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Timed Practice Review Needed: During or After

Timed practice does not allow appropriate review. This is the single biggest and only glaring flaw of DuoLingo. The purpose of feedback in any context is that it is reviewed so the recipient can either reinforce performance or change to improve it. Not allowing users to review feedback means it's pointless to provide at all and/or frustrating if you try to while the clock is ticking. Users have no clue how to improve because they neither know what they did right (which may have been a guess) or review what was wrong (a million possibilities).

There are two options:

  1. Users can review feedback after each question as the timer stops. Time then continues once "Continue" is pressed. Or,

  2. As many have mentioned, be able to review after the clock expires. I suggest just a Right/Wrong indicator displayed in the corner while the next question is immediately displayed. Then at the end, the user is able to review ALL answers particularly those they missed.

(3. A final option that is not appealing because behavior would sabotage it would be no feedback at all until time ran out. We need some indicator to boost motivation, otherwise practice becomes a grueling test like the SAT, GRE, MCAT, etc...)

June 2, 2013



TL;DR: I agree (somewhat), but I also have a theory about why timed practice is like that and why that's kind of a good thing... Your mileage may vary. :)

I agree that reviewing your answers after the clock expires would be a really good idea. Also the option to do a slower version of the timed practice (for people who are slow at typing) would also be really good.

But this topic has come up many times before, by the way... and Duolingo has yet to do something about it so I wouldn't get your hopes up.

However, something to think about...

I believe the timed practice is - in a way - trying to simulate what it's like to be in a real life conversation in a foreign language. Real life in a language you don't know very well (conversations, listening to the radio, watching tv) is typically frantic/chaotic - or at least it always has been for me. Native speakers always talk twice as fast as your teacher did, and while you can memorise the phrase for "can you please repeat that?" and use it over and over again... that won't work with a tv/radio, and it would be a pain to have to keep using in a group conversation (for you and them).

In real life you don't get the chance to stop the clock and reflect on your mistakes - you just have to jump in, do the best you can, keep up the best you can, make guesses at what people said, and just move on to the next thing if you miss something (which you will do often), because if you don't move on you'll miss the next thing as well. You only get the opportunity to reflect on it after it's all over, and then you only have your memory to go on.

Would it be good to be able to look at a list of your mistakes after the practice - yes, definitely. But I personally don't think the first option of pausing the clock between questions is a good one because then you never get that "sort of like" real life experience of frantically trying to keep up as half the conversation goes over your head. And if you don't have that experience here while you're learning - you will definitely be in for a shock the first time you try out your Italian/Spanish/French/German in a real life situation, and you feel like you are back at the beginning because everything is going so fast, not to mention people don't enunciate as clearly in real life as they do in the audio for language courses. (Trust me - I've been there).

Remember timed practice is always optional - you can always choose to do untimed practice instead and only pick timed practice when you are confident. You can do untimed practice for a skill set a couple of times and then have a shot at the timed practice.

I think of it this way:

Untimed practice is the best way to improve my vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and just all around general knowledge of the language...

Timed practice is really only for improving my speed of thinking in my new language - so that when I go to Italy I don't freak out about how fast everyone speaks and how long it takes for me to construct a sentence word by word, by which point it's too late to say what I was going to say...


I also agree that the second option, review after time runs out, is the best option. All in all, Timed Practice is not the amazingly useful tool it could be. This change would make it stellar! =)


I think it's a good way to think about it. Timed review is pretty useless for learning anything, but good for getting used to thinking on your feet. In practical terms, it's also a handy way for me to get a decayed skill back to gold if I know it well. If I actually need to relearn some of that skill, I'll do an untimed review.


I agree with your understanding of the purpose of timed practice as a 'real life' scenario. However, even in real life, even in our native language, conversation allows for clarification. As a learning service it is critical to receive and be able to review/understand feedback in order to correct mistakes and reinforce proper use. A flash of red without a chance to see what exactly was wrong (especially with an overly sensitive AI that flags spelling errors) is not assisting learners much.


I agreed with "being able to review your mistakes after practice would be a good idea" twice in my original post.

But taking the very pragmatic perspective (which is something I tend to do) - people have asked for this repeatedly and Duolingo hasn't done it. Whether this is they decided against it, or it's not a priority in their budget, I don't know - probably the latter (and they are offering this service to us for free, remember). My post was about "well maybe if you think about it this way you can see some benefit to timed practice, even though we all know it's not ideal". (And to argue again option 1, which has also been suggested before, and personally I think that would kind of defeat the purpose of timed practice).

Doesn't mean we can't try asking about it again though - who knows, it might be bumped up the list a little... (We can hope right...) :)

Also real life in a foreign language doesn't always allow for clarification - watching tv, listening to the radio, dealing with a talking robot on the other end of the phone line, listening to PA announcements at the train station/airport, and so on... Even in conversation - in a group conversation, things can move super quickly and by the time you've remembered how to ask for clarification, they've already moved on to a new topic.

But yes, option 2 would be great. In the meantime, I'm only going to do timed practice when I want to practice improving my recall speed, rather than improving my spelling, grammar or vocabulary.


I think option #2 is best because keeping the clock going until everything is finished and then reviewing wrong answers at the end would best "simulate what it's like to be in a real life conversation in a foreign language."

[deactivated user]

    I agree - their is no opportunity to learn from your mistakes in the timed process. I also think when this is changed (which I hope it will be) the final question should allow you time to see the answer as well before moving to the completion screen. I learn as much or more from the mistakes I make on here as I do from the questions I get correct.

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