Alexis Monville (en)

Maybe we can love division after all

One year and a half ago, I noticed that my daughter was using an app to improve her Spanish and her English. Of course, there is an app for that! There are even several apps!

The one she was using is Duolingo. I decided to give it a try and started learning Spanish from scratch. Over the last year, I observed multiple evolutions of the application meant to motivate people to stick to their practice and continue using the app.

One evolution they introduced lately is “division”. You start in the “bronze” division. A division is a group of 50 people. Over the week, the first 10 of them will go to the higher division, the “silver” one. Once you reach the “silver” division, the first ten can go up, and the last five are relegated to the lower division. The number of XP (eXperience Points) you gain during the week defines your ranking. You can gain XP by attending a lesson, and how successful you are during lessons.

Of course, with 300 million learners, you can imagine that there are several “bronze,” “silver,” “gold” divisions running in parallel. But it seems it does not affect the behavior of the learners. I realized quickly my habit of doing three lessons per day got me immediately to the top of the first divisions, but after a few weeks, it was harder to get to the top 10, and I needed to increase my practice. So, it worked… And now, to stay in the current division, I need to do a little bit more than three lessons a day.

Of course, I am doing it every day to keep my “streak” 🙂 Another incentive to help you keep up with the habit!

I saw a lot of content management systems that are ranking the top contributors. The problem is that when you are a newcomer, the top is something inaccessible so it cannot motivate you to do anything. The weekly top could also be unreachable, so maybe divisions could solve that problem?

Why do you want people to contribute, and how useful will be their contributions remain questions you will have to answer.

How does it work with my learning of Spanish?

I keep up with the practice, and I was able to understand a lot of things during my last travel to Spain. But I am not yet comfortable enough to speak. Compare to my starting point, the progress is enormous for just a few minutes invested each day.

So what do you want to learn next?