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My First Impressions of Duolingo’s Crowns.

It’s hard to ignore the topic of Duolingo crowns on my social media in the last few days. I was one of the later recipients of the new ‘Crowns” Approach but it seems that people are either going to love the change or hate it. If you have not heard of this recent change to Duolingo’s user interface you can catch up HERE.

When I received the update this morning I thought I would spend an hour or so looking at the changes and then share my thoughts. So here they are…

Lost progress?

Firstly, unlike some people, I did not feel like I had lost my progress when I logged in. Sure all the golds were gone but the little crown level number next to each topic gave me a much clearer indicator of how often certain skills had been practised whereas a gold just meant it had been studied and that you practised regularly.

 

No more Re-Golding! Rejoice!

The most annoying thing that kept me from progressing in duolingo was the rate at which gold was taken from one of your skills…even if you returned and practised every day.  This new approach will let me review the topics which I think I need more practise whilst feeling able to move on to new topics. Once you get maximum level you stay gold forever. More focus. No lost progress. Ideal.

 

Repetition

One of the most common frustrations I’ve seen people share about the new crowns UI is that to get to a level 5 you have to repeat the same sentences over and over. I believe the focus of the crown levelling up is that you are to intersperse each of these ‘mini lessons’ over time to work the phrases and vocab. into your long-term memory. I don’t think the point is to sit and practise the same area over and over in one sitting just to get to the next level.

I can understand that this might be a frustrating process for basic skills but I found that my most basic skills were already at a higher level when I first dropped into the new UI. This shows that I probably practised the vocab in these topics throughout other lessons further down the tree.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 16.45.02

Additionally, the basic stuff is going to be so simple to repeat and maybe a little tiresome… I get that. But the more advanced topics won’t be a dull to practise because there is so much variety in the vocab by that stage.

Drawbacks

  • The new crowns approach has a major drawback in that whilst it is promoting repetition over time, there is nothing in place to prompt a spaced repetition method. This is something that the user must work out for themselves. I wonder if, over time, they might be able to build this in with notifications such as “You haven’t practised the skill ‘office’ in a while. Why not practise that now?”

 

  • I get how your overall crown level is achieved, but I don’t understand how this correlates to your overall XP language level? I guess the short answer is… nothing. But this seems like a little bit of a leftover glitch for older users who used the old interface for a long period of time.

 

Overall… I think this is a good move!

There have always been two kinds of Duolingo learners; casual users who want to get through the tree quickly and complete the course and those who wish to practise more intently and use Duolingo to complement other forms of language study. Whichever you are, I feel that the crowns complement either approach!

You can move along the tree without worrying about re-golding topics or you can choose which topics you wish to deepen your learning in. I think the key thing to take away from this is that it is a more visual record of what topics you have studied and offers you an informed choice about what you wish to revise.

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8 thoughts on “My First Impressions of Duolingo’s Crowns.”

  1. I was so skeptical of crowns and tbh I’m not sure I’m convinced yet. I do not like change! Something about getting thre gold was really satisfying. A small crown in the corner doesn’t have the same effect for me

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    1. You can still achieve a goal once you get to a level 5. And nothing can take that away once you get it. It will take longer but the best approach to it I think is spaced repetition… not practising the same stuff all in one sitting just to get the goal. Duolingo is designed to compliment self study or classes so spacing out what topics you practise will help to get that vocab into your long term memory.

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  2. I think everything just takes time to get used to. Products and services have to evolve to stay fresh. Also it’a a FREE service so I think we should be grateful for all the free content! ha ha

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    1. This is true Robbie. And Duolingo has made language learning accessible to so many more people because it is free. It lets people dabble or choose a language or build on their more in depth study and I think that’s great

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  3. I agree with all the points that you made in your post and I feel the same way. I’m really hoping that Duolingo will bring an SRS that gives you credit towards your tree. You can still use the practice feature to strengthen you weakest skills, but it will not level up what you just practiced in your tree like it used to, which is a bit of a let down.

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    1. That’s such a good point. The practise part seems a bit obsolete now because instead you’d probably practise a specific skill to work towards your crown! It would be cool if practise was a kind of randomised selection of content. That would feel like a test because you’d have no context for each sentence… they’d be all mixed up and you wouldn’t know what was coming next.

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    1. Hmm I think the problem with fluency was that it wasn’t really accurate. I did 2 skills in Korean just for fun to see what it was like and really did not get it at all and just struggled through. Yet after those two skills it said I was 9% fluent in Korean?! I didn’t recall anything and didn’t recognise any characters so it felt odd. I do wonder how long it will take before anyone will complete whole tree and level 5s in all skills. There’s so much to do now

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