Keeping you at the frontier of learning with adaptive lessons

Every language teacher knows how important it is to get learners in front of new, more challenging content to help them progress… and every language teacher also knows how hesitant learners are to jump out of their comfort zone to harder material! It's natural to want to master what you're studying before moving on, but the best learning happens when there's a balance between familiarity and new challenges. When you’re struggling a little bit, it means you're at the frontier of what you know!

Duolingo pays attention to how you're doing to decide when you're ready for more challenging words, grammar, and phrases. After all, every lesson is an important opportunity for your learning to grow! This post is about how Duolingo lessons adapt to you.

Finding your personal learning frontier

We use both linguistic theory and our data from millions of users to design courses that lead learners through gradually more difficult material, in a sequence that makes sense for the particular language you're studying. One way we do this is through scaffolding: when we introduce new words or grammar, we do it in sentences that build directly on content you've already learned. That way, you can focus your attention on the newer information that might initially feel tricky.

We also do a lot of measuring to figure out what's especially difficult for you. Our machine learning and courses teams work to understand how your learning is going and when you're ready for more. It's important for us to not only get you in front of the right kind of material, but to get you there at the right pace for you, which is why we make lessons adaptive.

Here's where you can find adaptive lessons:

  • New lessons. Every lesson in every skill is ready to adapt to you! Duolingo measures your performance through a lesson and adapts the difficulty of the last few exercises, in real time: if you're getting everything right, the exercises at the end of the lesson are replaced with more challenging exercises from higher levels. This gets you doing new, tougher things with the words and grammar you just proved you're comfortable with!

screenshot of hard challenge indicator

  • Skill practice. When you complete a practice lesson for a gold skill, these lessons will also adapt to your level of knowledge and will integrate more advanced exercises when you're ready for them.

screenshot of skill practice location

  • Mistakes practice. Now you can also focus on personalized material in practice sessions from the heart menu. In these sessions, you work through the exact mistakes you've made, from across the course. Mistakes mean you're hanging out at the frontier of your learning! These mistakes-focused sessions help you drill down on the words, grammar, and sentences that have been the toughest for you. Mistakes make you more sensitive to what you haven't mastered yet, so you'll pay even closer attention to that language pattern when you see it in a practice session!

screenshot of global practice location

By pushing your learning to the next level, but only when you're ready for it, we hope these adaptive lessons will also boost your confidence and show you that you're ready for the next challenge.

Happy learning — even if it isn’t always easy!