I love Duolingo. But I really dislike the heart system.
It’s been around for years and it’s long been one of my biggest gripes.
And yet, Duolingo has shown no signs of getting rid of it.
Fortunately, there are ways to beat the Duolingo heart system — and in this article, I’ll show you exactly how.
Let’s get into it!
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What are hearts on Duolingo?
If you’re new to Duolingo, then you might be wondering what hearts are.
Hearts are essentially lives. If you get a question wrong, you lose one. Given that you can only have a maximum of 5 at any one time, it’s easy to guzzle through them. And this leaves you unable to work through your learning path.
Back in the day, Duolingo claimed that the heart system was designed to “discourage binging”. And while I’ve long agreed that binging, in the sense that Duolingo referred to it, certainly isn’t helpful, punishing users for making mistakes isn’t much better.
Since then, they’ve changed their stance a bit. They now claim that their research shows it’s better for learning:
“Our research shows that if people advance too quickly on Duolingo in one day, it can actually negatively impact their learning because they are less likely to remember what they’ve learned.”
Essentially, the heart system is about pacing a user’s learning.
This sounds fair enough. But in many respects, it’s still largely unhelpful. Imagine learning how to ride a bike, but only being allowed to fall off 5 times before the bike is taken off you.
It will never not grind my gears! But, sadly, it looks like it’s here to stay.
How to beat the heart system on Duolingo
The next best thing is to adapt and to look for ways around it.
The workarounds we will explore below apply specifically to iOS users (iPhone, iPad etc) but should also work for Android users as well.
As of August 2023, the heart system is starting to roll out on desktop. It won’t affect all users yet, but eventually, hearts will be on all platforms.
These workarounds won’t be to everyone’s liking. But, for the time being, they are the only effective workarounds available.
1. Practice sessions
Diving into a practice session is probably the most productive way of getting around the heart system.
Yet, surprisingly, lots of Duolingo users still don’t know what they are or how to access them!
To find the practice sessions, simply tap the heart icon at the top of the screen. You’ll be presented with at least a couple of options — one of which is “practice to earn hearts”…
The great thing about this is that you don’t need any hearts to start or complete them. You can make as many mistakes as you want without the fear of losing your ability to work on your target language.
Better still, at the end of your practice session, you’ll unlock a heart, allowing you to hop back onto the path and pick up where you left off.
There’s no limit to how many practice sessions you can complete, so you can restore your full complement of hearts while still working on your target language. It also contributes toward your daily XP, which means you can stay competitive in your league!
Follow me on Duolingo!
Up for some friendly competition? Then be sure to follow me on Duolingo!
My username is DCiiieee 🙂
(If the link doesn’t work then just type my username into the ‘Search for friends’ bar on the app)
2. Watch ads
This one won’t be to everyone’s liking.
For me, there’s nothing worse than getting pumped for some language learning, only to have to sit through a 30-second ad for yet another mobile game I’m never going to play.
But, if you can grit your teeth and tough it out, it’s an easy, guaranteed way of unlocking a heart.
Since the rollout of the new learning path, the most common way of doing this is after completing a practice session.
If you manage to complete the practice and unlock a heart, you should then get the option to earn another one by watching an ad.
The ads usually last no longer than 30 seconds so you don’t have to wait too long. And it’s a really easy way of boosting your heart quota.
3. Spend Gems/Lingots
Fortunately, you can also use them to buy hearts!
It currently costs about 350 gems outside of a lesson to refill your hearts. If you lose them all in a lesson, it’ll cost slightly more (I think it’s about 450).
That said, I appreciate that not everyone will have a mountain of gems to dip in to. It could be that you’re already using them to buy hearts, in which case this tip will be about as useful as a Russian dictionary in a Mandarin lesson!
But if you find they are piling up, then a heart refill is probably the most practical thing you can spend them on.
If the questions are getting tough, your hearts are running low and you don’t have enough gems to refill mid-lesson, then using a translator to assist you might be worth considering.
This will give you a better chance of getting the answer correct, allowing you to preserve your hearts and complete more lessons.
To be sure, this won’t always work, especially if Duolingo requires a specific or idiomatic answer. But it’s a good way of reducing the frequency of your incorrect answers and therefore gives you a better chance of holding on to your hearts.
This isn’t something I recommend you do regularly. After all, I suspect you’re using Duolingo because you want to learn a language. Simply plugging every question into Google Translate isn’t going to do much for your language-learning prospects!
However, one of the most important things in language learning is exposure. The more time you spend with a language, the more familiar it will become. Unfortunately, the heart system makes this difficult. So if using a translator every once in a while means you can spend more time with your target language, then don’t hesitate to do so.
5. Switch to desktop
Originally, the guys at Duolingo decided against adding hearts to the desktop version.
I have absolutely no idea why. If hearts really help, then why not introduce them on all platforms?
Well, it seems they’re starting to do so — as of August 2023, desktop users are starting to get the heart system.
But there are still some users that haven’t been hit. Perhaps you’re one of them?
It’s definitely worth checking!
Although I only tend to use the app, the desktop version does seem to offer a pretty decent learning experience.
The downside, however, is that it lacks the convenience of the mobile app. When you’re out and about, it’s much easier to whip out your phone than it is your laptop or your desktop PC!
A nice balance might be to complete lessons on the mobile app until you run out of hearts. Then, if you’re still eager to work through your path, you could hop onto the desktop version when it’s convenient.
If needs be, you can also open the desktop version on your mobile device’s internet browser. It works well enough, although it’s a weird mishmash between the two versions. If you can stomach this though then it’s still a viable way of getting around the heart system.
6. Super Duolingo
If all else fails—you’re fed up with the heart system and the workarounds, but you’re determined to stick with Duolingo—then I would seriously begin to consider subscribing to Super Duolingo, as this gives you the option to get rid of hearts completely.
I managed with just the free version for a few years and regularly vowed I’d never upgrade.
But it got to a point where I was so sick of the heart system and having to watch ads that I decided to take the plunge. I‘d been using Duolingo every day for over 1,000 days at that point, so I knew the investment wouldn’t go to waste.
Now, I can’t imagine going back to the free version. It gives me the freedom to make those necessary mistakes, and the time I spend on Duolingo is now exclusively focused on language learning.
That said, I’m aware that Super will be a no-go for many. And that’s absolutely fine.
But if, like me, you’re Duolingo-obsessed and hate the limitations of the heart system, then a Super subscription might be the way to go.
If you need help deciding, then be sure to check out my Super Duolingo review!
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