https://www.duolingo.com/Martytoof

How are you meant to use Duolingo?

One other question I have regarding the intended use of Duolingo is what the Duolingo team feels is the most useful way to use their service?

I noticed, for example, that when I was working my way through French Verbs #2 (or something to that end, I don't have the skill tree handy next to me) there was a lot of NEW material introduced, but at a breakneck speed and with very little repetition between introductions of new words. It seems like a poor way to learn, to be bombarded with new words and only see them once or twice per lesson.

Now I am the sort of person that likes to do either 3 or 4 lessons at a time, or maybe even entire concept areas at a time. With some of the recent changes (removing practise exercises from skill progression trees) it feels like I have been loaded with 40 or 50 new words but have only practised each one once or twice.

I realize that this is what the "practise all words" section is for, and it would be fair of people to say "well just learn what you want to learn and then practise as long as you think you need to practise". But instead of this sort of answer I'm sort of wondering what Duolingo's team feels is the best way to maximize learning while minimizing frustration, given an average user. Would they recommend cutting down on lessons and practising more, or re-doing completed lessons multiple times?

Sorry if I'm a little rambling, but again, some of the recent changes piqued my curiosity as to where the Duolingo team stands on this.

Thanks! As always, great site and keep up the great work!

5 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Luis
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This is a good discussion, and one we have among ourselves all the time. Should we tell people when to practice or not? So far we've left it entirely up to each person, but we will likely investigate ways to nudge people to practice at certain times.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martytoof

Thank you for your reply Luis. I think most people will strike their own balance between learning new concepts and practising existing skills, however some people might have a harder time and experience a high level of frustration because they aren't using the tools efficiently.

I was a little surprised at the removal of the extraneous practise components of each skillset because it seemed like a great way to get people to gain a little more specific experience with the words and phrases they'd just learned in that particular chapter.

In the end people will get out of Duolingo whatever effort they put in. If they don't make a habit of pushing the big blue "practise" button then they will probably experience more frustration the further down they go and likely give up. People who find a good balance between learning and practising will likely have a lot of fun and get more out of their time here. I think if you guys can find a way to remind people to go back and look at their skills then that will go a long way to fixing the only flaw I think might exist in the system.

To this end, I would maybe suggest some sort of "Hey there! Hi! We noticed you haven't really practised your skills. How about pushing the blue button after every few lessons?" popup? Make it cute and owl-themed if you have to ;)

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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+1 for a popup or another reminder. Let it be optional, though.

I did not particularly like the former system of practice. I mean the system with X lessons + X practice sessions. Lessons have to alternate with practice. Too many lessons in a row followed by too much practice in a row is not very good. Something like Lesson → Practice → Lesson → Practice → Practice, etc. would be great, but how to define the amount of practice needed? Learners are different, so fixed practice built into the tree is also not very good.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martytoof

I agree, and I'm not envious of the Duolingo team for having to figure out what the lowest common denominator is in terms of balancing user experience against getting actual learning done. I don't think practise should be forced, however at some point I think that without practise the user will fall off the wagon, so to speak. Unless they have perfect recall they will be overloaded and drop out. I can pinpoint pretty much where this would happen on the French tree, and I'm sure others can speak for their preferred languages as well.

Forcing users to practise might not be the right way to do it, but encouraging them to do so might be very useful.

I don't want to make it sound like Duolingo hasn't tried to tackle this already. Your skills deteriorate over time so it should be easy to see which individual skills need improvement. It's easy to see which of your skills are no longer gold-plated, or have less than a full percentage on their skill bar. However the problem with this is that the only skill I've ever seen deteriorate on my French skill tree is "être/avoir" which I seem to use all the time, while things like animals, certain foods, certain verbs from prior chapters -- all things that I have encountered maybe once or twice since finishing those chapters -- all remain at 100% completion. I definitely DO think there is some work needed with regards to the decay algorithm that Duolingo uses, and at that point perhaps practising individual skills might become more obvious for the common user. I have some abstract thoughts regarding decay of particular words in a skill tree, but I might have to leave that for another forum post :)

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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I totally agree with you :-) I also hope that decay algorithm would be improved to be really effective. Keep on posting good ideas!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scottann
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What I do now that I am about halfway through the method is tackle a new lesson while I go back to the beginning and revise one lesson at a time: one old, one new...

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stefk3

This is exactly what I've been doing and it seems to be working really well. I master each level but don't necessarily make it 'gold', and now that I am about half way through the skill tree, I go back and make each level gold as extra practice. Otherwise, it is very easy to simply speed through each level for points or to get to completion. As I go back and practice each level, I make my own flashcards for the vocabulary and verbs I learned in the topic. It would be great if these were ready made for me in Duolingo!!!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/J.Franchomme
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Personally, after 3 months the most efficient way I figured out to use Duoling is:

  • to do 2 or 3 parts of lessons a day (between 20 and 39 skill points)
  • and then to "practice all skills" a lot (about 70 skill points)

This is my minimum every day and when I want to learn more I keep the same proportion between lessons and practising (about 1/3), sometimes I try some immersion translations.

Keeping the minimum 100 skill points every day, learning this way, is working very well! First, your are not overloaded because you gain confidence practising old words, secondly you make huge progress if you learn every day!

Thank you!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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These are all very good questions and I would like to read the team's answers, too.

I think that without a really very very good repetition algorithm there should not be any mandatory practice because users learn with different speeds and need different amount of practice. It is better to give them opportunity to choose for themselves whether they want to learn something new or to practice old lessons.

However, I agree that some practice recommendations or tips would be useful for an average learner. Only recently I wrote a few answers with some suggestions of a learning schedule. Apparently, to many users it just does not occur to adjust their learning pace and add more practice to improve retention and reduce frustration.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kobnach

This may be different because I'm relatively new, but I find that skills I've already learned stop showing as completely known - once it's no longer solid yellow, I either "practice all skills" or practice the specific ones, until the bar goes back to being solid. Usually I do the individual ones; "practice all skills" doesn't seem to target the most needed material.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/smearedink

I think with a sufficiently clever algorithm for decaying the old lesson levels, based on how much you peek at certain things, how often you get certain things right or wrong, etc, this could effectively manage itself. If you weren't performing well with skills you learned before, those lessons would decay, and this would visually prompt you to go back and practice those skills. I gather that's pretty much how it's intended to work anyway, but I find almost always it's just Basics 2 and Etre/Avoir (in my French tree) that decay for some reason, so I just do a few rounds of general practice most days.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gerry11111
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Does anyone know if the decay functionality takes into account use of the lessons alone or also concepts contained in immersion? Just wondering if it is getting "smarter" as others have discussed... Thanks.

5 years ago
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