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https://www.duolingo.com/whitis1950

What is the most effectively use Duolingo to learn a language

I am relatively new to Duolingo. I would like to know what is the most effective way to use Duolingo to learn a language. For example, does one keep moving to subsequent lessons before fully grasping the current lesson all the while using the "practice" feature? Or does one become proficient before moving on to the next lesson?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

4 years ago

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
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My approach is that I tend to practice the lessons until everything is golden / full, and only then move on to learning new lessons. I don't ever keep practicing a lesson once Duo shows that it's golden / full. I work through lessons and practices slowly, thinking a lot. When I encounter two words that can be translated with the same word in English, I delve deep. I go into the discussion page, and ask questions or read the existing discussion. I type words into google image search using a Google homepage from a country that speaks a dialect of the language I want to learn. I use google translate or external dictionaries to compare the definitions or translations given for similar words.

I also put a lot of effort into listening to the pronunciation. If the computer voice isn't 100% clear I look up words on Forvo. Instead of just zooming through exercises, if I cannot pronounce a word correctly I sit there listening and trying over and over again until I get it.

I also do a lot off DuoLingo. I try to listen to things in the language, and I try to find places I can speak the language, especially with native speakers if possible. I read things online in the language too.

I've found this very effective. I seem to gain a lot relative to the time I put in. I've been doing DuoLingo less than a year and I think I've gained way more out of it than I have out of years of classroom instruction. I had studied 3 years of German, 1 of Spanish. I could communicate easily in German and had a big vocabulary and great listening comprehension, but my grammar was poor. Spanish I could barely communicate in and my listening comprehension was poor. My accents in both languages weren't great.

To compare, in about 8 months of DuoLingo, I've gotten my Spanish to where I can comfortably converse with people, and express ideas...my accent in both Spanish and German have hugely improved, and my German grammar has hugely improved...and totally from scratch I learned Portuguese and can now functionally converse in that too. I also have dabbled in Russian and will probably turn to focus on that once I've completed the Portuguese course.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Wow, good for you. Well-written and useful ideas for others to implement. I, too, even though I came to Duolingo with an advanced level of French, was determined to perfect every sentence and each word's pronunciation. I devote a set amount of time every morning, noon, evening and late evening for Duolingo.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lee84249

Thanks for the advice! I wanted to clarify something though. When you say "practice the lessons until everything is golden / full, and only then move on to learning new lessons" (in your first sentence), I take it you mean that the lesson should have a golden circle around it, but how many crowns should you have for a lesson before proceeding to the next lesson (and, if you know, what's the max crowns you can have per lesson)?

I recently started learning Spanish and have been doing the Intro lesson over and over (I now have 3 crowns, 4 soon), but I'm getting worried that I'm not using the app as effectively as I could, by not carrying on to the next lessons. What do you think? Should one get 1 crown per lesson and then move on to the next lesson or try to max out the crowns for the lesson (if that's even possible) before moving on?

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Don't focus on the number of crowns. Those are game aspects to motivate you to review, they do not tell you how much youve learned or when you are ready to move forward. Move forward at the pace you feel fits you. I am level 8 and only just about to move on to the 4th skill. I have 11 Crowns.

Meanwhile, im on level 14 in Japanese and have already completed the course and then went on to do review in it.

My Spanish tree has 1 skill with Crown 5, none of the others have made it to crown 4, very few to Crown 3. I completed the course a long time ago.

People learn at different paces and require different amounts of review for language retention. When I feel comfortable or too bored, I move on. Later, I come back to review if need be.

Good luck! :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Correct me if I am wrong, but levels are acquired by how much XP. Theoretically a person could get a high level by only repeating and reviewing. Crowns mean quite a lot, it means a person is progressing in the material.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I have 11-13 crowns 8n Dutch. I have yet to reach the 4th skill. Crowns encourage people to review when they need to. If they dont need to get 5 Crowns in a skill, but make it their goal, the person could 1. Burn out 2. End up with the "cramming effect" if they get 5 Crowns and move on never to return to review because they think they are "done" with that skill because of a number, it wont serve them.

I dont recommend that a person puts a Crowns goal above the goal of effective learning. Crowns are intended to be motivation in the service of learning, not put above it.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I haven't done any French-connected trees yet. But, I think someone who did reported testing out of 2 years university French. From your description, I can see how!

