How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby ryanheise » Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:41 pm

Saim wrote:It may be a slight exaggeration but I'm not aware of any serious defense of Duolingo that doesn't implicitly recognise it's not very good.


"Defence" is a very apt word to describe the situation :-)

P.S. I'm convinced you're right about their claim on the Irish course numbers being wrong, or at least being worded in a misleading way. Even though we don't have the actual numbers, it is clear from this post that Duolingo previously counted the number of learners simply as the number of people who had signed up to the course, and Luis probably just quoted this number:

Before, we counted and displayed all registered users in each course. Now we will only be showing active learners in each course in the last year—a much more accurate measure of current usage. (Did I read that last sentence right?)
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:04 pm

https://www.reddit.com/r/learnspanish/c ... _18_weeks/

Here is a very recent success story from reddit. You may notice the subject implies "duo is great and helped me a lot". If you read it, you'll find a success story of somebody with very good results after 18 weeks. Just one catch: they got those results because they were NOT using Duo the way it is supposed to be used. They used tons of other resources (LT,grammar book,Madrigal,...), tons of Anki. They also turned off all the social functions of Duo, and they expanded on how to use it by copying everything interesting and working on it outside of the website (including copying stuff that Duo insists on despite there being alternatives. the example being esa/esta difference, which really can be unclear without more context than the one sentence).

Every success story with Duo that I've ever seen was like this. Isn't it a bit weird, that the only way to profit from using this tool is to actually use everything else as if you weren't even using Duo? It's like the fairy tale about the stone soup. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Soup Yes, the stone (=Duo) soup can be delicious, if you also add in tons of potatoes, carrot, muschrooms, some meat, and a bit of salt. If you don't put in the stone, you are not missing out on anything.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby tangleweeds » Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:00 am

Cainntear wrote:10 years ago, we were all moaning about Rosetta Stone, and people kept saying "If you don't like it, don't use it! No problem!" But RS dominated public discourse about language at the time. It kept getting uncritical reviews in the newspapers -- free publicity. They spammed you at airports. They followed you around the internet, stalking you in bright yellow in targeted ads. As soon as you talked about language learning to friends or family, someone would ask "Have you tried Rosetta Stone?" and you'd be forced into a polite description of why it's utter trash.

Why don't we constantly gripe about RS here the same way we did on HTLAL? Has Rosetta Stone as a language-learning regotten less godawful? Only marginally. The big difference is just that it's no longer the big thing. What has eclipsed the bright yellow sun? A big green owl.

Is Duolingo worse than Rosetta Stone? Absolutely not. But it is vastly more influential than Rosetta Stone ever was.

I think we can improve this trainwreck of a thread by melding our current loathing of Duolingo with our historical hatred of Rosetta Stone.

Are their badnesses complimentary? Do you think it would help our theoretical dilettante to use both at once, or would that cause them to forget more language than they had ever known in the first place? (I'd been wondering where this aphasia was coming from...) Sarcasm aside, I'm losing too much time contemplating what profile of learning deficit might result might come via combining our two least effective learning strategies. What do you think?

Also related to the quote above, I find the recent significant price drops for Rosetta Stone interesting in light of the big green owl's eclipse of the bright yellow sun.

Yet we still have this issue:
Beli Tsar wrote:The reality is that there's a proliferation of great apps that are good bits of a language-learning toolkit. But they are terrible if you think that they can do the job on their own. And many of them not only advertise but price as if they could! Glossika, LingQ, all of them offer prices that are realistic if they are your main source of language learning, but unrealistic if you realise that the learning they offer isn't that different to a fat textbook.

This is what bugs me--I understand why companies might embrace a subscription model, but they are either deluded that they're one of the only subscriptions I have going (snort, choke) or because their software engineer salaries give them a very unrealistic idea of what an ordinary person can afford to pay, given that one is also bleeding money to everything from Spotify/Youtube/Netflix/Hulu/Prime through all the other apps a real-world language learner might want to employ.

Full disclosure: perhaps as a result of too much brain injury rehab via electronics, these days I find language learning via app to be more comfortable than working from paper (it doesn't glow or talk!). Knowing this, a friend bought me Rosetta on the current discount, and I enjoy clicking on the pretty pictures when I'm sleep deprived or it's 100F/38C out. I agree that that stupid green Duo creature pops out to interrupt/congratulate me far too often for achieving disturbingly little, but I still play with Duolingo too upon occasion, though mostly so I can respond to comments here, and it's definitely far more vexing and useless than it used to be when I actually enjoyed using it.

