Has anyone finished a tree with 0 prior knowledge of the language
I'm just wondering since I literally knew 0 words in german and now I'm a third down the tree and I was wondering if I'll ever be able to retain so much new information, or what should I expect when I finish the tree.
I'm really curious to learn about someone else's experience.
I think most people know at least a couple of phrases in many other languages even if they never learned them. I heard or read "Guten Tag" and "Hände hoch!" somewhere before I started to learn German. Almost every Russian knows the phrase "Je ne mange pas six jours" in French (although it looks more like literal translation from Russian and not a correct French sentence) because it is mentioned in a super-popular book and movie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Chairs). So, 0 prior knowledge is a rare thing in case of widely spoken languages.
If we don't count random words and phrases that people know without learning them, I started learning French from scratch here. Soon I added some other resources and successfully completed my tree. Starting from scratch on Duolingo is fine, but restricting yourself with Duolingo only is too hard and ineffective.
My advice to you: don't hesitate to use other methods and resources in addition to Duolingo. Use any grammar reference you want, read stories, watch videos, listen to podcasts. You'll retain new vocabulary and grammar easier if they come from different sources, and they surely will because basic grammar and most common words are the same regardless of the method you use.
I've finished the German tree. Before I started it, I only knew a few words: 'guten tag', 'danke', 'sauerkraut', 'frau'. Maybe a few others, but they were all the kind of words that many English speakers know without ever having studied the language.
I wondered the same thing as you when I was working on the German tree, if it was really possible to build up from nothing using Duolingo. I had finished the French tree before, but I'd also learned French as a child so I had some background.
Conclusion? It does work. My progress was much slower in German, because it was all new, and I had to look up a lot more grammar explanations. I also still make a lot of gender and preposition mistakes, and forget so many words, though that's getting better with time. It just takes a while for things to sink in. I think I have a great foundation for further learning now.
Lastly, I'll second Olimo in suggesting that you don't limit yourself to only Duolingo - as much as I enjoy this site, it focuses on translating, and you need more than that to really be able to use a language.
I finished the Spanish tree. Thanks to marlin fishing trips to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and Venezuela I could already curse fluently in Spanish (and two other languages) and knew "Dos cervezas, por favor" but that was about it.
Finishing the tree is a good start but I've found I have to keep repeating the lessons to retain what I learned, and I also try to branch out by reading Spanish newspapers.
I tested my new-found Spanish knowledge on a trip to Barcelona and Bilbao recently and found that I could read pretty much everything and speak fluently about 30 or so carefully practiced phrases. But I had a lot of trouble understanding native speakers unless they spoke slowly and in short sentences and a couple of times we had to pull out pen and paper and have them write things down before I 'got' it.
Overall the Duolingo experience added greatly to my knowledge of Spanish but I think even finishing a tree is basically just a good starting point.
I just finished my Spanish tree, and while I agree with olimo that it's highly unlikely to learn a language with absolutely no prior knowledge (I knew "Hola" and "Feliz Navidad", for instance), I was fairly close. I already knew French though, and that helped a lot with understanding the grammar, as did many other online resources. Duolingo is great at getting you from minimal knowledge to the ideal point for using such resources as bilingual books and watching movies in the language with a translation dictionary handy.
I'm working my way down the tree, and very new to German. The only things I knew when I started were Guten Tag, Ein Kuss (my ex husband taught me that one lol) and Kindergarten (har har). Even though Ive only been at it for about a week, Ive been able to email a friend of mine (who is Swiss) with little bits of German througout, and he seems pretty thrilled with how much I have learned already...so that is encouraging and gets me pretty exited too.
My personal goal is to be able to hold a decent conversation once I finish the tree....Im not shooting for perfectionist or fluency, but being able to communicate, understand, be understood. Im not only using Duolingo though, Im also using Anki (changed over from Quizlet) for practice, and watching children shows in German.
Im very confident I'll be able to finish the tree though. Im too determined not to!
Finished Danish in 3 months and a half, having started from 0 and a mild dislike for language and country. Nonetheless, as long as I'm constantly working to keep the bars up, I'm good.
If you want to keep your language skills, find something that interests you from that language, at least a little, and enjoy yourself with it. Case in point, I learned Turkish for a test (from an F to A- in two weeks) but I dislike Turkish intensely and wouldn't give it a thought after I graduated. I forgot everything in two months, and, embarrassingly, I mean everything. Back to Danish, I'm reading children's stories; old Hans Christian Andersen or Ole Lund Kirkegaard are actually quite interesting when you're working with a limited vocabulary.
I have just finished the Spanish tree with absolutely no previous knowledge of the language apart from a few words here and there. I guess if you put you mind to it and you heart in it you will definitely manage
Dude keep going. Every so often the Tree gets really hard and painfully slow and irratating. Then something will click and you'll have a breakthrough. Then it will get hard again. I did over half the Portuguese tree and have just come back from 6 weeks in Brazil I wasn't fluent but I had no trouble conversing with people with the aid of google translate on my phone for some words and asking them to speak slowly. By the end of the 6 weeks of speaking to lots of people all day, as i was staying with locals, I could talk about most things even complicated things and have a proper conversation. Now I am back on duolingo things are a lot easier and my vocab is better and my ability to comprehend the audio at normal speed is greatly improved. Keep up the good work.