Duolingo - quick question

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Le Baron
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby Le Baron » Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:50 pm

In the forums at Duolingo you get people who claim to have been through a course and then to have gone to a country where that target language is spoken and used it effectively. They then praise Duolingo to heaven and end up pinned to the top of the forums. I'm generally sceptical of this, but since people learn differently and have differing rates of success who am I to say otherwise?

If you count if from absolute zero to being able to basically get around, then perhaps it does feel like you learned the language. It also depends on the personality of the learner where one will jump in with what they've learned, therefore setting in motion more practical learning 'in the field', whereas others will remain trapped in the cycle of 'the man eats sugar' and feel like they are learning absolutely nothing.

Personally I'd say that after the honeymoon period on Duolingo (which is short) you can quickly get bogged-down in repetitious exercises involving sentences which are practically useless and ambiguous; and I have no time for those claiming 'but it's just for the purposes of teaching such-and-such'. No, in the beginning stages all content needs to be crystal clear and useful with a defined goal or you are making life hard for yourself. Duolingo does, however, have good points like having you learn the grammar through usage rather than foisting it upon you in a formal way.

It's changed a lot since it first came out. Previously they didn't hammer the sentences so hard and, as most know, they didn't have those appalling things like the 'gems' leaderboard or cartoons popping up every two seconds. The Esperanto courses on there seem to me the only ones where the people who made them have a complete understanding of thelanguage. Many of the others contain errors and they never get fixed. I go back periodically, but it falls off again. What I like to use it for is doing English (or another language) through the medium of a target language to see how far I can go.
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mokibao
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby mokibao » Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:04 am

Le Baron wrote:In the forums at Duolingo you get people who claim to have been through a course and then to have gone to a country where that target language is spoken and used it effectively. They then praise Duolingo to heaven and end up pinned to the top of the forums. I'm generally sceptical of this, but since people learn differently and have differing rates of success who am I to say otherwise?


I've said it in another post but after finishing the tree I could basically have (not pretty) conversations in Spanish with native speaker friends and such. The catch is that I already speak French, so it's really not that big an accomplishment. I have since then let my meager 'skills' lie in fallow for a while so I could focus on other languages that grew into having a bigger importance in my life, but I guess I can still read 95+% of everything. (Again, the fact that French speakers are already 80-90% on the way there makes the feat much less impressive than it looks like at first glance.)

It's changed a lot since it first came out. Previously they didn't hammer the sentences so hard and, as most know, they didn't have those appalling things like the 'gems' leaderboard or cartoons popping up every two seconds.


Yeah, they are obsessed with user retention and will A/B test the shit out of everything they can so as to retain 1.7% more users or something. Every single piece of interface you see, from the annoying cartoons to the passive-aggressive notifications, was meticulously honed to attract and keep as many users as possible in the hope that a fraction of them will pay $19.99 a month to not make the green bird sad. They also have to keep a balance between 'not scaring people out with that icky gr*mmar' and 'actually teaching something'. I think you can get by with it for languages that are close to each other, because pretty much anything would work. I am much more skeptical, and would indeed be shocked, that someone would complete the tree in a more distant language (not even Arabic or Japanese, Russian or even German would surprise me) and get by in their target country without any auxiliary resource.
Last edited by mokibao on Fri Apr 09, 2021 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby IronMike » Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:39 am

Le Baron wrote:In the forums at Duolingo you get people who claim to have been through a course and then to have gone to a country where that target language is spoken and used it effectively. They then praise Duolingo to heaven and end up pinned to the top of the forums. I'm generally skeptical of this, but since people learn differently and have differing rates of success who am I to say otherwise?

I'm not in a hurry to go to Duolingo forums to find the answer to this, so that's my caveat. I also don't expect you to do it for me, but just in case you've already done it, I'm going to ask: Anyone in the Duolingo forums admit to having completed the Duolingo tree then taking a language test and scoring well (B2, C1)?

That, then, would sell me on the Duolingo tree.
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You're not a C1 (or B1 or whatever) if you haven't tested.

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Le Baron
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby Le Baron » Thu Mar 18, 2021 3:18 pm

IronMike wrote:I'm not in a hurry to go to Duolingo forums to find the answer to this, so that's my caveat. I also don't expect you to do it for me, but just in case you've already done it, I'm going to ask: Anyone in the Duolingo forums admit to having completed the Duolingo tree then taking a language test and scoring well (B2, C1)?

