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Fix the "Practice all skills" and "Practice weakest words" system

A bunch of words in my vocabulary are weakening, but they never appear when I "Practice all skills" or "Practice weakest words", while some sets of words appear again and again and again. Sometimes a set of weakened words belongs to a single lesson, but when I practice the lesson only a single word appear. So, the only way to recover the word strength is practicing them one by one in the vocabulary section, what is quite annoying, time consuming and inefficient. Please, fix it.

May 20, 2013


  • 3093

Yeah, I love this site, but to me its most frustrating aspect now with its best practice options non-working is how difficult it is to review most of what you've learned and the total failure of the strength/decay system for some users like me. The more vocabulary you gain and the more lessons you complete, the harder it becomes to effectively practice.


Newspapers and books are apparently the only objects in Germany.


Oh my... Finally I see people complaining about this! It seems french people only need milk and bread, only use coats and they don't do anything but drink and eat :P

The idea behind the "practice all skills" button is great. But I'm really tired of practicing the same sentences over and over and over... I get it's difficult to develop the logic so it proposes exercises based on your weak words... but why not just do a random selection over all your completed lessons? The way it is today, it's like there's only 30-40 sentences and words and they are repeated over and over until it makes me want to close the page.

Please, do something about this since it's a key functionality for all languages and students. I volunteer myself if you need help. Have a lot of experience in IT and web development.

Besides this, thank you very much for all your hard work and the amazing site you're creating!



Thank you for bringing this up. We're working on fixing it and it should be better by Friday.


In a similar vein, I've encountered word forms which show up on my vocabulary list from time to time as degraded, yet they're never presented in any practice sessions - even when practicing the word individually. I've reported several of these on various occasions, but the reports haven't been addressed yet. Is it possible for this related issue could get some attention as well? Two recent examples that I've seen are the "llegan" form of the Spanish verb "llegar" and one of the two listed forms "buscar" for the Spanish verb "buscar".


If I get "my sister is old but I am young" one more time!!


I have the same problem, for me one of the words that come up all the time is "manteau", which is a pretty basic word that I've known for a long time. At the end of a practice, it tells me that I've strengthened "manteau" to full gold bars, but when I check in my vocabulary to verify that, "manteau" still only has two gold bars. I try to click "Remove this word from practice" (because I know it perfectly), but it refuses to do so. There is obviously something wrong with the program, so I hope that this gets fixed soon so I can use the practice options again...


Gotta agree with you. I've gotten the same basic words over and over but the more complicated stuff doesn't seem to get touched.


To each their own. I love practicing my week words one by one. I do not find it annoying, time consuming or inefficient. It enables me to target the most weakest words. But, I do see your point. The logic of the program should be designed in such a way that it would work either way.


You say it now you have less than 500 words learned. Wait until you reach 600 while 50 are decayed.


agreed, friend


Not necessarily. I've got over 1000 words learned with 20 or so decayed, yet I prefer to practice the weak ones individually. I agree, however, that the problem with "Practice All Skills" / "Practice Weakest Words" is something that definitely needs to be fixed asap for those that prefer not to do it that way.


Maybe it the problem is relative to some languages.


Quite possibly. I haven't used the "practice weakest words" option for Spanish in quite a while. As an experiment, I just made a list of all of my words which had degraded from full bars (27 in total) and then did three "practice weakest words" exercises. The first exercise presented me with 9 of my 10 weakest words. It inexplicably skipped "buscar" which was my 6th weakest word according to the strength sort on the vocabulary list. The second exercise presented me with the 11th to 19th weakest words on that list. The third exercise gave me the 20th to 27th plus the 8th again (9 words per exercise seems to be the limit). The 6th weakest word was never presented, but all my other degraded words are are now full bars.

This would seem to indicate that the "practice weakest words" options works, more or less, as one would expect for Spanish.

Edit to add: I just repeated this experiment for German (doing one practice session only this time), and the exercise presented me with 9 of my 11 weakest words. It skipped two forms of words that were practiced in other forms during the session, so perhaps their selection algorithm gets a little hinky when multiple forms of a word appear closely to each other on a list of weakest words.


It is much faster and easier if you open words in a new tab (or window). I used to do it all the time, 50 to 100 words a day go very fast like that, les than an hour actually.


yes, I do that too


The fix seems to be working! Thanks guys xD

[deactivated user]

    I've started 5 Welsh skills and golden 2 (greet 1 & 2). I'm also on level 1 of work 1 as my weakest skill right now. The several times I've used practice it's 100% been from work 1.

    What's going on here? Why is there a "practice" button when then says it includes words that you've learnt if it is the same as choosing a skill to specifically learn? I was under the impression that it would literally be mixing everything I've done. A greet sentence after a present 2 followed by a work 1 and then a greet again etc.

    In fact, I would expect the skills I've golden to come up on practice more so that to keep up with all my golden skills with one practice session while skills I've just started on level one are the skills I have to manually specify a whole practice session into.

    [deactivated user]

      So since I learn Welsh in my spare time when I'm not too busy with work every day I've had to take a few weeks break from duolingo.

