As you all know, I am avid anime watcher, and am generally quite interested in Japan, and the Japanese language. So naturally instead of using Duolingo for Japanese, I tried it with Chinese. Here are my thoughts.
Duolingo is pretty great, because normally I would have given up by now, but I’m still at it. It’s not just that it’s courses are pretty good, but their ways of bringing you back to playing more is pretty good.
Just there in the last sentence I used “playing” instead of “learning” because that’s often what duolingo feels like. They have massively gameafied learning to a point where it’s just fun, or at the very least satisfying.
One of these elements is the league system. Currently I’m in bronze (because I just started and promotions haven’t happened yet) where you are put against 50 other people and have to compete for promotion. You need to rank in the top twenty to reach the next league. This motivates me a lot to try and become first.
In my league it’s easy to see the people who have given up, and the people who have set their daily targets very low. And you want to be better than them, so you work harder to avoid their fate!
There is also something so satisfying about the fact that your own learning and self improvement is placing you above other people in ranking, making them work harder too.
I was always far behind the top three until today, where I somehow managed to gain a lot of xp quickly through extreme skill. This placed me only 100xp away from those top two positions, so I worked even more and now I’m second in the league! It’s great motivation.
Duolingo works as an unlock system. Where as you complete courses you unlock more. Each course has separate levels and getting past each level gives you more points. Here you have tests and quizzes to skip levels if you want to spend your in game currency.
That’s right, it has an in game currency that can be used for buying things, like tests to level up faster, and cosmetics, and streak freeze’s.
But you know it also has achievements! It’s cool to unlock things. I like it.
Also one of those achievements is by making friends on their website. So if I’ve convinced you so far add me here: https://invite.duolingo.com/BDHTZTB5CWWKS67IAGDPEXFJ5U
If not, well you’ve not heard everything.
Here’s why it’s better than memrise. The courses on memrise tend to be quite good, but theirs always something bad about them. They often don’t have narration, or they always have something that’s really dumb that you could do without. The reason why I’ve stopped using every memrise course I’ve ever been on is that eventually I would reach a point where there would be synonyms, and because those two words are identical you have no way to tell which is which.
The worst is kanji courses, where they give you both pronunciation and meaning in the same course, so when a character shows up you have a 50% of being right even if you know exactly what it is.
Duolingo’s courses are all monitored and made by duolingo themselves. Which means quality control in this way is much better, and it doesn’t run into the problem of same words.
The thing I always hated about memrise is the lack of leniency in your responses. You have to be perfectly right. If it’s xiao shanghao and you enter xiao shang hao then it’s marked as incorrect, even though they’re both valid. Duolingo accepts anything that’s more or less correct.
For example it treats “and you?” the exact same as “how about you?” within the context of asking the same question that you’ve just been asked. Then it also lets you write ’10’ instead of ‘ten’ which is so much easier for larger numbers.
What I never got from memrise was a way of making sentences and having conversations.
Duolingo seems to be readily preparing you to talk with natives. It not only gives you a lot of sentences, but also shows you how you could adapt and change these to real world situations.
It’s also free, which helps a lot. And though I can’t contribute financially, I’m more than happy to watch a full add just to double my reward lingots. Oh yeah and write this to advertise for them!
So if this interests you, you know where my invite link it!