But I tend to blame that on the pathetic state of education in the US--students seem to have zero motivation to learn and thus no experience at what it feels like to do so ("Ouch, effort hurts!"). My friends teaching at universities (studied at a selective pre-PHD-prep-mill SLAC) continually bemoan how unprepared their students are to be in higher education at all (though that no doubt also reflects the infamous academic rigor of our shared SLAC experience) [SLAC=Small Liberal Arts College, for those not hip to higher ed jargon]

And of course, being so app-happy, there a lot of other apps I use more often and far more effectively than either Duo or Rosetta.

[Apologies for the previous garbage posts, now removed. I was having a browser malfunciton where every attempt to edit created quoted reposts instead] [also edited for clarification]
Last edited by tangleweeds on Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby ryanheise » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:18 am

This has been only my second time participating in a discussion about Duolingo. In both cases, the thread wasn't originally about Duolingo, but someone merely mentioned the word, and this happened :)

I was really curious to understand this phenomenon, so I decided to go back and read ALL forum posts mentioning Duolingo. I'm only around 4% of the way through through the 5000 posts (that's around 185 posts), but so far I have also noticed a few things:

1. It's predominantly the same people participating each time.
2. Often a thread doesn't start out about Duolingo, but it turns into one via a controversial opinion that others want to disagree with.
3. It's predominantly the same people again involved in (2).
4. There are far more users happily using Duolingo on this forum and writing about it than there are people criticising it, but the vast majority of those users do not participate in these critical discussions and try to defend the criticism.

After I'm done reading through these historical posts, I'm pretty sure I'll feel like I'll never need to participate in another Duolingo discussion ever again, because the arguments do mostly seem to repeat. That's not a criticism of people who want to do that. Maybe it's enjoyable for the participants, and there could be many different reasons for wanting to do it, including educating new forum members or even as therapeutic venting! In terms of influencing or persuading, I haven't seen much evidence so far that these conversations do that, and I think that is because the abundance of negativity in these debates makes it easy for cross talking to occur (this is when Person A and Person B are arguing but they're actually talking about completely different points, or care about different things, and they are not acknowledging each other's points before relating it to their own answers. Without realising it, I may have even done it myself in my first post to this topic.)

It's unfortunate because I think there's a lot of new ground we could potentially discuss about the efficacy of Duolingo or whether its funded research is bunk, but the way in which we are currently discussing this tends not to cover new ground. That could be because of cross talking, or it could be because too many different issues are being mixed together into the same debate (e.g. we struggle to answer the question of Duolingo's usefulness as a product separately from its marketing promises because we see them as connected, but that starves us of another discussion we could be having about the usefulness alone. Any discussion seems to inevitably turn into a mix of all issues all at once and doesn't end up covering new ground.)

For example, I would like to see a discussion "just" about picking apart one of the papers on Duolingo's research page, and without bringing into that debate the issue of how the PR department is using that research. I also think finding flaws in the research would be more interesting than pointing out that it was funded by Duolingo. These papers were at least published in respected scientific peer-reviewed journals which entails an independent selection process. Regardless of who funded them, they still contain ideas that should be judged on their own merits.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cainntear » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:49 am

As promised, I've set out my views more thoroughly, and I've done so in a new thread to avoid continuing the domination of this thread.

What I'm going to say in this thread won't even attempt to undo the thread drift that has occurred so far, though. ;-)
tangleweeds wrote:I think we can improve this trainwreck of a thread by melding our current loathing of Duolingo with our historical hatred of Rosetta Stone.

Are their badnesses complimentary? Do you think it would help our theoretical dilettante to use both at once, or would that cause them to forget more language than they had ever known in the first place? (I'd been wondering where this aphasia was coming from...) Sarcasm aside, I'm losing too much time contemplating what profile of learning deficit might result might come via combining our two least effective learning strategies. What do you think?

I'll start with an analogy:

Personal trainer A recommends wearing a 5 kg on a weighted belt when going for a walk.
Personal trainer B recommends wearing 2.5 kg weights on each ankle.
Personal trainer C recommends 2.5 kg wrist weights.
Personal trainer D recommends a 5 kg backpack.
Personal trainer E recommends carrying a 2.5 kg kettle bell in each hand.

If you follow everyone's recommendations, you're following no-one's recommendations, as you've just loaded yourself with a staggering 25 kg of extra weight, when they each only recommended carrying an extra 5 kg.

Of course it's different in language, because cause and effect isn't so clear and straightforward, but we still have limited mental resources, and different tasks present a different cognitive load. A genuinely good course will be planned and paced to avoid confusion and reduce the cognitive load on the learner. There are many ways to do this which might be similarly effective independently, but might interfere with each other.

