Language Mag

Chrome Extension to Reinstate Skill Strength on Duolingo

If you just want the extension, keeping in mind that it’s a little bit experimental, head on over to the Chrome Extension page here. You should also check out my other Chrome Extension to track what languages you’re reading web pages in and set reading targets: here.

For everybody who wants to read about what this extension does and how it came about, please keep on reading.

Some time ago Duolingo switched to a new Crowns system. A considerable number of users found this change drastic. The key complaints being that it no longer gave you any guidance on what to learn through the SRS system and that you couldn’t really re-gold your tree anymore.

Recently I’ve been writing an extension to track the languages that people read web pages in, so they can see statistics and set reading targets. I finished that and then I started wondering. The old SRS system on Duolingo isn’t perfect, but I miss it. In fact, I miss it to the degree that in learning Spanish I’ve been subconsciously using a site called Duome to show me a list of my strength in the skills so that I know what to work on.

Quite clearly the data for the skill strength still exists in Duolingo, I’d just learnt more about writing plugins, so I started wondering if there’s a way that I could put these together to automate that whole process.

Every browser has a system called Local Storage. This is kind of like cookies, but it can store more data. It turns out the Duolingo put an awful lot of data in the local storage of your browser. It also, happily, turns out that Duolingo put the skills and skill strengths into the Local Storage as some sort of cache (which makes sense given how much data Duolingo are dealing with).

Reverse engineering that is a not terribly difficult, but time consuming job. But within a few hours I had an extension that put the skill strengths alongside the skill titles. Let’s call that proof of concept. It was nice, but it still wasn’t quickly obvious which skills you need to practice.

After learning a bit about SVG graphics and drawing arcs, I managed to replace the crown practice indicator bars with my own bars. Each is a quarter of the circle around the skill icon, because there are four skill levels. This helped a lot.

But, as if to prove that Duolingo’s original design was the best, it wasn’t really that obvious when you didn’t need to practice one. Because the icons didn’t turn gold. So I put in a check for that and turned the icons gold.

The only thing I couldn’t (yet) workout how to do was to ungold icons when they’re at crown level 5 but you should practice. The problem here mostly being that I don’t know what colour to make them. But it’s also quite an uncommon scenario – by that time you should be pretty well practiced in them, so for the time being I’m not sure it matters.

You’re welcome to try the extension and I hope it gives you a better Duolingo learning experience. But there’s two side notes: 1. Please remember it’s a bit experimental. It works for me, but further it’s not been tested a great deal and 2. At some point it is possible (pretty likely) that Duolingo will make coding changes that break it. But until then, enjoy!

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Thanks for reading, head on over to the Chrome Extension page here to improve your Duolingo experience. You should also check out my other Chrome Extension to track what languages you’re reading web pages in and set reading targets: here.

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