Should I abandon Duolingo?

I abandoned it for LingoDeer. At the moment I use Wanikani, LingoDeer, Bunpro and SatoriReader.


I did the placement test and it put me near the end of the tree. So I kind of abandoned the whole thing pretty quickly.

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I had been using Duo on my Android tablet for a couple of years to work on learning German. I had taken a couple of semesters of German at university, so Duo offered a way of returning to German language instruction after a couple of decades of not using the language or for improving my proficiency.

During this time, I was interested in pursuing Japanese language instruction as well, but Duo on Android did not provide that option.

I was excited when Japanese was offered and quickly jumped into the Japanese language course.
Duo helped me learn Hiragana very effectively in the Hiragana lessons.The first couple of Introduction lessons introduced me to introduction phrases as well as a very limitted set of Katakana and Kanji. However, I’ve gotten stuck because the Duo Japanese course makes a leap into more complex Japanese sentence structure that I could not follow.

I realised that I had to find other help to continue learning because I could not get over the steep learning curve required to continue with the Duo Japanese course. So, I went to Tofugu to learn Katakana extremely well, then took advice from Tofugu and decided to start working with Wanikani to learn Kanji and increase vocabulary. I think it will be a while yet until I learn enough Kanji to efficiently learn Japanese grammar. Maybe after I’ve done all that, I might be able to progress with Duo.

So, after all that, I suggest keeping Duo around to keep your Hiragana skills sharp, use something like Drag 'n Drop Katakana to keep your Katakana skills sharp, use RealKana to help with reading/recognizing kana with a variety of writing/font variations, and work with Wanikani to build your Kanji knowledge and your vocabulary, then find a means of learning Japanese vocabulary, then finally progress with Duo again. Duo’s Japanese course doesn’t currently help you progress through all these steps, unfortunately.


I would recommend you try LingoDeer. It’s similar but actually does its job. Knowing kanji shouldn’t be a prerequisite for learning grammar. You should be able to say “a is on top of b” pretty early in your studies. (You learn how to say the eraser is on the table etc. a few lessons into LingoDeer.) However by the time you learn “eraser” on WaniKani you’ve been studying for about 14 weeks at top speed. There’s a pretty huge disconnect there.

i was about to make the same topic! I’m glad I bumped into this, and also am glad that many support it. After all, it is a free resource, and it is good listening practice!

I like Duolingo as a great way to get exposure to Japanese while I’m too bad to get a lot out of reading or listening to native material.
I see a lot of frustration from people who try to get things out of it that it wasn’t made for.
The whole idea of Duolingo is to “absorb” languages. This of course will only get you so far.
But I like how it provides exposure/submersion for Japanese in a way that is moderately fun at a level where I can’t go and read subtitles let alone books.

I came from Duolingo (after 350+ day streak, but 75% of that were from my Spanish learning days) and moved to Lingodeer.

I’m not going to stress any more of the points others have already made here. I didn’t finish the Japanese tree on Duo, only got past the 1st checkpoint. It’s a great resource for learning kana and vocabs as it repeats it 10,000 times so it’s drilled in. But as others have mentioned, it’s not great for grammar.

You can always learn new vocab later on. Whatever course/app you pick, you’re never going to run out of new words. But you have to be pickier with where you’re going to learn your foundations for grammar. No app or course is perfect, I know Lingodeer would benefit a lot with an SRS review system. But with just using that alone now, I’m getting the foundations built and feel that I’m actually learning something in terms of the structure of the sentences. Duo gives you sentences without explaining why it was so. Thank god for their comments section, else everyone will be lost.

I’m using Lingodeer because I don’t like textbooks; I can probably supplement it with something else/more advanced later once I have the basics. The subscription is a downside, but it’s worth it for me. You can probably try the monthly sub and see how you like it before signing up for long term.

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I wouldn’t recommend Lingodeer to any serious student of Japanese, and I wouldn’t think a dabbler would get much use out of it. I don’t think it’s a particularly good teaching tool. If it were free it would be worth the price as a sort of practice/homework app, but it’s not free.

