May 23, 2024

I’m within a few days of hitting a 1300 day streak on Duolingo, so I’ve been on the app daily for approximately 3.5 years. Right now I’m a little burned out and bogged down, but I keep going back because I don’t want to give up the goal of learning something about a language or two. Mostly, I’m just treading water, working on not forgetting what I’ve already learned in hopes that at some point in the future I’ll have a burst of inspiration that will propel me forward. In the meantime, I have a thing or two to say to Duolingo (as in the corporate decision makers), and because there is no clear way to share feedback with them, I’m putting it here.

  • I loved the audio lessons, and I’m bummed that they are gone. When the audio lessons were pulled, I signed up for Pimsleur, but Duolingo’s lessons were so much more engaging. I’m aware of the fact that the audio lessons were pulled to make way for some type of AI experience that has not yet appeared in my app, and I’m not happy about that. The audio lessons were stellar in a way few things ever are. You did your loyal customers a disservice, and I am a paying customer, so I feel I have the right to say this.
  • All of things set up to keep people in the app are counter-productive to actual learning. Some of the gamification, like the streak count, does motivate me to keep going, but the leagues and friend quests and so forth only push me to collect as many of the easiest possible XP points as possible so that I don’t fall out of my league of let down my friend. I know that I’m going to make mistakes if I push forward into harder lessons, so I just stay where I am by doing my speak and listen lessons and stories and whatever I can do for easy points. The game is holding me back from challenging myself at this point. I know I’m not alone because I’ve seen others complaining about this on social media.
  • I wish you hadn’t started rationing stories. I know I spent too much time on stories before, but they are valuable learning experiences when you get new ones on a daily basis. The stories have been one of the main places I’ve picked up new vocabulary in context in a way I could internalize. Also, I get why you chose to strip the stories down to only the ones that centered on the same core set of characters, but the old stories that you took away were often more interesting. I loved the ones that were broken up into multiple parts. You had a really good thing going, and you snatched it away from people who were getting a lot out of it. I wish there was a place where I could still access the old content that has been removed, including stories and audio lessons.
  • I like the concept behind the new layout for making your way through a learning path rather than the old course trees, but why are the sidebar lessons just more of the same thing that is already available in the other challenges? Why not put something different there that motivates people to reach the point in the path that opens it up? Dare I suggest audio lessons and more in depth stories that are broken up into three or four parts?

In short, I’m getting bored. A lot of that is my own fault, but a lot of it is due to the redesigns of the app itself. I’m withholding judgement on whatever is planned for the new AI experiences until I actually see them, but I’m not excited. I have stumbled onto a couple of new video lessons that did not impress me. That can’t possibly be all there is to the new content that bumped out audio lessons.

Oh, wait…I see that I was mistaken in thinking that because I subscribe to Super Duolingo that the AI content would start rolling out into my account once it was released. I see that in order to access the AI roleplaying, you have to subscribe to another tier called Duolingo Max. As of now, there is no Duolingo Max option in my account for me to make an upgrade, but even if it does show up, I find the this even more frustrating. Duolingo took away content I found valuable in an app I was paying for in order to push me into paying even more for content that I didn’t ask for and don’t necessarily want.

Wow. This is really turning into a rant now. I started out just wanting to a few little frustrations and maybe help myself work past my burnout with this app, and I’m ending kind of angry has taken my money and then proceeded to betray my needs as a customer.

Maybe it is time to jump to a new app.

Most likely I will still be on Duolingo three years from now, and still be posting about how frustrating it has been lately. I’m having trouble leaving Twitter too, so this is on me.

I don’t want this to be all negative, though, so I will end with my new plan for Sundays on Duo.

Sunday is the day when you either make it or break in your league for the week. I have been in the Diamond league for 102 weeks. I don’t pay that much attention to it all week, but I do on Sundays because I don’t want to fall out of my league. But I’m burned out and don’t want to spend Sundays doing the same easy lessons over and over to bump up my points enough to hold my place. Right now I’m spending about 30 minutes a day on the app. I do 15 minutes of German in the mornings and 15 minutes of Spanish in the evenings. I’ve decided, though, that on Sundays I will explore other languages. This morning I did a little bit of French. If I need a boost this afternoon to save my spot, I think I will try out a little Italian or maybe a little Dutch or Norwegian. I’m not going to actually learn a language by spending 10 minutes on it once a week, but even a few words in a language are worth learning. You never know when you might run into them in a book or a movie or a random conversation. More importantly for me right now, this is a way to fight against my own ennui.

We all do what we must…even when we rant about companies that will never hear us or care what we think.

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