Ideas for spending coins
As another user pointed out it would be really cool if we were able to 'buy' things with the coins we are earning. Obviously I am not expecting real life items but perhaps we can brainstorm some ideas / get some feedback from the experts? In my mind you would still retain your 'score' (which currently is the coins, replace it with 'score') but be able to spend your coins.
Other 'more fun focused' lessons (eg region specific slang/ curse words/idioms - have the ability to lock inappropriate content out if the user is deemed to young so parents can let their children loose on here without having to worry). I think some of these can be really important to know especially if it sounds similar to another 'innocent' word.
Access to 'games' for example such as randomly generated crossword puzzles in a language you select, with all the clues in that language.
Would love to hear your feedback / ideas...put your gamer hats on
An important strength in your proposal is that it still retains users' focus on the experience of learning. The rewards become satisfying learning opportunities instead of merely some kind of way to show off to others or something else that would be unrelated to acquiring skills in the target language. This is related to what has been dubbed by some researchers as intrinsic motivation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation#Intrinsic_and_extrinsic_motivation .
Anyway, good idea!
Yeah that way people learn how the language is used in different regions and countries. For example a commen mistake people who have learnt Spanish in Spain make when they go to Latin America is to use the verb 'coger' which people from Spain use for 'to take/drink' ie 'I drink a beer, I take the bus' etc. In LA they use 'tomar' which also means 'to take/drink.' Now 'coger' in LA is actually a vulgar way of saying 'to have sex' (use your imagination here) so if you use it insted of tomar you are actually saying 'I have sex with the bus, I have sex with the beer,' which I imagine can be quite embarrassing though let's face it, quite hilarious.
As a native latin american spanish speaker, you wouldn't be made fun of. Coger still means 'to grab' in spanish. 'Coger el bus' would indeed mean to take the bus. People use that expression. And 'coger' una bebida, albeit slightly strange, would still not be misinterpreted. 'Coger' only means 'to have sex' in very context-specific situations, where it is made very clear what you mean.
I know it's not the point of your post, and what you say it's true. Just wanted to clear that out.
An avatar with purchasable features would be delightful.
Or perhaps some kind of abode that you could decorate, furnish and expand with components characteristic to a culture you're learning the language of. Id est: earn coins from Italian levels and you can unlock Italian renaissance art, or earn coins from Spanish levels and you can purchase Mudejar architecture or distinctly Spanish fauna for your garden.
Is that technically an avatar too? Can a locale be an avatar?
Pretty much! Also, to use the example of the crossword puzzles, you could give people the ability to post their own crosswords for the whole community to answer. Have the ability to translate the clues similar to the way the articles work perhaps. Building the crosswords could even be a seperate mini game ie. you are given a word and have to try and explain the word in the language you are speaking. IE. "how would you describe a horse?" and you would write "It's an animal with four legs, wears shoes and eats hay." etc Perhaps use the answers from this to generate the crosswords. When I was with my Spanish tutor he always used to explain words to me that I didn't know in Spanish, and it improved my skills drastically. I imagine this would work in a similar way by having to construct your own explanations.
The 'gamification' that exists now is good, and helps to make it enjoyable-- but it would be easy to take that aspect too far, and thereby create a distraction from learning.
Avatars, minigames, and such, I believe would work to the detriment of Duolingo's strengths (as a language learning tool), and if implemented would make the site harder to recommend over less distraction-ridden alternatives.
For the coins - I was thinking of spending it completely towards the languages, e.g. - videochats with users better than us to clarify something or talk in a chosen language (the host for the videochat receives the coins- not all of them) - unlocking video materials for a given language, e.g. simple documentary from spain, while i'm learning spain - being able to generate a page after lesson or couple of lessons as a shortcut, with images of new words, examples of use and so on and so forth - further to be printed - how about a videos/talking of the words or a lesson entirely conducted by a famous person, e.g. Salma Hayek - additional lessons with slangs, accents and cultural info
I like the idea of unlocking content such as colloquiallisms or minigames with coins, but such a procedure scares me in that it essentially puts Duolingo in the garbage dump of free-to-play/freemium category of games... especially if the decision were made to monetize the main learning portion. Regarding a suggestion for minigames - I think it would be interesting to challenge other users with a timed translation (e.g. 30 seconds after the challenge is opened by the recipient), with the translation line drawn from the immersion database and somehow ranked by estimated difficulty.
I find the most productive interaction I have with Duolingo is/are the BOTs. I would like to be able to use my lingots to purchase more conversations (I have completed 33 ). To shop for them, so to speak. Open a lingot store, for "music" discussions where the bots have different instruments or are professions in parts of the industry, sharing a new subset of understanding based on the selection you are interested in. Or down the promanade is a shop for fashion, you go in you can design simple outfits and/or learn fashion talk. Across the way could be an auto dealer/parts store, where the mechanics all have different specialties you can select and purchase interactions about vehicles. Maybe a book/print shop for publications magazines books newspapapers leaarning that lingo. Maybe further down is a pet store, you can buy multiple conversations about pets/animals. The travel agency on the corner offers trips all over the world you can talk with a Bot about....I want to talk about kangaroos in Australia with an OutbackBot (you can use that) as a guide. many of these are already loaded as the Bots part of the learning but I would like to be able to purchase more realted to my personal interests and the word sets I would likely use to express those interests in a new language. Not that I talk about kangaroos all day in English haha!
I think it would be great to give a chance to add pictures for words in vocabulary for those who earn for example 10 pictures for more than 100 coins in one week. So you guys can be sure that such people are serious about Duolingo and would not add random or weird pictures and it will contribute a lot for the project