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Duolingo Spanish in 80 Days

Hi everyone, I've just finished my Duolingo Spanish tree and I'd like to share some facts and thoughts with you :-)

  • It took me 80 days which make a streak. (My current total streak is 84 because before Spanish I spent 4 days doing additional German lessons.) It is less than it was with French (3 months) and German (5.5 months).

  • By the end of the tree, I'm level 19 in Spanish. This means I practiced quite a lot, but not as much as I had to practice German, for example. (I did not do any Immersion for Spanish.)

  • It is my third completed Duolingo tree and it feels like the easiest one so far. Well, this is only logical because it is usually easier to learn the third language than the second one, or the fourth one than the third one - provided that these languages are not totally different. Spanish is my fifth language after Russian, English, French and German. By no means I claim being fluent in any of them except for Russian and English, but at least I know the basic grammar and can read and understand something in any of these languages.

  • The Spanish course is the most popular on Duolingo and this is probably why it seems the most polished. There were very few tasks where I lost a heart because my correct answer was not in the database - most mistakes were my own.

  • French helps a lot in learning Spanish. Of course there are many difficulties, but using adjectives after nouns and putting personal pronouns before the verbs was something usual for me :-) I've also noticed that I get more flexible and ready to new language concepts with every new language and don't expect the structure to be the same as in English (or Russian).

  • Like with French and German, I used Michel Thomas's audio courses for Spanish. I did it a little in advance, so I was familiar with all the grammar I got to learn on Duolingo. This saved me a lot of frustration and made grammar units easier than vocabulary ones.

  • For me, the hardest part of the tree was in the middle. Learning too many verbs, adjectives and adverbs in one skill is tough. I have to admit, though, that Spanish Adverbs skills are not even close to the pain I had in French and German where I had to write down every sentence and use my notes to pass lessons. The last Spanish skills were easy because most of new words there happen to be almost the same as in English, and grammar units are short and don't have many new forms.

  • Some things are great to learn without rules, just by practice. I like when I start to "feel" where to put a word without knowing the rule.

  • Unfortunately, a lot of the most advanced grammar does not get enough attention and practice in the course. It is all fine when you know about subjunctive and conditional moods from elsewhere, but if you don't, you'll have to use external grammar reference if you don't want to be completely lost.

  • Some skills are very strangely placed. Such are "To Be: Ser/Estar", "Verbs: Haber" and "Verbs: Modal": you learn how to use these verbs with the help of discussions and external reference long before they are officially introduced.

  • People often ask about the level of fluency after completing the tree. Well, I am not fluent at all, but neither did I expect to become fluent in Spanish after only having completed the Duolingo course which focuses on translation - mostly from Spanish into English. I learned for my entertainment and almost did not practice anywhere else. I can now read in Spanish and understand the general idea without a dictionary - or read and understand almost everything with the help of a dictionary. From my previous experience with other languages, I know I can improve my writing skills anytime by practice. I've never tried to speak Spanish because I don't have any Spanish speakers around and I don't feel like looking for them online for now.

  • It's a shame there are no trophies and no congratulation message in the new test layout I'm using now :-( I hope they just have not been added yet.

  • What next? I'm going to do Spanish skill practice for a while and also help to test and improve the English course for Russian speakers. I'm not planning to start any new languages because I'm having a baby soon.

Merry Christmas to everyone and have fun with your languages!

December 25, 2013



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Great job with your languages and congratulations on your baby!


Thanks! I'll be learning baby language soon :D


This made me actually smile


I've been living with a baby recently (not mine). It's very exciting to hear them trying out and then successfully producing new phonemes (/k/, /g/, /b/ etc). Indeed, I think watching and participating in an infant acquiring a language (or two) might be one of the most fascinating things in life. Have fun with yours :)


Thank you Oska :-) Before that, I'll have to learn to understand the non-verbal language of my little one, like when he wants to eat or to pee or is cold or whatever. This is important, too!


Congrats :)

What was the average amount of time a day you worked on Spanish? I imagine most of the time was for review?


Well, it usually took about 20 minutes in the morning at home, then sometimes about 20 or 30 minutes in the iPad app I used in the bus to work. Sometimes I did a lesson or two at work and also in the evening. On a weekend, I could spend a lot of time on Duolingo earning about 300 or 400 skill points a day. On week days, I mostly aimed at 100+ points. When I was too tired or busy, I earned a few points in a timed practice just to keep my streak - this happened a few times.

