https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I am 60% fluent, but...

When I finished my tree several months ago it was only about 85-90% gold. On the day I finished my tree, DL said I was 72% fluent, whatever that meant.

Here's the interesting thing. Just after finishing my tree, from May-July I was in rural France where each day I had somewhere around 10-20 minutes of conversations with French people (e.g., neighbors, shopkeepers, restaurants). While in France I kept at DL and although I gilded 1-3 units every day, 10-20% (on average) still remained un-gilded. Rather quickly my fluency score dropped to 60-62% where it has been for the past two months.

So, what does 60% Fluent mean?

I am better at reading and writing French than speaking or understanding it. In France, I could read the newspapers fairly well. I sort of understood some French TV but many programs (eg multiple speakers, many movies) were too fast and left me in the dust. In real-life situations I generally asked people to parlez plus lentement pour moi, svp and they almost always tried (although many often snapped back to express speed within a few words). By the way, I found 99% (vraiment!) of French people I spoke with to be friendly, appreciative of my efforts, patient and helpful .

My goal when I return to France is to be semi-fluent. By that I mean — I will be able to understand people I am in direct communication with when i know the subject area. I also mean being able to express myself without having to pause excessively to think thru the grammar or find an alternative way to say something because I am unsure of the precise word. I don’t expect to use esoteric tenses. Present, passe compose, and simple future will do (plus maybe imperfect and a bit of the subjunctive.)

So, when Duo says I am 60% fluent now, that sounds about right. Although I will continue guilding my tree, DL has been (is) a great journey, but I think I will need more than Duo to reach my objective of becoming semi-fluent.

August 11, 2015

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AaronTupaz

Personally I wish Duo would just remove that fluency number. It doesn't accurately represent anything. Plus, it's just depressing seeing a number that I can never get to 100%.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I don't think Duo's fluency measure is meant to be a "grade" on the course, but rather a general indication (ball-park, to be sure) of one's progress to fluency. Many people state that it can take 2-5 (and up to 10) years to become fluent. So, 100% fluency or anything close to that would be an impossible objective for a program like Duo.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LogannnM

I know what you mean.

February 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

The fluency rating is new. Are you sure that 72% wasn't the previous metric of the percentage you could read? The maximum for the fluency rating is probably about 60-something percent. So you are doing just fine. You are correct that you will need to pursue other resources outside Duo such as books, movies, podcasts and so on in French to continue to improve and reach your goals. Duo has its place but can only do so much.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Yes, I think you are right. 72 must have been an earlier metric. And thanks for your suggestions. I’m looking for additional resources to supplement Duo.

But, back to thoughts about “fluency.” After completing my tree (but never 100% gilded) and spending 9 months in France, I think I am at the Intermediate (Survivor) level of fluency (either A2 or B1) on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFRL) scale. Most people, including me, would not call me fluent. Eventually I hope to reach the B2-C1 level which most people would consider fluent, though not even close to a native speaker. On that basis, Duo’s estimate that I am ~ 60% fluent sounds about right and fits with my personal feelings about my journey to fluency.

A good (long) discussion of fluency is at: http://frenchcrazy.com/2011/08/how-long-does-it-take-to-become-fluent.html/

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/fr224

The Fluency measurement is usually pretty inaccurate; you shouldn't pay attention to it.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

See my post to Elizabeth261736 (above) for some more thoughts on fluency. :)

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/KaitteKat

My fluency rating has been stuck at 60/61% since they introduced it. I'm at the point where nearly all of my errors are either typos or mistakes on Duo's side (there are a lot of errors near the end of the tree).

I don't think that there has ever been an explanation of how exactly our fluency is measured or how we can improve it. In its current state, the percentage that it shows us is entirely useless.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I'd would also like to know how they measure it. See my post above to Elizabeth261736 (above) for a bit more on "fluency."

