Do you like Duolingo?

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Bluepaint
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Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Bluepaint » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:44 pm

...do you? I used it a few years ago and thought it was fine despite its flaws. Then it started pushing all those amulets and challenges so I deleted it.
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DaveAgain
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby DaveAgain » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:29 pm

Bluepaint wrote:...do you? I used it a few years ago and thought it was fine despite its flaws. Then it started pushing all those amulets and challenges so I deleted it.
I'm using Duolingo for German, and I do like it. I think what I mostly like is that it's very easy to make it a daily habit. But it's not the only thing I use.

1. Duolingo course (I take each skill level up to one crown. I just want an idea of how the language works, and some vocabulary). There are forum-thread links from every exercise which I like.
2. I also use Duolingo stories. These are only availble for a limited number of languages. It's a scene, with audio and dictionary look-ups by hovering your mouse pointer. I'm looking up practically every word in these at the moment.
3. TV. I watch a sitcom after my Duolingo-ing. I understand very little of the dialogue, just a few words here and there.
4. I've started reading a book (one I read in english as a child). No dictionary lookups here, I'm just looking for gist-level understanding.
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:37 pm

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Cèid Donn
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Cèid Donn » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:05 pm

I'm new here and I don't know how this community feels about necro-posting, so I will put my comments here rather than in the older thread linked above.

Do I like Duolingo? LOL. Oh boy. Well, I'm a long-time Duolingo user and there's a lot I have to say about Duolingo, both the company and the platform. But I'll spare everyone the lengthy dissertation and just give you a short-ish break-down of my opinion of the Duolingo platform:

1. It is best used as a supplement. It is too limited in scope--in teaching vocabulary and grammar and for preparing learners for practical language use--to be a primary learning resource. Myself, I use Duolingo to get daily exposure to my target languages, to practice fast recall and to elevate boredom or frustration in the long journey of learning a language.

2. Its gamification aspects do well for a little sense of accomplishment and a more tangible sense of actually achieving something with your time and effort, which makes it tempting to indulge in too much at times, but I don't think that's a bad thing as long as you are aware that you should use more comprehensive resources outside of Duolingo as well.

3. The quality of courses vary a lot. I have recently completed the Welsh and Indonesian courses, and while I recommend both, the Welsh course is definitely a better course than most Duolingo courses because its contributors based it on adult learning materials that had already been in use and thus a proven method and it has a couple of highly knowledge contributors who have posted a lot of useful information in the Welsh subforum to help learners. The Indonesian course, by comparison, took about 4 years to complete and one reason it took so long is the contributors struggled to find enough resources to create a course for English speakers to fit with Duolingo's platform. And as you probably expect, it's very rough around the edges with a lot of awkward English translations and incomplete grammar explanations. But compared to some other Duolingo courses, it is still among the better courses there in my opinion. After completing that course, I got to B1 level on Glossika's audio-only placement test for their Indonesian course, which was better than I expected. On the other end of the quality spectrum, I find the Japanese course to be a complete mess and extremely trying for anyone who hasn't previously studied Japanese via a more structured method, and the Irish course, which I have completed and reviewed multiple times, is plagued with a variety of issues, which has caused a lot of confusion and frustration among users, and currently is not being maintained by any contributors (it seems the original team have long left Duolingo and the current team is only working on a completely new course to replace the current one). So if you are trying out a Duolingo course and it seem bad to you, it is entirely likely that it's not just you.

4. Majority opinion among users seems to be that the desktop version of Duolingo is much better than either of the current apps. I don't have a device that can support either app, so I personally can't say. I did use the Kindle app for a time while it was still working and I ended up going back to only using the desktop version, as it was simply easier to use as well as a bit more rigorous in getting me to really think and recall in my target language. Much of the feedback regarding the iOS and Android apps that I have read seems to be in the same vein as my experience with the now-dead Kindle app.
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Morgana » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:26 pm

I don't like Duolingo, but I don't like gamification in general.

When I started learning Swedish, I used the Duolingo tree along with the Memrise course made specifically for the Duolingo course. I completed the entire tree in less than four months by doing three new lessons everyday, usually 3+ times over, as well as using the "Practice Skills" (or whatever it was called back then) feature 10+ times everyday. I exclusively used the desktop version. It was basically SRS on steroids for four months. It was quite effective for what it was, but I started hating it very passionately about six weeks in.

The Duolingo courses are limited in what they teach, that's probably obvious to everyone. I'm still glad I started with it. I don't think it hurt me much (if at all) that it plus Memrise were my only sources of input/output for the first four months of my learning. I still have a certain nostalgia when I hear Astrid's "voice." The important thing, though, was that I completed the course in a set time frame and then moved on to more comprehensive materials.

Alternatively, as mentioned by others, using Duolingo as a support and not a primary resource is probably ideal.

I haven't used it since they changed everything and turned skills into crowns or whatever, and have no plans to.
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby devilyoudont » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:43 pm

I think duolingo and duolingo-like apps get a bad wrap because people generally speaking don't have the right expectations for it.

What duolingo/duolingo-like apps are good for:
-Creating a daily habit of language learning
-Getting an A1 foundation at no cost
-Vocabulary drills at that level.

These apps are not:
-A complete course
-A path to fluency

Still, I think it's a very good way to start out.

My experience is that 9 out of 10 people will wind up quitting before they reach a level of A1 in all language self study. I think there's a lot of reasons for this, but that's beyond the scope of this post. Anyway, given the high rate of attrition among language learners, a method that helps with building the habit of studying is a huge plus. And then, that it's free means that it's not a huge loss if/when a learner decides they'd rather not be studying a language.

