https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender

The French Update Looks Good

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I got the French update this morning, and I'm pleased so far. The new material is in the form of new lessons--not, as some had said, in the form of weakening already-completed skills. That's important to me because I like to keep tight control over how many new lessons I do and whether to do a new lesson at all. I would have been unhappy if were swamped with new material every time I did a general review lesson!

Since this was done by adding discrete new lessons, I can easily integrate it into my study plan simply by doing the new lessons, one by one, starting from the top. A new lesson in the middle of the tree is no different from a new lesson down at the bottom.

For me, this adds 45 days to my estimate for when I'll finish the French tree. The total number of new lessons is probably higher than that, since it likely affected skills I haven't reached yet.

I haven't taken more than a quick look at the content of the new lessons, but I was very pleased to see one for numbers. All-in-all, I'm looking forward to this, and I'm very pleased that it seems to have been done so sensibly.

3/4/2015, 1:33:00 PM

45 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/DaleStrickland

I was only two categories away from finishing my tree, but I know my French learning is more important than completion. I also noticed that some lessons have helpful hints added!

3/4/2015, 2:08:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Carolyn250

I hear, you Greg, but I have just whipped through about 6 or 7 skills this morning, doing each one next door to perfectly (I was working so quickly that typos crept in). After a year of working in immersion and reading novels, I have figured out such things as a "lapin" is a rabbit completely on my own. I think the improvements are great for those working through their trees, but I take it rather harshly that I have moved on to other aspects of language study, and now I have to go back and "re-earn" my diploma. I do think those who have earned their owls should have been left alone unless they signed up to study the changes, which I would not have done. I could just leave the tree faded, but, unfortunately, that is not my personality. German will just have to go on hold for a few days!

3/4/2015, 8:31:11 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/hjordisa

It may be easier for you to delete progress and retest? Then you'll just have some at the bottom to do. Well I do that when I take a long break (for different reasons).

3/4/2015, 8:46:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
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I would never suggest anyone do that! It would make Duolingo lose track of which words you know well and which you don't. After a long break, the best way to regild the tree (and to brush up on the language again) is to go to the bottom and do up to three per-skill strengthens per day, working your way toward the top. It takes a month or two (depending on how degraded the tree was) but it does tend to show you the forms you have the most trouble with.

3/4/2015, 8:51:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/hjordisa

I guess so. I don't have the patience for it and don't care about keeping my tree gilded though. I just do some general strengthen skills every day. Since I do a lot besides duo this method shouldn't be too detrimental. Plus if I did that I would never actually learn anything new. I take long breaks much more often than I should because I go through bouts of depression. Carolyn seems to want to keep her tree gilded, though, so you're probably right that it's a bad suggestion for her.

3/4/2015, 9:19:47 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/frenchvat

I was surprised when I suddenly had lots of skills to redo but I didn't particularly mind as it's all good experience. What has knocked my confidence though is that so many of the new lessons have incorrect, incomplete or inconsistent translations. I guess those of us who are beta testing are effectively cleaning up these errors by reoprting problems but it is very frustrating and disheartening - esp if you are still struggling with certain concepts or forms - to find that things you thought you had mastered are incorrectly being rejected by DL - or that English translations are themselves grammatically incorrect. Please DL - more testing before release.

3/4/2015, 11:43:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/evatenn
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I was feeling the same way yesterday, and then I came across a post that was enthusiastic about the additional material and even about the opportunity to use "report problem" to suggest better English translations. The post didn't come from a moderator (and was in a different thread) but from a long-time user who seemed very optimistic and confident that these new sections would be updated with more and better English options as soon as people started suggesting them. I'm trying to absorb that optimism, and to offer suggestions wherever possible. After all, it is a FREE program, so in a sense users are the beta testers, and we may as well do the best we can to make it better. (Yes, it's still a bit frustrating, but it would have been unbearably heartbreaking before the demise of the heart system!)

3/5/2015, 5:52:00 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/aamirza216

I don't know. I think a lot of the skills got split. I actually noticed this before, some skills would be 6 lessons on Mobile, but 7 lessons on Desktop. But now it seems Mobile was changed to match Desktop, and a lot of the skills that were complete are now split into two lessons, one complete, one incomplete. I'm looking at a lot of these "new" lessons and a lot of them are words I already knew. There are a few new words here and there though, which is definitely great.

3/4/2015, 4:25:11 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
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It's also a good excuse to go through and read all those grammar notes that have been added over the past year.

3/4/2015, 5:11:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Williamk

Yeah I prefer the new tree now, the more lessons and words the better!

3/4/2015, 9:11:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/tbrownell
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Nice to have new lessons, sad to lose my Golden Owl.

