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German and Spanish learners! We've updated your trees.

You'll notice that your tree looks a little different, but don't be alarmed! We know these updates will improve your language learning experience on Duolingo.

For the past few weeks, we've been testing new German and Spanish trees on all new users and 20% of current users. We've found that with all of our new updates people are learning more.

So, what are the updates?

German tree:

-- Improved our vocabulary by removing some words and adding others that allow for everyday/useful conversational sentences like: Wie komme ich zum Bahnhof? (How do I get to the train station?)

-- Moved the travel skill earlier in the tree to include more variety in vocabulary and grammar learned early on.

-- Since German distinguishes between male and female nouns like "teacher" and "artist", we added the female versions.

Spanish tree:

-- Improved vocabulary and added conversational sentences like: ¿Dónde está el baño? (Where is the restroom?)

-- Updated the names of some skills and exercises in the most particularly challenging lessons. The “Clitic Pronouns" skill is now called "Object Pronouns", and how we teach the “subjunctive past” skill is massively improved.

Since we count words a little differently now, some of you may find your word count has changed too. If you completed the tree, you'll now have more lessons to finish (which means lots more practice!). We hope you enjoy all these new updates!

July 5, 2013



Your method of testing changes on sets of real users before releasing them is awesome and exemplary! You change stuff because it is evidently better and not because someone thinks it might be so, I really like that. Can you elaborate on your test results? What do you mean exactly by "people are learning more"? More words in less time? Faster progress through the tree? More people stick to Duolingo?


I'm curious about this too.. because I think the some of the lessons are shorter? which would of course influence the speed of progress through the tree..


Yes, I too would like an answer to the questions that you have presented!


Motivation is a funny thing. As someone who mastered the German skill tree, and has been maintaining it the past couple of months (something that takes quite a bit of work, it turns out), I feel like golden coins are falling into my apron when new lessons and new vocabulary are posted. Why? Because I know I'm not even close to real fluency, and the new lessons motivate me to go back and keep learning. There's an adrenaline surge rather than a sense of defeat. It was really really challenging to get through the skill tree the first time (those verdammt! adverbs) but it taught me a lot about pushing through a challenge with everything you've got until you get to the point where you can cruise a bit. Then I'll open a lesson where my skill has degraded and get kicked again. But that's good. It's all good. One of the things I most appreciate is that the program keeps adjusting to what you learn as you go along, so even those Basics lessons ramp up in difficulty over time. This keeps the program interesting and motivating, and the learning process from becoming stagnant. So I'm in the "bring it on!" camp – thanks for the continuous adjustments. I also find that it helps to remember that each lesson represents a specific topic or type of vocabulary. So instead of the skill tree getting longer with new lessons, it gets deeper over time as lessons are added within each category. That reminds you that there is always more to learn in each topic, and the structure contains your efforts nicely, too. Life is imperfect, and even Olympic Gold medalists need to hit the gym again the next day.


What you find motivating I find depressing and frustrating and this is the problem with these sudden, arbitrary changes. I was well aware that I wouldn't achieve a reasonable standard without practice and revision but I incorporated that into my own study plan and went back to practise and revise regularly. Someone said in the comments that they feel like they're on a treadmill. That's how I feel. I diligently revise and do lessons but with all these changes I haven't been able to advance into learning anything new for weeks and now it looks like it will be months. The very things that made Duolingo such a delight - the encouragement, the rewards offered for achievement and the well designed lessons - are buried under the weight of new revision and lessons in areas I already have an understanding of.


Here's what I've found: you can continue to move ahead and learn new things, then go back to review, practice and "regold" the old lessons as you continue. I find that helps me a lot: a few new lessons, and then back to review something easier. Stretch, then review. I also alternate between the computer and the phone app (which I set to the German language in order to access special characters): the phone app can be an easier way to take a first pass at new content, and it preps you well for the online version, where more typing is involved. I hope you won't remain discouraged!


Thanks for your suggestions and encouragement. I will persist.


I LOVE your attitude. Thank you in very many deep ways :)


I am happy to have new lessons but sad to lose my "completed tree" owl and trophy. I assume they will return when I complete all the new lessons....


