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Current skill point system a little 'pointless'

I am a huge supporter of the gamification of learning and I believe Duolingo has done an incredible job of creating such a fun way of doing something that can otherwise be very tedious.

That said, I don't think the current points/level system is adding any value to Duolingo. After the first few introduction lessons, I stopped paying attention to my level/points. Halfway through the language tree, having to click through the "you have earned X points" message after each lesson actually became a slight annoyance.

I don't have any specific ideas for improvement but I was wondering if anybody else felt the same way and/or had any suggestions? Perhaps some ideas could be taken from successful RPGs?

April 28, 2013



The skipping through the points thing is kinda getting on my nerves, i dont mind that its there, just that it takes so long to skip through the 'you earned X points' and then next is 'you have strengthened x words', the continue button doesn't work until the flash finishes which is kinda annoying, i press enter about 10 times before it actually gets to a point where it goes to the next screen. this wouldnt be so bad but when you are finishing 10-20 lessons in a sitting it becomes a pain, especially when repeating the same lesson multiple times in a row to bury it into your memory.

My suggestions:

  • Instead of just the coins DL has now, we should have different types to push us to perfect our skill, so; coins are matched up to the number of hearts you finish a lesson on: 0 hearts=Bronze -- 1 heart=Silver -- 2 hearts=gold -- 3 hearts=Platinum Owl Token (i think this is a really good idea to push users to repeat lessons until perfection, making for a better learning experience)

  • I think our level should be presented on our avatar icons when we post comments. it would be a good way to show off our progress, but better yet it would be a good way to see who the most skilled and trustworthy comments in a language thread are.


I'm quite happy with the points system as it is. Having completed the French tree and the most part of the German tree, I still care about the points because they motivate me to study every day. I mean the coin stacks on the Weekly progress tab. I also like to compare my weekly points with the achievements of my friends.

All this said, I also agree with you and dbarrie that clicking through the messages of "you have earned X points" / "you have strengthened X words" is a little annoying. I liked the previous design better when this information was present on the same screen.

Having some new achievements would be great, too. We could get badges for different activities. Here are some ideas:

  • A badge for streak count. After you achieve 10 days' streak, you get a badge with a 10 on it, then it changes to 25, 50, 100, for example. If you break your streak, you don't lose the badge.

  • A badge for doing a certain amount of practice in a row.

  • A badge for having no mistakes in a series of sentences, like a couple of sessions without mistakes.

  • A badge for translations. You get a badge for translating an entire article, then it may be updated after you translate 5, 10, 25 complete articles. A possible issue is that some users might cheat and enter meaningless translations just to get the award.

The most important thing with adding new achievements is to maintain a reasonable balance between a game and a learning tool. There are adult users who get annoyed with too much pictures in their profile. Also, the badges or other awards should not encourage users to cheat in any way.


Since a language is a puzzle, perhaps with each level we get another puzzle piece, which slowly becomes a picture or a famous quote in the language we are learning.


(Experience) points and levels are nice, and are a clear attempt to look at learning a language as role playing game.

Obviously learning a language is not a role playing game, and by looking at it as one you are stretching the analogy very thin, but lets give it a go anyway.

Lets look at the duo-lingo skill tree, as what in a role playing game would be considered the main quest line.

But in successful role playing games, anyone that just follows the main the quest line is generally missing the point, it's in the side quests and the exploration that the main interest lies.

If you was in a successful role playing game then you wouldn't be learning your skills in isolation, you'd be learning your skills out in the game world, and earning experience whilst actually doing.

So how can you feed that into the Duo-Lingo experience? Well it's outside of the Duo-Lingo remit to create a virtual world, so that isn't going to happen. So you really have to create your own real life experience, so that you aren't missing the point of learning the language.

Personally I've been listening to a lot of German rock and punk. Certainly at the moment I can only really enjoy the sound of it, which is worth the effort all by itself, but I also find that it's helping me distinguish between words, and there is a real sense of achievement when I recognise words and phrases. I've also been reading some (English language) books about Germany and German history, all of which have helped keep me motivated and interested. I know other users watch German videos and films, which is a treat I'm saving for myself till I more confident in my understanding. If you really want to look it at as a role playing game then if you google e.g. German Language MMRPG, then you can find some useful links, many of which offer free access.

At the end of the day you need to remember that the levels and experience points in Duo-Lingo aren't there for you to grind your way through, they are there to help motivate you whilst you are learning to expand your horizons with a new language.


It is something to think about. Maybe more diversification on coins. So far, it could mean anything from doing lessons to translating. There could be a cat shaped coin for learning the word cat that could be placed in coin collection album (Not saying it should be implemented but it is an example, maybe it could be as general as lessons or word type). Current system has no context except that they have spent time on duolingo for awhile. Ideas suggested before include visible achievements and such.

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