Edit to add: there is a huge variety in the quality of the courses, but there's also a large quantity of duolingo-like apps that sometimes have a better course. The Japanese duolingo course is really bad, but you can get the same kind of benefits using the much better course on a similar app called Lingodeer.
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Soclydeza » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:36 pm

I think, as seasoned language nerds, we all tend to look at Duolingo in relation to every other program/method that we've used, which makes us very critical of it since it is somewhat basic in use in comparison to, say, Assimil or FSI. In the broader scheme, I think the most valuable aspect of it is the accessibility to non-language nerds in getting them started and excited about learning a language. For example: after a recent trip to Italy, my fiancee stated that she wanted to learn some Italian (she is not a linguaphile like me). If I had given her my grammar books and a copy of Assimil Italian to start out, no doubt she would've been scared off. But I mentioned Duolingo to her and she is now on a 30+ day streak with it because she enjoys it and she is more excited about the Italian language in general. Duolingo definitely won't get her to fluency but now (or in the near future), if I give her my Assimil and Italian grammar books, she is much more likely to take it seriously. So this is where I think Duolingo really shines, it reaches an audience that otherwise more hardcore programs/methods would scare off.

As for my own experience: I used it a bit as a supplement when my German was in its infancy, I completed the whole French tree and am currently using it as a light-weight way to dabble with Norwegian. I think it can be used either as a way to dip your toes in language before spending money on other programs for serious study (since doing Duo Norwegian, I am much more likely to pursue it more deeply in the future since I've been introduced to it a bit) or as a supplement alongside a more hardcore language program in the journey through the A1/A2 stages. Plus it's free. Even if it required a $5 or maybe even $10/month subscription, I wouldn't mind paying for my own use. But going back to my previous point: the fact that it's free and accessibly makes a great stepping stone for a non-language-nerd into more serious study.

In short: yes, I like it.
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby desitrader » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:58 pm

Duolingo is very useful when you are a bit depressed and need a good laugh. Where else would you find phrases like "The snail chewed the whale's helicopter"?
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Cavesa
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Cavesa » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:35 pm

I agree that one needs to approach it with the right expectations, devilyoudont is right.

A few more things have a role in my answer: the quality of the courses varies a lot. The German one is really good, but I wouldn't recommend much those for the romance languages.

And what parts of Duolingo are we talking about?
I am more and more convinced that the best apps succeed because they do one thing, and they do it right. Duolingo should focus on the one thing, making better and better courses, in my opinion. Instead, they branch out to lots of other activities like a graded reader, and a meet up service or something like that. I don't use or like those at all.

Nobody can deny that Duolingo has played a positive role in the development of the online tools for the learners. Many better products and services wouldn't probably emerge, if it wasn't for the masses of people suddenly demanding them. And the opportunity to try a language out for free at first is awesome. It has really been breaking some of the stereotypes.

The problem is the stagnation and lack of honesty. They don't present the realistic expectations one should have, the forums are a bad place for a newbie to draw information from, and the marketing intensity is not too pleasant. They seem to be focusing on everything except the courses themselves now, and on the ways to best assist the course creators.

I cannot say I dislike it overall. But I certainly dislike some aspects of it and I dislike that some better services don't get enough attention due to Duolingo (for example the rushed release of the asian languages on Duolingo to prevent people from looking for Lingodeer definitely affected the quality. The strategy is really clear here and it is a shame, Lingodeer deserved to get this segment of the market at that point much more).
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Deinonysus
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Re: Do you like Duolingo?

Postby Deinonysus » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:19 pm

I will agree with previous posters that Duolingo is misunderstood. I will disagree that it's only for beginners.

It's easy to come to the conclusion that it's only for beginners, because if Duolingo is your only resource you will probably not be able to hold a conversation, read a novel or complicated newspaper article, or listen to a podcast or radio program... at least not without a lot of practice. So the logical conclusion is that Duolingo is only a beginner resources.

However, I would disagree. It does depend on the language – most European languages are fine, especially the big ones, and I think Indonesian is excellent for Beta, but like other posters I've heard negative things about most other Asian language courses, and I can personally say that the Swahili course is hot garbage – but for the languages with good courses, Duolingo is the single best sentence writing driller on the market, and it's free.

And it can still be very helpful to intermediate or even advanced learners. I'm not quite fluent with French or German yet, but I can definitely get by in them. I recently revisited Duolingo for these languages, and I'm finding that although I'm reasonably advanced with these languages, it's still catching a lot of basic grammatical errors. And it does cover advanced subjects. If memory serves, Duolingo covers all of the moods in French, including subjunctive, although it isn't exhaustive.

That said, if you only use Duolingo, you will probably have a good idea of how to write a grammatically correct sentence without errors, but you will have very little training in the other aspects of language learning: reading and writing longer passages, listening comprehension, and speaking ability. And you will still be missing a lot of vocabulary.

You could level similar criticisms against Pimsleur, because like Duolingo, it's more of an extensive set of drills than a full language course that teaches every single skill evenly (if such a course even exists). You will speak well (at least in short sentences), but you'll need other resources to help you with the other skills.

Even the beloved Assimil doesn't teach a full skill set. It's great practice for reading paragraph-length passages, pretty good for listening comprehension, okay for speaking, and doesn't really do anything for writing. That's why I think Pimsleur and Duolingo are good supplements for it.

I agree with Cèid Donn that Desktop is probably the best general experience for Duolingo. They're always experimenting with weird stuff on the mobile app, and I don't think you can access the grammar explanations. That's why I usually use a web browser for Duolingo on my phone.
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