In the most difficult part of the tree (it was about the middle for me), I did much more practice than new lessons. I could earn 200+ skill points a day and only do 2 or 3 new lessons (up to 39 points). With vocabulary-rich skills like "Adjectives", "Adverbs" or "Verbs: Present", I usually practiced in the evening what I'd learned in the morning. I followed my own practice schedule which included practicing newly learned skills every day for a few days after learning them - and I mean practicing all the words in the skill. So, if there was a skill consisting of 10 lessons and including 70 words, I had to do 6-7 practice sessions in a row to cover all the words. I monitored that with Vocabulary and practiced until all the words in the skill were marked as practiced recently. With this method, it was only once that a skill decayed for me - in all the other cases I practiced without giving entire skills any chance to decay :-)


Nicely done. Thank you for the detailed answer. :)

I am also wondering, what did you do about your already learned languages? Did you review them? take them to another level, or maybe you are happy with them as they are?


With French, I also completed the Busuu.com course and did some exercises from a textbook. I read a few books, too. With German, unfortunately, I did nothing after Duolingo.

I would love to have some "natural" practice of my new languages that comes by itself, but there is nothing like that: I have to think of tasks for myself and make myself practice. This is not as exciting as learning on Duolingo and not as natural as practicing my English here in discussions or on other sites. I have not yet managed to find any sites in French, German, or Spanish that I would love to use because of their content and not to make myself practice a language.


Well done on getting the course done.

Would you say from your experience with several languages, that the most difficult bit of the language tree is in the middle?

I'd dearly love the answer to be yes, because I'm about in the middle with German, and would really like to think that I'm nearly over the hump, and that the going will easier from there!!!


Yes, and I even wrote about that in my header post ;-)

German remains the hardest language for me %)


Думайте по русски, не по английски, будет намного легче. Падежи и приставки в немецком очень хорошо переводятся на русский - я понял этот принцип примерно за месяц, после того всё было уже только практикой.


German is a tough one. You need to understand cases rather well to get through it, and there is a lot of by-rote learning for the endings of articles and adjectives depending on the case.


Where to get/buy this "Michel Thomas" cources?


or the bay of pirates


Don't forget to check the local library as well.


Te felicito! :) Si necesitas un amigo para hablar español y practicarlo en cualquier momento, no dudes en agregarme./ If you need a friend to speak and practice your spanish, you can count on me. :) I'm a native speaker


i'm sorry for inviting myself, but i do need one in a few weeks (my vocabulary is still at the "hilariously small" stage, gotta expand it a little). do you mind if i add you?


No problem whatsoever.


Gracias! Me gustaría mucho, pero ahora no tengo mucho tiempo libro para utilizar Skype o otros servicios similares :-(

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Well done! Thanks for the terrific feedback .It provides a fine prospectus for all the beginners who want to know what the process is like and answers many key points.


Thank you!

Many of my points are really subjective, but I hope they can help others, too.


I finished it in two days. I'm a native speaker by the way lol


LOL! I'm a native Russian speaker but didn't manage to finish the Russian > English course so quickly. I don't allow myself to take shortcuts, though.


Hi i'm a native portuguese speaker,and i can see that you finished your portuguese tree,so you help me with english and i help you with portuguese, just add me.


Buon Natale Olimo, (I'm learning Italian)...I'd better start again... Feliz Navidad. Your post was very welcome. Your experience seems much like mine, yet I'm still on the one language. For my own reasons I seem to have 2 different logins, one on my mobile app, and one on the computer so my 'level' is sort of divided in two. lol What you say about fluency is spot-on. I can read and write most things now, but still refer to the dictionary often, for different interpretations. I have been learning (slowly, but putting far more hours than you in - which shows how much I'm struggling to learn.) some people are naturals with "Le lingue straniere. Alas I'm not one. {I have recently started evening classes, and even just 1 1/2 hrs per week has been enough to show me how I literally freeze when listening and trying to speak! Though when I do speak, thanks to Duo and other bits, my pronunciation seems to be better than most of the class, who are in their 2nd year. I think you have inspired me to try Spanish next for one good reason; you wrote 'Ser/Estar' and 'Haber' and I think I understood instantly. I have never read Spanish in my life!! But think I recognise them from 'Stare/Essere' and 'Avere' in Italian.

..... e un felice anno nuovo. (Feliz Ano Nuevo) - had to look that up and can't do the Spanish Accents yet.


You are right, Spanish and Italian are very close. So close that in places it is difficult for me to remember which spelling is Spanish and which is Italian -- which is why I think that I will let Italian be until I am entirely comfortable with Spanish (which, sadly, will be waaay after I am done with the course)


Spanish,Italian and portuguese are very close.


Thanks for sharing your story! Italian and Spanish are really very close to each other. I know just a little bit of Italian, and I can understand something written in Italian with the help of my French and Spanish.


Thank you for sharing your experience!

