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Is 'Strengthen Skills' broken? Or if not, how does it work internally? + a suggestion. (4th edit)

Whenever I see any of my Danish skills on the tree drop below gold, I like to practice. However, it seems like it doesn't work anymore.

I have completed around 19 skills on the tree, and all of them are gold except for #11 and #13. I did a couple of timed practice sessions now, and I even completed one of them with 19 XP and time still left on the clock, but those two skills still remain below gold (I have got 50 XP from practice alone today so far). If Duo knows that I need practice in those two, why do I get practice skills except those two? Or you say that I got the practice from the gold skills because it has words that I know less than the ones in the non-gold ones? Then if Duo knows that I need practice in those, why doesn't it mark those skills also as non-gold?

I feel confused and frustrated because my need for understanding and sense of progress aren't being met.

Could someone (perhaps even a Duo Developer?) explain what is going on? Is it a bug, or is it by design? And if it is by design, then what is the rationale behind it?

And even if it is not a bug, I'd really love to have some kind of sense of progress: e.g. at the end of practice it would tell me out of my 459 words I learned so far, 59 needs practice right now. It could also tell me that before the start of the practice session I had 77 words that needed practice, so I would know that I succeeded with committing 18 words into my long(er)-term memory, and I would also see that I need around 3-4 more sessions of practice if I want to keep my memory of all the words pristine and make all the skills golden.

Edit: A request for non-developers: Could you tell me if you are experiencing the same issue? If so, is it only sometimes, or always?

And if there is someone who had this same issue, but could overcome it in some way, could you tell me how? E.g. Do you just no longer use "strengthen skills" and practice non-golden skills individually?

Edit 2: By the way, I've tested out of English from Hungarian a long time ago, and now when I checked back, pretty much all of my skills there decayed below being gold. So I thought I would give the "strengthen skills" button a shot (in timed practice mode) to see what happens. I cruised through all the questions with about 1 min left on the clock by the end and very few errors (perhaps even none). I've repeated this a couple of times, and there wasn't any noticeable difference on my tree, perhaps one skill turned gold, but the rest were pretty much untouched, which seems strange considering I touched on more than 60-100 sentences, containing many words. I am concerned that my practice isn't being recorded by Duo.

Edit 3: I'm getting more and more convinced that there is at least some level of buggyness involved. Throughout today, In all my Danish practice foråret=the spring has been included. I got it right at least 5-7 times, and yet it just keeps coming back.

Edit 4: This might be a related issue.

September 17, 2014


[deactivated user]

    I am not a developer, but I have the same issue while learning German.

    When many skills have dropped below gold, I often get the message that I have learned one or two skills after 'strengthening skills'. But as the number of not-gold skills decreases, it becomes increasingly difficult to complete one through 'strengthen skills' (which seems counter intuitive, because there are fewer skills to update).

    One way around it is to learn the skills individually; this works for me, at least. So I now alternate between 'strengthen skills' and practising individual skills.

    To be honest, I would like to hear how 'strengthen skills' works too.


    Thanks for the reassurance that I'm not alone with my confusion! :)


    I think I have the same issue, also for Danish. There are two skills (Places and Objects) that will not turn gold no matter how much I practice them. In addition, the weak words in those skills always come up when I select "Strengthen skills", so I've had to practice individual skills instead of using "Strengthen skills". It's as if there is a set of words for which Duolingo is not recording any of my practice. I haven't experienced this issue before with any other trees.

    Regarding your Edit 2: I've experienced this phenomenon before, and I think it could be normal. "Strengthen skills" can give you exercises from a wide range of skills, not necessarily concentrated in just a small number of skills. Therefore, even if you do it several times, there may not have been enough exercises done in any single skill to bump up the skill bars, since the progress you've made is spread thinly across many skills.


    About Edit2: Yeah, I can imagine that I'm being tricked by the spreading-thin effect there. But in both situations, it would be really nice to see some kind of indication of progress: "Even if it spreads thin, how many words did Duo think I know better because of the practice, and how much more are left to practice?" Then even if there is a lot to practice, at least I know that I am making some progress, as opposed to now when I am wondering if Duo even records my practice.

    Edit: It is Clothing and Colors for me that are refusing to turn gold right now.


    Yup, agreed that it would be good to have. For some trees, there is a Words page that you can go to, which lists out all the vocab words you've learned in that language, as well as strength for each word and when you last practiced the word, so you can check whether that list is reflecting the practice that you're doing. Doesn't appear to be implemented for English to Danish yet, although it is implemented for English to German and English to Spanish, for example.


    Happening to me too with the same two! Also, all of mine seem to lose 1 bar of strength the day after learning them/practicing them. I'm up to the final part of the tree, and 13 of my skills are not gold - even though I practiced them all within the last 2 days and passed first go! Some have full practice bars and others only want me to practice about 6 words to bring it back up to gold...


