentences from English into my target language more often. I feel like I get far more questions asking me to translate the target language into english, which is much easier. For me, Duolingo is more of a refresher course since I already studied Spanish in high school. My progress is maddeningly slow and yet I'm still not getting enough practice with what I really need practice with, which is being able to conjugate verbs and come up with the right vocabulary without any help.


You've hit my major frustration which is that I already know the language a bit and need to do the harder crown levels to have a challenge. And now duo has started charging lingots to test up a crown level on Android. I've entirely swapped to the desktop version now.


But that solves your problem! The desktop is much more of a challenge, especially once you disable the word banks.


These fill-in-the-blank exercises are also new to the web. For the most part they seem to be replacing multiple choice questions, at least at the higher levels, which is good. So I have no problem with the existence of these questions, or of their frequency.

My problem is that many of them don't work! In Hebrew, for instance, there are questions where the "correct" answer is written with an explicit vowel under a particular consonant to emphasize that the word is masculine or feminine. Except that Hebrew is usually written without vowels, and the Hebrew/English keyboard that the developers recommended doesn't even allow you to type in vowels. As a result, it's literally impossible to get the question right! (The "skip" button was also malfunctioning, so I was forced to abandon my progress and try the lesson again on my phone.)

In some other sentences, the rest of the sentence fits with either a masculine or feminine version of the missing word, and only one of the two is accepted. You just have to guess which one they want.

The situation seems to be somewhat better in the other languages I'm studying, but this feature is still buggy. IMO, DL is rolling out way too many not-ready-for-prime-time features at once. They need to fix the bugs in the old features (e.g. the progress bars on the website that have little relation to how many lessons you actually have left) before introducing any more new ones.


I see your point on the bugginess of the new feature: that is plain bad, and another reason not to roll this out permanently and to everyone.

However, I must disagree with you with regard to their existence and frequency. Before, I'd only seldom get a multiple choice question. I know, perhaps I was lucky. Instead, I now get these fill-in-the-blanks, and I get many of them. On a level three and being accustomed to typing out all my sentences, it's staggering to get more than six of them in a row - repeatedly.

It's hampering my language learning to no small extent, and for a platform that wants to encourage my language learning, that's seems to be bad practice.


I've only just started getting them, and in the Welsh tree there are times where there are a couple of words (or forms of the same word) that are equally correct, but that only one will be accepted.

Thank goodness the web doesn't have the health system, or I'd be unable to continue studying just because I can't predict which word they decided to use on each occasion.


For me, I'd prefer to be able to customize - rather than have just one approach for all. I've being redoing my French tree and appreciate some of the simpler lessons and believe it is helping me. I do believe this same feature could be annoying for others who are further along with their learning. It would be great to customize the style of learning that you believe would be best for you.


Good point - I always reckon I haven't learned anything of a language unless I can actually write out the words myself .. .it's a real challenge, especially with the Slavic languages I am trying to learn, but it really cements progress, in my experience. You make a very good point!


What is truly terrible about the fill in only the one word thing is that it is even coming up on the 5th level. We are not going to learn how to have good grammar with that. I'm disappointed that we are getting less good exercises due to that. If I just wanted to learn single words and not how to do sentences, I'd just look them up in a dictionary or just use flash cards to learn words but I want to be able to write and speak well to others in my target language so need the grammer


I would like the app to ask us questions and we had to answer them, such as "Where do you work?" "I work....". I'm not sure if that's an option later on but it would really help me learn how to formulate answers. The removal of clubs seems to have removed this option and the ability to chat with others.


That seems like a good idea, but it might be hard to implement due to the sheer number of different jobs people have.

Unless you mean jobs that are taught in the course, in which case yeah, I think that's a good idea


For what course is this affecting??


All of them from what I’ve seen.


Totally agree with this


A correction to my comment above: reading your original comment again I think you are referring to the translation of a whole sentence rather than inserting a single word, whereas I was referring to the use of multiple-choice menus for the words in the whole sentence. For instance in the Chinese course (and some others) the words are all offered as buttons, sometimes along with some spoilers, and the task is to recognise the necessary words and get the word order right - which is often quite tricky. I like the use of buttons (almost inevitbale when translating into Chinese, and a large time-saver in other languages) but certainly appreciate being made to get the whole sentence structure right.


