https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist

Unofficial Data from the Golden Owl Hall of Fame (8-22)

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Hi, all! I'm sure you have heard about the Golden Owl Hall of Fame, so I'll spare you the details. For reference, 176 members as of 8-22-2014.

Really, it is just a list composed of language-learning data. So, why not try to compile that data for you to see just how the community is learning?

The First Completed Tree

As I expected, Spanish came out on top, with 35% of the members having earned their Spanish owl first. French trees compose 25% of the first trophy entries. German and English hold 14% and 13.6% respectively. Portuguese claims 6.8% of first entries on the list, while Italian finishes off the tally with 5.1%. -0.5% sampling error.

The real fun started after the first entries (using the three highest, Spanish, French, and German).

Spanish onwards

What languages do we tend to learn after Spanish? As you can see, French and English are tied for first. Is it possible that French seems easier after one Romance language? What is the reason behind English as the second choice: reinforcement or "standard"?

French, then what?

No contest here, plainly. Spanish is the most popular choice after French. But, what is surprising is German in second place. For all the French learners out there, what entices you to learn German after French?

German chooses...

This is one was always in the dark for me. I don't see too many "I finished my German tree" posts, so I was surprised to see Spanish as #1 on languages to learn after German. But, French is not too far behind, due to its second-place popularity after Spanish overall.

Any comments, questions, or observations?

The figures from the first chart are the actual counts: Spanish (62 trees), French (45 trees), German (25 trees), English (24 trees), Portuguese (12 trees), Italian (9 trees).
Of course, data is subject to human error (mainly my own), but for 99.9% of it, it's all correct. Data from English/Spanish Duolingo forums. Hopefully Dutch will be able to make an entrance next time (if).
August 22, 2014

57 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
Mod
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Dutch learners, don't let me down!

You

can do this! ಠ_ಠ


Thanks for the data Alexis! ^^
The reasons I decided to learn French after Spanish is 1) because I'd been studying it before I even touched Spanish, in high school and 2) because I like romance languages. Perhaps the latter reason resonates with most students as well: an interest in a particular language family. :)

Point of feedback: I'm sure some users will simply state which trophies they have, without giving you the order in which the trees were completed. Maybe it's good to put a small message in your hall of fame thread asking users to specifically include the order in which they've required their trophies, too?

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Jack.Elliot
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Going at it slowly

but it is fun

If Scotland gets independence

we should teach it in our Schools

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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I'm sure we will prevail!

You're welcome. :) Thanks for the answers. I would have continued down that path, but Dutch stole French and Portuguese's places. :)

This is a very good point. If I did do another analysis, I would have different points. Now I wish you had said this to me earlier. Makes a lot of sense. ;) Thanks for the feedback!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
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Thanks Alexis, interesting!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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No problem, BritBlue. Trademark extrovert. ;) As you can see (we're excluding palocortado here), the length of the posts tells you the main difference between Extroverts and Introverts. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Jette73A

Very interesting. I love statistics. Have you compared choice of language with first language? I am Danish. When I wanted to learn Spanish, I could only do it from English. Just for fun I consider doing English from German, because I speak both languages okay, and It would be quickly done. And then German from English. Finishing with Danish, when Danish is released. Understand what I mean? All small countries teaches English as second language and some of them German as third. Large countries also teaches English as second language. I am really looking foreward to see your next analasys. Love what you are doing.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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No, I have not, Jette73A. I would love to have that data, most likely through survey format. Yes, I do understand what you saying. A lot of reverse courses for you. :) Thanks for the added insight!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Mitchell_MT
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What's going with Italian? Come on Italian. Impariamo italiano! Anyway, I feel special for learning Italian, because it's one of the lowest.

Side Note: You might want to add me to the list in about 10 days or so. :D

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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That's what I asked myself! It doesn't seem to be the first or second choice too often, but people with more owls tend to have the Italian one.

Great, I'll be looking forward to it!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/fer84
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Great analysis ! But, I hope all of you are aware that this data is not representative. Problematic is not so much the "human errors", but the prior distribution of the test subjects. For various reasons they do not represent the DL community:

  • People who read the discussion are a quite small number - compared to the millions who learn on mobile platforms.

  • The hall of fame announcement was posted in the english subsection - This means that people who are actually learning English as a second language, most likely haven't read the announcement.

  • There are some experienced learners in the hall of fame who are not necessarily practising L1 to L2, but also L2 to L2 and L2 to L1 (reverse courses)

Just one example. You tried to analyse the data, who have already fininished the French course and asked the questions :

No contest here, plainly. Spanish is the most popular choice after French. But, what is surprising is German in second place. For all the French learners out there, what entices you to learn German after French?

I am one of these guys having finished German after French. But actually I learned Spanish! After finishing the "English to French" course, I did the "Spanish to German" course, as a reverse course to enforce my Spanish and ended with a golden owl in German.

I think most of the guys learning English as their second DL tree, were not really learning English, but aiming for the reverse language. I have no way to prove that though.