I think one of the reasons you were able to finish Spanish the fastest is that Spanish is by far the easiest language of the three you mentioned:

  • It has totally regular spelling (very unlike French, in which spelling/dictation exercises are simply horrible and frustrating for beginners)

  • It has a much easier and more regular sentence structure than German. It has no "two mandatory parameters" verbs (like "Jemanden an etwas erinnern") that totally frustrate my wife at the moment, and only two genders (unlike German's three), which massively cuts down the number of articles and endings you have to learn.

Yes, it does have a ludicrous amount of tenses, but even those are rather regular in nature.

I can't wait to finish the course as well, and am curious whether things like diminuitives are treated in the Diolingo course (especially because I miss those in english a lot -- I am a native russian speaker).

Oh and playing random dialogue-rich adventure computer games in Spanish helps a lot (with listening comprehension, too). At duolingo we get trained to understand one voice -- with Spanish that is definitely not enough since Spanish seems to have its own pronunciation in every single Latin American country and various parts of Spain...

Cheers and good luck with your sleep in the next couple of years :-)



I don't remember any diminutives in Duolingo courses.

Playing games in your new language is a great idea for those who love games. I don't :-( Listening comprehension is the biggest chore for me because I don't like listening to things in general - I struggle to make myself listen to the radio or watch a video regardless of the language >_< Reading is my favorite way of acquiring information and having fun.


Sad -- videos (or TV, or news...) would have been the next thing I'd suggest, even though I have stopped watching anything resembling TV about ten years ago.

Mostly, I prefer reading as well, but I have to say, trying to learn Japanese from books was a real eye-opener for me. My conclusion from that failed experiment was that reading as a sole learning method works well for learning languages based on phonetics, so it would be fine for, say, Korean, but it is immensely difficult for ideogram-based languages like Japanese or Chinese.

It will be interesting to see a Chinese course on Duolingo.


It also makes me sad, but it is a fact: I don't have to struggle to make myself do lessons or participate on the forum, but it is always an effort to listen to podcasts regularly or to watch videos. Some time ago, I downloaded a French cartoon series and started to watch it, but after a few episodes I began to forget to watch or had something more interesting to do... so I dropped them. I know I may seem strange in this :-)


Since you like reading, have you tried listening to audio books? I quite like listening to my favourite book series (discworld), and radio plays while reading the books. Sometimes simultaneously, sometimes I listen first and read the chapter later so I can check my comprehension. I also listen to abridged audio books if I know I won't have time to read a book I have been looking forward to for some time. That way I know the general storyline, but I still enjoy the many parts of the book that have been omitted. But if you aren't at an intermediate to advanced level, watching cartoons, sitcoms and drama series with the audio in the foreign language and subtitles is what I would recommend as that is what worked really well for me. If cartoons are boring you could combine it with doing an activity you enjoy at the same time.


Yes, I tried audio books, and I don't like them as much as ordinary text books. The problem is not in the content but in the way of communicating information: text is fine, but I don't like audio.

I guess this is just my personal problem: I don't like just listening without doing anything else, but if I do anything else, I don't want to listen %) When I walk or go by bus, I usually prefer to let my thoughts drift and go without any music or sounds. From time to time, I try to make myself listen to podcasts or an audio book, but this usually does not stick for long.

The same with movies: I have to make myself watch them. Normally, I spend my free time at home at my computer - doing lessons, reading and participating in discussions. Making myself watch something without break for at least half an hour is a huge effort.

I know I'm strange and I'm not complaining :-) Just telling things as they are.


I love Disc World, but I have to agree with olimo, audiobooks are just not the same as actual books. Never managed to get started with those even though I have four of Terry Pratchett's... When I just listen to something, I tend to just drift off in thought. It is not a channel that can keep my attention for too long. And watching video ... well, it actually requires you to plan in time for it, and for me it feels like wasted time. (For some reason doing duolingo or spending time on the forums doesn't, go figure)


NHK World has a Japanese course for various language speakers: that is, if you can stand manga and voices of anime characters. It is free.


find spanish music that you like, and get the lyrics, and sing along. I do that with 8 Ricardo Arjona songs so far (each day) You get speech/pronunciation practice, and you learn words that are uncommon to "every day" words and verbs.


And put together a few playlists. Of both the videos with the lyrics and another one just to listen to so you can test whether you are making progress. There are some songs that I will always struggle with because of the tempo for example which can make you feel like you aren't making any progress, and that's such a buzz kill.


To be honest I was thinking about your focus on reading for some days :P Because it seemed very weird to me at first. I watched some videos of Benny Lewis (polyglot, author of blog "fluent in 3 months" and who travels around the world to learn new language quickly). He's focus is to start talking as soon as possible to activate brain more and to find his real motivation which is talking to real people in their own language.

