Declining Lesson Quality
Something I noticed when going through the skill tree, the quality goes downhill the farther you progress.
Halfway down the tree, it's almost as if the Duolingo developers just said "Bleep-it, you're on your own."
A good example of this is the lesson notes in the Spanish tree. Near the top, they give you these notes that let you know useful stuff like conjugation lists, grammar tips, etc. Once you get past the Determiners unit, things start going downhill, the Preterit is thrown at you without explanation or teaching. After the Pronouns unit is passed, they quit giving you notes. Once you get to Subjunctive/Imperative, the lessons themselves start decaying, Subjunctive Past and Modal have to be the least effective lessons ever taught. It's like they just thought "Who cares, nobody is going to make it this far."
Recent lessons that I've done have also tended, surprisingly, to revert to an unusually high proportion of overly simplistic questions, such as identifying the article for a noun using a pull-down menu, when the gender of the noun is obvious. I hadn't had questions like that since the very early lessons, and they do essentially nothing to test the skill that is supposedly being taught at the later levels. I've also been dealing with what seems like an unusual number of Duolingo "sequence glitches," where I'm asked a question about something that hasn't actually been introduced yet.
Yes, I've had the same feeling. I'm not quite that far along, but I've noticed that several of the lessons have been quite weak or disappointing after the second "keyhole." "Countries" seemed especially weak (it teaches almost no actual country names). Preterit is poor, I agree (I certainly don't feel I fully grasp the tense and the various irregular forms in it, and I certainly couldn't use it in conversation).
I've got the same feeling for German lessons. I couldn't say for sure that it's the case for all the lessons as I progress but my general impression is that they become very simplistic. For example, the sentences used for the future tense are over simplistic and without any context (subject + future auxiliary + verb).
Doing three lessons just now (Directions and Abstract Objects 1), it was my impression that part of the problem is that these later lessons simply have very few sentences attached to them, compared to earlier lessons, so the lessons fall back on simply quizzing the vocabulary. More sentences definitely need to be added.
Are the developers active in the forum part of the website? I haven't played with the site enough to have my own impression there.
Regardless, you would think since so many people are on here to further the language of world (and that was the mission of the site originally as it's free), they would be willing to take suggestions and adapt their material. If any of you know how to best approach this, maybe we can get some answers/revisions to make the advanced lessons more helpful.
Happy Learning! :)
I think the notes for lessons are crow-sourced as is most other parts of the system. As more people do a lesson, the more information the system will and the better the lessons will become. So it is not surprising that the quality drops as you progress through the tree, there are less users who have reached those parts.
Furthermore, it is likely that the notes for a lesson are extracted from the questions and insights posted by users who have done the lesson. If no user posts any notes the system will have none.
If you think there are notes that should be included in a lesson post them as an insight and let other users vote on them, and eventually they may become part of the lesson notes.
Yes! It does appear that the effort being put into the lessons goes down, with no instructions or notes. It is okay to have fellow users help out with links to online materials, but I wish and/or hope that the duolingo folks will add materials. Here are [additional] suggestions: Create a new category of question be added: answers to questions. It could be multiple choice to make it more feasible. That is, the prompt would be a question in Spanish (that is, the language being taught) and the answers would be possible answers.
Make the real world translations relate to the topic of the lesson: health, education, politics, etc.
Since I suspect many of us are computer folks, some of the real world translations could be technical topics.