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What Skills Should Grade 6 Students Have after 1 Month?

Hello educators! I am going to give my students a test by having them test out to see where they land on an empty account that has no progress. They have been in my classroom and using Duolingo for over a month. What skill would they be expected to land on, like the average student? I know educators have different expectations (and all students are different too, of course.) when it comes to how much a student should learn in one month, but I am not completely sure and I would like to hear other people's opinions. For me, I think my students should have completed (at least level one) all skills up to the second checkpoint, so 32 skills. What do you think? And, mention if you have any other ideas on how to get some insight from the test out. Thanks!

June 28, 2019




  • Time : How much time have students had to do Duolingo ? Only class time ? Have all students had the ability to put in extra time outside of class time ?
  • Other resources component : What additional resources during class time have been provided ? For the course in question, have students been provided with lessons on Grammar concepts that follow along and and supported by the course content in Duolingo ? What other resources/engagements have been provided to the class ? Such as being able to play games in the target language, involved in watching movies/listening to music/doing activities such as playing sport, cooking, other hobbies, attend cultural celebrations, etc- in the target language.
  • Class room culture variables : What is the culture of the class like during times when they use Duolingo. Is it that the students are encouraged to be motivated by small incremental rewards of recognition of individual progress ? Or are they left to please themselves, including to muck about. And that some sub groups will gain social prestige for showing how they do not complete lessons. Of how they do not apply themselves. Sometimes it is important to sit different students apart from other different students for example. While for others, to allow them to pair with other students. What are the class dynamics and how are class and individual motivations managed within the class(s)? Have opportunities been made to acknowledge individuals progress so that it is shared within that class in particular. Have small groups of students been encouraged to compete against other small groups of students, and where if a small group has shown progress, that that progress is shared/acknowledge across the class. Note the emphasis on small groups/teams. Ideally a mixed team of abilities, in my observations and research work better than trying to create "elite teams". Though having two evenly matched "elite" teams can be motivating for those teams. Such that all elite teams progress, and create their own "vibe/motivation/culture". For the benefit of all.
  • Language pair similarities/variance : How similar are the language pairs in question. ie. consider the similarities between the "romance" languages, where there is a greater number of cognates and also a greater similarity of grammar concepts. Where a language pair (ie language known to language being learned) progress will be much faster. And that progress will also be a motivating factor for most students - multiplying their advancement. Even when courses are written with this in mind, which I am sure Duolingo works on doing. Be aware I am a volunteer in this community, and this comment is IMO ((in my opinion)). I am not an employee of Duolingo, and I am expressing my opinion here.
  • Previous experience/skill/motivation : For the individuals, as well as the greater community culture, what is the history and motivation for learning this language.

You have though covered these by the statement:

I know educators have different expectations (and all students are different too, of course.) when it comes to how much a student should learn in one month

Are there other details of variables I have not touched on here ?


Based on these variables, I would suggest each class/school would have its own bell curve as to where it sits.

And then looking at the difference of performance both between individuals , and between classes , it could be worthwhile to do an analysis of what may have been the causes for the variance. Rather than applying an external expectation of progress/success. Such as what other schools, experiencing different variables - how they perform.

That it is though good to intend to work towards a stated goal, such as

students should have completed (at least level one) all skills up to the second checkpoint, so 32 skills.

Yet in that - to review where they have either achieved this, or exceeded it, and to consider the variables of why this is so. And then to ask, how could there be improvement for individuals and classes that are not reaching the bell curve bulge, or how to move that bulge to a better performance level.


And even further to that, realize it is not the reporting that is important, but the quality of the language acquisition, and the ultimate focus is on how the person could use their language acquisition in real life encounters. To really learn the language.

In that regard even the CEFR structure is a methodology aimed to achieve the learning of a language so that it can be used in real life encounters, and not just in the academic world.



sorry to say, but you are planning the wrong thing at the wrong time.

What you try to put up will be the final confirmation for all/most of your students, that they have learned "almost nothing" in that 1,x months in their new (Romance) language.

