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Duolingo overhauled its fluency system to make it harder for advanced users

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Duolingo has begun rolling out a new update that will add more advanced lessons to each component of a language course. Called Crown Levels, users now have the option of sticking to a skill to “level up” before they move on to the next skill or finish all the courses then come back to a particular skill for more difficult sessions.

Previously, users could see how far they got through a skill via a bar graph, but with Crown Levels, Duolingo now offers five levels of difficulty for those who want to learn harder words and phrases. Skills are ranked from Crown Levels 1 to 5, and each level may contain anywhere between four to 40 sessions before progressing to the next. Duolingo says the goal is to add more content for those who feel like they may have plateaued on the app, so they can further challenge themselves, while keeping all the basics for users who are just getting started and want to just casually pick up a new language skill. There are also new skill types with this update, including phonetics, reading, and listening comprehension.

Crown Levels had been in testing for the past few months, and the company says the new system helped retained users who would have otherwise stopped using the app because it got too difficult too quickly or wasn’t difficult enough to keep them engaged. Early feedback from users on the Duolingo forums and elsewhere have been mixed; some users found it helpful to come back to earn higher-level crowns, while others appear discouraged that their fluency percentages have disappeared.

The update rolls out today on iOS and Android apps as well as the web.