I'm learning Korean and it's the same for me. I wonder if perhaps it is more helpful with languages whose writing is very far removed from your own than ones with shared alphabets. Regardless it does seem like it would be helpful to make it optional for those that wish to translate the sentence as a whole.


Just turn off the word bubbles


I'm referring to a different change. In a recent update, exercises requiring you to translate from English to target language have now become fill-in-the-blank types. For example, from the Swedish course:

Before Translate to Swedish: I am eating an apple - You type: "Jag äter ett äpple"

Now Translate to Swedish: I am eating an apple - "Jag äter ett ____" And a list of words to choose from comes up, rather than you needing to write it out yourself.


@Buzdawg I have not seen that yet. I have seen multiple choice, though


It’s probably more attractive to children, so they will probably not get rid of it, but why can’t they just make it an option, if these exercises had the option to change to typing, that’d be great.


Mine still asks me to type translations in both languages. I wonder if it's being gradually rolled out, in which case I'm not looking forward to it.


Perhaps it hasn't been introduced to all languages or not fully rolled out yet, hopefully you don't see it at all hehe


I noticed that these exercises are actually very strict for the input, so if you miss an accent or even capitalize a letter incorrectly you will fail. For that reason I actually find it a very useful feature when learning Czech as it forces me to get all the accents right. I haven't tested it on other languages so I don't know if it's just as good in other scenarios, but, judging by your words, it's not, which is unfortunate as this is a really useful feature when it's working like it should.


I find this useful too, but have you had to fill in a blank in the middle of a sentence which begins with accent? It only allows me to put a capital in and then marks it wrong so i have to cut the character from another page and paste it in...this is not so cool!


I'm okay with feature itself, but what we do need in app, is... changing between bank word and keyboard. This is the main reason why I prefer website more even though I like the app.


Yeah, I don't mind it in languages I know, but I'm getting huge strings of these things in Irish and I'm ready to start gnawing off my own limbs. I still struggle with basic verbs--not even the conjugation, it's the roots that are an ever-evolving mystery--and without hints or a list of options to choose from, I might as well be conveying my answer in the form of a nice fruit plate or an interpretive dance as trying to key it in.

I know that there's no way I should have gotten this far and still be this stymied by the basics of a language, but I don't set the levels on this accursed thing, and I don't make the rules for the Irish language. And right now my strategy for handling the fill-in-the-blanks questions is to mash the keys, get it wrong, copy the correct answer into Notepad, and paste it in the next time the question comes around. Or, if I'm on my phone, write it down on real paper. I am aware that it's a dirty bit of cheating, but in my own defense, I'm not very clever and one does what one has to in order to survive, and I find my emotional response to the prospect of being banned oddly philosophical.


From another Irish learner: you hit the nail on the head there. I get masses of them as well.

Another thing I've realised - a few days into this new feature - that I don't learn half as well now. It is depriving me of my spelling practice. And if I only have to think about the one word I've got to fill in, I totally miss the other difficulties in the sentences, which are quite abundant in this beautiful language.

I can only imagine that the same problem arises in many more languages.

Again: implementing this feature pemanently would be a bad thinng for an app that intends to help us learn a language. This is not helping at all, I'm afraid.


I hate to say this but you are not going to learn well doing that at all and as it means you just keep moving on with the lessons while still cut and pasteing the answers in. I suggest to allow your self to get answers wrong and so then it will allow you to do the same exercises over and over till you can recall them yourself and get them right. Otherwise you may finish the duolingo exercises and still dont know cause you have always copied the answers in.


I’ve been learning Irish for three years now. I don’t learn well anyway—on the last twenty-question module I did I got thirty-two wrong answers—and I know from experience that forcing me to repeat content over and over until I get it right just makes me frustrated and unable to continue. I’d rather blow Irish entirely, do what I have to do to appease the owl, and move on to a language that will actually fit in my brain than push through until I am ready to start breaking dishes and too upset to learn anything for the rest of the night.