For example, I remember reading a suggestion that teaching counting early on was a massive mistake, in that numbers evolve for extreme difference, so you end up introducing a lot of problematic new phonemes in one go. This was discussing Spanish in particular, and proposed that instead of 1,2,3,4... you start with "un" as the article, then introduce "diez" next, and "cien" after, because diez and cien share 2 out 3 phonemes -- the z/c consonant and the ie diphthong. If you use one resource that does and one that doesn't follow that principle, you're going to overall be introduced to all the phonemes at once anyway, despite the goals of the first course/teacher/resource.

Michel Thomas uses a non-traditional order of teaching verb conjugations, introducing endings person-by-person and possibly not even fully covering the present before introducing another tense (not sure -- I can't recall correctly). He reduces the work on your memory by having you only practicing one new thing at a time, rather than 6 or 7. If you use a resource in parallel that does introduce entire tenses in a oner, then you're going to be thinking about the whole paradigm when you're doing the MT course, not just the words that MT teaches.

If you eliminate the benefit of the reduced cognitive load, then suddenly both strategies above lose most of their benefit, because now you're suffering under the cognitive load, and by practicing part of the knowledge without the other part, you're not actually resolving the cognitive load, because now you're also fighting harder to remember the bit you're not practicing.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby tangleweeds » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:17 pm

Cainntear wrote:
tangleweeds wrote:I think we can improve this trainwreck of a thread by melding our current loathing of Duolingo with our historical hatred of Rosetta Stone.

Are their badnesses complimentary? Do you think it would help our theoretical dilettante to use both at once, or would that cause them to forget more language than they had ever known in the first place? (I'd been wondering where this aphasia was coming from...) Sarcasm aside, I'm losing too much time contemplating what profile of learning deficit might result might come via combining our two least effective learning strategies. What do you think?
[snip]
we still have limited mental resources, and different tasks present a different cognitive load. A genuinely good course will be planned and paced to avoid confusion and reduce the cognitive load on the learner. There are many ways to do this which might be similarly effective independently, but might interfere with each other.
[snip]
If you eliminate the benefit of the reduced cognitive load, then suddenly both strategies above lose most of their benefit, because now you're suffering under the cognitive load, and by practicing part of the knowledge without the other part, you're not actually resolving the cognitive load, because now you're also fighting harder to remember the bit you're not practicing.
Thanks for the actual serious answer to my only partially facetious question. This is a very good point, and something I don't necessarily notice in my use of apps, as I'm a false beginner in everything but Norwegian, so it's really more a matter of reawakening knowledge that's gotten a little buried, rather than trying to introduce new information that might confuse me.

Personal Digression (because how much further off topic can we get at this point???):
Even when I'm working on a fresh language, I'm a super non-standard learner, and what works for others drives me mad. As a former student of linguistics, there are loads of standard explanations I don't need, plus I have a pre-existing meta-structural understanding in which to slot new info far more swiftly and effectively than a normal beginner.

Plus I'm a (very) big picture learner, so I generally need to approach any subject from several divergent perspectives. I learn a lot faster than the average student given sufficient information to assemble my big picture, but actually become slower than average (not to mention frustrated and unhappy) if deprived of it. At university, I usually bought 2-3 extra textbooks for classes I was studying (cheap, used), to get these differing perspectives, as each filled in some gaps that the others left gaping.

My bête noire in learning anything ever has been the phrase "You don't need to know that yet" (and worse yet, "It will only confuse you"), because as a (very) big picture learner, I actually do need to know these things, as the so called "attention residue" of the accumulation unanswered questions actually increase my cognitive load to unmanageable proportions. So I tend to thrive on combining several pedagogical resources at once.

So I honestly would never have though of what you point out here, as my cognitive load problems work entirely differently. So thanks for taking my semi-facetious question seriously!
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cainntear » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:20 pm

tangleweeds wrote:My bête noire in learning anything ever has been the phrase "You don't need to know that yet" (and worse yet, "It will only confuse you"), because as a (very) big picture learner, I actually do need to know these things, as the so called "attention residue" of the accumulation unanswered questions actually increase my cognitive load to unmanageable proportions. So I tend to thrive on combining several pedagogical resources at once.