Yes, you'll get it back! :)


hello lily, jus curious to know how fluent you are in spanish seeing that you obviously put a lot of time into Duolingo and have achieved a very high level! If you could get back to me that would be great


Just came from Madrid after completing the Spanish tree. Could understand a lot but not express myself (except occasional El coronel no marcha to everyone's amusement). Alas, without speaking practice Duo won't make you a fluent speaker


Many thanks - Could plurals not be counted as new words? :)


Glad to have more to practice, but I have a suggestion for future lesson releases: Allow more advanced users to "test out' of several categories at once, rather than taking a lot of time typing "mi falda" and "el pato" repeatedly. For example, a learner who is in the third or fourth section could "update" everything in the first section in one test; those in the fourth section could do the same for the second section.


Thank you!

But I was wondering if there's any way to access the old vocabulary that was replaced, if any. I noticed a drop of a couple thousand vocabulary words, which I'm sure I'll make up once I've re-completed the tree, but if some were permanently replaced, would it be possible to have a list of them? I would still like to make sure I know them.


By all means!


First of all: Thank you for the work you put into improving your lessons!

But now I have a few questions:

  1. We get some recommendations for articles after a lesson, and we are told how much we should be able to translate. Up until now, this number was meant as a general and was steadily improving (I was at 18%, which is not much given that it mostly were words like de and y...), but now I am back at 16%. Does the new number tell me the words I am able to translate in the recommended article, or did I lose some useful words somehow?

  2. I was currently half way into a lesson about adjectives, which had about 16 sub-lessons. Now it has 10 and 5 of it are marked unlearned. Did they just get condensed, or are there new words in it? Should I start from the beginning to not miss something?

  3. I noticed I am gold at the lesson about ser/estar, although I hadn't reached it yet in the previous tree. I learned when to use which mostly through helpful comments of other users, but I feel like I didn't learn them properly yet. Will duo now just expect me to be able to use them?

  4. I have "reached" lessons in the tree beyond the one I am currently learning. Are they just portions of lessons I already learned that got outsourced, or why are they marked as unlocked? I felt comfortable progressing through the tree slowly, keeping all lessons behind me golden before I move on. I regularly practiced all lessons when I had completed a new lesson to repeat everything. Will those new lessons alter the practice in lower ones now in any way and expect me to know new vocabulary?

Sorry for troubling you, I am just a little confused how to go on now.


After 24 hours to contemplate it, & read what others have said - I must say that I enjoy being a part of this community, & I am not ready to give it up! Thank you all for your comments. It's OK, I'm at peace with the update, & I'm wishing you all happy language learning, good health & much happiness.


Give up on Duolingo?!? NEVER!!! We are fanatics... We will tirelessly learn the secret keys to planetary domination and WE SHALL RULE THE WORLD!!!



Seems great to me. Glad to have more to learn.


I can't see how the ''tree'' concept will hold up over time. Every time a change is made it impacts the entire knowledge tree. While your intentions are good, implementing these changes the way you have doesn't seem particularly well thought out. It's like running on a treadmill.....you run and run but you really don't get anywhere.

I have a little branch called "Adjectives". Over time, if not cared for properly, the little leaves on my "Adjectives" branch will start to turn brown. So I tend to my browning leaves and soon they are green again! Now, with the bug fix and added materials, my little "Adjective" branch is growing larger with more leaves to tend to. This would be a good thing, properly implemented. Unfortunately, the manner in which this change was implemented forces me to not only have to tend to the new brown leaves but I have to tend to my perfectly healthy green leaves as well.

Learning a language is a never ending endeavor but starting over and over again doesn't make any sense to me. Review is accomplished thru the current degradation process. New materials could be grouped together into a new ''branch'' with new ''leaves'' and just fall into the current process. I would have much preferred to have the new materials grouped together, in their appropriate category, making them more visible as new materials to existing students. Just add a new box. So now there are 7 Basic boxes instead of 6 or whatever the current count is. New students would just move thru the lessons where everything is, well, new material.

Due to illness, I'm just returning after a 8 week absence and what I have is a mess on my hands. At this point, I now have to decide if it's worth the effort to rehash much of what I know already in order to incorporate the new materials, some of which I am finding are just a few new vocab words.


