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Unpopular opinion?

I've used Duolingo on and off for a few years now and one thing I've noticed is that often people treat it as an end-all be-all for language acquisition. With the recent changes many people have been panicking over the reduction in the number of lessons per skill.

In my opinion, Duolingo is a great tool for incentivizing people to learn, but it should not be used as the only, or even the primary tool. The sentences it teaches are fragmented and often nonsensical. If you want to truly understand a new language, take in media like kids shows, books, podcasts, etc.

Personally, I'd rather practice nailing a lesson four times, moving on to new material, and returning to it later to see if I've still got it. Grinding out more than that is unproductive at best and makes for a rather bland learning experience.

TL;DR don't worry about shorter lessons, take Duolingo for what it is and seek out other content!

otustæ undusmæ gitawæ istrionemhæ

February 9, 2020



I'm perfectly aware that DL isn't the only platform out there for language learning. It just happens to work particularly well for me, as it offers grammar explanations as well as interactive sentence examples. I've yet to find another free platform which offers that!

Even if DL decides they want to keep the shorter lessons, at least give us the option of having more lessons per skill. I, for one, can't learn properly with only a handful of lessons - I need the spaced repetition and practice to truly learn the information. Thus I'm transferring my materials to Quizlet to make up for the repetition that DL now lacks. If you don't need so much repetition, fine and dandy - that's what the test-out button is for. Just keep in mind that not everyone learns like you do.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


Like you, if I can't get what I need on Duolingo, then I look for it elsewhere. I'm fortunate that I have access to other resources, but I also try to make the best of whatever Duolingo is offering at the moment.

When a new change comes out, a certain number of people don't like it, they complain a lot for a while, then the furor dies down. Then the next change comes out and the cycle repeats. It happens over and over again.

In the five years that I've been doing Duolingo, they have never added any official new options no matter how many people ask for them or complain about it. However, there are many ways to do get additional lessons even if Duolingo doesn't officially offer it, there are work arounds.

If you truly want extra lessons, you can always delete a course and start it again. You can do the reverse course or laddering. Those options have always been available but very few people take advantage of them. Or you can open another Duolingo account and practice there as some have suggested.


I fully agree with you. Spaced-repetition doesn't seem possible now. I've decided to halt my Duolingo-ing - the only way I know how to express my opinion about this unsolicited, unwanted change.


Keep in mind that Duolingo is used all over the world and not everyone has access to additional resources and it certainly more difficult to find resources if the user chooses a less popular language. So I understand the worry. I'm not thrilled with the reduction in lessons per skill because that grind has been absolutly vital to my success with Japanese thus far. Duolingo wasn't my first attempt at learning Japanese but it was the first one that I ever succeed with and opened the doors for me to better utilize other resouces and continue to gain knowledge. I don't think that would have happended under the reduced lessons. Perhaps the amount of lessons should be tied to the difficulty of learning a particular language and the practice feature improved to better benefit all users.


I liked Duolingo the way it was because I did test out of the earlier lessons because I already knew them and they were getting tedious.

I have a TON of "workbook" type books in Spanish, but what they lacked was that they'd go at their own pace, not always cover the same material at the same time, etc. (So I couldn't really read all of them all at once—it was too confusing.) What I wanted was a "central" app that would give me lots of practice (something that would make any workbook have way too many pages) and be consistent within itself with what it was covering.

I realize that DL can't be the only source of teaching. I have books, Spanish-language TV, and other sources to help. But I wanted it to be the one that would give me that practice, consistent practice, and practice that came in manageable bits that could be done in your spare time. All in one place—like, you know, a phone! LOL.

I think most people knew that Duolingo would maybe get you to A2 or B1 but you know what? That's pretty fantastic for a free app! And we loved it!

When I first started Duolingo 4 years ago (in my phone) I didn't stick with it because I erroneously assumed it was just one of those fluffy little apps that would give me a taste of 7th grade Spanish and no more. How wrong I was! I don't want it to be that now—and I don't think shortening the lessons makes it that—but it's a shame it can't be more than it is now.

  1. Every person using Duolingo has some access to a phone or computer. Unless that access is restricted in some way (such as in a school), many other resources are available on the internet that are free: youtube videos, blogs, grammar reference, even talking to real people, and so on.