Oh yes, I completely get that. The greatest skill a teacher can have is to captivate the student in the current material so that they're not distracted by tangential points. The second greatest skill is to be able to answer all of those tangents and satisfy the questions! ;-)

When I started learning Scottish Gaelic, I got a book called something like "An Introduction to Scottish Gaelic" (the latest edition is called Scottish Gaelic: an introduction to the basics). It's a pretty unique little book in that it goes over the main grammatical and phonological idiosyncrasies of the language with no attempt to actually teach anything. It's very much a matter of get the big picture now and then worry about the fine details when you actually study them. It was a very interesting approach, and it's something I find myself naturally replicating because I'm always full of questions otherwise.

I think this is perhaps one of the things I liked most about Michel Thomas without really being too aware of it at the time. I was very much absorbed in the current material, and I wasn't really thinking much about anything else. For someone whose brain is usually trying to distract itself in 5 different ways at any one time, that sort of focus is pure meditation.
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby tangleweeds » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:50 pm

ryanheise wrote:This has been only my second time participating in a discussion about Duolingo. In both cases, the thread wasn't originally about Duolingo, but someone merely mentioned the word, and this happened :)

I was really curious to understand this phenomenon, so I decided to go back and read ALL forum posts mentioning Duolingo. I'm only around 4% of the way through through the 5000 posts (that's around 185 posts), but so far I have also noticed a few things:

1. It's predominantly the same people participating each time.
2. Often a thread doesn't start out about Duolingo, but it turns into one via a controversial opinion that others want to disagree with.
3. It's predominantly the same people again involved in (2).
4. There are far more users happily using Duolingo on this forum and writing about it than there are people criticising it, but the vast majority of those users do not participate in these critical discussions and try to defend the criticism.

After I'm done reading through these historical posts, I'm pretty sure I'll feel like I'll never need to participate in another Duolingo discussion ever again, because the arguments do mostly seem to repeat. That's not a criticism of people who want to do that. Maybe it's enjoyable for the participants, and there could be many different reasons for wanting to do it, including educating new forum members or even as therapeutic venting! In terms of influencing or persuading, I haven't seen much evidence so far that these conversations do that, and I think that is because the abundance of negativity in these debates makes it easy for cross talking to occur (this is when Person A and Person B are arguing but they're actually talking about completely different points, or care about different things, and they are not acknowledging each other's points before relating it to their own answers. Without realising it, I may have even done it myself in my first post to this topic.).

Excellent points, I'm not only glad someone else shares the obsessive nature that tempts me down similarly curious rabbit holes, but also like these observations. For our silent majority out there using Duo happily and successfully, what about it works so well for you? Today I was noticing how many Youtubers mention how its effortlessness was their slippery slope into language learning. I'm also curious, as with the Reddit post referenced somewhere above, you combine Duo with other resources, and if so, which? Other device or web apps, or old-school book/recording resources?

I've actually used Duo a lot for Irish, for the grammar drilling in particular, and found that track significantly less vexing than the (notoriously bad) Japanese track I've been checking out of late (but the Irish one wasn't Pearson-built, rignt? Yet there are several Irish user decks on Memrise that I think are far more effective programs--the automated Buntús Cainte is stellar! I also appreciate the deck automating the freeware workbook that Nancy Stenson made for Learning Irish, which I find more convenient to use than the web version. There are also Memrise decks ones for most other textbooks anyone here might use, plus of course the many very official tests of Irish that actual Irish students of Irish must needs navigate their way through but those, as may be expected, are very, very dry.

Now, Duolingo Japanese, it's notoriously awful, but what specifically is so bad about it? I can't put my finger on it. All I know is that I'm absolutely unable to learn any vocabulary from it, unless I end up falling into the standard trap of replicating Duo within Anki so I can actually remember it--of course such a deck is already available, though shifts to the Duo course aren't generally reflected in the downloadable deck, so effortless becomes ever less effortless.

Japanese is another one where I think Memrise wins out over Duolingo, as their official Japanse course is a nice counterbalance to many others out there, focusing more on casual usage in everyday life. Plus of course they're in a position to optimize use of their drilling capabilities, which once upon a time were well ahead of the pack, though now everyone copies everyone else's best ideas so assiduously that I can often forget which app I'm in the midst of using.

But I've got to say that as far as Japanese goes, and even beyond, Lingodeer has been the most effective langage learning app I've ever used. But I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why it works so very well for me.

ryanheise wrote:It's unfortunate because I think there's a lot of new ground we could potentially discuss about the efficacy of Duolingo or whether its funded research is bunk, but the way in which we are currently discussing this tends not to cover new ground. That could be because of cross talking, or it could be because too many different issues are being mixed together into the same debate (e.g. we struggle to answer the question of Duolingo's usefulness as a product separately from its marketing promises because we see them as connected, but that starves us of another discussion we could be having about the usefulness alone. Any discussion seems to inevitably turn into a mix of all issues all at once and doesn't end up covering new ground.)

