How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

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lavengro
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby lavengro » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:36 pm

Cainntear wrote:
eido wrote:
Cainntear wrote:But the numbers are so overwhelming that they're taking over every online space now. Getting out of the way of all DL learners means getting out of the way of all learners.

I guess you can resign yourself to the role of perennial teacher, or just hide on LLORG.

I choose to hide :P

I'm on those groups to be a teacher. I stick around to give other people the help I got from web forums on my way up. However, I don't want to spend my entire life explaining the concept of noun gender every second day. It's not a productive use of my time, and the basic chat floods out the questions for improvers and intermediate learners that aren't already covered in every single course except Duolingo (which actually does include them in "tips" that no-one is ever pushed towards reading)..


Thanks Cainntear. As you note, Duolingo does include grammar notes, though I think that may just be for the web-based version rather than the app version. The notes are hardly obscured - there are only two buttons for the introduction to each new skill unit, and TIPS is the first button (with START being the second).

As you will know, there is a world of difference between the app version (which has a lot of unhelpful stuff such as the hearts system) and the web version of Duolingo. I only use the latter, and I understand that Tips are not or may not be available on the app version. The web version has notes or "Tips" covering in a brief (not comprehensive) fashion relevant grammar, vocabulary and for some courses cultural points), and the discussion forum relating to each exercise often includes quite a lot of discussion - the sort of discussion that is helpful to an individual learner trying to figure out why a particular case is being used, for example, or questions relating to alternate vocab items, etc.

By way of contrast, Memrise (another tool I love) has (as far as I am aware) zero grammar notes or tips, zero commentary, and does not take one to a high level. Pimsleur also does not do much in the way of grammar notes. But neither Memrise nor Pimsleur attracts the same sort of vitriol as Duolingo.

TL:DR the web-version is miles better than the app version (and the typing approach is kilometres ahead of the word choice guessing game approach). I guess one can blame Duolingo itself for lazy users who fail to take the time to read the grammar notes if one likes and if that strikes one as fair (but it does not strike me that way).
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby lavengro » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:50 pm

eido wrote:I know these blogs exist, I'm just having trouble finding the particular ones I was thinking of (some which I'd found before). I have various opinions on some of these blogs/news outlets.
This one recommends Swahili Pod (#29), which is a bit different from the norm but still within bounds since it's suggesting a gaggle of phrases is incredibly impressive (if we're going by the same idea as @rdearman's original post).
This one doesn't recommend specifically Duolingo, but it's in the same spirit as rdearman's OP in that it recommends learning fast, or so it would seem.
This one recommends only DL for its app selection.
Same for this one.

My search in Google was "new skills to learn in quarantine".
Thanks eido,

I had thought that the comment was that language bloggers are recommending using only Duolingo. Even Duolingo itself does not recommend that. Instead, to this point, it looks like Consumer Affairs and Readers' Digest. That does not seem either surprising or alarming.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby galaxyrocker » Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:15 pm

lavengro wrote:Thanks Cainntear. As you note, Duolingo does include grammar notes, though I think that may just be for the web-based version rather than the app version. The notes are hardly obscured - there are only two buttons for the introduction to each new skill unit, and TIPS is the first button (with START being the second).


Except people aren't pushed towards clicking on the notes. I just tested it on the Finnish and the Irish ones, and the 'start' button is a different color from the background, made to stand out, while the 'tips' button, which might be listed first, blends in with the background and can be hard to notice if you're not purposefully looking for it. It's clear that the devs are wanting to push people to starting lessons without tips.

By way of contrast, Memrise (another tool I love) has (as far as I am aware) zero grammar notes or tips, zero commentary, and does not take one to a high level. Pimsleur also does not do much in the way of grammar notes. But neither Memrise nor Pimsleur attracts the same sort of vitriol as Duolingo.


I've never heard Memrise, at least, make the claims that Duolingo does, and Pimsleur also pushes more than the '5 minutes a day' type thing of Duolingo. But, back to Duolingo's claims, they have said in a 'study' they hired an outside linguist for, that DL can get you further than an introductory college class. Now, that study was hugely flawed, in many ways, but they do claim that. At one point, they even had a fluency percentage! To act like DL isn't trying to be a one-stop shop for language learning is crazy, as that's definitely what they promote, and in a manner that keeps eyes on the screen and making ad money.

I guess one can blame Duolingo itself for lazy users who fail to take the time to read the grammar notes if one likes and if that strikes one as fair (but it does not strike me that way)


Except Duolingo itself pushes the users that way. It obscures the tips button and makes the 'start' button prominently stand out. And, last I checked, even on the website the default was the 'click words' pattern, and a user had to purposefully turn that off. This is something many users won't know about; and let's not pretend that Duolingo pushes people to the app more than the browser.
Last edited by galaxyrocker on Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:27 pm

I don't think the main problem is even people not reading the grammar notes! But yes, I totally agree Duo is not promoting them enough, they have added a lot of value to those courses nonetheless, and they should be used (if you insist on using Duo).

