Millions of learners around the world use self-directed computer- and mobile-assisted language learning (CALL, MALL) programs to study foreign languages. One such program, Duolingo, currently attracts over 120 million users and is claimed (by the publisher) to be a highly effective method of language learning. While L2 researchers have shown limited engagement with similar large-scale commercial programs, issues related to learner persistence, motivation, and program efficacy have been reported. This study investigates the experiences and efficacy of learning Turkish on Duolingo for 12 weeks, drawing on a methodological tradition of researcher narratives. Three graduate student researchers kept diaries and completed weekly reflections on their Turkish learning experiences, which served as source material for individual narrative analysis. The resulting narratives were discussed and analyzed collaboratively from an ecological perspective. Strategies used by the researcher-participants were heavily influenced by ecological factors. Persistence in learning was found to be influenced by ecological factors and varied across timescales. Ultimately, the researcher-participants had limited Turkish learning outcomes and felt demotivated to continue studying on Duolingo. Implications for CALL/MALL design include presenting materials in a meaningful context, capitalizing on social affordances, and providing meaningful feedback to learners in order to facilitate learning and goal-setting.
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