https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

Please take down the Fluency Rating!

Sorry to be redundant, but this flawed index is plain demoralizing. I work hard every day, particularly in German only to see my FL reduced usually due to a typo or a word misspelled in English. We all know how difficult it can be to master a foreign language. One would hope to get more than Lingots. If an entire sentence is going to be marked wrong for a typo, that's very demotivating.

July 12, 2015

54 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/lauraschhong

To me it is not so much demotivating as it is simply slow. Gaining fluency in a different language is a drawn-out, time-consuming process, and one cannot expect to become eloquent very quickly. However, I can agree that seeing the fluency level decrease due to a small error or typo is frustrating (though I have not personally experienced a drop like that), and while Duolingo is definitely a great utility for learning languages, it does have its flaws.

Additionally, if you want moderators/admin to see this post and get rid of the fluency level, you may want to change the topic to Duolingo (because this affects all users).

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/phb2013

To me, Duolingo seems pretty forgiving in terms of small typo errors. I make enough of them but my answers are still accepted and I assumed those errors would therefore not affect the fluency rating. Perhaps I'm wrong about that. If the fluency rating bothers you, why not ignore it? Just measure your progress by the number of errors you make. If you're making silly typo errors perhaps you need to slowdown and proofread your answers more carefully before hitting that "submit" button.

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/daviddempsay

I understand how you feel. I just now "restrengthened" a couple of lessons back to gold in Spanish. Before I started I was rated at 51% fluent. They were both especially easy lessons, and I was able to get through each of them without a mistake and without hovering to reveal a hint. After I had returned both to gold I was then rated at 49% fluent. Go figure.

For the most part, I consider the fluency rating badge to be laughable and not at all something to be taken seriously, but I can see how some users may well find it disheartening when things like this happen. As I said on another post on this topic (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9294889), I understand that Duolingo users might want some ongoing measurement of their progress, but I think that Duolingo is leaving itself vulnerable to some rather harsh criticism from the linguistic and language instruction communities if it continues posting "fluency levels" in the current format, and I definitely would not want to see that happen. It would be much more useful to Duolingo users if the word "Fluency" were not used in this context and if instead the percentage badge were used to indicate the user's progress through the tree or some other clearly quantifiable measure.

It is particularly perplexing to try to discern why Duolingo might feel the need for such a "Fluency Level" designation. Many second language education programs like to tout themselves as being "everything you need " to learn a new language, but the truth is there is no such program. No language instruction class or teacher or book or program or other format can possibly be everything that any user might conceivably need to learn a new language, and most people who are serious about acquiring a new language will simultaneously use multiple learning resources in their pursuit.

Duolingo is a wonderful resource in its own right and can certainly serve very well as one of the complementary instruction formats that a serious second language learner might utilize. As such, there is absolutely no need for Duolingo to oversell itself and its capacities through the use of "Fluency Level" percentage ratings or other such blatant engrandizements of its efficacy. The above mentioned risks to Duolingo (of annoying or alienating its users and of opening itself to outside criticism) are certainly not worth the potential gains of the fluency badge.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/daviddempsay

Follow up to last night's comment: when I went back to the Spanish tree this morning, my fluency had returned to 51%. Apparently I became more fluent in my sleep.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/JanLyko

More likely the algorithm had changed.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/daviddempsay

Oh yeah, the algorithm. Those pesky algorithms! They're even worse than gremlins, aren't they?

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbarckert

I like this feature, but I'd like to see it better executed on. I am marked as 47% fluent in German after working for 13 months and completing the German skill tree (and keeping the entire tree gold through the whole process) and am marked as 25% fluent in French despite only having completed 1/4 of the skill tree and working for only a month or two. That ratio is very far from accurate. I can tell you that I personally feel more fluent in German than 47% and maybe a bit less fluent than 25% in French (I can already read a fair bit of French because I already speak Spanish). My question is, how does my fluency rate get any higher?! I've already completed the whole curriculum!