I guess your approach is totally different since you want to develop reading skills to read newspapers, book and so on, am I right? As some other polyglot said in interview I read long time ago, each skill is developed pretty separately in our brain. People think that learning a language is the same way for everyone with developing same skills in more or less same time, but it definitely isn't. We should develop those skills that we need, because that what motivates us.

I don't know you and I don't know if you thought every day: "oh yes, I will make new lesson and I will be able to read more real newspapers", because it sounds like appropriate motivation in your case :P (I don't want to offend you with my imagination of your learning). If you won't be using speaking and listening skills ever, then you don't need to develop them. On the other hand it would be pity to meet nice Spanish people visiting your city or during some holidays and not be able to speak with them.

I was also thinking what I want about my languages and in fact motivation for each one is different. I like the sound of French and I would love to understand what I hear. With German I would like to read more and be able to write more than I want to speak. And in fact I like to learn some grammar, it isn't problem for me - I like sometimes take grammar book and do some exercises.

I don't know if my post is any help, but I just wanted to present different attitude to developing different skills :) Good luck!


You know, I'm just having fun. I like the process of learning and I'm glad I can acquire some basic skills in a new language in a matter of months. I guess this is no worse than any casual gaming or surfing the net ;-)

No, I didn't have any motivation like "I'll be able to read books and newspapers". In fact, about 95% of books I'm interested in are in English. I don't read them to practice my English, but just prefer originals to translations. With other languages, I have to look for books on purpose. And I don't read newspapers at all. It just gives me a kind of satisfaction when I see something in French or Spanish and I can understand it.

As for actual speaking, this is the skill I'll hardly ever really need. I live in Russia (not in Moscow) where you don't meet foreigners very often. In fact, I don't remember suddenly meeting a foreigner in my town even once. When we travel, we usually do quite fine with Russian and English (and I'm usually too shy to talk to strangers even in these two languages).

So, all in all, I may be a rare example of a person who does not need any more languages but learns them for fun - as long as it is fun :-) Doing lessons and participating in discussions on Duolingo is fun for me. Looking for conversation partners and maintaining relationships is an effort, as well as listening to something or watching movies. I don't worry about that too much. If I ever want to speak Spanish or watch movies in French, I can start doing it any time, and then it will be a pleasure for me.


Can you suggest any adventure games in Spanish? I like that idea :)


At the moment I am playing "The Witcher" ("El Brujo" / "Wiedźmin" / "Ведьмак") series. The reson for that is, it has literally hours of fully voice-dubbed dialogue that is pretty natural and witty in a lot of places. It is Polish in origin, but it has been dubbed in many languages, among those are English, Russian and Spanish.

The good things about that series in terms of language learning

  • a lot of dialogue (that is made to look like it is a film, which was a rather new move back when Witcher 1 came out.)

  • it is replayable to a certain degree, because you can make choices in the Witcher games that change the way the rest of it plays out, so it doesn't get boring to play it a second time if you do not make the same choices. So you can, say, play it in english, and then re-play it in spanish but make different choices.

  • You can switch the language of the subtitles independantly of the game's dialogue language -- ie you can play it in spanish with english subtitles, or vice versa, or (as I am doing right now), Spanish with Spanish subtitles.

  • The translations are pretty damn good and natural for most part, at least in languages that I can judge those things in (English and Russian for the moment, haven't tried German)

  • You can get Witcher 1, Special Edition for less then $5 on Steam at the moment ^^ (it is pretty old by now.)

The not-so-good things for learning a language with it

  • It is an action adventure series, ie as a player you do have to fight quite a bit. It is great if you like fighting, but doesn't give you any language X.P.

  • The dialogue in Spanish is, well, dialogue in Spanish. If you have ever heard (non-Mexican) Spanish on the radio, you can probably imagine that it is pretty impossible to follow without subtitles in the beginning, because of the sheer speed. But I have to say it gets easier very fast.

  • Some of the voice acting in some of the dubs (notably in Spanish and Russian ...) leaves a lot to be desired. The worst part in both cases is actually Geralt (the main character) himself, possibly because he had SOOO much dialogue to record.(However, the English voice actor managed to pull it off just fine, so it can be done better...)

It doesn't impede the language learning as such -- none of it is wrong -- but it impedes the enjoyment of playing/watching it in that language.

If you just want to play for enjoyment, or if you are learning English -- the English dub is really the best/most natural sounding of the ones I've tried, sadly. (Haven't tried Polish, but I plan to, at some point).

Also as a warning: Witcher 2 has a somewhat broken graphics engine that doesn't work well on some graphics cards. That doesn't impede language learning, but it can make you die a lot until you figure out how to fix it, which might spoil your enjoyment of the entire experience.


I have a copy of The Witcher but I haven't gotten around to beginning to play it yet. Is there any chance that you can give some insight on how difficult the language used is to keep up with?