I am convinced the main problem in the learning mechanism is the progressive removal of the worthwhile exercises (=active recall and typing), and more and more dumb exercises. Not even the "just typing" choice helps you (and it has been removed in some a/b versions anyways), because there are more and more multiple choice (not just the word boxes), listening, and other dumb exercises even a braindead could do in a not too obscure language. That is a worse problem.

Too little content to really drill the grammar in the more advanced parts of the tree, that was always a problem, but not unsurmountable and that bad. I simply quit the tree, when I noticed I was just memorising the few examples instead of learning the grammar feature. But now, the learning pace it is getting much worse as the very easy beginnings of the trees are being diluted more and more.

In the new and professional trees, you waste dozens of hours to cover the content of the first few units of any solid coursebook. That is a problem. Duo is getting you addicted by making you thing how much work you've put in and how much you've learnt. But in reality, you should have been much further along the way in that amount of time.

So, you spend a lot of time learning and practicing something that could have been done much faster. What is the logical outcome? A huge disappointment, when you still suck after a few hundred hours. The problem is, that Duo's answer is "just keep practicing". And it is another thing, where their fanatic community is very helpful to their marketing. They perpetuate the nonsense, that you just need to keep practicing and reviewing on Duolingo.

Harvey Dent: "You die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain". Duo may teach you more than one year of a bad class. It will just need two or three years to do it :-D And you will still know it only passively and not too well, if you fall for the "Duo is a full language course" trap
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby lavengro » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:03 pm

I'm tapping out. You all have opened my eyes to the awful reality of Duolingo.
Cavesa wrote:Harvey Dent: "You die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain". Duo may teach you more than one year of a bad class. It will just need two or three years to do it :-D And you will still know it only passively and not too well, if you fall for the "Duo is a full language course" trap

I prefer to quote Alfred rather than Harvey Dent. And like Alfred, I've come to realize that perhaps Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, the evil demons behind Duolingo, are men that I didn't fully understand. A long time ago, I "was in Burma [okay, Myanmar]. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a couple of renegade bandits who happened to be pretty good with computers and who were imbued with a desire to make learning available even to the more economically-challenged in the world. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with them. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandits had been throwing them away. .... Because they thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like helping people to actually learn a language. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn and language learners flounder in their learning efforts."

I will keep using Duolingo, and to my shame will actually enjoy it in my sad little way, but will do so knowing that I am very much on the extreme periphery of this community or even squarely in the ridicule zone. I have appreciated the chance to put my views (apparently completely unsupported by anyone in this community?) forward for consideration.

Retreating now to a dark, deluded inefficient corner of my bat cave ....
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby galaxyrocker » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:23 pm

lavengro wrote:I prefer to quote Alfred rather than Harvey Dent. And like Alfred, I've come to realize that perhaps Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, the evil demons behind Duolingo, are men that I didn't fully understand. A long time ago, I "was in Burma [okay, Myanmar]. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a couple of renegade bandits who happened to be pretty good with computers and who were imbued with a desire to make learning available even to the more economically-challenged in the world. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with them. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandits had been throwing them away. .... Because they thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like helping people to actually learn a language. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn and language learners flounder in their learning efforts."


I'll be the first to say I think this is an unfair analogy. I think Duolingo's main problem stems entirely from one aspect: it's a for-profit company. Most of the issues I have with Duolingo, at least on terms of the business side, would be much easier solved if they were a non-profit that could get government grants to improve/really work on their courses, as well as donations and such. As it stands, it's a for-profit company and needs to make money while offering free stuff. This means Duolingo basically has to cater to the lowest common denominator on things, which is why there's practices such as emphasizing starting a lesson and gamifying it/making the courses easier. They need those people to come back so they can turn profit (which, last I heard, they have yet to do). But, because of that goal, they do a lot of things I don't agree with, including leading learners down the wrong view of language learning and how long it takes. Not that it can't be useful in some regards - if you like the style it can be great for review and vocab learning - but they push it as the end-all-be-all...And, it's also made it harder for other, better, paid programs to get off the ground as everyone compares them to Duolingo and says "Why aren't they free like Duolingo?"
Last edited by galaxyrocker on Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby rdearman » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:38 pm

lavengro wrote:Retreating now to a dark, deluded inefficient corner of my bat cave

I don't understand. Some people have put forward the case against, but you're not really putting forward the case for?

Earlier you pointed out that the web and app version are different and easier to find grammar. So why not walk those who are undecided through the Pros of using Duolingo? Now is your opportunity to share your positive view.

You seem to be assuming everyone is against using Duolingo, but I am sure there are many who are on the fence, or simply never had a positive response put forward.

Every piece of software has both pros and cons but why would I use it if nobody is championing it? It must be of some use to you, so what are the benefits?

Also I would like to point out that everyone having a difficult view is a good thing. I don't think anyone is ridiculing you for using Duolingo. We should all be striving to improve ourselves, and if it works for you and not others then that is how it is. Everyone here seems to love grammar study and I absolutely hate it. Does it bother me to be told I and stupid and inefficient because I don't like grammar books? Nope, it is my preference.

