Can Duolingo teach you a language on its own without any extra support from other resources?
Duolingo is amazing, but how does it know how fluent you are, or how well you could communicate with natives from that country. Would you need to watch Spanish films or hear Spanish people speak regularly to actually get a real grasp on how to speak & talk to the people of Spain? Can becoming fluent in Spanish be completely done on Duolingo, or would you need other resources like films & reading Spanish books/leaflets to become 100% fluent in Spanish?
Duolingo only teaches grammar and a small basic vocabulary. It's a neat resource for basic grammar and reading comprehension but little more.
You definitely can't become fluent only using Duolingo.
O.K. I will weigh in. I've been using this course for a while. I think almost 2 years give or take. I work with young adults in a school setting where the majority are "bilingual" English/Spanish speakers and some are Native Spanish speakers learning English. I had previous language coursework but this (using Duolingo consistently) by far has been the best boost towards better proficiency in Spanish I have experienced. Because it is self paced and gives you the opportunity to practice whenever you feel up to it, I find myself reviewing and practicing much more than I would in a traditional language class. The only thing better than this program for me would be practicing with "Native Spanish" speakers. I feel more comfortable talking to my students and their parents now since using Duolingo and I have encouraged some of my students to try the "Unidades de inglés" course and they really like it. (That is the "reverse tree...")
All of your ideas you suggested are great as far as getting more experience and fluency in Spanish.
You should definitely incorporate all of those strategies.
Other people also use: "Mango" Free with a library account. https://www.mangolanguages.com/libraries/find-mango/
(Live Mocha was good but is no longer available...)
(Look for pages made by users of Duolingo)
Comb through the Duolingo discussion board pages for more helpful ideas
You can take a placement test to see how fluent you are so far, but Duolingo only teaches a little bit of each language, and it could not make you fluent alone.
I own two grammar books. I also watch film and listen to the radio in Spanish. I think becoming fluent will require more than Duolingo can offer. I used to have a French tutor when I was learning the language. If I had kept studying, I would have been fluent.
Something to keep in mind. Spoken English has slang and incorrect grammar. The same would apply to any language.
Definitely not, not even when you finish the whole tree, you will "only" have a knowledge of approximately 2000 words, which is certainly not enough to consider yourself fluent...Duolingo is there to teach you how the language functions, how it builds sentences and some basic vocabulary as well, it is definitely the best program out there for beginners, it helps you to get into the language, and then if you are passionate and persistent enough you will find your ways to improve your skills after finishing the duolingo tree...I for myself, read at least one article from france24 everyday and that way I learn new vocabulary everyday :)
This is very accurate. Think of Duolingo as a great beginner's course to your language. It will give you all the basic grammar and a good vocab to start reading, talking and listening in real situations. It will still be a challenge, but you will have something great to build on if you do the whole tree and review thoroughly (getting up to a fairly high level like 18-25).
It is hard NOT to use other sources than Duolingo. After a while, you can understand, answer, read, watching movies. Reading newspaper in other languages just became natural.
With Duolingo, you can become very good at doing the things Duolingo has you do. Duolingo exercises reading, writing, and translation fairly well. Its exercise of listening and speaking is less robust. All of the exercises are of short sentences in isolation. The vocabulary is somewhat limited.
Duolingo doesn't teach much conversation. You don't get asked a question in the foreign language and have to quickly come up with an appropriate response in that same foreign language. You don't exercise the essential conversational skill of rapidly going from internal thoughts to spoken words in the foreign language. Duolingo never has you listen to and attempt to understand a gathering of native speakers at a party, conversing at native speed, telling jokes, etc. Duolingo doesn't exercise the aspect of immersion where the language comes at you rapid-fire continuously for long periods of time with no rest between sentences.
Duolingo doesn't critique your pronunciation and accent very well. If you want to be fully understood, or better yet, if you want native speakers to think your Spanish is good, you need some serious coaching by someone who is both familiar with correct pronunciation and who will honestly tell you of your pronunciation errors and give you drills to help you correct them. This requires human interaction, and can't be done on the computer (as far as I'm aware, anyway).
I'd guess that Duolingo, by itself, could make you reasonably capable of picking up a newspaper or magazine and reading and understanding most of it, though you might need to refer to a dictionary for some unfamiliar words. It would also allow you to compose, from scratch, a basic written letter that would be fully understandable by a native speaker (but might occasionally sound like it was phrased somewhat awkwardly). That is quite a significant accomplishment. And it's tremendous progress toward fluency. But I wouldn't call it full conversational fluency.
I wouldn't rely on Duolingo alone for full conversational fluency. If you want to be fluent at real conversation, you need to practice real conversation.