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?


How to expand your uc and collaboration mobile capabilities

Enterprises are going mobile and, the UC&C, or Unified Communication and Collaboration, market is growing fast. Mobile Unified Communication too is growing at a rapid pace and organizations are adopting the latest technology pretty quickly. Majority of the fast growing companies around the world are looking to enhance the real-time collaboration and communication among its employees. There have been numerous developments in the communication technologies and this has helped bring forth better UC&C solutions, which are offering enhanced communication experience.



Besides all this, organizations are also trying to catch up with the BYOD or Bring Your Own Device trend and this is being fuelled by the latest mobile technology that opens up newer avenues for business communication and collaboration on a real time basis. Unified Communication and mobile technology has been integrated to give rise to enhanced and efficient communication solutions. Businesses are jostling for greater market share and in order to gain competitive advantage, the demand for optimized business processes or workflow too is growing. This giving rise to a phenomenon where the businesses are fast adopting the latest Mobile unified communication solutions.


The emergence of mobile workforce and the growing use of smartphones are further driving the need for integrating unified communication solutions with mobile devices. As more and more companies hire mobile workforce they will have to adopt mobile UC&C in order to facilitate communication and collaboration among its employees on a real time basis. Even a few years back interoperability among different devices was a big hurdle in the path of integration of mobile telephony and UC but with technological developments like SIP or Session Initiation Protocol, VoLTE or Voice over Long Term Evolution and WebRTC or Web Real-Time Communication, the gap has been bridged.

Wide Choice

Both SMBs (Small and Medium Businesses) as well as large organizations are getting an opportunity to choose from a wide range of Mobile clients and UC services as per their

communication needs. Cloud service providers, UC vendors, providers of Telecom network, and third-party service providers are augmenting their services to suit the mobile communication needs of enterprises across the world.

Business leaders and telecom researchers have revealed through various surveys and studies that the mobile communication and collaboration market is going to swell to $17.38 billion from $5.15 billion by the year 2019. All the trends point to only one direction – mobile unified communication and collaboration is going to get widespread acceptance among the forward thinking business houses. We need to understand that there are numerous communication channels available to the users but they rarely think about the channels. The concern of the users is to reach out to their contacts using the easiest and the most effective communication system. Telecom companies will have to shift their focus from just providing solutions and instead help the solutions really work for the organizations. Mobile is the requirement of modern day workforce and sooner or later the companies will have to focus on communication solutions that leverage the power of mobile telephony.

About the author

Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.


Reflections on the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia

I used to work at Motorola’s cell phone division, as a software engineer. It was before Google purchased them. During that time, the biggest competitor was Nokia. Samsung was really not in the running back then. Here’s a couple articles announcing Microsoft acquisition of Nokia.

SYJ: Nokia

SYJ: Nokia (Photo credit: bfishadow)

If you read the BBC article, Samsung holds a 24.7% market share, with Nokia having 14% and Apple 7.3%. As one  of the BBC commentators said in part, “In truth there is not so much difference between the top few phones.”

In an article entitled In The Smartphone Wars It’s iOS Vs. Android And Windows Phone Vs. The Rest In The Smartphone Wars It’s iOS Vs. Android And Windows Phone Vs. The Rest, it mentioned this: “However, given what IDC revealed today, we can essentially view the market as a three-way war, but not one in which Windows Phone has even begun to challenge the incumbents.” Since this article came out in August 2013, I wonder how much inroad Windows phones are making?

The article also makes this summation: “So a simple way of viewing the smartphone market is that Android is consistently adding friction to Apple’s products, which are seeing their market share fall as the market itself expands more quickly than they ship. And that Windows Phone, while still a distant third place player, has managed to functionally cement itself as a player in mobile.”
The BBC article says this:

“Critics say the firm has been too slow to respond to the booming market for mobile devices. It launched its Surface tablet PCs last year, but sales of the devices have been relatively slow.”

“Analysts said that the company wanted to make sure that it got its strategy right in the mobile phone market.”

Apple Inc.  New Headquarters

Apple Inc. New Headquarters (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I’m a guy who runs dual Windows 7/Ubuntu machines. I’m also one who refuses to go Apple, until you get an Apple Store less than ten miles from where I live. In fact, they better have a store in the same city I live in. So I gravitate to Android devices.

Patent stuff

When Google first brought Motorola Mobility, articles speculated that a key factor was Motorola’s large patent inventory. Did Google use any of that patent inventory against Samsung? Don’t know. But I’m sure that Nokia has a large patent inventory, which Microsoft can use again either Samsung or Google. I just wonder if they will leverage it?

The smart watch

Then Samsung is busy developing a smart watch, according to a news report I watched. The commentators were wondering if folks would want it. An article came out entitled How Smart Can a Watch Really Be?. As the article mentioned, “Today, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear, a three-hundred-dollar smartwatch the company hopes will change all that.” They also say this: “So there remains a strange undercurrent of hope that somebody—Apple—will figure out, soon, some grander vision for wearable technology, transforming it from something that people have vaguely imagined into something people intensely desire.”


BBC World Service – April 28, 2008

My all time favorite news service is the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, in Liberia, West Africa, short-wave radio was the only true source of news. My main sources for news were the Voice of America (VOA), BBC, and Radio Moscow. Now I am not a communist or anything, but I liked to hear what Russia said, during the cold war.

The BBC was the middle ground between the VOA and Radio Moscow positions. What interested me in this newscast, was their coverage of countries and events, not covered by VOA or Radio Moscow. Many times, I would be sitting in the monsoons, playing chess, and listening to the BBC.

When I returned to the US, I found the BBC news on local PBS/college TV and radio stations. There is one story the BBC will never cover, and it was the story Radio Moscow once aired. They told of a two-man race, where Russia and the US, were the only contestants. The Russians lost, but the Radio Moscow announcer had this to say: “The Russians came in second, and the US came in next to last.”

Randy Kemp