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Changes to Duolingo - For better or for worse?

For those of you that haven't seen it yet... "Now, instead of losing hearts, you have a strength bar that goes up and down. You complete the lesson once the bar reaches full strength." As a user, I like that this is incredibly more challenging than it was before. It's kind of like building a streak within lesson.

However, as an educator, I think my students will find this incredibly disheartening (pun completely intended). The "heart" motif not only it gave a more video-game like feeling, but the system was more encouraging. They knew exactly what they had to do, how many questions to avoid getting wrong. With this new system (from what I have seen - please correct me if I am wrong), you need to get around 18 questions right AND for every one you get wrong it means you need to answer an additional one. Like I mentioned in the intro, definitely more challenging, but it also means that lessons could potentially be a LOT longer. I could definitely see students getting frustrated and just quitting a lesson.

Plus, it also means that there is one less thing to buy from the Shop (and one of the ones they used the most).


March 26, 2015



Funny, for me I've found that the new system actually makes me go through lessons faster rather than more slowly - with the old system, if I made four mistakes and happened to lose my last heart right before/at the final question, I ended up having to redo the entire lesson, which means 18 + 18 = 36 questions (not sure if it's really exactly 18 questions per lesson, but it sounds about right) - and that's provided I didn't lose all my hearts again during the second try, in which case I would end up with 54 questions.

With the new system in which my four wrong answers get simply added to the total, I end up with a total of 26 questions to finish the lesson - 10 fewer than I would have to answer if I had to redo the entire thing.


I wonder if Duolingo would ever consider making this the user's choice? Younger users could choose the heart system (which many people appear to miss a great deal), and users like you could choose the strength bar. I can think of a bunch of interesting research questions that could be investigated by comparing the two choices. Allowing choice would also demonstrate a commitment to honor the well-known adage that people have different styles of learning. Interesting question.


Err, I haven't had hearts for months... A-B test? In other news, I was overjoyed when they knocked hearts on the head: I found it the opposite to you -- frustrating!!


I don't really know which I like better. The old way I was always really worried and stressed so at first the new way was a relief to me. But I think I would have gotten used to that way and lessons probably would have been more fun. Also, now, I often just quit the lesson because it just gets so discouraging. I think the best way would be that learners be able to choose. Maybe even with individual lessons.

[deactivated user]

    I do not really mind it.


    I think if you explain language acquisition and the rationale behind it, they will buy in.

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