That, then, would sell me on the Duolingo tree.


I've seen one or two make the claim of B1-B2 test success, but on further questioning it turns out they've doing other things alongside Duolingo. They also tend to be false beginners who have done courses in the past, or already speak a related language. There was one kid highlighted who lives in a Middle-Eastern country. He had used Duolingo to learn either French or English and achieved "a qualification" from an exam, but there's no video or audio evidence to assess, so who knows?

I take the claims with a large pinch of salt.
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby MrsStarez » Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:17 pm

I’m up to a 68 day “streak” on Duolingo, (having nearly lost that thanks to the clocks changing in the UK).

I’m not under any illusions that this will get me a B1 or a B2 in Italian, and the repetition is extremely irritating (it took me forever to get past one level as I just couldn’t remember how to spell “spoon”).

Having said that, I do think it has its merits: I know how to form sentences, I can conjugate regular verbs and I’m getting better at recognising words in small bits of written Italian.

I can’t see that I’ll be doing this forever, and I should move on to something else, but it’s something I can do whilst cooking (cucino la pasta, l’acqua bolle!), and that alone is something that’s making it work for me, more than I’d be able to do with a book or something which requires more focus.
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Beli Tsar
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby Beli Tsar » Sat Apr 10, 2021 1:14 pm

Le Baron wrote:
IronMike wrote:I'm not in a hurry to go to Duolingo forums to find the answer to this, so that's my caveat. I also don't expect you to do it for me, but just in case you've already done it, I'm going to ask: Anyone in the Duolingo forums admit to having completed the Duolingo tree then taking a language test and scoring well (B2, C1)?

That, then, would sell me on the Duolingo tree.


I've seen one or two make the claim of B1-B2 test success, but on further questioning it turns out they've doing other things alongside Duolingo. They also tend to be false beginners who have done courses in the past, or already speak a related language. There was one kid highlighted who lives in a Middle-Eastern country. He had used Duolingo to learn either French or English and achieved "a qualification" from an exam, but there's no video or audio evidence to assess, so who knows?

I take the claims with a large pinch of salt.

From recent browsing, a lot of the claims seem a lot more sensible - along the lines of 'this got me started, I was able to use some native media and do a bit more work with other resources, so it was a really helpful start to my language learning'. And those posts are getting upvotes, so a more rounded, sensible view is not too unusual on the Duo forums.

Certainly there are a solid number of people who are clearly very new to language learning, get a decent distance, and are able to go from there.

B1? That's a different matter, but then how many can score B1 after Assimil, which makes similar claims?
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Le Baron
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Posts: 199
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: Pays-Bas
Languages: English (N), Dutch, French, German, Esperanto (a very worthy language). Studying: Spanish, Swahili, rather slowly, but surely. Also Sranantongo in the past with my wife, but it has lapsed.
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Re: Duolingo - quick question

Postby Le Baron » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:12 am

MrsStarez wrote:I’m up to a 68 day “streak” on Duolingo, (having nearly lost that thanks to the clocks changing in the UK).

I’m not under any illusions that this will get me a B1 or a B2 in Italian, and the repetition is extremely irritating (it took me forever to get past one level as I just couldn’t remember how to spell “spoon”).

Having said that, I do think it has its merits: I know how to form sentences, I can conjugate regular verbs and I’m getting better at recognising words in small bits of written Italian.

I can’t see that I’ll be doing this forever, and I should move on to something else, but it’s something I can do whilst cooking (cucino la pasta, l’acqua bolle!), and that alone is something that’s making it work for me, more than I’d be able to do with a book or something which requires more focus.


I agree that it's useful and also feels effortless. The thing for me with Duolingo is that I feel a lot of time is wasted getting through levels to unlock more useful ones (which are again repeated to death until you just want to die yourself). You can test out of levels, but if you make a couple of tiny mistakes it just won't allow you to. At the end of a section within a module it always claims 'now you'll get harder learning content', but then just presents you with exactly the same content! I'm sure it's because they take the repeat...repeat approach, but still.

In general it's the presentation that is attractive and that you only have to just start interactively learning what is provided. However doing the first two chapters of a regular course will probably provide the same information in a shorter time. Perhaps the Duolingo experience of repeating it again and again makes it sink in? I don't know.
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