A few years ago, I decided to learn the German language. I've wanted to do this for many years, but I only became quite serious about this in the last few years. To that end, I originally signed up for two foreign language programs to assist, Rosetta Stone and Duo Lingo. Thinking Rosetta Stone was my ticket, I accepted the pay version. At that time, I only used the free version of Duo Lingo, which meant that if I made a certain number of mistakes, I'd run out of hearts and wait hours before continuing. Because Duo was more fun and appeared to be just as effective as Rosetta Stone, I signed up for a year's subscription. As of today, I have a 427-day streak here; I've committed to spending at least 15 minutes in both the morning and evening studying German using Duo. Based upon using Duo Lingo for over a year, I've decided to give a fair critique of this paid program.
During one lesson, it stated the Alps in Germany are 15,000 feet high. First, because we are studying German, should we use the metric system used in most of Europe? At the bare minimum, use both measurement systems. The Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany, has an elevation of 2,962 meters or 9,718 feet above sea level. Several peaks in Switzerland and France slightly reach 15,000 feet, but none in Germany. Some think there are taller mountains in Bavaria (Southern Germany), but that idea may come from Germanic mythology and not actual facts.
In several of my German lessons, a new word is introduced. Sometimes, a definite article is included (which is good), and often they are not. For example, the girl in German would read like "die Madchen." But often, the definite article is often not included when introducing a new word, such as Madchen. Because German has three different definite articles, der, die das (masculine, feminine, and neuter), which change depending on the form, German foreign language software learners must see the definite article included when introducing a new word. Again, if not, it only completes part of the learning process regarding German vocabulary.
For some German learners, they realize Germany uses the 24-hour system, also known as military time. Others may need to be made aware of this. Non-military Americans typically use the 12-hour clock, so, at Noon, the counting starts over. Duo Lingo sometimes states, "Maria geht um 4 Uhr ins Kino" (Maria is going to the movie theatre at 4 o'clock). Most readers realize that Maria is going to the movies in the afternoon, but it needs to be in the correct format in German. If you're referring to a movie theatre in Germany, it should state Sechzehn (16 o'clock) instead. Military time is sometimes used in this German software program, but more often than not, it's using the American system. If a person wants to learn about German culture, the 24-hour system should be used consistently.
There's an issue with the sound when reviewing the Listen section of Duo. Sometimes the voices are too loud and sometimes too soft. The sound engineer needs to take a look at this. As you go through the Listen Section, you may be compelled to turn up or down the volume, depending on who's speaking. In that same vein, some speakers are easier to understand than others. The different speakers used adds diversity, but the critical piece in German-speaking and hearing is clearly understanding what's being said.
Because my streak is over 400 days, I typically engage in this program in the morning and early evening. Having the Daily Quests option is a welcomed option. Each day, I can complete these three options within Daily Quests, providing me with extra gems. Earning different gems can allow me the flexibility to use them to assist me in other areas of the program. As I earn them, that number is added to my existing total -- Duo provides flexibility so I can immediately use them or save them for a more beneficial time.
Under Listen, which is under More Review, why do the lessons repeat themselves regularly? Practice is essential, but attempting to correspond the Listening section with what I'm learning during Unit Lessons is critical. Better coordination between the two sections?
For each unit, there are typically eight or so lessons that I need to achieve before moving on. However, Duo has decided that I need to do the lesson in front of me before moving on to other lessons within the unit. If I earn the ability to move to a new unit, I don't see an issue with jumping around within that unit. Why must I complete all lessons before moving on to the next lesson? Why not have some flexibility within each lesson?
Under Your Collections, there are three options one could use when practicing this language. They are Mistakes, Words, and Stories. From my experience, Mistakes appear to be the most challenging. Previous mistakes are compiled and included in this section. Because these were previous mistakes, you're challenged to correct the error. The second option is Words, and I often use this section to improve my vocabulary. It's also a nice change of pace from the other tools. There are two columns here, one for German and the corresponding section for English. The only critique is that nouns don't include the corresponding definite articles (see above). The last option is Stories, and this is another section I use. For the most part, the Stories are interesting and memorable. I also find this section helps improve my vocabulary and grammar.
Under Friends Quest, you can sometimes partner with another friend for a few days early in the week. I like this feature. Regardless of the partner, this feature helps motivate me to put in extra effort during that time. Being conscientious, I'm careful not to let my partner down, so I typically ensure I do more than my share within this quest.
As I proceed through Unit Three's end, why are the same animals used in most lessons and practice hubs? For example, die Eule, der Elefant, die Maus, der Hund, der Bär, (owl, elephant, mouse, dog, and bear), etc. I have no problem learning these animals, but it's typically the same ones used repeatedly. Why not kangaroo or wolf? You could include here birds, squirrels, or raccoons. The same principle applies to food -- I typically run across die Gurke, die Orangen, das Huhn, der Burger (cucumber, orange, chicken, burger), etc. As the lessons progress, it doesn't seem very likely that many new food words will be introduced. When you learn a language, you must know at least the most common foods eaten in Germany. At the very least, the same principle should apply when introducing animals, especially those in Central Europe.
I like the feature of getting a 15-minute boost from time to time -- this typically occurs after completing a lesson or the Daily Quest. With this boost, you earn double the points. However, there's no secondhand; I'd like to know how much time remains on my boost. That can help me plan better so it can help maximize the number of points I could earn while getting the 15-minute boost.