A robust discussion of the merits and faults of any method, software, textbook, etc. are the reason for the forum. It allows readers who come after to use the discussion to make more informed decisions about the methods, software and things they will use to learn.

Slinking back into a cave and withholding your views and experience doesn't help anyone. So come out and tell us how you use it, what benefits you get from using it, what types of learners benefit from it, etc..
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Deinonysus » Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:35 am

I guess I should throw in my 2¢ since this has turned into a Duolingo pro/con thread. I am a huge fan of Duolingo, and I think the reason is that I don't see it as a language course. I see it as a set of interactive writing drills where you can get instant feedback on full sentences. Unfortunately they took a lot of the typing functionality out of the app (which I haven't used in a while), but you can still type most answers if you use it in a browser instead of an app.

I'm using Babbel instead of Duolingo for Spanish because I'm focusing on European Spanish and Duolingo only has a Latin American Spanish course. Although Babbel is a much better language course than Duolingo, I think it's worse than Duolingo because it's a much better language course. That means that it has a good explanations and heavily structured lessons with a good balance of all skills. That also means that when I spend 30 minutes on Babbel in a day, I only spend 5-10 minutes of that typing in Spanish, and I spend 0 minutes typing in full sentences of Spanish, because Babbel almost exclusively has you fill in the blanks rather than typing a sentence from scratch. They also want you to type in an exact response with very little room for variation.

When I use Duolingo for 30 minutes, I am typing in full sentences of the target language for at least half of the time. And I go through probably 5-10 times more sentences than Babbel, because Babbel is trying to throw all this other stuff at you and Duolingo doesn't care. And Duolingo has a TMTOWTDI ("there's more than one way to do it", pronouced like "Tim Toady") approach. If you type a valid translation for the text you're given, it will probably be accepted. If not, check the comments. Someone will probably have a good explanation of why it was accepted. And otherwise, you can report it. Not all courses are actively curated unfortunately, but many are.

Why do I love Duolingo in spite of the fact that it isn't a good language course? Well, I love it because it isn't a good language course. I multi-track whenever possible. I don't need Duolingo to teach me how to speak because I have Pimsleur for that (in fact, I have voice recognition disabled on Duolingo so I can sneakily use it at work, although that hasn't been an issue for the past several months). I don't need Duolingo to teach me grammar or listening comprehension because I have Assimil for that. I just need it to let me type a buttload of sentences and tell me when I get things wrong, and by golly, it does that and does it well.

Now, to address the original post of the thread, I personally have a very difficult time progressing in a language if I can't commit to at least an hour a day using at least two different resources. If someone is putting in 15 minutes a day on Duolingo or any other single resource, I am very skeptical that they would be able to make any progress and make it stick. But if they find that they are able to dedicate an hour a day and use multiple resources, then I think they will do very well and make a lot of progress.

Personally I have made a lot of progress in Spanish and Hebrew over the past several months because I was able to dedicate a good amount of extra time every day to studying. For the past few days I've been distracted and I'm treading water a bit, but I'm still finding at least half an hour a day to study.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby lavengro » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:23 am

So why not walk those who are undecided through the Pros of using Duolingo?

Thanks Rick,

I had promised myself (this time via a solemn self-pinky swear, the most binding of all self-promises) that I was not going to venture into the fray again, but out of respect for you, I felt an obligation to provide a brief response instead of just ignoring your post. And please rest assured my last post was just me poking fun at myself - in the same way that anyone who throws a hissy fit and exclaims "I am taking my ball and going home" just cause the game is going against them deserves mockery. I am not a strong language learner, but I have some reasonably strong skills in making fun of myself, honed through years of practice. Trust me, there is no slinking involved at my end over this.

Incidentally, I note in surprise that I used the same Alfred quote from Dark Knight in April 2019, on one of the (several) many times in the past I engaged in a feud relating to Duolingo.

I believe I have commented a number of times over the years on the advantages from my perspective of Duolingo. It has never been a productive exercise: Duolingo just seems to be a hot-button issue for some, and then the discussion just ends with me quoting Alfred from The Dark Knight for some inexplicable reason. I am disinclined to continue to engage in discussions concerning Duolingo in this thread, which has only inadvertently become a Duolingo discussion thread, but may in the future in a proper review thread. However, I do note and agree generally with Deinonysus' comments in the post preceding mine.

Okay, I have now turned around three times while chanting a solemn vow to irrevocably withdraw from this thread, and that is arguably more binding than a pinky swear.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby chove » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:01 am

I vary on DuoLingo. Yes, it's an absurdly slow way to learn the basics of a language, but I find it very useful for drilling sentences. The frustrating experience of getting it wrong helps motivate me to learn the grammar points better. It wasn't much use to me for Spanish because I shot past its level doing my university course, but for Polish I get a lot of use out of it as sentence correction, something that makes sure I use the right word in the right case. I find that very valuable. I'm using it now for French as conjugation practice, though like I said if it's your only resource it's going to take you a lot longer to get to a not very good level.
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