https://www.duolingo.com/Orion_Speaks

Language Fluency or League Dominance? Take your pick.

Don't get me wrong, I get Leagues, they can be fun, motivating and add something more to do on Duolingo. However, I feel like participating in the Leagues, (which IS voluntary, I know), requires our focus and effort to shift from quality to quantity.

I don't think it's at all presumptuous to assume that most of us are here to become fluent in another language, therefore, so much depends on the time and effort we put in, but also the tools and instruction we use.

Leagues was seemingly designed to use competition as a motivational carrot; and as far as carrots go, they can be an effective means of motivation if they motivate someone down the right path; Leagues does not.

The format in which the Leagues' carrot works is not conducive to the goal of most Duo users. That is to say, you win at Leagues simply by reaching the top League, and the way to get there is by getting more XP than others in a given time. Does that mean they are fluent? No. Does that mean they have all level 5 gold crowns in every skill of a language? No. Does that mean anything other than they got more XP faster than others? No.

So the format of Leagues, does not align with the overall goal of fluency for most of Duo users, meaning it's not the right kind of carrot for Duo.

But it goes further than that... It encourages us to seek attention and status where we should be focused on learning. We already get enough of this attention seeking junk from all other forms of social media with how many Likes and Subscribes and Follows we have. Please don't stoop to that level Duo! Social media is one of our worst creations.

Quality > Quantity

Leagues does not encourage Quality...

It has encouraged cheating, however, which is an accomplishment considering Duo is free, we're voluntarily here to learn, and our fluency level is not beholden to anyone for a grade or pay. So consider the design of carrots more carefully; they should motivate, focus and encourage us, as well as contribute to, a specific goal (language fluency in this case), not Leagues.

June 8, 2019

39 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Songve

From what I have read about Leagues, they are more like Motivational Crispy Cremes. They taste so good until one day you look down and cannot see your feet. Instead of fluency you've become a member of the Buffalo Tribe. Sure , you can throw your weight around but not in the manner you originally envisioned.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/WinterSoldier.

Songve, I was having a tough day until I read your hilarious comment! I certainly want to avoid the buffalo tribe!

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndresGarner

Songve, you have me laughing from your comment XD

Have you ever considered being a Vietnamese comedian?

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Songve

I already am. Kind of. I was born in US of questionable European stock but life has drawn me to the Far East. When I recently spent 6 months in Vietnam, I worked out a short comedy routine with my main Vietnamese woman where she would read out a phone number from her phone list and I would repeat the number to an imaginary person on my phone. Being a tonal language, it is easy to turn a word into another using the wrong tone. This bit involved the numbers 0-9-0-7. I messed up the first two numbers that resulted into naming an animal. I correctly pronounced the second 0 that lead into mispronouncing the 7, to mean a method of locomotion in the air. The result is the vernacular of human anatomy that is surprisingly the same in English. Anyhow, the dinner party where I first tried out this bit, there was silence. Folks probably figures just another foreigner who can't pronounce Vietnamese correctly and being polite. I then announced, in Vietnamese, I was having some word play and the place erupted in laughter. I have a few other bits that play with the language but they are too ribald for here. Vietnamese love word play and they have taught me a lot.

For folks learning Vietnamese, check out Paris By Night episodes. They have some hilarious comedy routines.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndresGarner

Tonal languages can be fun and dangerous! I could see myself accidentally calling someone a bad word in a language such as Chinese and then getting slapped or chased LOL. (I have bad luck like that.)

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Songve

I guess it depends how bad you mess up as to what the consequences may be. Seriously, I think they take pity on us and let things slide. I just started Chinese here and am a little overwhelmed with the ideograms and things going slow. What's your opinion of the course?

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/fwmoor

It's a fun course. I've heard from multiple people that it isn't perfect, but it's not a bad start. I'm also using the apps @AndresGarner is using, as they feel more advanced, but DuoLingo has a much better community than the others. Also maybe check out LingoDeer :)

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AndresGarner

Honestly, I don’t like the Duolingo Chinese course instead I use two apps “HelloChinese” and “ChineseSkills”

My main language I am learning is Spanish and I mess around with Chinese and Arabic just for fun.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/EmperorIguana42

Yeah but it's common knowledge that whoever wins the league gets their family back

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Songve

Doggone it, I'm gonna hafta play now...

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelMoore2004

I strongly believe the title of your post, and ultimately the post itself, draw a bad conclusion. Fluency and Leagues don't have to oppose each other...In fact, they can go hand in hand.

I have learned the hard way that if you're learning and having fun, the XP will naturally follow. I have kept my learning pace the same for months now, but Leagues often encourage me just to do the extra one or two lessons needed to get to the next spot.

In the past few months, partly due to Leagues, I have learned more Spanish then ever before. Leagues have, and continue to, motivate me, and it is quite obvious that binging and cheating is not required to "win" at Leagues: I have finished in the Top 3 every week since starting Leagues.

