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  5. In a bit of a catch-22...


In a bit of a catch-22...

Hey all,

I've been getting more and more frustrated with the lessons. It seems that as I add more vocabulary, that vocab is added to earlier lessons.

The problem is that it also seems to be adding in a lot of vocabulary that I've never learned. Some of it may be because I did a few translations, but those took considerable effort and a lot of looking things up in reference material.

So, now the timed practice lessons I can at-most get 1-3 points before times up, or without the timer I fail most of the time.

In addition to the vocab issue, the speech is very hard to distinguish on occasion, and that usually accounts for 1/2 of my lost hearts or more. Other times, small mistakes will cause a lost heart, like tengo vs tango, etc.

Basically, I'm at a point where I feel like I don't have very good odds at successfully completing the untimed practice, but doing timed practice feels like bashing my head against a wall.

I could go further on with the lesson tree, but I'm worried that will compound the current issue by adding more vocab, making it even more difficult.

I'd really like to get credit (points) for effort. If I spend 10 or 20 minutes on a lesson, and get 3 out of 20 wrong, I'd rather not loose the other 17 and thus waste all that time.

Any ideas? Dan O.

July 3, 2013



If your problem is additional vocab, using the hover hints solves most of your problems. Listen to the slowed audio when it's unclear. Spanish is fairly phonemic and relatively easy to guess even if you don't know the word. Do untimed practice and take your time. I don't think tengo vs tango is a small error; it's a careless one, yes, but the system has no way of knowing if you actually know the difference or if you're going to spend the rest of your life invoking a dance every time you try to tell someone your age.


Thanks nightshifted...

I suppose me being overly tired isn't helping. :P I both make more mistakes and get more frustrated at the same time.

I do wish there were smaller untimed practice lessons. The lessons on the tree seem to be about 1/2 the questions typically of a practice lesson, and I get that the practice should be worth about 1/2 the value of a new lesson, but would prefer half the points vs double the questions.

Most the time I do a practice lesson, timed or not, I feel almost paranoid that I'm going to loose from something I don't expect or notice that I spelled incorrectly.

In fact, that's why it often takes me 20 minutes to do one, sometimes more, and that just makes it more frustrating when I loose the lesson. Sometimes I can play it slow and fast, and just can't figure it out for the life of me, and I don't think I'm alone. The discussions for those same questions are loaded with comments discussing the very same issue.

I know tengo vs tango shouldn't be disregarded as an error, it should be demerited... But holy-smokes! Loosing 20 minutes of work because of it!?

Peace, Dan O.


It might help to make a note of every question you get wrong, even if it's something you feel like you've been unfairly docked for. For example, if you get an imperative form of the sentence, jot it down and write the correct translation next to it. (Unfortunately, the system seems to have difficulty distinguishing between words that are spelled the same, even if they are different tenses of a verb.) Then maybe take a quick look an explanation online about the imperative, and learn it! There's no reason why you can't learn something before Duolingo teaches it. You will have to learn it eventually, and it's not that hard if you read a clear explanation (studyspanish.com tends to break things down effectively). In the time you've taken to post here, you could've given yourself a crash course! :)

For the audio, identify the words that are giving you trouble, then look them up on forvo.com to hear how a native says it. If you understand the native just fine but struggle with the computer voice, then you know it's just Duolingo.

I know it's frustrating to do all the hard work and not get any points for it, but if you're actually learning from both your errors and Duolingo's, then not only will you learn faster, you will feel less reliant on points for a sense of achievement.


Thanks nightshifted, I have started using other resources online already. I've used the studyspanish.com site before, been keeping an eye out for something more lecture-based which provides good audio for learning pronunciation, though I haven't really checked studyspanish thoroughly to see if they have such a thing.

I know that learning is the ultimate goal, and I don't mind learning for the sake of learning, but when it feels like I'm constantly loosing it's difficult to learn effectively whilst being frustrated. :P


I think you may have been affected by an issue on our end. During the past week, it was the case that by doing translations you could have new words added to your vocabulary. This has been resolved now, so in the future doing translations should only strengthen words you've already seen in lessons. If you keep doing lessons, things should go back to normal in terms of difficulty.


Thanks mstreeter,

I thought that may have been a bit of a bug or error, I was hopeful that it would be corrected, glad to hear it has!


Learn the vocab with old school pen and paper? Or try anki, which is a free program for learning vocab using flashcards. It will require you to input all the vocab, which could take a while.


Erg, last lesson was my 4th attempt at the 2nd lesson for Prepositions...

On the very last question, I got this:

"Please walk with him" ...which I translated as: "Por favor cominan con él."

But, the proper translation was: "Por favor comina con él."

The reasoning? An imperative usage of the verb, which has not yet been introduced. The previous 3 hearts were lost for very similar reasons. Not very happy about this.

Dan O.


It is frustrating, but you should keep pushing. When timed practice becomes harder, then for me is a sign that I have to refresh earlier units, and switch to regular practice until I get the vocabulary and grammar right! I do not know about spanish but in general I think spending the extra minute or two to understand each mistake, read comments and listen the sound again (in slow and regular speed) is very important. Yes, it might take 20 minutes for just 10 points, but remember, the real gain here is not the point pile, it is the language you learn, so imagine that there is a second point system in your head, and each time you get the answer right award yourself one point. We will not see it, but you know it is there.


I see your point but I myself appreciate all and any additional vocab very much. Even if it is stuffed into lessons already done. Just redo the lessons which are flagged as not completely learned and you're fine :) I am not going to complain even if they decide to put as much as 5000 words of vocab per language in here ;)


Yahp, the problem was that I had a lot of vacab outside my skill level in my lessons. These vocab were added because I'd done some translation on the immersion side, and everything I did there was added as vocab into current and past lessons.

This, combined with a number of other difficulties (unclear text to speech, etc) was making the experience very frustrating, as completing a full lesson, even an older one, very difficult.

Dan O.


Ok. I get it. But looks like it's going to get better any time soon :)


Yeah i noticed the same problem. When i went back to review earlier lessons thinking it would help consolidate that vocab, it gave me words i had seen in the translation i had done previously (and quite badly i think as i just thought i'd have a stab at it for the hell of it only a few days into the course). So, i sympathise with you Belboz99. Glad it's been fixed. :-)

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