Suggestion for Typo Handling
I thought of an idea that might improve upon how Duolingo currently handles typos and accent errors. I think that Duolingo is quite lax by not counting typos as incorrect answers. I can understand an occasional typo, and I realize that everyone makes mistakes at one time or another.
What I suggest that Duolingo does to handle typos is that a running total of typos is kept. In addition, this would work on a 6 half-heart system rather than the current 3 heart one. When a user gets a question almost correct, the typo total is moved up the number of typos in the sentence. No hearts are lost. Each time after that when the user makes a typo, the user loses half a heart. A sentence with two or more typos would be counted wrong and result in a one-heart loss. This would prevent the loss of more than one heart at one time. Beginners could be allowed two or three typos (still no more than one typo per sentence) without penalty since they're still new to the language. For words with two or more accents, it would have to be decided whether the word is counted as having a typo or if each missing accent would be counted as a typo. (I don't know which option would be better, so I won't pick one; but I personally think it should be the latter option because I once got a question almost correct in Portuguese with a word that looked completely wrong because I put in the wrong vowel and had an accent where there shouldn't have been one.)
With this method, users are encouraged to learn from their typos and pay attention to accents (because they are important!). However, they aren't penalized as much since they just made a minor error.
In summary, users would start losing half-hearts after a certain number of typos. This would encourage people to pay attention to accents and spelling. In addition, for people who habitually leave off accents, this could help them get back into the habit of using them.
Let me know what you think of my idea!
Edit: 7/26/2013, 5:29 PM - RSKMT has a great idea that this be an option in settings. For example, it could be a dropdown menu with the label, "Spelling strictness," and the options, "Strict," "Normal," and "Lax." Thanks, RSKMT!
I was actually thinking today about how duolingo grades spelling, but in the other direction.
Some of us only want to learn how to speak a language not how to write it. You could even get away with knowing how to read the language without knowing how to write it. Even today in English, I read books all the time with high vocabulary which I can read fine, but ask me to spell some of those words, I might not be able to. I often know exactly how a phrase in a Duolingo lesson is said, or the word I need to use, but I'm weak on the spelling. So I have to do the lessons over and over again, basically because of spelling. It gets to the point, I'm answering the question from memory not by translating, and still the spelling gets me.
So I propose an option in settings be placed. The system should work as it is now by default, but if you go to settings you can pick either to make the spelling check tougher or even more loose. What I mean by loose is if now it allows for two extra or erroneously places letters in a word, then let it allow four with no accent requirement or something like that. And I have no problem with words that are very similar with others, to remain strict in the how they are spelled. Then its more checking that you know which word is needed and there order, not the spelling so much.
Also since part of the success of Duolingo is its gamifing of language learning, they can stipulate as a disclaimer that if you change these setting higher or lower, you ability to earn points raises or lowers in some fair way.
Your idea, however I think is very good for those who want to learn how to write in another language.
Edit: Also the spell check should always remain strict for letters in the word that identify that you know the correct, gender form, plural form......
I see what you're saying. I like your idea about the options, and I will edit my post to include that (obviously noting that it was you who thought of it).
What, now you want to start breaking hearts? It is bad enough to lose them, but to break them? :) Actually, I think this is a good idea. I'm kinda blasé about putting in the right accent since I know Duo forgives. Your half-hearted idea would make me straighten up.
Thanks! I do like the typo feature because I make spelling errors (mostly in Portuguese since it's still pretty new to me) and also accent errors (in French and Portuguese). However, it's possible to get kind of sloppy with your writing in a language if you aren't strict with spelling and accents all the time, which is obviously where my idea comes in.
Anyways, nice 21-day streak; and I like the "half-hearted" pun at the end! :)
I love this site, but if they ever started punishing users for lack or misplacement of accents or being less accepting of typos than they are now, without the option to keep the difficulty the way it is currently, I think I'd have to bail. I am way too terrible a typist - especially during timed practice - to be able to endure such a system. Seriously, even with only a very light form of punishment in place, just losing half hearts or whatever, I would find this too frustrating.