Thanks for the suggestion! It hadn't even occurred to me that it'd be a good game to try this with!


It is not dumbed down game language, like in a lot of other games nowadays. However, it is also not high-fantasy kind of literary -- it is pretty down-to-earth and gritty. So the language used (at least in the languages I can judge on that level) is pretty much every-day dialog, some rare expletives included.

Generally, at our DuoLingo Spanish levels we have only learned roughly half the tenses there are, so expect to occasionally hear and read things of which you won't know exactly what tense they are in (it is still mostly understandable since you know the verb roots.)

How difficult it is to keep up with, depends on how good your listening comprehension in general is, or how quickly you can read -- colloquial spanish is pretty damn fast. While you CAN repeat a lot of the dialogue in the Witcher again and again if you want, you can't repeat all of it. So just for that reason, if it is your first play-through of the game, and you are just learning spanish, I would recommend playing it with english subtitles (or if you rather want to learn to read spanish, english dub and spanish subtitles), otherwise it might spoil a couple of things for you.

Once you are more comfortable with it, you can still switch fully to the language you are learning (or to a different combination of subtitles/audio) -- you can change the language between gaming sessions, ie you can save the game, leave the Witcher, change the language, load the same game, and continue. (If you are using Steam it will download the language files the first time you switch to a language, so you might need some patience or just do it at some point where you aren't itching to start playing right-away.)



Assassin's Creed IV. You can also learn there Spanish bad words :)


It seems like video games are always the first way people learn bad words :D When my Spanish friend was staying with me, he would cuss a lot (in Spanish) whenever we played video games, so I learned fast.


In "El Brujo" as well. Though the spanish version looks censored to me when compared to English ^^


If (and possibly only if, it's an acquired taste...) you like dice rolling RPG games, the original Baldur's Gate has been re-released without about 15-20 languages included from the get go. That is only text, but there's something ridiculous like a 2 million word count in the game, and because it alternates between strategic gameplay and carefully negotiated conversation, it creates a nice rhythm for the conversations to actually sink in.

Also, because of the insane amount of different character options and strategies and ways you can actually play it, you can get addicted...

BG2 hasn't had the multilingual treatment yet though, so don't get that until you see them announce the good news.


Do you know whether the additional languages only available in the enhanced edition, or is it also accessible with patches to the original version?


You can retro-fit the original version if you hunt down the international patches or find unofficial translation websites, but the reason to go with the enhanced edition is that all the languages have had refinements from the fan community. Also, if you like German, the entire voice bank has been re-recorded. There may even be more to come, I'm not sure.

There are other reasons as well, for example you can use the BG2 rules and classes in BG1 without running through an elaborate chain of mods.


If you have a smartphone, most of the really popular games have been translated (eg.Doodle God - good for vocabulary and you can link to Wikipedia). Also, Yesterday by Pendulo Studios (ios) is available in Spanish. Have you already looked at adventuregamers.com? There's a few suggestions in this thread: http://archive.adventuregamers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28766


Hello Olimo,

what versions of Michel Thomas's audio course did you use? There is "Start", "Total", "Perfect" ...


I used all the courses for French and German, and "Foundation" and "Advanced" for Spanish.


Congrats! You seem to be very well-balanced person with very good schedule of your work. I am definitely not like that. Every tough schedule I used to put on myself led to burning out, so I prefer to do things naturally, but get also some motivation like setting goal, enroll for exam to pass, but I feel that less I feel the pressure, the more natural things come as a habit. And it is not only about learning a language.

Good luck with further learning! :)


Thank you! I guess schedules are natural for me, so I'm just having fun my way ;-)


Félicitations pour le travail dur et joyeux Noël!


I just finished it today as well, but I took a couple months longer than you. I agree with a lot of your comments, especially the treatment of advanced Spanish grammar. Duolingo is amazing, but teaching verb tenses and irregular conjugations isn't its strong suit. All in all though, this is an amazing resource and it's hard to believe how much I've learned from it in a short time!


Congratulations on your finishing the course! :-)


¡Felicidades! Yo lo hecho en 80 días también. Pero no lo hice cada día. Era en nivel 13 cuando lo logré. Portugues es muy similar a español. Pienso que sería fácil para ti. ¡Feliz Navidad y Nuevo Año!


¡Gracias! Yo voy a aprender portugués y italiano un día u otro, pero no ahora.


Olimo en español decir "y italiano" está mal, debes decir "e italiano". Esto sucede cuando después de la conjunción "Y" hay una palabra que comienza con "i". Lo mismo sucede con la conjunción "O". Por ejemplo, "o otros niños" está mal escrito, en ese caso tendrías que decir "u otros niños". ;) ¡Saludos!