Fret not. The mess cleans up rather easily with a damp cloth. A quick spraying of water get the roots nice and wet, which takes care of those browning leaves. I've already seen how work in one place affects the branches of others and it's a good thing.



I've been thinking about this since yesterday, and I have a couple of ideas about the tree and the bells and whistles that make Duolingo fun.

1) I like the metaphor of a tree for skill acquisition, particularly for anything that requires regular practice, like languages and music. I like the idea that if you don't practice, the tree "withers"; that is, the skills decay if you don't tend to them.

2) I think that my initial disappointment had to do with the perception that I could have a clear goal of completion, as signaled by the owl trophy at the end of the tree. I think it would be less disappointing with a different kind of reward- perhaps some kind of signal about how many lessons I've completed, and maybe some indication that I should check back later for more lessons in the future to clarify that signal.

3) Some images I think might be fun to have at the bottom of the tree might be: a) a sleeping owl if you haven't practiced in a while b) a content owl with a watering can if you're working on your tree c) a happy flying owl flying around if you're really on fire

or something representing representing the "coins" we earn while translating and doing lessons, like a pirate chest, maybe.

By the way, I love, love, love how when you look at the weekly progress, the current day shows the transparent image of all the potential coins you could be earning. It's very inspirational!


Thanks Iolaphilologist for some wonderful ideas! I hope that the fabulous Duolingo team is listening.


I could be wrong, but I think this is why they introduced the fluency percentage, and also why prior to the tree update the fluency meter was hard to budge past about 48% (in German at least).

From my perspective, the tree expansion came at just the right time: I completed the German tree a few weeks earlier and was contemplating where I was going to find more learning material as good and easy to use as Duolingo to further expand my vocab. I really feel that they have hit the nail on the head by expanding vocab, which was the most limiting factor of Duolingo that was relatively easy to fix.

Conversation practice is harder, although duolingo could fill the gap in making it easy to find other learners who want to talk online right now while they have a bit of time.



Hi paul.gardn, if only Duo would expand the vocabulary. My word tab doesn't show as many words as other people, but no one is interested in telling me why, although I finished the tree. Where were you able to find this discussion, as it is two years old? There are lots of youtube videos like Senor Jordan and Prof Jason to help. I don't care for Lightspeed, but there are many others out there, such as the pre-recorded lessons of Lorena R.

Good luck.


so far, I really like the new words/phrases :)


glad you added the rest of the months into the time skills! It was a bit odd before..


thank you very much,duolingo help me improve english too...

  • 1313

I've just done the added sections to level 5 Food on the updated skill tree. I now know the word for sandwich -thank you. However in several of the sentences I was tested on the preterite and imperfect in the same sentence. Are you really expecting beginners to be able to translate three or more of the tenses by level 5 ? Also there were very few additions to the vocabulary of food items . My concern here is that such complicated sentences so early on will discourage learners and drive people away from your site -which as a regular user I think would be a shame after all of the work that has been put into it.


Those were not added to the food section. The new lessons make use of your whole vocabulary (so we can give you things that are closer to your level).

  • 1313

I have now restored my Owl .However having passed all of the new sections I do not feel that sufficient new material was added to justify putting experienced users right back to the beginning. Interestingly after my initial comment regarding the food section the level for the rest of the exercises was pretty inconsistent. My suggestion is that if you are going to introduce new sections throughout the tree then you should also unlock the shortcuts to allow experienced users to get back to their correct level quickly and concentrate on the immersion exercises. It seems most of the positive comments for this change have come from newer users whereas the more experienced users appear to be less enthralled .


I'm a newbie, but I agree with this. Maybe if we can add words and phrases from the immersion section to our vocab list, a change like this wouldn't affect experienced users at all because they would've learnt the words while translating?


I'm a brand new user learning Spanish and I have a couple of questions: 1. I am a moderately proficient Spanish speaker already, but want practice and movement toward fluency. Does your learning tree keep getting more difficult up to an expectation of fluency? 2. The "lessons" are pretty brief and seem to assume knowledge, as if everyone is just doing a refresher. Is the learning theory that beginners will learn by giving wrong answers the first time to learn the words?


Updating the tree means that users that already finished that lesson and that are far ahead need to go back and do it again. It's annoying at first, but it's always good to review.