Congrats on so many crowns, btw! That feature has made the courses more fun for me again. So, I'm glad staff created it.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Yes, I have heard that the French course is very difficult. I am planning to study French at university. I hope my university recognizes Duolingo. It took me three weeks to finish level one of the old tree. And about three months to get level 25 and now I am predicting I will be finished by the end of August, beginning of September. I stay on to help others learn French and keep up to date. I enjoy it. I want to be very skilled in French. Luckily I live near a French metropolis. Going tonight to see an original French film in the cinemas. That is the last area of difficulty, lol. I didn't know other courses are smaller. I thought just the beta ones like Czech were smaller. Good luck to you in Dutch. Their flag is almost like France's.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Sure, I understand, at the early stages the crowns are v ery repetitive and sometimes rehash earlier lessons. However in the later stages the levels 4 and 5 are really quite tricky. I am fully bilingual, I teach both French and English yet the French sentences leave me gasping for air, they are lengthy, complicated complex compound verb tenses. I have 293 crowns.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
Samsta
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It's personal preference really. I didn't practice much at all when I was working through my tree. Some people practice as much as or more than they do new lessons, and some don't practice at all. Whatever works for you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy
northernguy
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Everybody has their own approach. I don't leave a lesson until I am able to keep all my hearts. When I complete a group of lessons I go back to the beginning of the course and start all over again with the same requirement. Fine way to go if you are indifferent to how long it takes to finish Duo.

People who have certain goals they want to meet can't be so casual about how they use their time.

I also supplement Duo with other approaches.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

I'll probably reach level 25 before I finish my tree..

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Same here. I'm less worried about the appearance of my tree than in retaining what i'm learning.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FelipeFresnal

I do think that one has to move to subsequent lessons before fully grasping the current one. At our level one should not be aiming for perfection for it would be most discouraging and therefore counter-productive. We have to keep in mind the goal which is to speak the target language not to kown perfectly certain aspects of it or get an absolute command of some parts of it, I think. Learning anything is a making mistake process. Only practice makes perfect. I personally know from experience that it is impossible, once past 16 years of age or so, to have a native like command of a second language. And this no matter how much effort you put into it.

The more mistakes made the more learning there is. By definition, perfection is mistakeless.Often rules are grasped when we are ready to grasp them often as other blocks of the construction of the language are in place we find ourselves with an available space for a previous element that we couldn't fit anywhere before. We will learn the target language trying to speak it, trying to make sentences, reading aloud and exchanging naturally with native speakers of it and ... making mistakes. The more mistakes the better.

To answer your question: Duolingo gives one an excellent user-friendly corpus to base our speaking on.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
annika_a
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I agree with your approach to using Duolingo, but I absolutely have to disagree with your conclusion about language learning and the limits of it! That you have had a particular experience (that reaching a native speaker's level after age 16 or so is impossible), certainly doesn't equate to this being true for all or even for 95 % of people, as another person writes below.

People all learn differently, and everyone has different abilities, motivations, and skills. I know plenty of people who in their late teens or twenties have learned a language to the extent that native speakers now can't hear or believe that they aren't native speakers. I know others who have full command of a second or third language, but still have a strong accent, after maybe 30 years of speaking the language and living in an area where it is spoken. We are all different. I personally do believe that adults are often lazier and busier than children are (expected to be) when it comes to learning languages, and therefore neither put in as much effort nor achieve as much.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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I agree with your views.

But when I studied second language acquisition theory in my Master's program, what we were taught is that the phase when children readily learn new languages and can learn them to a native level ends at about 12 years old. If you start studying a language after that, for 95% of people, they will hit a level where they stop improving no matter how much they study, but for some reason 5% of people with enough effort are able to reach native level even when they start learning when they're older. They don't understand why this happens yet.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/benjaminsull

If you are committed to learning a language, the only rational choice is to assume that you are in the 5%. Otherwise your chances are 0% by default.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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I think it's more reasonable though to just accept that you probably won't make it to native level, and that native level shouldn't be the goal. If you enjoy living in the language and using it and can do so well enough, that should be enough.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/benjaminsull

It depends on how you perceive cost. A gamble with 5% chance of hitting jackpot at no cost is a no-brainer decision (go for it). Probability doesn't matter because the cost is zero or near zero.