Maybe some of them will give up after that.

When was the last time YOU have learned any or a Romance language totally from scratch?

Quote: They have been in my classroom and using Duolingo for over a month

Personally I would not even do this after 3-4 months!
It might start making sense doing this after ~6-9 months (first test) and then 1,0-1,5 years afterwards.

I remember very well how I struggled in that time period with my first Romance language, which I had to learn totally from scratch...and I am not a kid.

The Duolingo initial "tree placement test" as well as the (Duolingo Plus) "progress quiz" tests you over the FULL tree:

  • all given vocabulary (and long CEFR have a lot words to ask for)
  • all tenses (which come much later)
  • all more difficult (previously suspended) sentences which contain a higher user error rate and moved up in the crown chain

Someone wrote in the past 1-2 weeks that even the "Plus Progress quiz" how it has been adjusted recently is now that hard (much harder than before).
Several users complained bitterly that they are being tested on stuff they "have not learned" yet!

When I took it a few times in 2016- 03/2018 with Portuguese when it was still available (it was hidden for a longer time) I did not score THAT well; never I have reached a high 4.x/5.0 score!
I am mature enough in not caring about this little fact too much or having it affect my learning or motivation.

The quite long updated CEFR French/Spanish trees might take a learner ~1,8-2,3 years (for L1-L2 crown levels + regular practice sessions) or even (much) more (for all L5 crowns).
I could at least finish my EN->PT course within one year (with Memrise, Mondly, 50languages in parallel) and I personally did the math for newer FR/ES trees.
Maybe 1,0-1,5 years if they are lucky and REALLY push forward.

Why do you want to put your pupils into a "Duolingo test" and that to be expected dilemma that soon?

Another question: Don't you read forum threads?

I has been said more than one time by different (French) users that the new trees8/12 have been rushed by staff/contractors and are either full of errors, weird English sentences (e.g how written questions are formulated) or miss many "alternative answers" which have to be reported first or are already in the queue.
I can imagine that the "backlog queue" is quite high and it will take a longer time until several/all reports have been cleared/accepted.


If you are a school teacher:

I would want to suggest doing a customized workshop/quiz which somehow tests across the "learned / taught vocabulary" and basic grammar / present tense stuff and correct verb conjugations for the personal pronouns....but more in a fun way.

Probably I would not even setup a (written) test as it IMHO proves nothing (not everyone performs good under stress / test situations)....what if they "fail"?

Q: Why don't you try to push your pupils into the "active speaking" direction, especially if you are a native French teacher (are you?)?
AFAIK Duolingo does not really do this in the first months - this might have slightly changed with CEFR aligned trees.

It is IMHO also (much) better to align specific tests to a concrete course curriculum (e.g book)...
......but not to rely on third party sites and alpha/beta trees like Duolingo....
.........I guess I will probably NEVER understand why teachers give away from their "teaching power" and suddenly rely on tools like Duolingo (alone)....because foreign contractors do it better than you? Do you know these guys personally?

When Berlitz tested our "Business English" skills (advanced course incl. speaking) in the last week for our full-time class which lasted for 3-4 months, we had a single speaking session with 2-3 teachers in a room (each student alone) were we needed to show with a specific story / agenda what we have learned.

Of course we were also additionally tested with a writing essay and further reading/grammar stuff (and having to answer questions correctly to text passages).

It is much better to show your pupils what they have already learned within that short 1,x months time frame as an additional motivation factor.

And not: To have them fail a "Duolingo test-out", fail the grading of a written test (questions about word translations) or having them throw everything into the corner.

Quote: I am going to give my students a test by having them test out to see where they land on an empty account that has no progress.

New account: Why that?

Every student can do this for fun by using the "private browser / no activity tracking" option for him-/herself!

Just follow my explanations: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29069435$comment_id=29810695

Just tell them how a "Duolingo test" specifically works, what trouble they might run into and let them decide for themselves if they want to do it or how often and when.