I notice a lot of people complaining that they can't learn anything new because of these revisions. However, I can always choose between new material or doing the new lessons in the old sections. Also, when I completed a "new" lesson, it unlocked the next one. Is something different happening for the rest of you?


A few months ago I had finished the German tree, so I was glad when new lessons showed up. In general, in fact, I think the lessons have been improved a lot. However . . . although I have been trying to spend up to about an hour on Duolingo German every day that I can, which is usually most days, and though I usually do at least two or three lessons each time, I feel now like I am losing gold faster than I can replace it! I work pretty exclusively on the web (not using the app), and I'm pretty sure that a lot of my work isn't credited. I don't mind having lots to do, because I surely have a lot to learn, but it is extremely frustrating to be taking two steps backwards, it seems, for every step forward, despite all my hard work!


Thanks. I am looking forward to the new lessons.


I have just updated the trees. I am not sure I learnt much new though the practice was welcome.


Yay! Thanks.:)


I also noticed a marked improvement to the voice of the reader.


That's probably a coincidence, since we didn't change that :)


Placebo effect, Pepe!


I am so happy you guys have done this! I sort of hit a wall a few weeks back, and decided to go back over the early lessons to consolidate what I did know, before tackling the newer lessons again. Having new lessons, with new vocabulary and new grammar, is exactly what I needed to avoid feeling like I was just treading water.


This new update is very helpful! I wanted to learn Travel (German) earlier on in the course and it appears in the part of my tree where I am currently studying.

I do have a question though, Since the German Tree is now updated, Will it be faster or slower to achieve fluency?


Completing a Duolingo tree does not bring you anywhere close to fluency in a language. It's a geat start, but that's all it is. Languages take years to learn to fluency.


I second Zach. If you are hoping to achieve fluency, seek out other tools and resources besides Duolingo. Duolingo is awesome, but you're not going to become anything close to fluent just by using it. It's one tool among many that you should be using.


I also agree with Zach: completing the skill tree is like getting a black belt: it means you've mastered the basics, but you're still a long, long way from being a true master. I consider duolingo a springboard to getting into a language; allowing me to understand books, movies, and conversations. After completing the skill tree, you must go into that wide world, my friend. ;)


Very true, FrankKool! :)


I like your analogy, FrankKool. But I would like to suggest that it is important to go into that wide world & start practicing w/ native speakers almost as soon as you start learning your new language. Don't wait until you've completed your tree to jump into the pool! Even if all you can do is splash around a bit, you will learn & reinforce so much each time you speak w/ a native speaker. Besides that, it's fun! :)


I fully agree that you shouldn't wait until you've completed the skill tree before exploring a language in its natural form. I just meant to say that once you've finished the skill tree, the only way to go from there is outside.


Hey, guys, thanks for all your efforts. I greatly appreciate them. I have actually noticed some subtle changes in the Spanish program--and all for the better, too. Gracias to everyone on the team.


I'm thrilled that you keep adding more lessons! But I'm sad to lose some of my existing vocab. Is there any way of accessing/refreshing these words?


Thank you for continuing to improve an already amazing learning tool!


Excellent! Love the continuous tweaks.


I think this is a good idea. I would rather learn the most I can in the easiest way possible.


Thank you, Duolingo!


I have the day streak 19, but i didn't do practice yesterday, so it had fallen to 0-day streak. Is it possible?


Yes, streak is the number of all the consecutive days you've been doing at least one lesson.


yep, coloraday's right! More details here: http://www.duolingo.com/#/comment/568419 :)


Is there a way to get the old trees back, or switch between the two? Some users who have completed their old trees said they felt more motivated when they saw they have more lessons to work on. I'm interesting in having that as an option, having a different skill tree to work on after completing the current tree.


YESSSSSS!!!!! Runs over to my trees to complete them again



This post is two years old!


WOW! I feel impossibly stupid.... It's been one of those mornings... ;)


It was probably just wishful thinking. It is for me, anyway:).


Thanks for the German updates. I think it would be good also to have some sections relating more specifically to separable and inseparable verbs, to prepositions, perhaps also to verbs which take the genitive case. These things can be quite tricky for us. hinterziehen, umziehen, sich darauf verlassen, davin abhängen, sich damit abfinden, verfügen über, verzichten auf...

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