  2. Many people have access to a library or some other way to borrow books. Libraries have not only language books but other types of instructional media.

  3. Compared to the price of a phone or computer, books are much less expensive.

  4. If you have access to a radio (or the internet), you can listen to music or podcasts in the language you are learning.

  5. If there are any native speakers in your area (and they are kind and patient), you can talk to them!


Yes. Everyone who actually reads the comments of posts like this will find that many people say that Duolingo isn't a good source on it's own.


I have never heard anyone saying Duolingo is a good source on its own, because of course it isnt. But it is ´one` good place to get better at a language. The problem is that they recently made it worse when they took away all those lessons


Duolingo isn't a good source on it's own: Agreed
So skills should have fewer lessons: Strongly disagree.

Half of the comments on this post are just agreeing with and talking about how people should use other resources in tandem with Duolingo. I don't think anyone would argue against that, but that is not a reason that skills should have fewer lessons.


In my experience, the only people who view DL as an 'end-all-be-all' resource are those not very experienced with learning a language and/or new to Duo. The forum generally does a pretty good job reminding everyone present of DL's limitations ...

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


Your message is worth repeating, As is oft said, "Duolingo is but one good tool among many in your language toolbox."

But if you want longer lessons, Vietnamese is the place to be. I am working on Politics that has ten lessons with 15-20 or so new words per lesson. Five levels are pretty much needed to remember all that vocabulary. Sure, you could use short term memory to know it for a few days but any longer you do need the practice.


Thank you! When I get new vocabulary I like to use other flashcard tools to get the spaced-repetition and make it stick. Anki and Quizlet are both really good for this. Also coming back to a lesson over a longer period rather than maxing out the skill in one go, that way it's always being reinforced. Vietnamese would be a cool language to learn!


Not all languages have the same complexity. Four repetitions is enough for Spanish, hardly enough for German and absolutely nothing for Japanese. You might say that Duolingo is a bad place to learn Japanese. Any place is bad to learn Japanese because it takes a decade to learn, but if you want to learn DuolingoJapanes, why not? This is why I do worry about shorter lessons.


Please be careful with your usage of "complexity." For years, people have called various languages complex or easy as a means to perpetuate the myth that people who speak that language are smarter or dumber than others. No natural language is more or less complex than any other, even though languages vary in where they place more specifics (for example, Romance languages are very tense rich while Japanese is rich in politesse types).

Ease of learning or difficulty might better suit your intentions. Whether or not a language is "easy" or "hard" to learn is often dependent on the speakers native and learned languages. Learning more closely related languages (like German from English) tends to be easier than unrelated languages (like Japanese from English).


grastr: The complexity of a language REALLY depends on what your native language is and what other languages you speak. Its NOT the same for everyone, so please stop pretending that it is.


I agree! It is enough for me to learn Portuguese or Spanish, but not enough to learn Arabic, Turkish or Japanese.


But the courses for Japanese and other "difficult" languages are very short most times on duolingo when the ones for "easy" languages like Norwegian are often super long and well made.


Indeed. The only way I've been able to absorb Hebrew is to fully utulize ALL lessons that were given to me. A LOT of repetition. There is no way I can use Duolingo to successfully absorb Hebrew any longer. I was only doing Hebrew for fun and do not intend to seek other resources or take it to fluency. Duolingo used to be fine for my purposes in Hebrew. I'm no longer able to learn Hebrew with it.


Duolingo isn't a "bad place" to learn Japanese. I just don't think that I'd be able to learn Japanese using Duolingo alone. So, I take classes, write kanji, use grammar books and kanji books, watch TV shows and movies in Japanese, watch youtube videos, travel, and try to read manga even though I'm not very good at it.

There is an option for more repetition if you need it. If you finish the Duolingo course and run out of lessons, then you can delete it and start over again. You can do that as many times as you like.


It's interesting what people consider difficult when learning languages. I find German much, much easier than Spanish, even though I've had a ton of Spanish classes in my life. I have been assuming that it is because English is a Germanic language, but perhaps it's just how my brain works.


It's not an unpopular opinon at all, but wording your title that way will probably attract people who will use this post as their own platform, under the rousing banner of "I tell it like it is, too!"

Nobody has ever, ever said that Duolingo is the "be all and end all".


Maybe not, but it's clear from many user comments that some people treat it that way.

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