We all know that you can learn a bit from your own errors....but "too much" will do more harm than good.

I have to repeat myself:

The Duolingo placement and progress tests are (quite often) demoralizing for learners, even after 1,0 or 2,5 years!

Even when someone might have practiced taught words on 3rd party learning sites with spaced repetition like Memrise (RECALL practice with typing from L1 English into the L2 target language) or flashcard tools like AnkiSRS so vocabulary is more safe and passed the short-term memory phase.


Duolingo currently teaches your pupils:

  • reading in French (left side, basic understanding)
  • answering multiple-choice and picture exercises (guessing)
  • tapping sentences (guessing with hints, especially on mobile apps or if activated on the web portal)
  • translation mainly into the English language on a HIGHER ratio (especially on lower crowns; for higher crowns it only seems to work "in theory")!

!! They will hardly be able to RECALL French words (in the target language) without further practice (outside of Duolingo) or know their spelling incl. accents/diacritics when they have to write those words down on a paper or free typing text field!!

English example placement example

The English->German reverse tree made me limit with the "Duolingo placement test":

  • on the passed first 4-5 checkpoints of 7 total (there is one last checkpoint missing at the bottom, 20 skills will be left)

  • and tested-out skills (either 4 skills left after the 4th checkpoint or 4 early skills after the 5th checkpoint - they are all only on L1)

even after I have been practicing English more than 21-24 years, in private life with hobbies, IRC, plus early 7 years primary and secondary school) AND in a professional environment (IT/EDV business).

My 2cents



ummm - wow - what a response Thomas.Heiss.

And as I am not surprised about - a very detailed one with all sorts of issues in your communications.

And I will come back to read this again in about a days time.
Your 2cents worth is valued and respected. And on the same front, I also see value in the proposition that is being made in the header post, depending on how this is carried out.

I do consider it is often by addressing confronting issues, and addressing them with both determination and high ideals including and especially that of respect to other parties, that better solutions and resources can be found and addressed.

I welcome constructive input by others, as always.


I agree, Thomas. I don't let my High School students take any placement tests until after a year, and only then if something catastrophic happens and they can't use their old account.


Cattymayer, I would add to the discussion that there are developmental levels to 2nd language acquisition. I currently teach High School Japanese, French, and Spanish, but I have taught elementary and middle school level as well. Depending on how mature your students are, they may be very disheartened that they have only tested out of one or two skills.

I would suggest instead that you have them test out of skills individually, using the key icon, instead of having them take the placement test. This might end up being a "The glass is half full -- Look, you tested into Red Level Three of Greetings!" Instead of "The glass is half empty -- Look at what a huge amount you still have to go to complete the tree. Aww..."

Just a thought.


Dear Cattymayer:

You don't mention the language you are teaching and that will be important. Are you teaching Native English speakers Chinese? If so then one month is too soon to learn anything. Who are your students and what language are they learning? I teach Chinese students English and some of them do very well while others will struggle for a long time. I personally don't test new learners right away (1 month is very soon) I do sort of test them in the classroom by checking on how they are doing with basic skills. They need to practice and giving them a positive environment where learning is fun is crucial to a good outcome. My higher level students get exams but the exams are not the goal, the skills are the goal and using those skills are the way we get them to improve.

Your title is "skills" for a 6th grade student...well for any student there are only 4 basic skills they must learn (in my opinion) reading, listening, writing and oral and in that order more or less. The first (two) are usually the easiest for students to master but the last (two) are very difficult. Writing (for example Chinese) is not easy (just learning all the characters takes a long time) then the structure...finally speaking is the last hurdle for most language learners because we don't want to sound funny or wrong. I tend to focus on the last (two) skills and push them with my higher level kids.

For 6th grade they need a strong grammar foundation, ample vocab and then be encouraged to use both by writing and then speaking. That is what I suggest and do for my own students.

I am not sure this helps but it's pretty basic. Without more info about your students it's hard to tell you anything else. Good luck!

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