As we approach the end of 2022, the vast majority of Duolingo users will have been moved over to the New Learning Path.
Needless to say, the rollout hasn’t been without its problems. Many users have been up in arms about the changes, threatening to ditch Duolingo completely if the update isn’t reversed. The linear nature of the path, removal of features, and the XP nerf are just some of the issues many have cited.
However, despite the rocky rollout, Duolingo is doubling down on the path. There will be no return to the tree.
While for many this will be a huge disappointment, Duolingo have at least set about improving the path, addressing some of the issues many have had.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at some of the main tweaks and changes.
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1. The Practice Hub is filling out
One of my favourite Duolingo features was the Mistakes Inbox.
It was a premium feature that allowed you to practice all of the mistakes you made in lessons. This was the sort of thing Duolingo had lacked for a long time, so it was definitely a welcome addition.
Then they went a step further and introduced the Practice Hub. Not only could you practice your mistakes, but you could also practice specific areas of your target language, such as pronunciation and listening.
This was mostly limited to Super subscribers. But since the rollout of the new learning path, Duolingo have opened parts of the Hub to free subscribers, too.
However, they also decided to remove the Stories button, meaning you could only access your stories from within the path. While it was a good idea to bake stories into the learning process, I couldn’t understand why they removed the library.
Fortunately, Duolingo quickly addressed this. Although stories still don’t have their own tab, you can now access them via the Practice Hub. Every single story you’ve completed will show up here.
It also now comes with review recommendations, which will bag you a cool 10 XP.
The Practice Hub now also features a Target Practice. This is a bespoke session tailored to your weak areas.
This, along with Mistakes Review and stories, are available to all users.
2. Revisiting previous content
One of the biggest gripes I think we all had when the new learning path started rolling out was that it was stupidly difficult to go back and practice previous levels (or ‘skills’ as they used to be known).
The lack of labels meant it was difficult to locate specific levels. But not only that, in the beginning, only IOS users had the privilage of being able to go back at all!
Why Duolingo thought this was a good idea I do not know, but it was swiftly rectified — now all users should be able to go back through the path and revisit past material.
Unfortunately, it’s still not as easy as it was on the tree. The levels still aren’t labeled unless you tap on them, so the only thing you have to guide you is the unit title.
Fortunately, Duolingo have now added these titles to most units on most courses.
In the beginning, only the popular courses had decent unit titles, making it even harder to go back and review content of your choosing. So it’s another step in the right direction.
3. Legendary Levels are back… sort of
With the launch of the new learning path came a big change to the legendary levels.
Duolingo scrapped the level part and instead applied legendary to the entire unit. So instead of legendary levels we had legendary trophies.
In my opinion, these weren’t anywhere near as good. You had to wait until the very end of the unit and complete as many as 8 challenges. It just didn’t work as well as the original levels.
Thankfully, it looks like the guys at Duolingo have realised this as well. The legendary trophies are no more — now, legendary is back at the level-level.
Once you’ve completed a level, you’ll get the opportunity to turn it legendary. Unlike with the tree, there’s only one challenge to complete, worth 40 XP (or 80 with an XP Boost enabled). They’re also gold now instead of purple.
The reintroduction of legendary also makes the path a little more like the tree, in the sense that you can now move ‘up’ through a level as well as ‘forward’ along the path.
It’s a welcome change, although non-Super members will still need to part with gems to attempt them.
4. Guidebooks and clear units for all courses
One of my biggest gripes with many of Duolingo’s mobile courses was the lack of tips sections. While the popular courses had them, the majority of the courses didn’t.
The tips sections were included in pretty much each skill in a course, and provided useful bits of information regarding things like grammar and vocabulary.
With the introduction of the new learning path, Duolingo rebranded the tips sections as guidebooks, and moved them from the skill-level to the unit-level. To me, this made a lot of sense, particularly with the introduction of seemingly more coherent units of content.
However, with this, I was also expecting to see guidebooks feature in the majority of courses, particularly given that they have long been available on the desktop versions. It was frustrating, then, to find that most courses still didn’t have any.
Now, though, it appears that the vast majority of courses now have clearly labelled units with accompanying guidebooks. And while these are still lacking in many cases — often only containing phrases as opposed to any useful grammar explanations — it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
5. Units are now organised into packs
Of all the tweaks Duolingo has made to the new learning path, the new unit packs are definitely up there as one of my favourites.