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/dorianbtdp

This percentages are totally useless, I don't even look at it I just grow my tree and keep everything golden. Duolingo is nice to get bases in languages because it makes you repeat it a lot of time (I used it a lot for Swedish because I've also tried Babbel but the lessons are more complicated and I got really lost at the beginning, also Babbel isn't free). As you said what you need is to understand and speak so the best way would be to find French people to speak with on skype for example sometimes. Also you can try to watch French movies even if there isn't a lot of good one, or French series depending on what you like. Watch it with french subtitles so your ears get used to the sound in the same time you understand the word if you know how to read French. I'm French and did it with in English and it worked pretty well, but it takes a long time because it's also a big part of entertainment.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Thanks for the suggestions. Do you know any French Series (with subtitles) that might be helpful. I have just started Yabla which seems very good. I'm also exploring 1 on 1 conversation lessons.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/dorianbtdp

I didn't know Yabla but that looks interesting, it's the kind of thing we could watch in language class. Well, it depends what you like. Most of french series are show for family (because there isn't big productions like in the US, and it's kinda cheap and they know people will watch, otherwise we have these terrible dubbing from english series). In fact trying to find series I'm realizing it's not gonna be easy to find it, and even more difficult with subtitles. Nethertheless you can check on this site if there's something you're interested in : http://www.allocine.fr/series/top/pays-5001/ and then I might be able to help you to find how to watch it.

August 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Thank you. I'll check it out.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Stray152

Oh, come on, I don't get that measurement either, but it doesn't mean that you only know 60% of French or so. Only real-life situations can prove how much you know, not the computer or an app. You can read in French, which is great. I, on the other hand, understand pretty much (though not everything of course) of what people are talking to me (btw, I totally loved that "I generally asked people to parlez plus lentement pour moi, svp" and smiled because I do that too!) and I can read some stuff, but, like you mentioned, TV and movies are too fast for me. Still, I'm proud that the French understand me and I understand them when I need to, I think this is what counts. I've never attended any French classes, I'm learning by myself and I feel like I know much more this year comparing to last summer or so, but when I got onto Duo yesterday for the first time and tried out that placement test, it found out I have no level really! So don't worry about it, it's not worth your nerves. :) Best regards.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LadyShizuka

On actual conversation, that's something Duolingo does not seem to help much on, and the only way to fix that is actual conversation with natives. But given all the other sites able to connect you with natives, I do not think that will be hard to do.

August 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Thank you. I am not aware of any sites that connect you with natives.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/alyssumflower

I think Rosetta Stone had a site. I forget what it's called. We used it in high school.

It's free, and you set up your profile to say the language(s) you're fluent in/learning/etc, and a little about yourself, and you can go and chat, or email, or do voice calls with other people on the site.

Beware of the creepers though. I had soooo many older Hispanic men trying to contact me that I had to change or take off my age on there.

August 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence

The obsession of measuring everything by percentage is something I truly despise... The idea that anything skill related can be appraised by a numerical value is one of the biggest farces in the world.

You can say '8 out of ten people own a toaster', that is OK. It can be accurately statistically measured.

You can't say 'I 8 out of ten know French' . That is bloody ridiculous. You are just making up an arbitrary scale for something that intrinsically can NOT be measured.

Hello everyone, sorry for the outburst, the subject touched a nerve...

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I agree. I was only saying that after my experiences in France, I feel that I am really about 60% fluent. As an absolute number it is, of course, meaningless. But, for me, as a ball park figure it is reasonable. I wonder if anyone knows the algorithm DL uses for fluency.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

Duo says that it is based on how many words you know and how well you know them.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Thank you. Interesting because there are many words I don't know (or keep forgetting). Perhaps there is more to the algorithm. I have not heard of anyone having a fluency score much above 60 but I'd bet a lot of learners "know" far more more words than I.

August 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LizMeres

I have been stuck on 53% for several weeks, yet have been completing 30-50 points every day, and am still learning new words. Maybe I have hit a plateau and need another type of learning to improve. I have nearly finished the tree,as I'm studying the politics unit and have reached level 13. I think I need to do more verb drills to learn the endings of various tenses. I have been doing Spanish Duolingo while I have not been well enough to work, and I think my concentration and memory is not as good as it could be, so it maybe that this is holding me back.

Good luck in becoming fluent. Why not find some other french speakers in your area, or start a little social club with other learners?