3/4/2015, 11:47:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/shahtheking

I'm extremely irritated. I'm glad the lessons are improved and re-organised but I worked so hard for the Golden Owl and taking it away was like a slap to the face. URGH

3/6/2015, 8:51:31 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/robinactuary
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me too.

3/5/2015, 10:14:37 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/rachael.cr3
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Yeah, they killed my Owl. Not cool :(

3/8/2015, 6:30:03 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/hanga22
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I also like the new lessons, it motivates me more to redo the lessons and not to forget my French tree, even though I finished it half a year ago. My only problem is that it seems that the new material was done too quickly and there are cases when there is an entire new lesson for only two new words (Animals - poule et lapin), and then I get 17 questions just to practice these two words. I think it would have been more useful if DL had added at least 4-5 new words, it is never a bad thing to learn words that are maybe not that common:) But anyway, I am glad that Duolingo started to improve "old" trees while also concentrating on the new ones:)

3/5/2015, 3:07:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/MikhailKar2
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I agree, it's a welcome addition. New skills, new words. And I get to earn my owl again! Which will probably take me another month or so.

On another subject - Greg, I am very grateful to you for your 'foreign novels on a Kindle' idea: http://gregreflects.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-read-foreign-novel-on-kindle.html. I am on my fourth novel, not counting small novellas, and it gets easier and easier.

3/5/2015, 5:45:21 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
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I am so glad to hear that it helped you! I rarely hear much feedback, so it's really appreciated.

3/5/2015, 5:57:36 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/osiriscorleone
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I'm frustrated. A lot of the new lessons don't seem to be properly figured out, and I keep getting right answers wrong - some of the questions even conflict with one another. I wish that the team had fully gone through and made sure the lessons were ready before releasing them.

3/7/2015, 1:36:04 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/tbrownell
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Yes - I've been working my way through the new lessons (vs. keeping my skills up) and whichever one I was doing yesterday was loaded with errors. Simple, inexcusable things like the program wanting "Votre chemise" and marking me wrong with "Ta chemise." Ditto "Nous" and "On." It would have been laughable if it hadn't been so irritating.

3/8/2015, 10:59:05 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/killary45
Plus
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We have to remember that most of the questions have been in place for a couple of years, so that gradually some of the problems with them are slowly being sorted out. I suppose introducing a lot of brand new questions means that we are going to have to watch this process all over again from the beginning. All being well Duo will have corrected many of the errors by 2017. But what can we expect from a free programme?

3/8/2015, 11:51:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/osiriscorleone
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Agreed, although to be fair, duo doesn’t need to charge us, since they make their money (and a lot of it) by having us translate the internet for free, which benefits their clients, who pay them for the service. So I'd expect a bit more from a company who counts CNN among its clients:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duolingo#Business_model

Also, I'd love to see some Korean, Mandarin, Japanese, and other non Roman alphabet languages on here at some point.

3/9/2015, 1:17:06 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/ddbeachgirl
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Agreed, but i think that there is a reason we were selected for this beta: our skill level! I'm looking at it like I'm getting a chance to be a part of the crowd sourcing improvement process. We get to learn for free, now we can do a little work in gratitude.

3/8/2015, 11:13:18 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/osiriscorleone
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I appreciate that, and it does make me feel good that the owl thinks so highly of me. It just bugged me when all of a sudden I had huge non-yellow chunks in my tree (especially after resolving to do an entire set of lessons a day three weeks ago) and discovering that the new lessons were so far from ready that I was getting marked wrong for things that weren't wrong at all, as tbrownell noted above. It's like not proofreading your résumé - sure, you may be qualified, but you insult the reader by not taking the time to make sure it's ready for presentation.

My hope is that the constant reporting we're all doing of the errors in these lessons benefit new users, as I'm sure earlier users reporting the old errors helped me.

3/9/2015, 1:13:46 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
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I haven't seen this problem yet, but I've only done the first 11 of the new lessons so far. Can you post links to a few examples?

3/9/2015, 12:06:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/osiriscorleone
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No links, but there have been instances where the vous form wasn’t accepted, then the tu form wasn’t accepted, then it wanted nous and not on or vice versa. It's still very, very buggy, and it's frustrating that I have to click "Report a Problem" at least once every three questions. It would have been nice if the team had done a bit more testing before release.

3/9/2015, 1:18:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Eddie_Sammon
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I asked for new words for ages and was constantly downvoted by the regulars and even criticised by a moderator. Suggestions for new languages, even silly made up ones such as Anglish, were always praised, but suggestions for new words were frowned upon and it put me off the site a bit. But now I'm back!