I realise that this thread is so old that you’ve probably already made your decision by now (or become so advanced that you no longer feel the need for something like Duolingo), but here’s my view (I’ll try to avoid repeating the complaints that I and many others have made on these forums in the past):

In essence, if you find this feature useful and you can’t find a good replacement that encourages you to do a minimum of Japanese practice every day while teaching you new things, then sure, go ahead and keep Duolingo in your toolbox. I personally think Duolingo is only good for vocabulary drills, because grammatical explanation is… well, it’s present now, but I feel that it’s still quite unnatural and unintuitive. They should build reminders about grammar into the system, but since it’s based on mechanical translation, they can’t really do that. In short, if you find that Duolingo teaches you a decent amount and helps you to make the most of random pockets of free, unproductive time (like when you’re in a queue), then sure, why not?

However, if you can find the motivation and resources necessary, I think your time is better spent trying to read simple news articles or watching content for natives while looking things up. Spending 20 mins on Duolingo a few months back taught me maybe three words: kappa, cucumber (I’ve forgotten how to translate this) and 具合, along with the structure masu-stem + 具合. I learnt almost nothing else and spent the rest of the time getting angry at the rigidity of the translations. Spending 20 mins watching anime and looking words up in the dictionary teaches me maybe 10 words or more, and I have a higher chance of remembering them because I enjoy myself.

Ultimately, my advice to you and others facing these questions is to see what works best for you.

I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s very robotic, they still have some mistakes in there (wrong kanji pronunciation, etc), and a native Japanese YouTuber reviewed the app and pointed out several mistakes with it as well. If you rely on it for listening practice, I would 100% seek out alternate resources.

For me, I decided to test it out again recently. I come back to it every now and again, but I always ultimately end up quitting. It’s okay as a review resource, but I would never recommend it as an educational/new learner resource.

I know they got an update recently, but it seems like it was more about adding additional content, making a larger tree, rather than fixing a lot of mistakes that have been there since the release. I feel like it could potentially be a really nice resource, but it needs more work. (And I really do hate the audio. I’m dabbling with Russian with it now and it’s just awful.)

I found it really helpful when I was living in Japan because of the option to listen to dialogue, record yourself saying it, and then play back your recording to test your accuracy. People told me I had very natural pronunciation, and I think this technique was what helped the most. You can achieve the same thing with shadowing any transcribed audio, I guess, but having it built into a system was useful for me.

As a beginners course, it’s much better than Duolingo. There’s enough content to get you to an intermediate level.

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I had some experience with Duolingo when learning Spanish and dropped it somewhere around 20%, my reasons: I noticed that there were some errors there and Duo was very strict with one-single-option (and they highly lean towards Mexican variant of Spanish), and reporting did nothing. What’s more - Duo is also very strict with your “original language” so for example if you are studying Spanish or Japanese from English and you would make a type-o in English then you fail that particular item. And if you are not a native English this could be a bit annoying (“oh, I missed that article”, aaaagaaaaain). In this case WK is way better because it gives you some credit if you make mistake/type-o in English (or even lets you add synonyms or use scripts to re-type - it’s way less frustrating). For Japanese I took a look at Duo and it seemed somewhat interesting, but exercises are a bit repetitive and some explanations are a bit weird. And the worst thing about Duolingo is that it gives you impression that you make immense progress.

IMHO there are better tools to study Japanese (and seems to be more time-effective)

So, the biggest problem I have with Lingodeer in a nutshell is that it’s too easy. Most of the exercises are multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc. which do require some knowledge but often don’t require you to read or understand very much. That might be fine in the beginning when users are presumably still picking up basic grammar but when you’re most of the way through the first course and it asks you “which word doesn’t belong here?” and you can tell there’s a stray particle without actually reading the sentence… well, I don’t think that’s an appropriate task.

There’s definitely a step up in difficulty with the second course as the sentences get noticibly more advanced than the beginner stuff, but it’s still all the same types of challenges.

The app really doesn’t introduce very much vocab compared to what learners will need, and there’s no SRS and not much in the way of supplemental material for learning new words. Arguably Lingodeer can’t be expected to provide that, but that’s not actually an argument in the app’s favor.

Given all that, the ability to record yourself saying sentences and compare them to native audio might be one of its best features - but it’s not worth paying what Lingodeer costs, IMO.

Personally much, muuuuccch prefer Lingodeer. I thought that app was pretty fantastic. I think it’s underrated how good Lingodeer is. It’s pace was very good, it explains grammar points well and it generally is very well structured.