The original version of the learning path was just one long string of content. This wasn’t so bad if you were working through one of Duolingo’s shorter courses. But if you were working through the Spanish or French course, you’ll know that the path was ludicrously long.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a long and thorough course, the presentation left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t pleasant to work through and made revisiting previous material a nightmare.
Thankfully, the guys at Duolingo have addressed this. The path remains the same, but now it is split up into chunks. Each chunk (or pack) contains a certain number of units, and is labelled based on skill level.
You’ll notice in the Spanish and French courses that these now (seem to) align with the CEFR, so you can hop between beginner and intermediate material super easily.
Most of Duolingo’s other courses are now split up into 4 packs, typically:
- An intro to the language
- Foundations 1
- Foundations 2
- Personalised practice
While this isn’t as clear or as nuanced as the more popular courses, it still makes it a heck of a lot easir to navigate along the path.
For more on the new learning path:
Duolingo New Learning Path Review
Everything You Need To Know About Duolingo’s New Levels
Also be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest learning path news and updates 🙂
I’m glad you’re back on Duoplanet with the first ‘new’ article after 2 months. This doesn’t count minor edits to previous articles, but that was a long time for me.
Most improvements to the Duolingo Learning Path are only on iOS. On Android and desktop, the path is mostly the same as it was before.
As for the Unit Packs, I only have them on iPhone. I don’t have them anywhere else, not even on iPad!
It’s good that at least Duolingo seems to be responding to criticism. I’m hoping they are realizing that relying on just A/B tests is not sufficient.
But I think there are some very serious issues with the new path, particularly for free users.
Yes, there are some additional labels for sections, but the units are still not labelled, so really the net effect is very minimal. It is still nearly impossible to go back and revise a particular topic without having to laboriously click on multiple units. This is a complete and utter failure of design and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on DuoLingo’s part on how people learn.
Same with the guidebooks. Most of them are so cursory as to be fairly useless – and without an index or table-of-contents, it’s almost impossible to find a grammar topic one would like to revise. And honestly the guidebook content has been parred back so much to be effectively useless. I get far better grammar instruction from a $20 book.
Just try acting the simple use case of revising a grammar topic, say indirect object pronouns in Spanish, it’s just about impossible to quickly put your finger on that information.
Also, some of the new features mentioned above aren’t in every version. I primarily use the iPad version and it doesn’t have the new pack feature yet (which frankly doesn’t seem all that useful anyway).
I just get the impression that DuoLingo is just making it up as they go. Considering they have been around for years and apparently employ numerous language experts (many with PhDs) they seem remarkably clueless about the basics of how to learn a language. Instead of being a leader in language learning they appear to be regressing. There are now so many better tools out there for language learning, but one would think that DuoLingo with all of its immense resources would be leading the one, but it is not.
I still use DuoLingo but now I find that instead of doing several lessons a day, I’m down to just doing one just to keep my streak going (now over 1150). It’s just not worth any more time than that,
I’m really sad, because almost all of these great changes are only availabke on Iphone… The android path looks so empty, we don’t even have the timed exercices on the sides if the path.
I’m learning one of the less popular languages, Czech. It has lost all grammar explanations, both on Android and online.
For a language with quite a complex case system, some reference points to work out why one of the dozens of words for ‘this’ works in one sentence but you need a different word in another context, having something to refer back to would be a bonus.
All that’s left are a couple of example sentences which, to be fair, you can pick up as you go along anyway.
Many thanks for telling me how to access my old stories. I’m very sad, though, that I can’t access new ones. Before the change, I’d gone through 120 of them in French and 50 in Spanish. I was listening to 3-4 new stories a week, and they were a wonderful way to improve my vocabulary. That’s what I need in French; the lessons focus on verb tenses and sentence structure, which are important for newbies, but I learned those in school, more than half a century ago. I need to learn the new words that have come into the language since then, and there are a lot of them (computers, cellphones, microwaves, etc.). The lessons are a very slow way to do that, with a lot of stuff I already know. I really miss the stories! I also agree completely with Dave’s thoughtful criticisms.
None of those changes are inherent to the garbage path system.
All of them could have been implemented through the superior tree lay out. Your argument is embarrassing.