¡Gracias! Yo conozco esa regla, pero fui desatenta...


Si aprendes portugués y italiano juntos, vas a estar muy confundida :)


Yo prefiero aprender las lenguas una por otra :-)


"e italiano" "algún día"


Grats and thanks for the review! Just seriously starting the Spanish tree now.

I finished the French one on Wednesday, I was also disappointed that finishing the last lesson wasn't any different than finishing any other lesson. I just wanted a big happy Duo owl or something. I've already been proficient in French, but I was impressed by how in depth Duolingo is for a free website. As far as beginner to low intermediate courses go; it's difficult to imagine anything better, apart from a private tutor.



I guess you are in the same test group as I am, with the new interface. In the old one, there is a congratulation message and a trophy Duo owl below the tree.


Spanish is a very very fast language compared from learning Japanese. Living in a Spanish community I've been starting to speak around others, which is great because they welcome me and let me mix my words/sentences into in English. I'm learning Japanese along with this and I find it hard, and a bit complex with sentences. I'm trying soak in the Japanese language in the classroom but, I'm still trying. It is very hard to learn two languages at once but, I am excited to say thanks to duolingo, I will be active and bilingual by the next months. Trilingual in the next 1-2 years! Hopefully, I can see a Russian for English users course in near feature, as I also hope for Japanese. Happy learning!


Happy learning to you too!


Nice article. Thanks!

Your baby will be speaking Spanish! ehehe


Thank you! I don't aim at teaching him Spanish, but I'll be happy if I manage to teach him English (besides our native Russian).


@olimo, thanks for an excellent post as always. It is really a shame we cannot currently give lingots to the OP in discussion, you definitely deserve some. The only thing left for now is to tip you for some comment then ;)


thanks for your thoughts on your experience, olimo. This is the first time I hear about Michel Thomas' courses and for what I could read around it seems quite useful. I think I'll try it to improve my German. Is it worth it?


These courses are great for beginners to learn basic grammar: they cover approximately the same grammar as Duolingo does and teach it very efficiently. Vocabulary is scarce, however.


thanks! can we say that Duolingo e M. Thomas are complementary tools? Maybe it's not that bad if the vocabulary is scarce: in this way one can craft his/her own vocabulary according to his/her own needs, by reading appropriate material available online for example.


For me, Michel Thomas's courses are the best way to "load" the language grammar into my head without any pain, so I prefer to start with them. Duolingo is great for building on it, learning vocabulary and practice. And, of course, sentence discussions are very helpful.


good! thanks for the hint!


How did you do it in 80 days? Finishing mine took me a year! That's amazing!


@jj212: Every person has its own pace. I tried to do a hundred points in my French tree about a year and a half ago just because someone here suggested it but I ended up burning out.

It wasn't until last summer that I decided to focus on the streak and do something everyday which in most cases is only ~10 points.

Many times I have to repeat the lesson a few times to pass it so the devoted time can go from 5 minutes to 15 more or less. I will go slower than other people but I won't burn out and I will get there.

@olimo: Congrats!! :)


Thank you!

I completely agree with you that everyone has their own pace. It is no good to push yourself too hard unless you are pressed by a big need to learn the language quickly.


Exactly! You shouldn't be stressed with this 100 coins a day challenge. It can become a nightmare after a while. The most important thing is to have fun! :) Then you remember things better and can practice a bit less, but take time to get familiar with new idea or concept. Good luck!


I never skipped days, and, remember, Spanish is not my second language, so it was easier for me thanks to the experience with other languages.


That is very impressive! Any idea how many words you learnt from Duolingo in each of these languages?


Thanks! The amount of words varies between 1,500 and 2,000, but in fact I can understand more because there are many words similar to English ones.


This is very interesting and helpful - thanks, Olimo. And congratulations on completing the course and (in advance) on your baby!

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Contrats! Oh I only wished I were close to the end of the tree...

The Spanish course is the most popular on Duolingo and this is probably why it seems the most polished.

Possibly. Although, being in the middle of the tree, some translations are still akward and/or still needs fixing.

French helps a lot in learning Spanish.

Yes, grammatically. But in real life, my experience is that it doesn't help that much.

Unfortunately, a lot of the most advanced grammar does not get enough attention and practice in the course.

Yes. The horrifying subjuntive (as you mentioned).

Some skills are very strangely placed.


Again, congrats and happy holidays! (sorry for the 1000 edits ;)).


Thank you! I was still sleeping while you were editing, so I didn't see your post being changed :-)


Congrats, Olimo. Also, you have given a nice feedback, almost answering most of my questions I had, like fluency one gets on completing a tree, hardest & easiest sections etc.


Thank you! Feel free to ask any questions I left unanswered here.


