From the first weeks on Duoling five years ago I found people griping about how it made changes to the language learning game they had been enjoying. In all those years complaints have never stopped.
The Pinacle is the Diamond League and staying in it requires a lot of work if you get thrown into a group of thirty fanatics for one of your weeks trying to stay at the top. My secret to avoiding the fanatics isn’t foolproof but I wait till the last minute on Mondays to join. Often my group is much less driven.
I found another defender of Duo on one of the Facebook pages. I agreed with him and I offered my two cents. If you are not on Duolingo they won’t make a lot of sense. I’m sharing them because I haven’t been writing much else lately.
Letting it go? Duo is tapping human nature to keep its users on the site. Not wanting to fall out of the diamond league becomes as pressing as getting more proficient in a new language. In a way the two desires are mutually reinforcing. The key is to not confuse them. After 150 weeks of being in the diamond league I let myself fall to obsidian for a few weeks when I was busy with life elsewhere. A few weeks later I was free to claw my way back into Diamond no longer so desperate not to fall out. After five years I keep up with the “cheats” that add extra points fast. Duo keeps experimenting and I like their improvements which generally end up being real improvements- even the more confining new path is proving to be better at reinforcing new learning.
I like the new page offering speaking and listening exercises for instance.
BUT – I found a French pen pal 3 years ago on Hello Talk a wonderful distraction that Duo bends over backward to discourage. And I have been using Lingopie’s videos to carefully check out French conversation and dialogue at my speed. And I discovered I can program the new AI chatbox to invent French dialogues so I can get a better sense of conversation. I tell it to do it at different levels A2, B1, etc.
Learning a new language at the level of native speakers is a real Mount Everest. I am still slogging upwards towards Lhasa. The summit will probably always be beyond my reach