    Yes, Places is the worst. I finally got it gold, after strengthening it for maybe 10 times... :S


    I noticed the same in Italian. Where after a while, most of my skills had lost their golden colour, but even after using 'Strengthen Skills' several times, none of the skills had improved whatsoever. I was pretty frustrated and thought that I wasted all this time just for status quo.

    I like your suggestion about the improvement of the 'sense of progress'!

    Btw, I wonder if anyone else has had this problem with "Strengthen Skills" (have had this in Danish, but I guess it happens in all languages): When I only just started a skill (e.g. Food), and I use "Strengthen Skills" (the general one, not the skill-specific one), it asks me for all kind of food vocabulary that I hadn't learnt yet! And then, ever after finishing the skill and trying it again, I still keep getting vocabularies that I had never learnt before. This is very, very, very frustrating as - of course - I then keep failing the practices over and over again. Sometimes there's a session in between with only known vocabulary but then they pop up again, usually a whole series of them, and I fail again.


    Thank you for all the input, we are looking into it!


    Thanks! Please keep us posted! :)


    To follow up on my last post, Strengthen Skills is undoubtedly working very poorly. Once in a blue moon, I'll do a session and it'll gold up 4 skills, which is awesome! Unfortunately that's a rare occurrence. More often, I'll do 10 rounds in a row, maybe missing once on average and rarely peeking, and NOTHING goes gold, even though I have 10 non-gold skills. What's the deal? It's certainly more effective in some languages than in others. For Swedish, for example, it's a 100% fail. It gives me the same questions over and over again. How is "a family = en familj" coming up every freaking time even though I've answered it correctly 20 times in a row? I don't know what kind of code is behind this thing, but it's working in some crazy ways!!!


    With the new app updates, Strengthen Skills is now almost entirely useless, and the strength bars next to skills mean essentially nothing. You can have almost all skills non-gold, and nothing ever seems to increase with practice. At this point I don't care about the strength bars at all, because there's no point. I'm not sure why Duolingo keeps introducing new bugs and worsening old ones rather than ever fixing anything, but that's the way it seems to be going. Hey, at least there's Turkish now!


    Kind of related, and I have no idea if it already does this naturally, but I would love it if duolingo tracked your strength with grammar principles in addition to vocabulary practice. Say someone is struggling to grapple accusative declension in German, when you do timed practice it would start pumping in a ton of accusative declension statements so you practice it.


    This issue is related. There is a definitely an issue with the sentence selection for practising words. My fiancée gets "write the word in the picture" for shoe, marriage, and some other ones literally every single time.

    I've reported it to our mentor (who is our link with DuoHQ) once before, and again this morning because there were a bunch of threads about it. Not sure what the cause is or of any progress towards fixing it.


    Thanks for reporting it towards them. Would you be willing to update us in this thread on their response on the issue?


    If I hear anything, I will share it. Most likely it'll just magically be fixed at some point :)


    I had the same problem for one Danish category and for one Spanish category. It is definitely a bug, but MusicWithRocksIn came up with a workaround that solved the problem for me.

    First of all, when I strengthen I always do it on category level and that normally helps (the category becomes golden again). But not for the category "Places" in the Danish course! I got the same words each time and of course I knew them by heart after a so many trials.

    The trick is to strengthen (again on category level) "against the clock". So thanks to MusicWithRocksIn I finally got my golden "Places" back. The same trick worked for the buggy Spanish category too.


    Can you explain how to do this on iOS app? I can't work out how to choose a specific category to practice against the clock - it seems to take random skills.


    I don't use the app, so I don't know if it work with that. On my computer, I just click on the category that has lost the golden colour and then I can choose if I want to strengthen against the clock or not. It does work, but unfortunately it seems to hold for one day only. I just realized that I have to go through my "torvet", "boulevarden" and "køkkenet" today again. Can't wait :)!


    Thanks! I've tried to do this on the web version, and it also doesn't give me this option. Seems odd.


    Oh, I just saw there's a "timed practice" item in the store - maybe that's the missing link!


    Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that. First, I thought that I "paid" for just one round of a timed practice, but the option is still there so I use it for all categories I'm good at.


    I am having the same problem in Spanish and French. I keep trying to strengthen my skills, but cannot get to full strength even if I pass with full hearts. I am frustrated, because I don't want to do new skills until all my bars are full stength. I thought maybe I am not understanding the way the system works - is there an FAQ or thread explaining how the strength system should work?


    This is giving me trouble in Dutch as well. I have three non-gold skills and have done about 15 strengthen skills rounds on the app today without ever running out of hearts. Nothing has gone gold yet. I think it's just strengthening the same skills over and over again. Would be nice to be able to gold these things without spending all day on it.