Happy Language Learning!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/FlipsyFlop

Hi Michael! This whole debate about the leagues seems to be between different learning styles and competition. I guess everybody learns on their own pace but your case is interesting. As you are very proud of having ended high up in the league ranks as I can see in your profile. Also you are level 23 in Spanish which is quite cool. But you're not even a third up in the Spanish tree with only 42 skills of 159 acquired, and 176/797 crowns acquired, and only 1109/4466 words learned. So I am just very curious, if you put so much time into getting those few skills up to level 5 crowns, why not go up in the tree and actually learn more words, grammar etc.?

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelMoore2004

Hello @FlipsyFlop!

I agree, the debate really goes down to what motivates you and how your learning style works. And yes, I am quite proud of my high League rankings xD

As to my stats, I know I'm rather behind :). That's because of my old Duolingo learning style, which I now believe was very harmful for my language learning. Up to a few months ago, I used to get every skill to Level 5 before moving on to the next one. However, this resulted in "binge" learning and memory loss. In addition, I would get bored of the repetition and just end up testing out, which harmed my learning even more.

A few months ago, I found this blog post from Duolingo: https://making.duolingo.com/whats-the-best-way-to-learn-with-duolingo

It changed the way I thought about Language Learning. Ever since reading that post, I have moved down the tree by "hovering", or working on several skills at the same time. I have found that I have learned much more by hovering then I ever did by trying to test out each skill to Level 5.

At any rate, thanks for taking the time to write your thoughtful response and checking out my Duome stats. ;)

Happy Language Learning!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Scones24

Can't answer for him, but I do mostly the same. I want to really master a skill before I go on. It makes the learning process much easier, and has nothing to do with the leagues. You can't build on sand. Yes, sometimes it's quite repetitive to get your level 5 crowns. But you really know the stuff then. Going quickly through a tree doesn't mean you master it: you have to work with your skills afterwards. So it's just a question of how and when you go up to level 5 crowns.

But yes, I agree that when it comes to the leagues, it's easier to get to the top when you work the way we do than when you want to learn newer skills more quickly.

By the way, I'm pretty sure leagues won't last long if Duo doesn't change how it works. Some people just get out of it, others go to Ruby league before they stop too. Don't know if there really are many people going up to Ruby and then still getting motivated by holding their place there.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/FlipsyFlop

Thanks! I always love to see how many different styles there can be using one app. Totally agree that to master something very well you need to repeat. I just get completely obsessed about the tree and seeing new words and structures. Then forget about DL for a couple of months and then return. I am working through trees after I finish them to keep repeating stuff but I need to see new material also, always. :-) This whole league thing is forcing me to repeat passed skills and it's actually a great help in getting a better knowledge of the languages. So for me the competition works. For now. After Ruby I'll probably drop out again. :-)

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nyagret

It's the cheaters that I don't understand. After reading about what they're doing to achieve the top rank, I have to wonder what their reason is for using Duolingo.

Ultimately, what is bothersome to me is not the leagues, but the new extra points that are awarded for completing a lesson with minimal mistakes. Those "mistakes" are helpful. Before these new bonus points had been implemented, I had been trying things like alternate orders of word placement - to help me learn. If we're afraid of getting a wrong answer, we miss out on learning.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

One can truely say with the cheaters that obviously this whole league thing has completely distracted them from what they wanted to do. I'm sure they did not come to the website just to cheat.

While there are others here who may also hate to loose but do not cheat who may be making themselves ill and getting very little sleep by what they are trying to do in the leagues. It sucks that we cant op out without cutting off our friends.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnKing402198

I sometimes wish Duolingo had a way to measure your fluency or proficiency in a language. Leagues, Levels, XP, none of these give me any indication as to how well I can communicate in a language. Levels/XP are only measures of "quantity", not measures of "quality". The Level/XP system is good of role playing games, but for language learning I'm not sure it really applies.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Clara308724

I think you're right John King. I was thinking the same thing - how do I know what I know and how could that be measured. Quantity isn't everything. I try to find out what I know and remember by doing more practice in each 'thing'. It's good to find out that you can do the earlier 'Crowns' more easily than you remembered.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DonaldEbbs

Leagues are like streaks. A way to motivate us to keep learning. That is all they are. If leagues motivate you, that is good. I prefer to compete against myself. I use crowns and levels to motivate me. I hope they keep levels . LONG LIVE THE BRONZE LEAGUE1

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Orion_Speaks

I think streaks is a better way to go, because that encourages learning everyday, at any pace. But leagues, i just dont think the format is a natural fit for the way we learn languages on Duo. Sure, there are those of us who have plenty of time on our hands to do tons of lessons and placing in the top three in a league isn't difficult, but id bet that for a majority of people leagues just doesn't enhance the learning experience.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SB7oBR

I was just pondering this yesterday, because I'm participating in a league that will finish up in one more day (thank God!). I've put in the points, rising from 15th to 3rd/4th position (keeps changing).

I've primarily racked up my points by completing Stories and testing through sections for which I've already gained all available crowns. This recycling through "old" content has been good for cementing masculine and feminine usage and grammar. But I can honestly say that in the last week I have NOT retained any NEW material Duolingo has shown me. Especially from the Stories, which grow increasingly complex.