¡Felicidades! Félicitations! Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

I hope those are correct for French and German... I used Google Translate... :)

I have given you 30 lingots in one of your replies here... 10 for each tree you have completed! Way to go!!


Thanks, that was very generous of you!


Felicidades a ti!


Congrats!! My question is if you do the certificate after finishing the tree, how far can you get?



I have not yet tried to do a certificate test for Spanish because I still have to practice my newly learned skills to remember all the words without peeking. I took a test for French, though, and got 3.99/5.0. This was some time after I completed the tree, so I believe I've forgotten something. It is also important to mention that in many cases you have to remember the exact wording accepted by Duolingo.

I don't put much faith into this test. You can read about my impressions here: http://www.duolingo.com/comment/940305


Congrats on finishing the course and on having a baby!


V. very impressive indeed :) I am going to follow your footstep :) Joyeux Noël!!


Merci et joyeux Noël à vous aussi!


Congrats! I really appreciate your sharing your experience with us. Your perspective is mostly helpful.


Thanks! I'm glad it helps :-)


olimo, as was pointed by somostortugas, I made a mistake in my thread in saying that your perspective was "mostly" helpful when I meant "most". This changed what the sentence meant signigicant, and I apologize if that made you feel bad. Thank you again for sharing your experience with us!


It's all right, I understood what you meant :-)


Sorry for intruding, but I am just wondering, did you actually mean to say that his perspective is "not entirely helpful", or did you want to say "most helpful"? :-)


Thanks for pointing that out! I meant "most helpful" and that was a typo. My mistake made it sound quite unpleasant:( Sorry!


It's fine -- we are on a language forum :-) (Everyone assumes you meant the right thing, but people feel free to correct your grammar)


"her" perspective :)


thanks for the effort in this post! It explains a lot of what I may expect.


I wish you an exciting journey through your languages :-)


Congrats to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I enjoyed reading that and it's nice to see you and so many people here tackling new languages (3,4,5) I'm struggling with 1!! Lol french is the first language I'm learning and it is extremely difficult :( but I enjoy each and every minute of it!! Keep on learning and congrats to having a baby!!


WOW. Congrats on the coming baby! Must've taken some level of dedication to get this far while carrying a miniature Olimo! Congrats once again, and I'm sure we won't miss the coming of the baby! x)


Thanks! Actually, second and early-third pregnancy trimesters are not that bad.


Great job! Thanks for your helpful advice and review of Spanish program!


Thank you! I'm glad it helps.


Seems plausible since the spanish outline only has 69 lessons so 1 a day could finish the tree in 69 days


I guess you mean 69 skills, not lessons. Some of those skills consist of 10 lessons, and it is hard to complete the whole skill in a day, especially if it is a Verb or Adverb skill.

I don't say it is impossible to complete the tree in 69 days or even less, but you definitely need a lot of dedication to do this. Or, some previous experience with the language.


U typed that u do about 300-400 skill points a day. If every skill has 10 lessons, that would be 100 minimum points. 300-400 would equal to about a minimum of 3 skills, so it would take about 20 days to finish the entire tree. If u do that many skill points in one day, it should be quite easy to complete 3 skills if they r all at 10 lessons each


Only if you never do any repetitions...


I did not say I did 300-400 points every day, and even when I did, the points were mostly from repetition.


Si quieres practicar el español podemos conversar en otro post, yo soy de Argentina.


No tengo mucho tiempo ahora, pero ¡gracias!


Thank you for taking the time to provide this information. It's always good to have some insight on what we can expect as we progress deeper into a tree.

I'm sort of curious if we'll eventually see some of those units that put a whole lot of verbs on you at once reduced in size a bit. When you have to go through 10 or 12 rounds of learning within a single subject, it 'feels' like you're not moving very fast. Obviously that has nothing to do with the actual progress you're making, since you learn a few new words with every new lesson you do, but the perception of forward momentum is important for motivation.

I'm sure they're keeping an eye on where people tend to fall out of trying to learn in these courses, and it seems likely that there's probably some kind of sweet spot that balances having enough sections within a topic to make it feel substantial, while not so many that you feel like you're stuck.


I agree about the size of the lessons. I'd make the biggest no more than 5 lessons. Also, I don't like the concept of skills divided by parts of speech. It is hard to learn even 5 lessons of only verbs, and it would be much easier and more fun to learn verbs together with nouns, adjectives and adverbs of the same topic.


I agree on the size of the units, and I think for pure vocabulary lessons mixing word parts might be good. But I think learning one verb tense in a lesson and nothing else is a really good idea for the grammar lessons. You might not benefit from it as much because you use external sources for the grammar -- for me, after doing 2-3 lessons of spanish gerund, I actually didn't need to go look up anything on the grammar: I understand how they work just from the examples. I really doubt it would work as well if they mixed it with other stuff.


