Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Understanding Duolingo better — and treating it as a game

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Here’s a screenshot of where I am in my Duolingo Esperanto course:

The image shows a tower labeled “2.” That is the second checkpoint. At a checkpoint you take a test to determine whether are you ready to advance beyond the tower to the next collection of skills. I was, and I’m now working through the new part of the tree. If you are using Duolingo to brush up on a language you know, you can click one of the checkpoints to take the test and move on from there — for example, you might click checkpoint 3 and see if you pass. Obviously, if you’re learning a language new to you, you just start at the beginning and move through the tree, level by level.

Each disk in the tree is a “skill.” Each skill has 5 levels, and each level is reached by going through a series of (brief) lessons. I have completed the first two skills (Family 2 and Useful), the 5 in the crown showing that all 5 levels have been achieved. When level 5 is reached, the skill becomes golden with a gold halo. (After some time has elapsed, the skill will show a jagged break, but you can return to the skill and and with a practice session repair the break — spaced repetition.)

I have completed only the first level (the “1” in the crown) of Home 2, Action 2, and Numbers 2. (The “2” is because those skills are follow-ups to earlier skills  Home 1, Action 1, and Numbers 1.)

I have not completed any of Dates, Occupations, and Requests, but they are “unlocked,” so I can start lessons in them.

Affixes 1, Describe, and Directions still are locked, and those won’t be unlocked until I complete more or the available skills.

What I have been doing was to work my way straight through all the levels in a particular skill before moving to the next. Now, however, I stick with one skill until I complete a level (or two), but then I move to another skill to complete a level there. I limit myself to working on 6-8 skills at a time. By moving among those 6-8 skills it is more interesting and also improves learning and recall when I return to an uncompleted skill and do another level (until it finally is complete).

Although you can leave a skill before a level is complete, stopping after any lesson, I prefer to stick with the skill until I’ve completed a level.

Update: This approach is exactly what Duolingo recommends. /update

Progress is measured by XP: “experience points.” Completing a lesson means you get 10 XP, with a bonus of up to 5 XP depending on how few errors you made. (If you do provide incorrect answers, you are shown the correct answer and then later you are asked the question again (and again) until you get it right, the idea being mastery. (Anki does the same sort of thing.)

In “Settings,” you can set your daily target (and you get awards for having an unbroken streak of days in which you completed at least one lesson). Here is my setting:

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 8.29.26 PM

I chose “Intense,” but it’s really not all that intense. For the first couple of weeks, I was doing around 500XP per day, but now I aim for 200-300XP — which amounts to 2-3 levels.

It’s worth noting that Anki’s shared decks for Esperanto include a couple of decks for Duolingo vocabulary. I use those to lock down my vocabulary knowledge. See this post for more information on Anki.

Now that I better understand how it works, I find it more interesting. And I have to say that it’s a great indoor activity for quarantine.

In fact, Greg Hullander has an interesting blog post on treating Duolingo as a game (in which he also describes the skill tree).

More of my Duolingo discoveries in this post.

Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2020 at 7:25 pm

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