Why I Cancelled
I just cancelled my Plus account. Here's the email I sent to Duolingo to explain why:
I just cancelled my Duolingo Plus account. I want you to know why: the design of the course has changed in a way that ruined my progress and enjoyment in learning Spanish.
Specifically, the number of lessons required to crown a skill were reduced dramatically. I was not even remotely mastering skills before the program asked me to move along. And if I wanted to practice a skill that had already been crowned (at best a poor workaround to bad design), the difficulty of the practice session was set to what appeared to be Level 1, further preventing me from making meaningful progress. Duolingo went from a fun activity that I looked forward to every day (I averaged about 5-6 hours a week) to something that stressed me out, felt like a chore, and certainly didn't help me learn Spanish.
Your product made itself an important part of my life because of its great design and utility. I can't even describe how disappointed I am that those qualities have disappeared overnight. I will happily return when Duolingo decides to be a serious learning tool again.
Admin Response (15 Oct 2019):
sorry to hear that. We have been reading the feedback coming in, and appreciate your take on it too. The feature as it is does not seem to be pleasing everyone, and what I can do is keep relaying the feedback to the team. I'm glad you don't seem to be assuming this is set in stone as is—I am sure we are going to keep working on this change until it feels right. It is in our interest that learning on Duolingo is enjoyable and effective. Thank you!
Update (16 Oct 2019):
As of today, my level 5 practice lessons for crowned skills have become more challenging, though kind of inconsistently? not sure what to make of it. Not sure if this is true for everyone, but I find it to be a step in the right direction. It doesn't solve all my problems with the recent change, but it's possibly a good sign.
Update (18 Nov 2019)
As of this morning, my Duolingo Spanish program has gone back to the greater number of lessons: a total of 40 per skill, rather than the paltry 16 that I and many others had found so inadequate. I couldn't be happier. I assume this at least partly in response to the large amount of feedback here and on many other discussion threads.
I'm not sure if this change is an A/B test that I got lucky with, or if it's a system-wide change; I'd be curious to know. In any case, I'll be resuming my Pro account today. I'm super excited to get back into my daily Spanish routine. Thanks Duolingo.
I totally agree. They say that Duolingo doesn't listen to or care what people say in the forums because such a small number of people participate out of the millions who use Duolingo. Maybe they'll listen to people who cancel their Plus subscriptions, although it's not a huge number of people who subscribe. But voting with your pocketbook tends to get attention, I hope.
"because such a small number of people participate out of the millions who use Duolingo." That's not the reason. They know that the Forums represent all users, not a separate community. It's just that they trust numbers more. They do A/B testing, if they see IN NUMBERS that people are unhappy and leaving, they might reverse it, regardless of what people in the forum say, if it doesn't translate to numbers, it doesn't matter to them.
I understand why Duo made the change, but disagree with the implementation. I'll admit that when I saw 20-30 lessons needed to get the later crowns it was a little off-putting. However, when learning a language, that kind of repetition (and actually much more) is necessary.
I think it's fine that Duo decreased the number of lessons per level, BUT they should have increased the number of levels to get a golden skill from 5 to 10. That way you could have the same number of total lessons to get a golden skill, but also not have each level be as intimidating since they would have fewer lessons each.
It's just a visual change but should accomplish what Duo was trying to do while still keeping those of us who liked the old number of lessons happy.
People forget how much repetition they inadvertently had to acquire their native language. 24/7 for 3 to 5 years just to start speaking intelligibly. Short of moving to the country of the target language, no amount of "casual" learning can approximate that level or repetition and we know that. We make a compromise with the understanding we will deliberately exploit ways that approximate aspects of immersion. Repetition is an absolutely essential aspects and reducing it is not just counter productive, but crippling.
This seems to be the main problem. In my opinion the crowned skills should be significantly harder to ensure that the subject is understood and not learned in the sense of "ah I've already heard that sentence the other way around so I have to write X". If I achieve a crowned skill I must be able to transfer what I've learned, so it would be useful if the crowned practice would feel different than the other levels. Maybe this could be achieved by adding new scenarios, more complex sentences or less help.
They made it to where you are constantly being rewarded. They did it for the little kids. So they can feel like they are achieving something. They made it to easy to get crowns. "It is psychotic, they keep makings new ways to celebrate mediocrity." qoute from Robert Parr from the movie "Incredibles"
I'm gonna quit soon as well. Releasing half-baked courses to feed the idiots hype and reorganising the trees to be more of a phrasebook app did it for me.
It's a pity, I was very fond of Duolingo, but I'm not their target anymore.
For me leaving there will be 1k joining so... well done.