Duolingo, Anja and Your Opinion

Written By: Emanuel Updated: February 10, 2023

Hey everyone,

I’m almost done with a new article so that’ll come out in a few days, but there are a couple of other things that I wanted to mention and I wanted to post a bit more frequently this year anyway, so I decided to do a quick little

News Update

And it’s not just news but I actually also need your thoughts on a few things.
So let’s start right away with a few small things about this site itself.

Dictionary Upgrade

First up a little piece of good news. One reader who is a cyber security expert recently offered to do a penetration test of the site.
That basically means he was trying various things to hack into the system. These things are usually pretty expensive, so I’m really grateful for the offer and of course I said yes. And so far, he hasn’t found any real issues. Which makes me pretty happy!
The comment spam issues I had recently also seem to be resolved, so that’s good.
However, during this stuff I found out that Gravatar (the service where some of you have their profile pictures) had a data leak in 2020 where millions of emails, names and possibly also passwords were leaked and sold. If you want to check if your email address is in this or some other leak, you can do that here:

Have I Been Pawned? Email Checker 

If your email is listed that doesn’t automatically mean that you’re hacked, but if you haven’t changed your password in a while you might want to do that and maybe enable two factor verification.

Cool. Next up a little question about the YourDailyGerman dictionary.
I’m slowly shifting my focus from adding new entries to enhancing the entries that are there. And the one thing I think is the most helpful right now is to give you an indication of how common a word is.
Or actually, I should say, how common an idea of a word is, because many words have more than one use and one might be super common while the other might be rare.

So yeah, I have pretty much all the functionality in place, but what I am not sure about is how to categorize words.

Right now, what I’m thinking is a scale of 1 to 5 with roughly these meanings:

  1. super rare
    (old fashioned, super high brow or limited to a few phrasings)
  2. rare
    (technical, super formal or niche)
  3. “normal” word
    (you’ll see the word sooner or later but you can reach functional fluency without it)
  4. common
    (it’s common in daily life and you’ll have a perceivable gap without it
  5. must have 
    (This is a must have word and you should know it by B1 level the latest)

Let me know in the comments what you think about this and if you have any suggestions for changes or a completely different scheme.

Cool.
Next up… some drama.

The Recent Duolingo Drama

My friend Jeremy from Seedlang asked me a few days ago if I had been following the Duolingo drama. I hadn’t, but nothing is better to procrastinate work than some good old discussion board drama and so I went on Reddit so see what’s going on.

Apparently, Duolingo has rolled out a new version with some substantial changes to the tree progression and the overall feature set, and the consensus on Reddit and also in the app stores is … that people hate it.
Now, this often happens with a redesign, but here the backlash was especially bad.
One of the Duolingo founders did a sort of Q&A in the Subreddit, and he essentially said that the new system they’re using “gets the average learners better results”… as per science, allegedly. But many people (me included) think that Duolingo is just trying to maximize profit. It’s a publicly traded company now and their main focus is NOT making you learn a language quickly. It is maximizing your time on the app, so they can annoy you into paying.

I know that many of you are also using Duolingo so I was curious to hear from you what you think and if the change is really that bad.
I heard that they took away the discussions under each question which in my opinion is an seminally dumb idea. There was a wealth of information there.  Right where the question arises you could find the answer, and that is just gone now apparently. And the reason Luis van Ahn (one of the founders) gave on Reddit was that “very few people used it”. Which I think is a lie. I think they didn’t like people following links to other sources.

But yeah… I’m curious what your thoughts are on the new version, so let me know in the comments.
And also, let me know if you’d be interested in me ranting for 10 minutes about Duolingo in a “review” :).

Cool.
And now from an established, publicly traded billion dollar company who struggles to put out a good product to an independent German learning program.

Anja’s Video Course – News and Thoughts

Many of you probably remember from last year that Anja from the Youtube channel has launched a German learning video course – which is essentially a comedy series designed for German learners, all complete with topics, subtitles, exercises and native speaker support.
Anja contacted me recently because they’re doing another

10 week challenge 

Which is of course marketing code for a sales drive, but hey… you have to find your customers somehow.
And the reality is people LOVE anything that is called “challenge”.
One course creator (not Anja) once told me that she doubled her sales by just reframing her course as a 4-week challenge. Which is crazy!
But I guess this challenge format does offer some extra motivation to actually work with the program you bought, which can indeed be helpful.

Now, Anja and the team are still working on the B2-season of the show, so there is no new content yet.
But they still made some improvements. For one thing, they have added a community forum now, where you can connect with other course members, ask questions or just chat around.
And they’re also working on an actual physical book where they combine all the pdfs from the lessons. Which I think is a great idea – it’s basically like a workbook for the course. That was one of my main complaints initially that having to print a pdf is just not very user friendly.
The book is not entirely finished yet unfortunately, but it’ll be available soon on Amazon and I think they’ll sell it “at cost”, so just to cover the printing and shipping.

I kind of think they should include it in the purchase of the course for free, but okay, I don’t know how complicated that is and their numbers.

Anyway, so they’ll start a new 10 week challenge on Monday and because I know that quite a few of you have actually taken (or are currently taking) Anja’s course I wanted to ask you what YOU think.

Anja’s Alumni:

What did you think about the course?

What did you like? What did you not like like?
Did it help you improve your German? Was it worth the price?

Please please, if you have taken one or more of her courses (A1, A2, B1)
and you have a moment, please share your impressions in the comment.

 

And please be honest – if you didn’t like it please share that as well and also let us know why you’d not recomment it.
That’ll help people make a decision if the program might be for them or if they should rather pass. There is a 30 day money back guarantee, and I have no doubt Anja will honor this guarantee. So there’s not really a risk, that you end up with something you hate,  But we all know hothat there’s a good chance we’re actually too lazy to ask our money back :).

Anyway, if you’re looking for a course centered around real spoken language and you like quirky, silly humor, you can find out more and join here:

Anja’s Comedy German Course

And make sure to use the code “daily15” to get 15% off.

And that’s it for today, actually.
Here again a reminder of the things I have asked your feedback on… just if you have time and “Bock” of course :D

  1. What categories for how common a word is?
  2. How do you like (or hate) the new version of Duolingo?
  3. Should I do a Duolingo review?
  4. How did you like Anja’s course?

Tausend Dank im Voraus for taking the time, have a great week and I’ll see you in a few days with an article about… nah… I’m not gonna say it :).
Bis Dann!

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