Duolingo Revisited

I started out many years ago, taking two years of Spanish and French

French in Action
French in Action (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • I had two years of French at Aurora University
  • I had two years of Spanish at College of Dupage

I set out as a goal to master three common romance languages: Spanish, French and Portuguese. The logic being is that they are all derivatives from Latin and have similar grammar structures. The main difference would be sounds and pronunciation. Since the cost is free, it would pay to work chiefly with Duolingo.

There are other programs to supliment my learning. There is French in Action and Destinos in Spanish. Both are good university video programs. There’s also a good Brazilian Portuguese video series called Semantica. The university programs are good and free, but they lack workbooks – unless you purchase them. The Semantica is a good course when combined with the Duoling Portuguese course.

Recently, I came across a couple interesting articles on Duolingo:

The mission article had this to say: With 50 million users around the world, the Pittsburgh-based company is now moving away from the crowdsourced translated text that it sells…the emphasis is on an adaptive platform that tailors teaching to the strength and weaknesses of individual learners.”

My problem with Duolingo used to be that they gave you three hearts. Then for each mised answer, you lose a heart – until you were out of turns. Now “The first change Duolingo users will notice is the heart reward system is gone, replaced by a strength bar that rises and falls based on how well each concept is mastered.“

Actually, I like the new strength bar much better. I have more than 3 strikes you’re out factor.

But what about errors? This was asked in the Quora article and answered this way:

The amount of mistakes encountered largely depends on the language that you’re learning. Courses that have been around for longer will have fewer mistakes, but on average you’ll encounter less than 1 mistake per 1,000 exercises you do, and the most common form of “mistake” is Duolingo not accepting a different way of saying the same thing.

I can identify with this. Say a word in a sentence has three different substitute words. If you hover your mouse over the word in Duolingo, you will see three possibilities. But even if the second entry is right, Duolingo might just accept the first word.

Yet some courses – like Spanish – have relatively few errors: “Spanish receives approximately 1.5 user reports per 10,000 exercises.”.

As one user mentioned in the article: The completely bilingual, native Spanish speakers couldn’t always pass the sessions at the end.

I’ve seen some feedback on the German Duolingo tree that says these problems also exist. I’ve also seen a number of complaints that Duolingo has a huge number of errors in Portuguese, French, Hindi, Romanian and Italian.

You know what? I finished the Spanish tree and now do the practice sections each day. I’m one third into the French tree and just started the Portuguese tree. But I work on a section in each language – each day. It’s free – I enjoy it – I’m learning. What more can I say?

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