Learning tenses in separate skills is fine, especially if it is done with the previously learned verbs. But Verbs: Present 1-3 freaked me out in all the three courses I've completed. Too many verbs to learn at once, and my main problem was vocabulary, not conjugations. I believe it would be better if verbs were given gradually in different skills, taking just present tense. After we learn the same amount of verbs, it is fine to give us grammar skills with past, future, present perfect, etc. - with the same verbs at first and later introduce some other ones.


Agreed. I do hate the 10-Lessons-Vocab-Marathons.

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Thank you for your thoughtful comments! Congratulations on completing Spanish!


Well Olimo, you finally inspired me to try Spanish, thanks to this post....and I can't believe it. I got through Basics 1, Phrases and Basics 2, losing just 1 life (I think) over the 3 units. Having been trying to learn Italian, and a bit of French, I pretty much recognised what was coming up, without having seen a word before.

This may seem simple to all you Spanish speakers, but "nosotras somos mujeres" I understood straight away. nosotras - like noi in Italian, nous in French; somos - like siamo in Italian, sommes in French. mujeres I got, because I'd just seen it in singular form in basics 1.

Now, I also think nosotras is feminine, as it has 'as' at the end, and is related to women (f) whereas I later saw nosotros.....and therefore assumed agua (acqua in Italian) must be masculine, even though it ends in 'a' or am I completely wrong ??? I guess I'll find out soon enough with a few more units.

Gracias, Grazie and Thank you DL and you too Olimo.


Haha, you're right in all your guesses including "nosotras" and "agua" :-) I guess I'll have a lot of similar things in Italian some day, too.


Ta Olimo...so my hunch was right! :) Please do try Italian soon, it's really lovely and I think it's structure and logic may appeal to you. It's a lot more 'consistent'than French, for example.

However I have been warned elsewhere (or it's been suggested) that Spanish and Italian, are just a 'bit too close for comfort, and I can see it might be easy to get muddled. I haven't found it a problem, so far, but I will definitely try to stick to my main language, Italian, with some 'dips in the water' into French and Spanish, if nothing else, but to keep my Gold Units complete.



Hi olimo you seem like u are like me. I am the exact same thing... Except you know way more languages. But really, I knew Italian, and so Spanish became pretty easy for me. In fact, I think the language most similar to Spanish is Italian. If you know one, you basically can understand the other, and speak some too. You should try Italian, next, it won't take you very long, I'm sure. And I also agree that out of the languages you listed Spanish is the easiest. Hey, you are right also about the fact that duo lingo concentrates mainly on Spanish to English translation. Well I was wondering if you knew of any other website like duolingo which focused more on actual speaking? Just wondering. I am planning on taking Spanish in school for the next few years which is why I am asking. Sorry for the huge paragraph, you just seem like a good person to ask... Thanks so much!!!!


I wouldn't claim to know many languages... my French and especially German and Spanish are very basic. I'll take Italian and Portuguese on Duolingo some day, but this might not be very soon because of the new chores I'll have with the baby :-)

There are sites like Verbling that help you to find conversation partners and connect with them through the site or ask their Skype names. On Busuu, there are also text and voice/video chats. The only big shortcoming of such sites is that there are usually a lot of random folks who don't care about languages but are just looking for girls or some stupid talk.


hello, i'm curious to ask whether will u confuse when study spanish coz i guess french and spanish got many similarities. xD


If you learn languages one by one and make breaks between them to practice and improve your skills, you won't confuse them much. The farther apart are your levels in two languages, the less you confuse them.

However, many people take two or even more similar languages at once and find it fun. At first, they confuse words and grammar, but then it gets easier and things kind of figure themselves up.


In my personal experience, Spanish is far enough from French to not confuse the learner, even though French does give you some useful word roots. Italian with Spanish (and I suspect Italian with French) would be a somewhat different matter -- Italian made me confuse things enough in both languages that I ended up switching to just learning Spanish for now.


My Portuguese teacher used to say that the biggest mistake of her students in university was to take Portuguese and Spanish at the same time. I can not comment on similarities of Spanish and Italian, but can definitely say that Portuguese is a lot more similar to Spanish than to Italian, that's why I took Italian course after getting DAPLE diploma in Portuguese. I fully agree that the bigger the difference between your levels is (with Latin languages), the least you confuse the vocabulary :)


Wow. I'm about halfway through the spanish tree and am on my 34th day streak but have been doing this on and off for a while :( Really trying to push it now though!


I can no longer access duolingo, what is the problem?


Since I originally learned Spanish living in Venezuela for 8 years, I found that this course it very good review but they used totally different expressions then I learned, but it was good practice!


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