    Have you tried timed practise? That's apparently a work-around. At least it works for me when I do my daily "torvet - hjørnet - køkkenet" practise.


    Will try, but would be nice to have this work on my phone app. As of now, I have many non-gold skills in various languages and after 30 practice rounds with no heart expirations, not a single skill has turned gold. Definitely seems broken. It would be nice to be able to re-gold all my languages (granted I have a lot) without it taking all day. This is a brutal site for a semi-OCD person like myself.


    I seem to have a similar issue with French. It works better in German, but it's quite bad in French. My Basic 1 and Basic 2 are not gold despite strengthening skills every day.


    Same issue here. There are several topics in my German tree that never turns gold, no matter how many times I try to strengthen them:

    • Business 1
    • Abs. Ob. 1
    • Present 3
    • V. Conditional

    It is quite frustrating and I wonder how it this still an issue if this bug has been reported 2 years (!!!) ago.

    Also, I don't understand why skills that I practice yesterday are dropping. I basically practiced the same skills all over again for the past two weeks.

    Another issue I have is with the fluency badge - it is constantly decreasing (started at 60% and now is down to 53%) even if I practice 100xp daily with minimum errors.


    I'm doing Duolinguo Irish and I have the same issue. I strengthen the lesson again and again and have nothing to show for it. I think it's especially bad on mobile. It was working when I started out on Duolingo but the longer I've used it the worse it's gotten.


    I have noticed that any time I "Strengthen Skills" it is ALWAYS the same set of questions each time, over and over again.

    I do at least 2 entirely new blocks each day, but never are any new words added to my strengthen skills set of questions asked. I'm nearly at the point of just no longer doing it.


    I'm in the same boat- there is one category in my tree that degrades faster than the others and when I use the timed practice for "strengthen skills" I get the same phrases over and over again. Just now I did this yet again and got 20/20 with no mistakes...and it still didn't turn gold!! This is very, very frustrating.


    Looks like I'm going to be necroposting... However, the issue is still there. I experienced the very same problem with particular Dutch skill (Te+Inf.) The only way that fixed it was re-doing the individual lessons in the skill. Leaving this recipe in this topic as well so the others who get there via Google (like me) can get to solution faster :)

    P.S. For the tech part: it looks like the practice and timed practice algorithms somehow never select some specific words for practice - so the skill does not strengthen no matter how much you try to do it via practice.


    I have found several posts on this topic, some from years ago, and this issue is still present (at least for me). Has this bug been addressed in any capacity by the Duo team?


    I am experiencing the same issue. Duolingo team, please give us an update. Even 'We are looking into it' will work. I just want to confirm that someone is looking into this thread and it is not directly going to the wastebasket.


    Same issue here with Spanish. I do "Verbs Present 3" over and over and over, timed practice, etc. and it never seems to change. No idea what to do. I'm feeling a bit OCD about having some areas of my progress not stay at Gold. :-)


    Any updates on this??? Still having this issue. One of my skills refuses to show as complete even though I have done it probably 10 times. Maybe 40-50% of my completed lessons fail to reflect as strengthened. It doesn't matter if I use the iPhone app or the desktop app.... same probably on both platforms. Super annoying.


    I had the same issue while learning Italian. 2 of my skills stubbornly refuse to go up no matter how hard i practice. 1 of them only goes up when i get get every single question right while strengthening it. This is getting very annoying, and is demotivating me. I also have a similar glitch with my words. I can scroll for a good minute or two without seeing a single word that had gone up in level. this is irritating, and is dragging down my fluency. i would love to get this fixed.


    Yep, this is still an issue for both me and my wife (we're learning French). It's getting really frustrating to never get gold again, since my strategy has been to let skills drop to two bars and then strengthen to full (I read an official DuoLingo article that said that was the best time to practice). Also, I have old skills like "animals" that I haven't practiced in maybe two months that still has three bars. I rarely ever get any animal words, yet DuoLingo seems to think I know that better than the skill I strengthened yesterday which keeps dropping from three to two bars (and never get to full). It's all annoying as hell really, especially since it has started to lower my motivation and I would hate to lose the momentum I have with a 100+ day streak. Please DuoLingo dev team - give us some feedback about why this is happening. Right now it feels like DuoLingo is critically broken.


    I've got similiar problem with the Turkish course. Yesterday I made ten times 'Strengthen Skills', but most of the weakened skills weren't strengthened by using this tool, so I had to strengthen them by choosing 'Strengthen' in every single unit, i.e. I had to strengthen 10 skills one by one, although previously there was nothing wrong with the main 'Strengthen Skills' tool. It's quite irritating and I hope it will be solved soon. Thus I earned 328 XP yesterday in order to get all the skills strengthened...

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