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

IMO the whole point is that this index is erratic and inaccurate. My situation is similar to yours. I've studied and spoken German for years; my tree has been gold for months and I'm doing the reverse tree for the 2nd time. My FL is a stubborn 52% whereas it's 53% percent in French, and I've only done half the tree nor could I at this point converse in French. I freely admit that some of my mistakes are self -inflicted wounds due to haste and/or fatigue, but I'd like my efforts to be rated more accurately as I think most of us would.

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbarckert

I forgot about the reverse tree! Not to change the subject, but how effective is the reverse tree in improving your fluency? Would it be worth my time?

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/danceaddikt

Hi, just wondering what the reverse tree is? Thank you :)

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbarckert

The reverse tree is, for my example, if I were to set my native language as German and learn English instead of having my native language as English and learn German. It's just a way of getting more practice.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/rrlear

It also provides a little more vocabulary (I'd expected the vocab to be the same, but it isn't). And some more grammatical structures. Reading the comments is definitely interesting and helpful on the reverse side.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/pilks7

Because the entire scope of the Duolingo skill tree does not cover 100% of the vocabulary required for fluency in your chosen language. As you implied yourself, you're not fluent in German, even though you've completed the skill tree

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbarckert

True, but then how does Duolingo add to fluency beyond my 47%? The only thing I can come up with is increased accuracy or a higher translation tier on the 'immersion' section.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/cunningjames

Is your tree gold? If not that's probably worth a few percentage points. Honestly, though, the fluency levels are explicitly designed not to exceed some particular level (since Duolingo itself can neither get someone to fluency or judge when someone is fluent). So you probably shouldn't expect much here.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbarckert

True, it probably does max out before 100%. And to answer your question, my tree is gold. I've kept it gold through my entire time learning German.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/cunningjames

FWIW it does max out well before 100% -- Duolingo staff confirms this (e.g. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8726201). I've never seen a tree posted with more than 65 or 70%. Don't know why yours would be stuck at 47%.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/ANHarrison

As a mark for how far I progress in the course, I don't really have an opinion about the fluency rating, but as an actual marker of fluency I find it pretty patronising. I've only just started German myself, been going a week, and it says I'm 11% fluent. As if! I probably know a couple dozen words and a handful of sentence formations. There is no way I am one tenth fluent in German (if fractions of fluency even make sense). I just ignore it, but it would be nice if I could turn it off too.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/bricejohnson2003

What is the fluency thing? I never really looked at it until now. They said that my Spanish is 24% and my German is 20%. There is something really wrong with this because my German is WAY better than my Spanish.

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/cunningjames

The fluency rating goes by the current level of strength in a course's skills. So if you've let the German tree wither for a while then it'll assume you've forgotten things and dock your fluency rating as a result.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/NoahVee

I definitely think it should be optional if not entirely removed.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/samrlevitt

I like the Fluency Level. I just started German, but I am mainly focusing on Spanish, and it has helped me see about how far I am in Duolingo's Spanish course. I didn't start Spanish on this site, so it's wrong for me, but I appreciate being able to see how far I've come on Duolingo. Honestly, though, I think there should just be a check box next to it so as to make it an option.

July 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

I totally agree.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nosaj10358

It definitely seems to be inaccurate. As I completed the last half of the Spanish tree, my fluency went from 46 to 48, then back down to 46. Then it went up slowly and I ended up with 54% by the time the tree was completed. I guess there is no good way to accurately measure this. As a side note, I started on the reverse tree yesterday (Spanish to English). I have tested out of the first 15 lessons, and my English fluency is only at 2% !! It's my native language so how is that possible?? Lol

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/JeffA2

I understand what they are attempting to accomplish with the fluency rating, but whatever formula they are using is not producing useful metrics. They need to withdraw the fluency percentage and do more testing to find a better formula.

