How extensive are Duolingo's courses?
I just started using Duolingo yesterday, to learn italian, and I was wondering exacty how much this website will teach me. For example, when i completely finish all of the italian courses and reach the highest level (25 i think), then exactly how well will I know the language? will I be fluent, or will i simply be able to hold at advanced level speaking? (I'm merely curious, i think this site is fantastic and i shall continue to use it)
Firstly level 25 is just a measure of how many XP (Experience Points) you have earned, not the level of fluency or where you have reached in the course. Certainly after finishing your tree you should be capable of an A2 or even a B1 in the Common European Frame of Reference. This is quite a way from fluency but it gives you a good grounding in your chosen language but you will need other resources to take you to fluency, especially conversational fluency which Duo does not perform well in.
I started 67 days ago, to learn Spanish and I finished the tree about 30-40 days in - Duolingo says I have 57% fluency (not entirely sure they're 100% correct, though :D)
The first thing you need to know is that finishing your tree doesn't get you to level 25 (that was a shock for me, too). For that, you need "Immersion", i.e. translation from your chosen language into English. If I recall correctly, I finished my tree while still on level 15 (and for the later levels you need 1500 XP each, so it's getting more and more difficult to get to the next level). Furthermore, if you test out of various levels, I think you get less points than you would by completing each lesson.
From my experience, just finishing the tree gives you a relatively good understanding of the written word (i.e. reading an Italian newspaper and getting the gist of an article, not necessarily with 100% accuracy, but enough to get you by), but I guess it depends a lot on your previous experience with languages and whether or not you speak (or at least understand) another Romance language. If you don't, things might prove to be a bit more difficult, at least at first.
However, once you start practicing immersion (not only on Duolingo, but actually watching Italian TV for instance) you'll get better at understanding the spoken word.
If you want to achieve fluency, I think two elements are key: the first is perseverance. Keep working every day, even if it's only one lesson or one translated sentence. The second is to not limit yourself to just Duolingo. Try other sites as well (Memrise comes to mind, particularly if you have a competitive nature, because they have leaderboards and you get to compete with others in your chosen course), try reading newspapers in Italian, or listening to Italian music, or watching Italian movies. The more exposure, the better. Oh, and in about a month or two, when you feel more confident, try using Italian instead of your native language when you want to say something (as in, if you're thinking "I'm hungry and would like something to eat", try thinking it in Italian). The more you do that, the more confidence you get.
Hope this helps, good luck to you :)
It gets worse... Levels 23 and 24 need 3500 experience points each and level 25 requires another 4000! I am at level 22 and am only a little over 2/3rds of the way to the number of points to get level 25.
Thanks for telling me - I think it's going to take a lot of time then for me to reach 25, although I'm beginning to wonder what the point is :) If you don't mind my asking, what exactly do you do to get so many points? It doesn't seem that with translations you get very many, unless you're on a higher tier, which you can't reach unless you get votes from your peers - more importantly, there aren't that many translations left to do (and when you get three points for a sentence, it takes a really long time to accumulate thousands and thousands).
I have not done any translations yet, just practice on the lessons. I didn't want to "cheat" to just rack up points at first, but once I saw that you need so many to get the higher levels I will admit that I do sometimes. Just practice easy lessons using timed practice. You can get 20 points for each one very quickly. I don't know what the "point" of reaching level 25 is really, but it is motivation to keep practicing, and the lessons do get easier to get right. So I suppose that is something.
Thank you so much for this - I hadn't thought about it. As far as I'm concerned, though, I don't think that's cheating - I mean, timed practice is a lot harder than doing it at your own pace, so it deserves more points. I've tried timed review on Memrise and it was brutal. I actually got less points than with regular practice, so... chapeau to you!
And I hadn't thought about the motivational factor either - I guess I'm just at that point where I'm not sure whether I'm learning enough through translation (or at least enough to justify the time spent on it), because you can deduce a lot of the words from context, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll remember them afterwards. It's great for getting a better grasp of the language in general, and seeing how Italians (or Spaniards in my case) use certain words or certain phrases, but in terms of learning new words it doesn't seem to be worth the effort.
I'm on the fence right now and trying to decide whether to keep working on Duolingo (thus my earlier comment about "the point" of it) or try to find another course on Memrise to learn more words.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Here's a lingot towards your next timed practice :) And good luck with getting to level 25 soon :)
You are correct that at some point i will have to move on... i suppose when Duo gets too easy that is becomes boring. For now though, I still am getting better and better at the lessons, knowing which gender to use, spotting things that are not so obvious. Just yesterday I realized the difference between e morta and e morto meaning she is dead vs he is dead.., simple thing, but it took me a long time to "get" it. The more things like that fall into place, the more i understand other lessons that I was previously just guessing at. I am also working on the reverse tree, Inglish for Italian speakers, and while some say there is no value in doing that, I find that there are several words taught there that I didn't get in the Italian tree. I think that duo is helping me to understand the rules and concepts pretty well, and once that is done something like memrise would be good for building up the word list.
As you do translation, one good tactic is to add unfamiliar words to a spaced repetition system (SRS) like anki / ankidroid. That way you'll practice the words regularly and add them to your vocabulary.
Otherwise you're right, you'll just lose those words.
@David598296 - Sorry, for some reason it doesn't let me reply to you directly (as in, there's no reply option below your post). Thank you for the suggestion, it sounds really helpful, I'll give it a go as soon as I have some more free time ;) This week I'm barely managing to keep my streak with some translations here and there. As it stands, I merely do translations without hovering over the underlined words, unless it's something I really don't know (in which case I double-check the whole thing).