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Failing to finish a lesson discourages me very much

Hey! I am writing to tell you about quite big problem I have with Duolingo. If you are in hurry, the second to last paragraph is essential.

I really appreciate whole idea of turning learning into the game - getting points, levels and skills is very motivating, but on the other hand failing to finish lesson demotivates me even more. It is not a case when I fail the lesson just because of my mistakes, I understand them and I know what to fix. The problem starts when I think I fail because of Duolingo. I am not a native English user so probably some of sentences that seam right to me are actually wrong, but in many cases the differences between British and american English are real cause. Very often translation may be made in many ways too. Just take a look on those examples:

Ich verfasse nichts. I am not writing. - wrong I author nothing. - right

Glauben Sie, damit kommen Sie durch? Do you think you are coming through with that? - wrong Do you think you can come through with that? - right

Meine Freunde bleiben länger in Deutschland. My friends are staying longer in Germany. - wrong My friends stay longer in Germany. - right

I don't know how is it with Spanish and French, but the further you are the quality of German lessons is worse. Despite my many mistakes, very often I would finish the lesson (with one or no hearts left) but such ambiguities are breaking the edge. After 2-3 such failures I just don't want to study any more.

So here is my question: what is the purpose of failing the lesson exactly? Sure one has to go through whole material and understand it, but wouldn't it be better just to repeat problematic sentences, and to let to finish the lesson? Or to give points for every correct solution, instead of putting whole work in trash because of 4 mistakes (which often are not mistakes, as I mentioned)?

I hope it is not so serious for you, and you just progress not caring about that. I will be glad to read every proposition of solution.

October 24, 2012



A lot of the mistakes I find are due to verb tenses, specifically gerund phrases. In fact, in two cases above (except the nichts sentence), the difference is that you translate as "are coming", "are staying" rather than "come" or "stay." (Nichts means nothing, nicht is not. I would assume that duolingo would have accepted I write nothing as an acceptable translation?)

I, myself, am running into this a bit with my study of Spanish. The translations of some of the phrases are just awkward, and it's been happening more as I progress through the lessons. And it tends to be the translation of the verb phrase that is the most awkward part. Of course, as I'm posting this, I do not have examples, but I'll be back to share if I can think of any.

I would be okay failing the lesson, but being able to complete it and not get credit and then have to repeat the entire lesson. That makes more sense to me than to quit the lesson halfway through and start all over. It's likely that you could learn from continuing the rest of the lesson and then refreshing the second time through.


Thanks for this comment. Our goal is to make Duolingo fun and also provides a good learning experience. We've tried giving people more hearts, but that has actually decreased the total usage.

We're working very hard on making sure we accept all correct solutions to a sentence.


@Luis: thanks for paying attention. You don't need to tell that you are working hard on improving Duolingo - I am using it since the late beta and the difference is huge.

Have you thought about giving point for every correct solution, instead of 10 points for whole lesson? Mechanism of failing lesson may stay as it is, but points would be given regardless of success in finishing lesson as a whole. I think it would be the best solution. I thought also about giving part of that 10 points proportionally to the progress one achieved before failure. In fact I would find good every solution, that wouldn't left any correct solution "unpaid". I know that such way of thinking is rather silly (real money in this game is language knowledge), but I just can't avoid this frustration rising from constant repeating without any record.

@jmmiller1215: I am aware of the essence of problem with translating to present continuous/simple, but the "nichts sentence" as you called it may actually be my mistake - maybe "I write nothing" would indeed have been accepted.

I envy you your attitude to finishing lessons even without reviving points. ;) I know I am very irrational here fighting for some numbers, but not receiving something that I worked for demotivates me very much. Actually I think that it would be better for me if there wouldn't be points at all. ;)

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