      I currently have 9 finished/"goldened" skills in Welsh and have only one non-finished skill active (Animals). Thought to myself "I'd like to practice what I've done now that I'm returning rather than jump back into progressing the next skills".

      I'll admit, I did not even finish my first "practice" before coming here to post. I clicked off of it after around 7 questions. Those 7 questions were all not just from my in-progress animal skills, but all 7 were "[number] crwban (tortoises)]. Not even a wide selection of only animals; not even a few animals. 100% tortoises.

      Again, what is the point of clicking "practice" if it literally gives you your active skills and not your "goldened" skills that you may only need a few questions on each to keep sharp on them rather than 20 questions by individually clicking each finished skill and practicing only that skill?

      I really may as well ignore the "practice" button and just go on with the animal skill if all the practice is giving me is from my ongoing animal skill (and ONLY TORTOISES at that).

      Really, what is the point of that button if it isn't giving me questions from all over my finished skills when I have 9 of them and only one ongoing?


      I'm so glad you wrote this. I'm glad i'm not the only one who has had this experience. I've given up 'practicing' in german for the same reason. it's so disappointing not to be able to practice all the skills!

      [deactivated user]

        I came back feeling good and motivated to get back into Welsh, but I've already lost the motivation. All because I don't want to instantly jump into proceeding with my ongoing skills yet I do not want to individually go through all finished skills.

        Fact is, broken things turn people away, and this broken practice button is doing that to me. I feel there is not good way to stay sharp on completed skills for reasons I won't repeat a 3rd time.

        I've waited several days hoping to get the spark to try again but nope, not feeling it due to a broken mechanic. Shame.


        I agree. In fact, that's what's happened to me. I'm hardly dong lessons anymore, never mind trying to practice - I'm just too discouraged.

        [deactivated user]

          The inconsistency of the practice button makes this worse than it already is. I've returned yet again and in the past week really done a lot of new Welsh skills (finished off one, started and completed 2, and just began a 4th). During the last 3 skills I've been able to use the practice function no problem no matter where I was with my active skills.

          I started the Welsh "going to" skill within the last hour, and decided to finish the day with a practice. Guess what? the practice was 100% "going to" questions, nothing from the 12 finished skills I've done in Welsh. I've typed this before and I'l type it again: Why would I click that practice button if it is just going to give me active/unfinished skills yet not reward me with furthering my level in said skills? In every way it is more logical for me to just keep doing "going to" practice.

          I know it has only happened once since my week-old return, but I will point it out the moment it happens as it shouldn't happen at all imo. 11 months since my first post in this topic, nearly a whole year and I am still experiencing this. Can I just have practice not include my currently active but unfinished skills? That will fix this problem instantly. I just want practice to include my finished skills since those are the ones I need to sharpen, not outright learn. Clicking individual skills and clicking that "start" button is there for outright learning them.


          I agree completely with this, if possible, this section of the program should be develop further. I love this program so much and I know it must be difficult to keep up with all the suggestions or demands that everyone throws at you. But this section of the program does need to be strengthen, so it captures everything that you have learned to date. Nonetheless, thank you for developing what I personally consider one of the best online language learning programs around.


          I know I'd be able to better practice if more sentences were added to the mix. After awhile I just end up memorizing the sentences without really knowing why they are structured a certain way.


          Thanks everyone for staying on top of this! We finished a fix yesterday and rolled it out to several accounts, including everyone who spoke up in this thread.

          Please test "practice all skills" and "practice weakest words," and let us know if you actually get your weakest words more often now (these are words highlighted in blue in translate challenges, and displayed on a scroll at the end of the practice session).

          Also let us know if you experience any other new weirdness. The fix was pretty complex (sorry it took so long) and we want to make sure we didn't break anything else in the process...


          Thank YOU ALL for the hard work and for making Duoling better everyday!


          Thanks for all your hard work.

          • 3093

          Yes, it seems to be fixed! Thank you very much.

          • 3093

          Well, now I'm seeing words I've never seen before added to my French practice and my word count has increased since this morning or last night even though I haven't made any more progress.


          I don't know if you saw my experiment that I described elsewhere in this discussion yesterday afternoon, but I'm curious whether the changes you describe were in place at that time or not (around 17:00 CDT). At the time, I did 3 "Practice weakest words" sessions, and got 26 of my 27 worst Spanish words (3/4 bars that had degraded from full in the previous two days). The one that was not given seems to be a bug which I've described elsewhere in this discussion as well as in bug report feedback. I had a similar result with one practice session I did with my German vocabulary at the time, getting 9 of my 11 weakest words.


          Yes, your experiment was probably only a few minutes after we deployed the fix. :)


          Really cool for working on this! If you need another beta-tester, I'd volunteer !


          Cool. I rarely use the "practice weakest words" option, preferring to practice individual words, so I had no real context for my results to know whether it was just a lucky streak or what. The fix seems to be working exactly as one would expect!



          I was curious what this blue frame was! Another mystery solved ;-)


          I am having the same problem in Spanish. The only lessons I get are about the word 'parece' or it seems. Can you please make the system move on to test me on other skills. Thanks.


