The Duolingo English Test has made a bit of a splash over the last year or so. Priced to undercut the likes of TOEFL and IELTS, and claiming to be accurate, secure and ‘scientifically designed’, it has some big-name adopters including Yale, Uber and LinkedIn. In this guest post, Anthony Schmidt puts it through its paces and is left unimpressed. “I went into it very excited and came away with a very bad taste in my mouth.”
Following Tim’s recent post on bots and their potential application in ELT, and after our own foray into the world of bots with our Ame product, we decided it was time to do another ELTjam review, this time of the recently launched Duolingo Language Bots.
Frustration, anger, confusion, boredom and repetition are all hallmarks of bad user experience (UX); unfortunately, they’re often hallmarks of language learning too, especially when it takes place digitally. But bad UX is not the only reason digital language learning products fail – sometimes it’s the content, sometimes it’s the pedagogy, sometimes it’s the lack of human interaction. Bad UX alone fails to address the complexities of language learning. We need to start talking about bad learner experience (LX). Bad LX could be defined in a number of ways, but at its most basic it’s this: not only did you fail to learn something; you had a horrible time trying.