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Suggestions for Practice & Vocab

I've been on Duolingo for several weeks now, and I love it. I do have two suggestions:

1: With Practice, there are often specific skills that I would like to practice in combination with other skills. I believe it would be beneficial to select multiple skills - perhaps up to three - and base a practice session around vocabulary and skills specific to those sessions.

For instance, I am learning Spanish and would like to focus specifically on the 'Questions' lesson and the 'Prepositions' lesson. As other people have suggested specific words to be practiced (which I also think is a great idea), I also believe that combining categories would make more advanced sentences more likely.

2: While the 'Word Strength' bars are effective at letting me know about how strong the word is in my memory, I am not certain of the correlation between word strength and my capability to use the word intelligently.

Personally (and this is probably the math nerd coming out here), I would prefer to be able to drill down on each individual word to understand the statistical model that 'word strength' implies.

The goal here would be to better understand where my weak points are in the language - not just with memory, but with usage.

For instance: if I could determine the following data points without too much effort:

Frequency rate of word 'x'

Word 'x' usage correctly

Word 'x' untimely usage

Categories of major incorrect usage (top 5)

Commonly confused with word 'y' (top 1-3, frequency of confusion)

I would then be able to direct my own study (unfortunately probably off-Duolingo, for now, but probably eventually on-site in the future) in order to directly address this particular issue.

For instance, if I knew the following fictional data poinst about the Spanish verb 'ser':

FR: 10%

Correct usage: 67% - A category defined as being utilized correctly in the correct sentence.

Untimely usage 27% - A category defined as being utilized improperly in place of another verb.

Category of misuse: Used In-Place of Other Verb (1)

Commonly confused with: Estar (Frequency 1/7)

This datapoint tells me that I receive this word quite a lot, really, and I use it correctly... most of the time. It also tells me that I may use it correctly because I use it all the time - when other verbs should be used instead. This also implies that I do not exactly understand the word, and I should look for a high rate of correct usage coupled with a low rate of untimely usage in order to consider a word 'learned'.

Keep in mind - I'm not suggesting the above points, simply pointing out how statistical modeling can be very useful for the person behind the screen to drawn their own conclusions about their capability, rather than seeing the 'aggregate' of all the variables together, which I take to be word strength.

Thanks for reading!

August 4, 2013

1 Comment


i cannot speak to your statistical model suggestion, however I completely agree with your suggestion to offer choices in categories for practice. Being fed such a broad stroke for practice rounds is quickly gettin a bit tiresome, as only a couple or three entries are in the arena I need and want to practice most in the moment. That said, I also find these more generalized practice rounds extremely valuable, just want the option for specifics also.

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