Generic "Strengthen Skills" is pretty useless

I don't know if the experience is universal but I find that the "Strengthen Skills" button on the side is pretty useless. I finished the French tree a while ago and just try to keep it up at everything being gold but I was hoping that Strengthen Skills would give me a variety of questions from all the modules.

Unfortunately I just did a run through of it and what I actually got was about 15 slight variations of "Elles auraient regardé la television apres l'ecole." and 4 variations of "Can I buy you a drink?".

This doesn't seem particularly helpful. Is there any insight on how this option is supposed to work?

February 11, 2015


Greg Hullender and I have been doing a lot of work looking at how the 'strengthen skills' works. This should tell you everything you need to know:

But yes, you are correct, you will find that each 'strengthen skills' only works on a limited number of words. Once you pass that, some new ones will come up on the next strengthen you do.

As a summary, if your tree is not gold you should be doing the 'Strengthen skill' from inside each individual skill. Only use the 'general strengthen' on the main page if all your skills are already gold.

I am doing two general strengthens per day, and that mostly keeps my tree gold, although sometimes I have to do a skill specific one.

If you have any more questions let me know, but the link above should give you most information. :)

February 12, 2015

That's some pretty helpful information! I had been thinking that doing timed practice was the best way to go about things but seems I may be wrong.

February 12, 2015

I usually get a little more variety in the strengthening lessons, but I agree that once in a while you seem to get one that hangs up on just a couple of phrases and is pretty monotonous.

February 11, 2015

I think the idea behind it is that repetition allows the language to become firmly lodged in your brain rather than being forgotten. It can be frustrating, sure, but it helps in the long run.

February 11, 2015

It is not useless, it's perhaps about perception because of the way it works.

A skill stops being golden when less than 80% of the words of the unit are strengthen but because of the amount of units that % will be very different for each one. Once you use "Strengthen Skills" button it will throw exercises based on those %, not necessarily focusing on non golden skills first, and that's why you could get 20 very different exercise or almost no variety, however, it stills the best way of keeping words strengthen, even though reviewing each lesson might seem better for keeping the tree golden.

February 11, 2015

That has not been my experience. It seems to me that it reviews about five or six different words or concepts an exercise, and does repeat those. I like this, because if I have failed to remember it the first time, I have a chance to repeat and "lock it in" But the next time I do a strengthen skills exercise (and I do one a day) a different set of words or concepts is presented to me, so I am slowly reviewing everything.

February 12, 2015

Well, slight variations keep you on your toes. Usually doing some other lesson or an individual skill's Strengthen exercise and then returning to the generic Strengthen Skills seems to enable Duo to find a different set of exercises to present.

February 11, 2015

I 100% agree. I used to spend a lot of time just strengthening skills and not doing lessons. I started to realise that my French was suffering as I was constantly getting the same questions.

Ever since I completed the flirting section, I've been getting that 'J'aimerais vivre....' question that I'm sure you recognise in every single stregthen skills. I think I completed that section in about July last year! Months and months, I've been getting it. That is not the only one though there are two or three others that always come up along with their variations. I got so mad about that 'J'aimerais' question that I decided to give a lingot to others that disliked it in the comment section every time it appeared. But I figured I was still wasting my time as I was waiting for it to appear as I did a stregnthen skills (which it did 99% of the time). I was being stupid getting mad at Duo and trying to get mad on purpose just so I could express how much I disliked the sentence.

Now I just don't really do stregnthen skills anymore. I know what will appear before I get asked. I sometimes do a quick timed practice, to extend the streak. But now I click on idvidual topics and learn that way. That has been a better way of doing things now that Duo has made them decay faster. Although Basics 2 isn't golden for me at the minute, which I can't understand. I'm not gonna waste my time doing that one!

February 13, 2015

When you work in either the general basic lessons or the flashcards, you are working on specific tasks which require short recall memory. When you go to the side and you do the reviews, it is much more general. Also the lessons in the review are not exactly like the lessons in the chapter so they generate different sentences with different words even if the variety is limited. The immersion is much more difficult and there is variety in those lengthier documents. I have mentioned this before. I wish we had vowels at the bottom of the Discussion page just as we do with the lessons and reviews and translations in the immersion. I don't have an international keyboard. But if I could respond to other comments by others in Spanish or French in the Discussion, I would be applying new skills and learning more whether it be in translating replies or asking new questions or making new comments. I don't have the keyboard and at this time, it might be hard to make a lot of comments in French or Spanish. I do t do think this new addition would make this simpler for those who are not computer geeks or would like to communicate to others. When one gets a reply, one translates the reply and then gives the response in one or both languages. That could become a game. The replies in foreign languages and the ability to reply back would definitely add a lot of variety. I realize that others do have international keyboards and are able to do this. I wanted one. I was told that they are more difficult to program. I thought it was just a matter of plugging it in and attaching the wire connections.

February 14, 2015

You don't need a separate keyboard... just change the keyboard layout to this:

You press ' before e to get é, ~ before n to get ñ, " before i to get ï etc etc.

February 15, 2015
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