The language I know best, where I have finished the tree, kept it gold for an extended time, and return to each day for a couple of quick timed lessons, which I always pass except for typos, has a lower fluency percentage than the tree I've only just started. Clearly that is just silly. I don't know if it is really demotivating for me, but it is clearly useless for gauging ability.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Chaterlaine

I am deeply impressed by all of you who can keep your tree gold. I completed the Spanish tree and have embarked on the German tree, but my progress is slow because every day I weaken so much on the Spanish tree that most of my efforts are directed to keeping the Spanish tree strong. If I repair seven items today, tomorrow I will have 15 that need strengthening, including at least five of the ones I repaired yesterday. I feel like Sisyphus! Meanwhile, since I am spending only a short time on the German tree, I am constantly having to strengthen that as well, so I am making minimal progress. I should like to continue on to other languages, but I doubt that I will be able unless I choose to lose everything I have gained on Spanish and German. The most frustrating part of it all is that I have not achieved my real goal at all--to be able to hear and understand native speakers in their own language and formulate a reasonable reply.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/guitarluehe

i think it is a question of mentality, not of language learning. I dont care about the status of the trees, if I feel, my longterm memory has got it, i leave it. The rest will be strenghthened by accident when progressing in the language. I do believe more in parallel trees. My mothertongue is German. but I learnt Spanish from English and Italian from Spanish and English (both trees). That is not only a repetition. My mind does not translate the Spanish text when learning Italian. I am starting to thing in Spanish. What i want to tell you is not, having found a better way. No, you must find your way which gives you result and fun. I love also Podcasts e.g. RadioLingua Coffee Break . Best Regards

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nosaj10358

I know exactly how you feel. It seemed nearly impossible to keep the tree golden. But I just changed strategies a bit. Every day I would try for at least 100-150exp. But then about once or twice per week, I would do 300exp in a day. Once I got everything golden, then I would move on through the next 4-5 lessons. The next day, there would only be a few sections to strengthen. Then I'd make it all golden, then go to the next 4-5 sections. I managed to have it golden all the way to the end. Also, once a particular lesson was re-strengthened several times, I found it to be much quicker (2-3minutes). It's great practice & you'll end up knowing the material off the top of your head.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

I agree they should do more accuracy testing or have a way to hide it on the home screen for those who don't want it.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/mikecarbon

I personally believe that the Fluency rating should only be based on Test results. I am only really just starting out, and do not feel 41% fluent. Base the Fluency on test results and I think this would give a more accurate impression.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

That is a really good idea.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/guitarluehe

I do what i would call parallel trees, when I have finished a tree. I did the complete trees English from German (i could take all shortcuts for testing out) Spanish, Italian, French complete trees from English French from Spanish (also complete) And now I am working on Italian from Spanish. I did about haft the way everything is golden, but the I do lose fluency Points. I did more than 600 xp points in the last two days without any success. I have a fluency of 5. A real joke, i had 8 after only two days. so I am so disgusted and annoyed that i will presumably leave Duolingo. Also my XP shown in The Profile are mostly wrong, somehow interfered by the parallel trees.

So I will give up my brilliant streak, and my more than 1800 lingots. But I am afraid I can't bear it any longer looking on that fluency rating.

Gamification and fun was one of the secrets to love Duolingo. Now its one of the secrets to hate it.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

Guitarluehe, I understand exactly how you feel, but please don't quit! Let's work together to get rid of this false indicator. It was a bad idea to put it up, and I'm sure it will come down sooner or later. You certainly do have a brilliant streak and try to ignore the things that are wrong, because whether we like it or not, that's how life works. Mein Freund, bitte bleib' mit uns, ja?

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/guitarluehe

Very kind of you trying to give me new motivation. Ich hoffe, Du findest Gehör!

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/JanLyko

You can install Toggle Fluency Percentage script from http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Duolingo_Userscripts . It allows users to conveniently hide/show their fluency percentage.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/guitarluehe

Thks a lot. But I doubt whether I can use it with my IOS App.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/pilks7

I think if anything using CEFR would be much more useful as a measure of accuracy. I understand that that provides far fewer benchmarks of success than a percentage point (and that duolingo probably only reaches B1, or possibly B2...)