          Hi johnw4 - what a beautiful golden tree you have!:) Unfortunately our fix yesterday does not seem to fix things for you - sorry about that. We'll take a look and see what might be causing this. Thanks so much for your patience!

          Update: We found what the issue is and it'll hopefully be resolved soon (it has to do with you being too good at Spanish, haha). I'll send you a note on your stream when it's fixed:) Thanks!


          Thanks for the compliment karint. I've done some more exercises today and although I get asked 'parece' questions I also get a mixture other others too. So thanks for fixing that bug...and getting back to me so quickly!


          Great to hear! Thanks for the update:)


          Karint since this fix, I am having trouble with practice. I like to practice words, one at time. Since this fix I get advanced grammar that is way down my tree and therefore I am getting all my answers wrong. Please help!


          jfgordy -- I looked into this, and it appears to me that "Practice all skills" is trying to give you grammatical concepts you learned (for example, the "Prepositions" and "Dates & Time" skills). But until this recent bug fix, we hadn't actually been getting you to practice them for the past 2-3 months.


          Thank you for the reply. i do not do practice all skills. I practice decayed words, one at a time. It does not give me grammatical concepts that I have learned. Quite the opposite, as I get grammar that should be down the tree.


          Hi Karint. As you may have noticed from comments, the practice system is still not working. I've tried many ways to deal with this (general practice button, individual skills practice buttons, word strength practice buttons, refreshing page etc). I've gotten so discouraged, that I've given up on lessons to a large extent because I learn very slowly, and need to be able to practice. I'm not trying to blame here, or be confrontational - I'm just discouraged and would desperately like to be able to start learning again. Thank you for reading this.


          I'm learning German, and I'm getting so frustrated with the practice sessions. it seems to focus mainly on the words wasser and brot, over and over and over and over in virtually every practice session i do. i wouldn't even mind if they changed it to, say, ente and spinne - but REALLY, i'm an expert on wasser and brot - truly i am! can this be fixed? other than that, i'm finding the course really good.


          This is the single worst problem with the practiced system. I have now reached crown level 567 which is as far as possible. So the entirety of the language is available to practice. But when I go to the practice function I get the same few items over and over again.


          PRACTICE option is GONE After updating Duolingo app in iOS, the practice option is gone. :-( This was the single feature I was using daily, hence my favourite feature. I'd open the app, click in practice, then moved to another language and clicked on practice. Daily!

          This was a perfect example of how technology can use data (what we have learned already, what we are good/weak at, what could we learn next, what we need to repeat more often, etc) to create a customised lesson without any other user interface. It was like a teacher to me.

          Big disappointment!


          It does not seem to be like this in all languages. I get so many unknown words that I can hardly finish any of my "Practise all skills"...


          I'm positive the practice system never worked, and it seemed to have degraded before I even got here. When commenting on the account conversion that took place I already figured that out. On the other hand, I stay to practice the massive list of German sentences with accurate translations, I don't spend more than a few minutes to wonder and second guess the content wrapper.


          This is great. I make a point of alternating each new lesson with a round of vocabulary practice, so this fix is really important to me. Thank you.


          Today all skills practice is for some reason more difficult to me than usual. Maybe it really shows me my weakest words and phrases now? :-) I hope it won't stop.

          I encountered a funny thing today: http://i.imgur.com/hD1Psot.png

          I got only one question in timed practice of all skills.


          I have seen the same thing several times in single word practice, not timed practice.


          Single words are another story. This was a "Practice all skills" session. Even if all my words were equally strong (which is not the case), Duolingo could give me 20 random sentences.


          Even in single word practice it is a bug, because you have one heart and one question, so no mater how wrong the answer is, the word gets strengthened and you get the 2 points. So I wrote it here because there is probably a connection between the two bugs.


          Hi olimo - I think this relates to johnw4's issue. We'll take a look into this once we're in the office tomorrow. Thanks for the report!:)


          More than just a few extra given seconds after a correct answer would be appreciated and a little more time to start with. Or maybe an option in personal settings where we could adjust the time ourselves.


          report on practice weakest words (PWW)

          I use PWW in the vocabulary of the skill I want to strengthen. It actually goes first through all the full strength words (I first thought it goes by the number of times I have seen a specific word but it actually seems random).

          9 words per practice and when I finish with all those then I suppose it goes for those weakest ones I wanted to practice all along. (I only used PWW three times = 3 * 9 = 27 /56 words, since I was too lazy to go all the way until last 10 i wanted to practice. same happened with a different skill)

          side note: Practice skill also goes only through those full strength words, but it shows randomly those words I practiced moments ago while PWW doesn't do that.


          Hi dnovic, we are experimenting with a fix for this right now, so I added you to the group of users in the experiment. Please try practicing again and letting us know if the problem is fixed for you! :)


          Great, problem fixed :) thank you


          the practice session button does not work for me in spanish level 26


          what do you mean by "doesn't work"? do you mean you click it and nothing happens? are you using an app or are you on a desktop? i think i've found that using the apps works better than the website on a desktop, at least in terms of not continually giving the same simple sentences over and over and over again.

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