TL.DR The hall of fame, and especially the guys having finished more than one tree, do represent the average learner.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/makiminami
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Obviously. English is the lingua franca of the world (and will be for at least quite a while) so I'm sure the majority of the "English" trees were done by people who actually know up to a conversational level but were using it to strengthen their skills in another language they learned the opposite direction. Otherwise they were done by a real English learner who had little or no knowledge of English whatsoever before finishing the tree.

Even worse scenario for Duolingo: most of the learners are on iOS, so there's no way for them to view any discussions or even have interaction with other users besides following them (only by dueling, if they haven't updated the app). But Android actually gives you access to the sentence discussions, but it allows users to actually "talk" to each other and be able to express in words. Though, under the strict policy of the Duolingo Guidelines.

And note that AlexisLinguist (the original poster), having finished the Spanish tree, has also translated and posted it in Spanish (planning to post in French soon with the help of a friend who knows more). You haven't heard?

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/fer84
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Great that you are collecting more diverse data! When I understand the approach correctly, it was counted manually (without using a python script etc...). This is a tremendous work ! I really enjoyed looking at the data, and trying to interpret it.

Some different aspects, of what I intended to say: What do you do, when you finishing a tree ? There might be a significant amount of users, who just turned their backs on DL. Some will start translating, and keep it golden (as it was intended). Others will quickly run through a course in which they had already a background knowledge (learned in high-school, similar to the mother tongue, doing the reverse course) And very few will start a new language from scratch and finish it. The composition of these groups is different in the survey, than in the entire community.

Also, what is "the Duolingo community"? It is much larger that it appears: There are 2 Mio learning English from Chinese, 1 Mio learning English from Russian, and half a million learning English from hungarian, although all these courses are just in beta. These are tremendous numbers, and it might be that these courses will outgrow the "old courses". Just for comparison - the largely hyped Dutch course is at 40k. I do not speak these languages, and I do not know if they are active users (with completed trees), I don't even know how many stopped learning after the first lecture, or opened multiple accounts, because they forgot their password. The composition of active and inactive users might be different.

These are all factors that will most certainly bias the study. It is likely that the official statistics are quite different from this survey data. It is still interesting to talk about the results.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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I have been trying to diversify the tree (meaning not only native or proficient English speakers). I'm finding, at least from Spanish, that there is definitely greater activity on the Learning English side than Portuguese or French (from what I have seen). Yes, it was manually counted.

That is data I would be interested in, most likely better in a survey format, and obtaining permission to use their data anonymously, as it goes beyond a simple trophy.

"The Duolingo community" is just a term for those that have posted onto the list, nothing more. I agree with the large numbers, which, if listed, would be hugely in English's favor, as that is the only course provided for most of the languages currently.

I am sure some of the things you have listed bias even the official numbers, as everyone is not active, have multiple accounts, and so forth.

Thanks again!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Of course I am aware of this fact. This is meant to be more of an unofficial look at things, but not comprehensive or anything like that. I would be a silly fool to think such. I leave the official data to the experts. :)

Yes, I am aware of these points. This is only a cross-section of those who have posted on the list, perhaps, I should have made that clearer...taken into consideration. And, this has been posted on the Spanish side as well, as Symiria stated earlier. *True, but I am only taking into account the end results. Noting each base language would be far too great of a task for me, so I needed to simplify the list.

I think it applies to both of those groups, as well as those who were reinforcing the English knowledge they already had.

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/raans
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Great work Alexis! I wished stats like this would be available either to everyone or at least released every once in a while by the team.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Thank you, Roxana! Me also. Some I would be very interested in checking out.

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
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Awww, so sad Italian is that unpopular :/ People don't know what they leave out... leaving out Italian, the most beautiful language on Earth WHILE it is free to learn is a SIN and nothing else.

... but it makes me feel somewhat special, having completed only the Italian tree (yet)...

Anyways, thank you Alexis it was an amazing post! ;)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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I didn't realize how "unpopular" it was until I listed it. Definitely a surprise. You're welcome.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Moomingirl
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Ooh, geek heaven. Thanks for putting the work into this Alexis, it's really interesting. :D

I'm surprised to see what a small proportion Italian is though.

This is the kind of information I would love to see Duolingo release. I would like to know for example, the proportion of people who finish their trees, compared to those who start, or for example, get half way through (I suspect a lot of people do one or two lessons and then give up, so that would skew the statistics). More statistics for the geeks please Duolingo. :D

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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:) Prego (yay, I remembered)! About an hour of tally marks, chart-making, and resizing-photo sites. ;) As you can see, palocortado paid me for my work.

Me as well! I knew it wasn't as popular, but it fell off, as did Portuguese. It has been really lopsided so far, save for the 4+ people. Everyone else seems to be focused on Spanish and French (just an observation, don't even think about taking this out of context, everyone!) Even I would love to see some of those figures, including how many hours are spent, individually and collectively.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Jack.Elliot
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are you not a moderator yet ?