That's the issue in a nutshell. The genius of DL is how it uses gamification to make us want to learn. Lingots and crowns and owls and leader boards are ultimately meaningless, but if they get us excited about learning, they're wonderful. On the flip side, bugs that get us angry are disastrous. They may not literally stop us from learning something, and there may be a technical work-around, but if they make us feel frustrated or cheated they keep us from studying, keep us from learning, and keep us from having fun.

And leave us with a bunch of broken dishes to clean up.


With the new recent updates this spring of 2019 I've noticed that at least exercises do not work on my device. The three flash cards cover up the word so I have to guess which is the right card. Plus, there's a new 'fill in the blank.' My keyboard doesn't work for it nor do I get the touch keyboard from duo. This causes me to get them wrong if I don't guess right and I can't finish an exercise. This will cause me not to continue learning German and Italian through Duolingo. I hope this can be fixed soon. Why do you alway feel you have to upgrade? It was just fine during the winter of 2019.


I have same problem w level 1 German on my iPad. I cant see under the flash cards but I can keep guessing but then I cant enter the text at all on other questions. I would welcome a useful change like being able to shuffle word bank tiles, especially with the back-to-front language i'm learning.


Thanks for your reply, Simon. Does Duolingo read about how these changes and do they have a plan to fix them or go back to the way it was?


Your point about the value of searching for a word is a good one. But typing the answers in on a mobile slows me down, as does the occasional rejection of alternative reasonable translations. So while the menus are certainly less taxing I think they they may be more efficient for me - I suspect if it demanded more typing I might simply get frustrated by the slowness and use the app less. I also sometimes try to form the sentence before looking at the words offered. (The language I am learning most intensively is Chinese where typing in the target language would be tricky anyway).


But typing the answers in on a mobile slows me down

Are you after XP or learning a language? It is active participation that cements your language.


Do it in google and use google voice instead of typing, that way you practice your pronunciation, and as you pronunciation improves it is much quicker that typing or heaven forbid the word bank.


And here I was wondering how I can maximize the audio exercises whenever I play! Never thought of that! Thank you for the tip!


As I suggested, active participation can be achieved by formulating the sentence in your head first, before looking at the words on offer. My point was about the waste of time in the act of typing itself - which, on a mobile, can be considerable. The fact that the lessons can be done quickly and without much effort means that I do more of them than I otherwise would and that I answer an awful lot more questions per minute.

It is an open question what form of learning is most effective in any case - there is a school of thought that interesting and comprehensible input is the most useful thing.


Perhaps it would be nice to have a click-to-reveal word bank on mobile.

This way one could formulate the sentence without peeking, and then be done with answering the question more quickly than with typing.


I understand your technique of forming the sentences in your head before looking, but you mentioned how this new change makes it easier to work around the app.

Ironically, I’d find it more inconvenient to have to actively ignore the sentence being showed before while coming up with it myself, but I understand your point of view.


Agree! The solution for me would be to have this as an option that you can enable/disable at all times.


I think this would be a good solution, or minimising the number of times such exercises appear, as mentioned by Alpha3099 above.


also add the light ball to the app


I agree but, i'm new to this so i would struggle quite a bit.


The damned thing has crashed on me during tests now four or five times.


I have problems with this in the Turkish course. It will be Word-Word-Blank-Word. If the 'Blank' starts with a special character such as Ş, Duo only lets you insert a capital using the special character tool and then it marks me incorrect for using a capital in the middle of a sentence. I then have to open a page of Turkish text and cut and paste the small ş in.


Perhaps the best option would be able to choose which one you are doing - I like the typing when I’m using my laptop but prefer filling in when I’m using the iPad


With the new change, I can't even type my answer. I skip it but the program marks me wrong and I can't advance. For this reason I'm spending much less time on duo. Finding other language options. Does Duo read our comments?


Agreed. I feel extremely cheated every single time one of these 'fill in the blanks' come up.


For you, maybe, but I have had to give up on the app totally because I am only doing practice sessions to try to retain my grasp of Welsh. I am nearly 80, have arthritic fingers and poor eyesight, especially peripheral vision. I was being marked wrong over and over for typos which I could not spot. One was ddinewid for ddiniwed which counted as two errors. I have given up in sheer frustration and will now only use the login web version available via Google.


Cant agree more. And new changes since then even worse! i now stopped using duo lingo. Was learning Czech, but all these game and competition and advertising spoiled it for me.

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