On that note, it does seem silly to benchmark fluency in a program that only teaches you to a very modest level of fluency

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

I think this is a good idea because it tells you how you would do out in the real world.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/lauraschhong

It attempts to - as was mentioned above, it seems to be inaccurate and/or unreliable.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/SimoneBa

Well, that is exactly what it DOESN'T do... it builds up an illusion, an entirely artificial construct that tells you nothing about your linguistic performance, in terms of comprehension and speaking ability, in the real world.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

The whole point of Duolingo is to learn a new language AND be able to use it in the real world, if you don't know, even remotely, how well you speak a language you might not be ready to speak the language to a native speaker and become frustrated with yourself. I still think this is a good idea.

July 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

Candy, being able to speak and understand another language is not the same as leaning it's grammar and vocabulary. I speak and understand German due to an excellent teacher (pronunciation) but more importantly learning from German friends when I lived in Berlin. To me, fluency means the ability to THINK in another language and speak it with ease. Duolingo or no other learning site can provide more than teaching grammar, vocabulary and how to read and write. I once met the American council to Munich who spoke with such an American accent that I had to tell my German friends what he was saying.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Candy1973

I do understand that it is also important to hear someone else speak the language that is why I also took Spanish in school. I also think that it is important to visit a country that speaks that language. But I also like to see at least approximately how I'm doing, maybe they should call it something other than fluency.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

I agree with you. It's very important that you be able to measure how your doing. It's the word "Fluency" that is being wrongly used. As I've stated, fluency is the ability to speak and understand a language with ease. If one makes grammatical errors and has a limited vocabulary, but otherwise can express and understand ideas, I would call that fluent. One way to gauge how you're doing is to read the foreign language you study, watch movies , TV etc. and ideally to find a native speaker of that language. It's impossible to grade fluency due to grammatical correctness. You're right. It should be called something other than fluency.

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/stosselgg

I like knowing how proficient I'm becoming and noted about a 3% decline in my percentage for no apparent reason. I've since recovered from the setback, but I do think it would be helpful if they posted a note on the site when changes are made that impact how the site functions or when fixes to bugs I've reported in the software are corrected.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/catluvver

I agree. This entire site is difficult to navigate. I think I'd be better off using a plain old grammar book.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Alyssasoccer20

yes i agree with this entirely!! its very disappointing to work hard on a sentence and get it wrong just because of one simply typo.

July 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/dfranit

Take it with a grain of salt. I do. According to Duolingo, my French fluency is much better than my English fluency. Yet, I know that's not true! I am a native American English speaker!

My Italian fluency is higher when tested in English than in French. That makes sense. It is easier for me to translate from English to Italian and vice versa, than between French and Italian... but it also reflects the fact that I started with English and Italian first, before later adding the French, Italian combo.

So if you find it helpful and encouraging look at it. If not, find what motivates you and just ignore the shield. It is in beta. Hopefully it will improve. Mind you, if they improve it enough, they might start charging for you to see it!

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Plamsy

Pleasee! It doesn't even make sense ! It makes me discouraged!

July 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Anna_Jansson

I find the fluency rating somewhat entertaining. It says I am 44 % fluent but I pretty much understand nothing. I am constantly surprised when I get anything right and am saying "Schwere Sprache" to myself during every lesson.

July 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

It would be entertaining if it weren't so inane. I hate to see people taking this seriously and thereby becoming dispirited and/or demotivated by this "fluency rating". And that's been happening! Until wiser heads prevail and remove it, just ignore it. Ich wuensche dir viel Erfolg!

July 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/guitarluehe

I think, it has nothing to do with taking it serious or not. The problem is, the the attraction of Duolingo is its gamification. So it works like a silly computer game in terms of motivation. There is a huge difference if you see realistic progress for your effort or not.

July 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/daviddempsay

That's a very interesting point. Thanks for sharing it. I hadn't thought of it quite like that. Your point brings to mind a very important question. Does Duolingo want to be perceived as a serious language learning tool or does it want to be dismissed as just another computer game? If it's to be (I hope) the former, then the Fluency Badge should be either done away with or majorly overhauled and transformed into something that doesn't have inherent caprice built right in.

July 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

I absolutely agree. The whole idea for serious learners of another language is the progress they are making. That is why the "fluency rating" has to be replaced with something that grades on proficiency. Duolingo is a great learning tool, but it cannot of itself enable one to speak a new language fluently.

July 19, 2015
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