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/anthgrl
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She should be. ;-) She does so much for us, especially with posts like this (and the Hall of Fame itself), she definitely deserves some recognition for it.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/makiminami
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Alexis (unofficially) has been here for only 120 days (as of this post, August 22, 2014 [22 August 2014]) but she has already made a huge impact on Duolingo, from simply liking a post when someone levels up or completes a skill (it works wonders on your motivation, and I have done the same as well to other users) to posting helpful answers to problems and English questions (from Spanish speakers), having lots of good fun and a bit of goofing around with lots of nice users (who she considers her friends, of course), to posting the 100 Days Club and the most famous of all, the Golden Owl Hall of Fame (even though it was not her original idea, she was the one who went ahead and implemented it).

I totally agree, the Duolingo team should especially consider Alexis for moderator sometime, she is so helpful and friendly with everything. She truly cares about everyone like a real-life friend (except those annoying spammers, of course). I'm happy to say Alexis is one of my good friends.

Duolingo team, @AlexisLinguist is a must-have mod. She truly deserves the position and you have to consider her looking at all her posts. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Would you like to write my Duobiography? ;) Thanks for the kind words, Symiria. I really do appreciate it.

having lots of good fun and a bit of goofing around with lots of nice users (who she considers her friends, of course)

This is hands-down my favorite part of Duolingo. You all make it easy to be the person that you see, because you guys rock. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/makiminami
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@AlexisLinguist: I'd absolutely love to! It would be so much fun writing a Duobiography. ;)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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I have to be careful of what I say...I keep giving people ideas. ;)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Not yet, Jack! :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/palocortado
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Drat. I'm not ninja enough yet.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Heck no! Probably the most obvious Secret Santa out there, and I mean that nicely. ;) Thanks for the lingots, time to bring joy to boys and girls all over the world...

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/palocortado
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Irregular intervals, innocuous posts. <-- that should do the trick. :) Yes, spread that joy!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/bookrabbit
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As Spanish is shorter than either French or German that may be the reason people finish it first. I started it a month after the other two and yet am only 5 skills from finishing it. And it is easier too of course. I have about 20 left on each of the others. I may delay completing it and finish them all together. I like symmetry! And statistics. Nice charts:)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Good thinking. That factors in, I'm sure. Wow, big difference between the totals. This makes me smile, because it sounds like something I would do (I love number patterns/symmetry, I love your flag line).

Thank you! I'm not much of a statistics girl, but I do love a good-looking chart (and creating them), so I might as well please the other 90% that does like figures and data and whatnot. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Wiijimmy
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This post has more lingots than me. How sad. Anyway, really interesting data!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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It was interesting! I would've gone deeper, but my counting skills get weaker the longer I count. ;)

I see you are still obsessed with the lingots. Now what did you say yesterday, ah yes, "Lingots don't matter." Do you believe that, deep down? And you can thank the man underneath my post to Moomingirl for that.
August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Wiijimmy
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sorry ;-;

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/DanielPere528188
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Interesting . I can say that I finished spanish first because I am portuguese. It took me 2 weeks. My german tree well.... 2 years almost xD Still going slow.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Thanks for the feedback, vakeiros!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/anthgrl
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This is all really interesting. I'm also surprised by the small numbers for Italian, that would have been my first choice if I didn't 'need' to learn French. Still, I can't wait to add my own French tree to this list, probably sometime next year.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Definitely lower in comparison to other languages than I thought. Can't wait to see you!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/GeniusJack
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What trees have learners of Italian done next?

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Moomingirl
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I'd like to say Finnish, Jack, but it's not here yet. ;)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/3_pipit
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I'm working on Italian (slowly, I'm afraid!) but Finnish would be next on my list, if there were Finnish. Yay Finnish!

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Moomingirl
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Slowly is fine, as long as you keep going. :D I'm working on Finnish at home, but I would be so excited to see it come to Duolingo. :)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/GeniusJack
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Perhaps as the fifth tree for Italian learners ;)

August 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Moomingirl
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:D I dream of Finnish for Italian speakers, but I'm not holding my breath!

I'd like to see French for Italian speakers too, but I really don't have much time for a third language right now. :)

August 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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You did German, then we have 2 Spanish trees, and one Portuguese tree.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ALoUSyUseRnaME
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Wow, good job on putting this altogether!

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Thank you, Mr.Aaren. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/helmad
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How did you know the order? When I posted my completed trees, I don't know if I put them in the order of achievement:-) I think I started with French when I first found out about duolingo, to get ready for a French-spoken meeting, but I really am not sure about the relative order of Italian and German. I know I added Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch (hah!) last, but Portuguese Spanish or Spanish, Portuguese? couldn't swear to it, but I think Portuguese first bc of a possible Brazil trip.

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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The key word is unofficial. :)

August 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/helmad
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Sorry, doing to you what users do to a popular website:-) give them one toy, and they'll demand ten more!

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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The never-ending satisfaction cycle. I'm stepping out. :)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/nateVONgreat
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Please add me to the Hall of fame! Today I finished the German tree!

It is the German from English tree, and my first tree to finish, I am level 19.

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Added you in. Gratulation!

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Frosch0066
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Finished my French tree today. Also did the German tree using "test out" so not sure if this counts.

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
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Félicitations ! Added both to the list. :)

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/dinnernugget
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Second tree done: DUTCH!

Now on to Italian for Spanish, if I can handle the computer voice.

August 25, 2014
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