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Weak words with 1 year since practice... despite doing daily...

On my Spanish tree I have words in my words list which are listed as "weak", only 1-bar of strength.

Problem is, while they show 1 year since practice, many of them are words I've used frequently in the past weeks... entry level words like "hija", "toca", "corro", "bueno", "peude", "puedes".

"Puedes" / "Puedeo" seem to come up incredibly often, like my current lessons have them in 90% of the problems. It's gotten incredibly repetitive how many lessons are based on these words.

There are likely 100's of words which are all the same story.

Any ideas?

April 29, 2015



I think the whole system of word strengths is bugged:

  • Not every word in a sentence is strengthened. I think there is exactly one word per sentence which matters, all others do not. At least this is my impression.
  • The Strengthen-Button seems to choose the same words over and over again. For some skills it's so bad you cannot even golden the skill via Strengthen.


We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. And thank you for the very detailed bug report, which is useful to investigate further. It seems the bug you described is different from what others are experiencing. We'll fix this one soon too.


Thanks hideki... do you have any kind of time-frame I should expect?

I'm mostly having a hard time prioritizing whether I should strengthen or push on to new material... it's a lot harder to know if I should strengthen when the strength of words seems inaccurate.



I wanted to followup with some additional insights into the issue.

My Spanish skill "Family" was at 3 bars, but the stats script detailed below showed it to be around 6% strength. I redid each lesson within the Family skill, there were only 2.

Upon redoing both of the lessons in the Family Skill, the stats showed that I only had 51.3% strength. That's much higher than where I started, but glaringly removed from what I'd expect having redone all the lessons within the skill.

I took a look at my Word page, and looked for all the words within the lesson. Roughly half didn't improve, and were shown as "1 year" since last practice, despite doing them that day. The other half did show "today" as the last practice date, with full strength.

I couldn't really find a reason or rhyme to why some words were strengthened and others weren't.

These words were strengthened:

Tio Hijo Novia Novio Abuelo Abuela Padre Padres Bebé Bebés Familia Esposa Primos

These words were not strengthened:

Tia Hija Hijas Hijos Abuelos Madre Hermano Hermana Hermanas Hermanos Marido Mamá Papá Esposo Primo

All the words that were strengthened show that the were last practiced yesterday and have full-bars. All the words that were not strengthened show that they were last practiced between 2 months and 1 year ago, with the mean being 1 year. They all have 1 bar.

Dan O.


Thanks all,

I agree it seems bugged... I found that if I went into that particular lesson for puedes and puedo, and did redid that specific exercise with the "redo" button, it brought them up to full bars.

Of course, I already typed them around 50 times each last night before in other lessons, so this isn't really a solution in the proper sense.

Individual lessons do seem to strengthen with the "strengthen skills" button for that lesson, vs the general one which I rarely use anyway... but the problem is that even though a lesson uses words from several other lessons, such as family, foods, animals, they aren't strengthened at all.

I've found myself spending 3/4 of my time strengthening skills, which seems pretty excessive.


Are you using the general "strengthen skills" or "strengthen skills" for individual units? There seems to be general agreement that the former does not work very well.


I have the same issue with my Italian tree. Some words show 6 months since practice even though I used some of them quite often over the last month or so. I looked at the details of a few of them and they appear to be from early skills. Going back to those and strengthening each lesson individually finally strengthens the weak words. Even though there are quite a lot ( well, I actually guess a couple hundreds) of these 'locked' words and sometimes around 20 of one skill, the skills themselves are still golden which i find a bit weird. To strengthen all these weak words I think I would have to redo every single lesson I've done so far which is to be honest quite frustrating.

I took a 6months break from duolingo and restarted 6 weeks ago, so could that be part of the reason? Oh and I'm not using the general strengthening at all. I usually strengthen the skills that turned back to a color. I'm using the iPad app and hardly ever the website to practice.

Any help or information would be really appreciated.


Hey Niniach...

Funny you should mention taking a long hiatus, I did the same... right before I started noticing this problem. I think I stopped for around... 8 months?

Initially I simply restrengthened my tree using the Skill-Specific "Strengthen Skills" button as you did... and this did indeed get the skills up to full-bars. But the words themselves... nope.


I just found this handy user script which might interst you. It shows you the strength of your skills based on the word strength in percentage as well as the amount of "dead" words with zero strength.

I practiced a bit based on the information it gave me and found the best way to get those dead words alive again is to practice each lesson of the weak skills individually. Otherwise those words didn't show up at all.

The script also proves the fact that skills with a percentage of less than 30 still appear golden in my tree. I don't really get the system behind it.

Well I better get going with reviving my almost 500 dead words.. :/ (fun yay! )



Awesome find!

I see what you mean... I've got Adjectives 1 listed on the stats script as 2.3% strength, but Duo shows 3/5 bars of strength. That's a large disparity, and Adjectives 1 is a huge lesson so it's really weighing down the overall word strength.


BTW, I didn't realize the tally at the end of that stat chart from the script at first...

overall word strength 39.1% Dead Words (0 Strength) 652/2101.

This is after doing around 8 lessons in areas with high-percentages of dead-words... it's actually an improvement.

My German is similar story: Overall Strength: 33.2 % Dead Words (0 Strength): 547/1089

Granted, I just started trying to strengthen this tree after a 6 month hiatus vs strengthening Spanish for around a week or two... but I've done around 300 points worth of Strengthening lessons in German just the past 3 days.


Small update...

I did 148 points of Spanish lessons today, and my "Dead Words" still stands at 652, the exact same amount it had before my 148 points of lessons.

Seems it really only gets off the "Dead Words" list if it's strengthened specifically from within it's own lesson... What I've done before shows that does work.


I don't think it was the hiatus as I've been practicing daily yet watching topics on words I know were included loose the gold and I haven't had a break in months...despite the only 60 day streak I've been on every day for nearly a year (time zone issue).

Just noticed today that they only stay gold with individual practice, not overall strengthening. Thanks for verifying this.

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