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What do you think about the new timed practice?

We are working on a new feature to make practicing more fun and to help you learn better: timed practice. Half of you are now seeing it.

Here's how it works: You have to finish before the time runs out; every time you get an answer correct, you get a point and a little more time.

The timer is completely optional for those who want to do things at their own pace. However, we think that real world settings have a time pressure, so we hope this type of practice helps you master the language sooner.

We think it's a lot of fun, but we'd love to hear your thoughts.

October 18, 2012



I like it, but a problem for me is that when I make a mistake, instead of looking to see where I went wrong I hurry to the next one. I would recommend at the end of the timed practice, have a summary of the ones that were incorrect so we can see where we went wrong.


or simply remove the timer BETWEEN the answers, since there's no point in counting the time between the answers. this way we can read where we went wrong and ponder on our mistakes. the way it's structured today, there's very few learning


I like the idea, but there are a few times I think the timer should be paused.

When I get something wrong, I need time to read what the right answer was. When I have to speak in Spanish, there is always a delay before the record button shows (and on my system it varies all the time). It used to be slightly annoying, now it is something that loses me many seconds that I can't control. The same happens when it "can't hear me", I am doing my practice at 5:30am, and I don't want to shout in panic to get a lesson done!

If a sentence is long, it takes longer to type, so I don't think that is well balanced either.

Maybe we can start with a more generous timer, and as we get better at beating the clock, lesson by lesson, the total could be lowered.


I prefer doing things at my own pace. Anyway, as long as the timed practice is optional, I don't mind it.


In its current incarnation, I don't find it useful. I type fast, but not that fast. And since Duolingo is very, very, very sensitive to typos, it's kind of a recipe for frustration.

I could get behind a timed version that was entirely multiple-choice. The timing needs to challenge my listening and comprehension, not my typing skills.


Based on your feedback we are looking into pausing the timer (certainly when things are loading an possibly when you get it wrong).


I'm enjoying the timed practice, however I do have one minor concern. Because we have to HURRY, I omit accent marks and tildes as they take more time to write. Perhaps they should be mandatory on the timed practice as a way to ensure that we learn proper spelling and not cut corners.


@pjreads: The lessons are not timed precisely because of that. However, we feel that part of knowing a language well is being able to think about it quickly, so one of our goals with timed practice is to allow you to more closely resemble a real-world situation (where time does matter).


Hm-- I must be part of the 50% who doesn't have the timer, but I'm definitely interested in trying it. My biggest concern (and I'm not sure, maybe you've already thought of this and have a solution, I can't tell til it's open to me!) is about giving feedback on sentences Duolingo doesn't accept as correct. I have to do this at least once every lesson/practice session. Does the countdown clock pause if you click the Feedback button or "Still think you're correct"?


I like the timed practice. It forces me to more quickly recognize the meaning of the words, instead of falling into the habit of just translating in my head. The sense of rushed hurry forces better association between the target language word and the concept behind it. Even if the racing to beat the clock is stressful, I find it a productive, positive stress.


Yeah, it's totally optional :)


DavePretty's idea is a great solution. You could even have the "Still think you're right?" option for each one we got wrong on that last page, so we can give feedback without worrying about the timer.


@ikkinlala: Ever since Friday, the timer stops while the audio parts are loading.


I agree that the timer should stop if you get a wrong answer. I don't have time to figure out what I did wrong. Otherwise, I am very happy with the timed practice. It forces me to listen better to the audio without clicking the turtle button like I usually do.


I tried it about three times before going back to un-timed. 30 seconds seemed way too short and / or maybe the credit for getting one right was too small. I don't like HURRYing either. I'm not positive, but I thought <Enter> didn't work for the submit button and that threw me off at first too. Let me know when you have a new version :).


I like it. But I would prefer to have a little more time; my typing speed is not great. But otherwise it is entertaining. I would also like to have some old school grammatical reference menu the same way you have vocabulary menu. I think it will be very helpful for some learners. Just to see the whole structure of things.

Thank you for your amazing language platform, I am a big fan of what you do!! Do you plan to add Russian sometime)))?