3/7/2015, 11:10:17 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
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I for one would not complain about new words. I have already gone through one revision of the Spanish tree. The word count dropped from @1750 to @1570.

3/8/2015, 12:05:55 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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I think there were roughly 45 lessons and at least 46 skills that became incomplete. But quite a lot of them were re-shuffled and moved about, so it is possible that there aren't many new words to learn after all.

Oddly enough, the new words I've learnt haven't yet shown up in the words tab.

3/4/2015, 2:38:36 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Gevierre
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I would agree if it wouldn't have been updating AS I was doing lessons. A lot of the "new words" are words I just got finished doing.

I mean, I like the update, but two updates in a few days? I do my lessons based on how many I have left to do, this is starting to be an inconvenience.

Edit: And again, just now... I'm logging off for the day.

3/5/2015, 9:13:43 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ
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I can see why people might be frustrated with the new tree, but I can also see why people like the new tree. For those that got it at the very end or in the middle of the old tree, it can be annoying to have to go back and do all those lessons over again. On the upside though it's a great review of earlier vocab and it helps with the later lessons, not having to learn new words that have nothing to do with the topic.

3/6/2015, 2:28:37 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveBosman
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I'm very glad to see the update, but the 14 lessons of Cmp. Past that have appeared in the middle scare me slightly. In particular 9 lessons for Cmp. Past 1 is a bit daunting.

I'm also really hoping the definitivement/definitely/definitively questions has been sorted, as the inconsistency of accepted answers was starting to drive me mad a couple of weeks back.

3/5/2015, 2:11:13 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/evatenn
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Malheureusement, non. If I remember correctly, it is definitively a bear, but définitivement in most of the other sentences I got yesterday had to be translated as "definitely."

3/5/2015, 5:42:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/keishacat
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did it just update again today?

3/5/2015, 9:11:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Williamk

For me it just updated differently and then changed back just now ten minutes later. Weird.

3/5/2015, 9:17:34 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Holte139

Hi everyone! I'm a new user who's only been learning French using Duolingo since 1st Feb. I'm trying to take the progression through my tree slowly, even if it means repeating 2 skills I've learned everyday until I have full completion and only learning 1 new one (30XP a day is my target). Fortunately that means there are only 3 extra lessons that have been added across old skills for me, but anything that makes things better is a plus I think!

GregHullender - I've just seen the part of your post which says "For me, this adds 45 days to my estimate for when I'll finish the French tree", where do you find that information? I can't seem to find it on my iPad or on the website.

Just a general question here but does anyone else prefer doing their learning on the mobile app? I find that I can remember things much better if I learnt them on the iPad.

3/6/2015, 3:45:53 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
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I have an Excel spreadsheet that I update every day. To get the number, I counted how many skills are in each lesson. Duolingo doesn't offer an automatic way to get this.

Two review plus one new skill per day is an excellent goal. I use that myself. Rather than repeating the same skill, I strongly suggest you use the "strengthen skills" option instead. If you have any "weak" (not gold) skills, strengthen those specifically, but otherwise use the general strengthen. The reason to prefer that is that if you are doing more specific kinds of review, you'll be seeing a lot of stuff that you know very well already, but you won't be reviewing other things that might need more review.

3/6/2015, 2:54:24 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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You can always use the course progress userscript which determines the number of skills/lessons. It even generates an estimate once it gets enough data.

3/6/2015, 3:03:07 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ
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I find it's the only way I can practice pronunciation since I don't have a microphone on my laptop.

3/7/2015, 2:40:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VanillaRixCam15

I must agree, it surely is a great upgrade to my French tree

3/7/2015, 2:30:29 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Z33Dubyah
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I still haven't gotten the updated tree and am thirsty for new material. Anyone have any idea when this will be implemented for everyone?

3/7/2015, 4:43:19 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/ddbeachgirl
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Well said, I totally agree. I was delighted to open DL and see more lessons.

3/5/2015, 1:56:52 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkArcher2

How do you mean "you got an update.." I am learning french but didn't notice any change. Kindly elucidate for me as i'm new and thrilled so far.

3/5/2015, 7:28:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Williamk

It seems like it updated again but only temporarily or something so I got access to a bunch of skills I couldn't do before, I did a few, and as the tree reverted back I have unlocked a whole load more skills because some of the ones I did were further down than I was previously lol kind of weird bug/occurrence.

3/5/2015, 9:48:07 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/GenevieveEvans

I agree, it's good to refresh your memory with the old skills.

3/6/2015, 2:59:49 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/BrittanySm19

Unfortunately, some of us have been taking down notes with pen and paper. I have 20 pages of notes, and now I have to re-write them all to add in the new material. Oh well.

3/6/2015, 9:18:19 PM
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