August 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Sounds like you have a good strategy for doing your Duo. I like your suggestion - I will try to find some local folks to chat with in French. And, I hope you are soon feeling better.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/DottieDrac

I have had the same concerns - stuck at 60% - but some of the information in replies to your initial comment are encouraging. Also, I could recommend a few things I do to improve my comprehension: I subscribe to TV 5 Monde and watch not so much movies as shows, such as newscasts, general-interest programs, etc. These are not subtitled, but the speech is clear and slow enough to understand. Another great program is 7 jours sur la planete, which is, of course, in French, but with French subtitles! It's a great help to increase your vocabulary. I also read extensively in the French language, especially novels and magazines. I find they help me tremendously. And, like you, I like to travel to France as often as I am able -- preferably alone so I am forced to communicate more with French speakers.

Yes, DL isn't perfect, but it helps me a lot with my pronunciation, with vocabulary, and with sentence constructions. And the price can't be beat!

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Thanks for your suggestions. I can't subscribe to Monde (I'm in USA) so I don't have as much access to French programs. I'll see if I can find 7 Jours on YouTube or similar.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/DottieDrac

Hi, Sandy. Yes, I'm in the USA, too. I have Dish satellite service, and they have subscriptions to TV5 Monde for $10 per month.

August 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I travel a lot so use tv rarely and that with basic cable. I mostly use laptop for movies etc.

August 14, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Loveb219

I understand you perfectly. I was just in Quebec Canada and I had similar problems. What I did is that I picked up on a few words and most of the time I understood what they were saying. Anyway most people in Quebec speak English. So if they noticed I was having problems understanding they switch to English, but that defeats the purpose of me learning French. I think the problem is in the speaking and understanding French speakers. English speakers speak quickly too.

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jdberry300

I'm guessing it would give us native English speakers a 60% fluency rating in English. The algorithm knows only what you've put in (including typos and "good but not yet defined" translations).

I think they should use a different word or phrase other than "fluency". "Course mastery" might work -- "within the scope of this DuoLingo language course, you're at 95%." You can successfully answer 95% of any DuoLingo exercises, but you're under no delusions in the real world (movies, complex conversation).

August 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

Maybe the message behind the Duo Fluency stuff is that Duo is a start - that it brings you part way to fluency (e.g., 60%)

August 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/amjbrown

Well my finished French tree was golden, went multi-coloured, and is now golden again. Throughout that four or five week journey (averaging 50 XP per day) my fluency rating has not budged from either 50 or 51%. So I am very keen to learn how some can get it to 60% (even though it is pretty much meaningless!).

August 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Sandyfrench1

I'm not sure why you are "stuck" at 50%. Here are some things I did that might have made the difference. First, in the beginning when I was starting Duo, I did a great deal of translating in the immersion section. Second, It took me about 18 months to complete my tree. Third, I have never fully gilded the tree. After I finished my tree, my personal strategy was to get all the vocabulary out of the way before dealing with esoteric verb units which are rarely needed in conversation with real people. After all of my vocabulary units are gilded, I do a set of verb units, (e.g., Infinitives or Passe Compose). By the time I have completed (and maybe repeated a few times) a set of verb units, some vocabulary units have become un-gilded again and then I start the process over. I have been doing that for the past four months. Hope this helps.

August 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/oldestguru

I tried, just for fun, to work on Danish (I am Danish myself and fluent in many languages including English) to see what's all about, because I am a teacher and I wanted to evaluate this free language learning tool. I discovered that Duolingo is teaching a wooden unnatural language with only one accepted answer for the most cases, even though in reality there are lots of possibilities. I'm about to become tired of submitting correction feedback for almost every single sentence. Also my "fluency" is stuck at 60% for a mysterious reason, even though I am on insane mode and I am playing the damn thing every single day (and as above mentioned, I am a Danish schoolteacher). I am also a native speaker of Romanian, because my father is Romanian, but the Romanian "fluency" is again stuck at 60%, no matter how many lessons I finish per day. I don't believe the system is giving 100% to anyone. The fluency percentage is a scam and it should be removed from the game.

August 6, 2017
Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.