I'm glad it is optional I panic on sites like memrise that have a count down timer. I rather work at a relaxed pace. It would be interesting if there is any research suggesting it improves learning.


I definitely want this feature! I already challenge myself to do practice drills as quickly as I can, for the reasons you stated, and I'd love a way to keep myself accountable while doing so.


i like it but i think it should start with a bit more time, it run out pretty quick if you have to write a fairly long answer.


I definitely think the timer should be paused while the speech-recognition program is loading - I want to test my own processing time, not my computer's.


@pangaea: We're about to give you more points if you finish with more hearts left.


I love how quickly you & your team add new features, and based on our feedback as well!

I would love something like a Duo tech twitter stream, where we can keep an eye on all of these changes. Maybe even just a small sub page where we can see what new features are available to us (and marked if they are in beta). Hey, it could even link back to the discussion topic for that exact feature, for further feedback ;) :D


@NathanWilliams: We plan to add a subtopic in this questions section (which, btw, is getting an overhaul soon).


@bf2010 @helenvee No worries this will remain optional :)


I like this concept; making this site, like a fun game, will be good for everyone.


Sorry if somebody have already noted, but: It is terribly disturbing that you close the test when the time is up. It is motivating otherwise great fun, but I WANT to finish the last few tests over time as well. This setting gives me a feel of terrible uncompleteness no matter how much point you give me! (Sorry for my English I am native Hungarian. :-)


While I like the timed practice and the challenge it presents I think it could be better if the lesson kept track or rewarded you based on how far you got in the alotted time. I would be more motivated to keep trying to beat the clock if I could try to beat my best instead of constantly struggling to get all the way through and failing.


Nice idea. And maybe have no ending, just as many as you can, with the timing getting slightly harder as you go.


I'm not quite sure how it is optional. It completely replaced my strengthen button on Android and cannot be disabled in options?


Same here. This must have been the latest update. I hope the next update will make the timer a choice. I would really like to be able to train again as I used to.


@ErnestoEnrique: Are you sure enter doesn't work?


I would not use a timed practice, because I look up words on spanishdict.com to see all the definitions, make up sentences for words when DL only displays article + noun, practice verb conjugations, etc. I spend several minutes on each part of a lesson.


@Luis I'm sorry. <Enter> seems to work fine. Maybe at first I got caught with the delay expiring just before hitting Enter. With the audio only, I frequently have to replay it several times or more slowly, so 30 secs isn't even enough for one extra point. I like the concept, but could only get about 3 points before the time ran out, then one or two clicks to start again - it wasn't worth it. On another subject, I do like the improvements to the regular un-timed practice - the display of what words we practiced, etc. And as always, I love Duolingo, and think it's the best thing ever! :)


For the practice section that sounds interesting/a good idea. However, for each individual skill page - I'm not too sure about that. When you first go through a skill it's nice being able to take your time getting your head around new vocab and sentence structure. That would be difficult if you have a time limit.


Luis, a mi me ha parecido genial. Pero precisamente porque es opcional, a diferencia del otro cambio más reciente. Me gustaría volver a completar las lecciones mediante practicas, no mediante traducciones. Todo añadido es bueno siempre y cuando den la opción de elegir. Por lo demás me encanta Duolingo y estáis haciendo un gran trabajo, pero por favor, echarle una revisión a lo que te he comentado. Gracias ;)


The time should be longer - typing is one issue and, your check/continue eats up significant time - it may even hesitate


I am looking forward to trying this new feature! I think it is an excellent idea and a great addition. I have a few thoughts about it. I don't see this feature but I am assuming it is available in the practice section of the vocabulary? But I think it would be good to use this for lessons that were done previously. This brings up something I had wanted to mention about practice (so hopefully this won't be seen as off topic). I was hoping that we could get points for doing completed sections over... when I go back to the older lessons and I see fewer than 3 hearts, then I think it is a good idea to try to do them over to get better at them, but you do not receive any points so that is disappointing. So perhaps we could get points for that and this could be a feature added to that? In other words, first you complete a lesson - then if you have 3 hearts, you can do it with the timer to achieve fluency.


Nice! Thank you for that :) Any idea when the rest of us will receive the timed practice feature?