For me the cost of not limiting myself is zero or near zero. Others may perceive the cost differently.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mathman2pi

Also, the reward is larger than the gamble whether we reach a native level or not.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy
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Ontalor

It isn't true when you say that after a certain point ninety five percent of adult learners don't improve their language skills no matter how much they study.

What happens is they stop studying effectively because the effort involved in continuing their particular combination of studies does not seem to overcome their frustration. You can study Duo eight hours a day for years and you will still not to be able to engage in free flowing conversation with only a mild accent.

They reach a point which is satisfactory enough that they don't want to do what might be necessary to continue to move on to complete fluency. For example if someone is frustrated by their heavy accent they might buy a musical instrument, learn to play it, learn to sing, learn songs in the target language that are the kind that all native speakers grew up with and they will soon see much of their accent disappear. Naturally many would say but that is way too much to ask of me just so I can lose much of my accent.

Some approaches to learning a language seem too time consuming or uncomfortable or do not look like they are worthwhile pursuing because they seem impractical. How much effort to put into studying the mechanics of the tongue, lips, jaw, nose, breath combination to master the correct articulation of a particular sound when the goal is to make sure no one notices it when you say it? There are courses that teach it but they cost money, are mildly stressful and involve making strange sounds out loud. Easier to just continue with less demanding but less effective study program like Duo.

Not to say there is anything wrong with Duo but no one should believe that Duo and can make you fluent. Unless you want to be part of the ninety five percent of adults that can't become fluent no matter how much they study, you have to do something else in addition.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Ontolator - Agreed. Je me suis battu comme un chien pour maitriser le français. J'ai regardé le célèbre film de France Le Dîner des Cons au moins 200 cent fois. Je me suis couché avec la radio française dans mes écouteurs. And guess what? I have almost zero accent. The only thing I need a little reminder of is to subtly roll my r's once in a while. I give speeches, write documents in French. Heck, I tutor basic French!

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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I began a systematic study of French age 17 and people mistake me for a native speaker until I discuss very technical jargon.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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I agree with you. We can get bogged down in perfectionism. I focus primarily on speaking. I memorize meaningful sentences to me, mainly from the stories section in Duolingo for French, then I draw them from memory throughout the day. However, most of my studies in French came after age 17. I grew up hearing French around me as a small child, so that could be why I understand it very well. I have virtually no accent and can say most things very naturally. Difference is that I devote a huge chunk of time to French and I speak it regularly with natives.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Take your time and practice as much as you feel you need. Otherwise, you'll come to a point when you realize you've forgotten a lot and will have to come back and review a big part of your tree. I made this mistake twice - with my German and Spanish. It's terribly frustrating to feel stupid and unable to remember mere 300-500 words.

Also, don't hesitate to use additional resources such as grammar reference. In most cases it is easier to know the reason for using this or that word than to guess endlessly.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/garrettowne
garrettowne
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I like to power through as far as I a can while keeping all past lessons in the Gold status. When I come to new lessons I’m forced to fumble around a little, but I feel that in the end this gives me a better grasp when I have to come back and review after the Gold status is dropped.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/michisjourdi
michisjourdi
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I went through each lesson and tested out of each course as fast as I could. If I didn't fail a lesson I didn't stay on it. I moved on to the next one. This method works well for me. It might not for others.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Szczels

Yes the same thing is puzzling me. I've got to a point after two or three months when I seem to be forgetting as much as I learn and some lessons only cover 5 or 10% of usages of a particular term. If I go back and practice and look at the word list and do a bit of dialogue I seem to be standing still. Perhaps pushing forward brings up the rear? - as I noticed, as I fail a lot doing new exercises (e.g. guessing the meanings of words or phrases etc) I revise older stuff on the way.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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Hi, Buongiornio, I strongly believe in repeating the lesson over and over again until I can learn the sentence by heart.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aundre514944

Sometimes I practice, other times I move on. Your flow/preference. Buen Suerte

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aundre514944

I also order food in Spanish, watch movies, news , sports all with English subtitles. I try to listen to music.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/corina866235

I'm new and just learning. My goal is 50xp a day. What I'm attempting is to use 40 of that on reviewing what i've learnt so far, and 10 on furthering it with a brand new topic. I love feeling like I'm progressing, and I like reviewing so I don't lose what I'm starting to retain. Does that sound ideal?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BilingualQuebecr
BilingualQuebecrPlus
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I think your idea is excellent. We learn best by repetition, repetition, repetition.

6 months ago