So my vote is that leagues can be both helpful OR a waste of time. Just depends on how you're gaining your points. ;-D

p.s. I think the Stories section is a gold mine. Really interesting to see how Spanish phrases things -- in ways I would NEVER do in my native English. My favorite phrase I wrote down from Stories: Me siento como un tonto.....I feel like a fool. HAHAHA!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BigBadWolf170226

Exactly, it just depend of how you're gaining your points.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025

Language Fluency or League Dominance? Take your pick.

false dichotomy.

Not that I'm a fan of the leagues--in fact, I wish there were a way to take me out of them without altering the "privacy" section of my profile--but duolingo is certainly not about fluency.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Orion_Speaks

I dont think it's a false dichotomy, maybe it terms of absolutes, but not in general usage of most Duo users which I was referring to. And I didn't mean to say that Duo was about fluency, but a tool for its users on their way to fluency.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Jaysen86616

The way I think of it is that even though you may do more of the easy ones practice is still practice. I can still learn and practice past lessons to get ahead in the league. So to me it kinda does sound like a false dichotomy.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Orion_Speaks

Well i didn't really say that you COULDN'T do both, i said for the majority of users, you should pick one because it's not practical to do both, and in learning almost anything, speed is not the answer. So I suggested for people to "pick" what is more important to them, learning or leagues, because if learning is more important for them, then way more often than not, the speed of leagues is not conducive to quality learning.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Clara308724

Hello Orion. Really well said! You've summed up language learning and leagues very well indeed. What you've said is exactly what I feel - I find myself chasing XP on the league and being fearful that I'm not going to progress to the next level of the league. How absolutely mad really!

It's so much better to take it slowly or at your own pace and to practice each thing and learn each verb well and thoroughly rather than to rush to the top of some virtual league.

I'm not on any social media but I imagine it could be like that too, as you said.

Thank you very much - have a Lingot for being a sensible person!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Orion_Speaks

What a nice comment! Thank you. Feels almost weird when people are nice online.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.Gregor

What I find so strange about it is that DL has supposedly been trying to discourage binge learning (health, test-out XP limit), but what does this do if not heavily encourage it?

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DJSpiess

I'm not sure I agree. One thing the leagues force you to do is more practice. You might be tempted to just work on the rings, where you can't really score exp as fast with the lessons (unless you already know the material - which I don't). Continually running through the practice helps you get more proficient. It's a treadmill, but the repetition has helped me in the regular lessons. And I end up scoring a ton of exp. I think the leagues help in unexpected ways.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/RobertPetm

What happens if one wins a league? I’m having a blast doing this, so I have gotten a lot of XPs in my short time here. But I don’t want it to become a negative thing.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Clara308724

Nothing happens really.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/FlipsyFlop

I like the leagues as it offers a fascinating view into the study habits of others. I had never paid any attention to other Duolingo users but now I am obsessed (and because you can track any user in detail via www.duome.eu/username it's very entertaining to track down the others in the league or follow them). Especially after I read about people cheating their way up to xp. I don't think I've run into any of them these past couple of weeks, and it has been fun to just go over the number one's xp and wait to see how quickly it gets overturned. It can be quite playful high up in the ranks and it has forced me to practice on a constant high level where I usually just go for finishing the tree and then forgetting about everything.

But now, I might have run into someone interesting to follow this week. 1 language (Japanese), 5 skills, 16 crowns, level 9.. and 450 xp in under 2 hours, and currently 1 in our league. Which, given level 9 is around 18% of the total xp. I don't know how this account ended up in sapphire league but I am hooked now. The week has just started a couple of hours ago. I just have to watch if this level of daily xp is maintained with only getting to know the Japanese characters. Will be so excited if actual new skills get required. #gomolly!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KanzukiKarin

Why not both? It’s quite easy to dominate and learn a language, if you know how to combine the two. I have accumulated 20,223 EXP in a week without distributing my learning.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/nick.simon

.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/territrades

I am now in Sapphire league, just by completing 8 lessons daily spread among three languages. I does not seem to me that promoting to higher leagues requires excessive grinding or cheating.

I do agree with you that, if you learn a single new language, you won't get the XP in to do well in the leagues. You need to actually spend time reading the hints and understanding the concepts of a new language.

But with two of the most popular trees on Duolingo, French and Spanish from English, being widely expanded and having most of the users' progress reset in the process, a lot of people have tons of lessons to fly through. These languages also offer you a lot of stories that give plenty XP.

Actually the leagues are a bit discriminating in this regard; in some languages it is just way easier to gain XP.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/logane616

I just enabled profile privacy to get rid of leagues, and it feels so much better. I am pretty competitive, and was getting annoyed when someone got like 300 xp in 5 minutes.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/blurflux

It is disastrous for me if I am trying to learn harder languages like Hungarian or Hawaiian, but for easy languages like Italian, French, Esperanto, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish it is actually a worthwhile energy drink for a marathon. I've gone up 3 levels in French in three days thanks to the leagues.

June 11, 2019
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