For example, I would like to see a discussion "just" about picking apart one of the papers on Duolingo's research page, and without bringing into that debate the issue of how the PR department is using that research. I also think finding flaws in the research would be more interesting than pointing out that it was funded by Duolingo. These papers were at least published in respected scientific peer-reviewed journals which entails an independent selection process. Regardless of who funded them, they still contain ideas that should be judged on their own merits.

This is actually a great idea! Anyone want to take a look? Here's the Duolingo Research site:
https://research.duolingo.com

Also, thank you Cèid Donn for all the behind-the-scenes dirt on the Duolingo Pearson partnership. That was fascinating, as I was out of the loop when it all went down.

And in parting, The Atlantic has been here before us:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/language-apps-duolingo/573919/
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Adrianslont » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:23 am

ryanheise wrote:This has been only my second time participating in a discussion about Duolingo. In both cases, the thread wasn't originally about Duolingo, but someone merely mentioned the word, and this happened :)

I was really curious to understand this phenomenon, so I decided to go back and read ALL forum posts mentioning Duolingo. I'm only around 4% of the way through through the 5000 posts (that's around 185 posts), but so far I have also noticed a few things:

1. It's predominantly the same people participating each time.
2. Often a thread doesn't start out about Duolingo, but it turns into one via a controversial opinion that others want to disagree with.
3. It's predominantly the same people again involved in (2).
4. There are far more users happily using Duolingo on this forum and writing about it than there are people criticising it, but the vast majority of those users do not participate in these critical discussions and try to defend the criticism.

After I'm done reading through these historical posts, I'm pretty sure I'll feel like I'll never need to participate in another Duolingo discussion ever again, because the arguments do mostly seem to repeat.

...

It's unfortunate because I think there's a lot of new ground we could potentially discuss about the efficacy of Duolingo or whether its funded research is bunk, but the way in which we are currently discussing this tends not to cover new ground.


It is of course up to you but I would stop there while you still have your sanity, Ryan.

I like to look at data myself but a quick and dirty look can be useful enough - you have have discovered the/a/some pattern(s) in the discussion.

Five thousand posts is a lot to get through - and I find it deeply ironic that so many have been made by a member who was complaining that duolingo posts are everywhere these days.

I tried duolingo maybe five years ago and thought that it wasn’t for me - this discussion is actually enticing me to have another look!
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Re: How long do bloggers think lockdowns last?

Postby Cainntear » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:12 am

tangleweeds wrote:
ryanheise wrote:For example, I would like to see a discussion "just" about picking apart one of the papers on Duolingo's research page, and without bringing into that debate the issue of how the PR department is using that research. I also think finding flaws in the research would be more interesting than pointing out that it was funded by Duolingo. These papers were at least published in respected scientific peer-reviewed journals which entails an independent selection process. Regardless of who funded them, they still contain ideas that should be judged on their own merits.

This is actually a great idea! Anyone want to take a look? Here's the Duolingo Research site:
https://research.duolingo.com

Thank you, clearly they've done more research than I was aware of. I can understand why I wasn't aware of the 2019/2020 stuff, but I don't know why I wasn't aware of the 2016 stuff, given that I was actively searching for material on Duolingo when i wrote my masters dissertations in the summers of 2017 and 2019.

I will look at these at some point, but I'm on a short-term full-time teaching contract at the moment, so won't be doing any heavy reading before the exams.

Previously, the only research I was aware of was the effectiveness study claiming X hours of Duolingo was equivalent to a semester of undergraduate language study (my browser's currently raising a security error when I try to open the PDF or I'd fill in the "X", but it's on duolingo.com, so it should be safe). My problem with that was that they were not evaluating it against university standards, but against an online advance placement exam, WebCAPE. WebCAPE isn't a thorough test -- it doesn't claim to be a perfect measure as it doesn't measure all skills. Instead it is considered an acceptable proxy measure because mastery of the skills it does measure tends to correlate well with mastery of the skills it doesn't test in a general population. That only works if the students have been learning the other skills, which is a generally safe assumption if the students have been going to mainstream school or night-school language classes. However, when you put a WebCAPE test in front of a Duolingo student, those assumptions are invalidated, because Duolingo teaches a limited set of skills, and those skills are pretty similar to the ones that WebCAPE tests. Duolingo students also have an advantage in that they will be extremely comfortable answering online language-learning tasks by the time they start the WebCAPE, whereas your average test-taker may be completely new to the format.
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