@pangaea: a week or two depending on how the test goes.


I can see my using timing sometimes but I would hope it remains optional so I don't feel rushed in difficult sections. Also I make notes as I go and look up and record plurals and verb conjugations as well as other things. I'd hate to be penalised for doing this as it helps me fix what I'm learning in my mind.

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As a fun exercise something like a race or a competition in a classroom it sounds like a good idea. But in Duolingo´s case it is only you against the time, so where is the fun of winning, except for congratulating yourself what a wonderful person you are :-); from practical point of view it rewards the people with nimble fingers and fast computers, not the person with nimble brains; is this Duolingo´s aim ? In addition it favors a rather haphazard spelling (as someone in this thread mentioned already) like "no capitalization, no punctuation, but you must use accent. This gets even more confusing when you switch between languages (eg. accents are a must in Spanish-English; not necessary in English-Spanish) Thank heavens it is still only an option and not a must!


If that will be optional, i don't have problems with the implementation :)


I hate it, but that's just a personal opinion. Thanks so much for only making it optional!


Thanks for adding this feature! I like it. It is great for building fluency. I just think it should be added as an option for sections that you have had time to practice a lot.... when you go to the regular vocabulary practice it is a mix of new and old. The older words are the ones I am able to deal with successfully under the timed mode. The newer words make it harder, so I can see why people get frustrated. I use both timed and un-timed modes for vocabulary practice.


I don't like it. Usually i find myself rushing and I've realized that rushing will just cause more mistakes.


I like both the regular and the timed practice. The timed practice is definitely more challenging and really more like real life. I do it just for fun and the regular practice for more serious study. I am thoroughly enjoying Duolingo. .



The time trial is challenging and fun but like another user said, in order to complete it under pressure one starts to omit the accents and punctuation marks. The reason is that most of us are using US English keyboards. To scroll the mouse to click on the special letters for a word like Atencao or maca would take so much time that it would make the time trial obsolete. Other than that, I enjoy it, it's pretty challenging and I never quit until I get it done before the 2 minute mark.

Great job guys, this makes learning fun!


While I understand the idea behind the timer, I really don't like it. At least for me, it's far too much pressure (and entirely too little time), and I find it more frustrating and discouraging than helpful. Moreover, as a few people have mentioned already, the timing component encourages speed rather than accuracy, and I end up rushing through the exercise without really learning anything.


Much better than before! This really solves the problem I was having of losing time and points because I couldn't type accurately enough at speed. Now there is enough time to read what I've typed before hitting 'enter'. Many thanks for this improvement: you are doing a splendid job.


Where is the timer?


I think it's great, good for fluency as well as fun.

A couple of comments:

  • a summary of the questions (maybe just the ones you got wrong) at the end would be great

  • some questions should give you back more time than others - writing a long translation or dictation should pay more time than choosing 'el' or 'la'

  • I have found sometimes the enter key is adding a new line instead of submitting the answer, this is a real problem when working against the clock


I am working through the beta version of Swedish and there are still some issues (ex: Translate "a crab" gave an error when I answered "en krabba" even though that is correct. I went to report a problem but since I was doing a timed test, the timer ran out and I was unable to finish submitting the issue (or the test, for that matter).

When in timed tests, if people are submitting an issue it should pause the timer or somehow indicate that the timed test is paused to allow for errors to be reported!


I know this is an old post, but i figured id respond rather than start a new one. I have one suggestion about timed practice: i think the timer should pause while you look at the discussion about a sentence. if i have a question that may be answered in the discussion about that particular sentence, i cant really look because the timer is still going.


Sometimes, with long sentences, I don;t like to work with the timer. Is there any possibility that you can stop the timer in case you want it, for example with a script. The people who like to work with it can just switch it on??? Hope you understand what I mean.


How do I turn off the timer for practice? I would like the exercises to be without timer like before. It is getting very annoying tbh. I try to write answers by hand as well. This is impossible in the short time. Please help.


You can't stop the timer but you can take the other buttom, though you don't get as much points as with the timer of course.


I don't have my practice dumbbell icon anymore, I only have the timer icon, but i don't like this mode at all. How do I return my standard practice mode?

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