One year streak, and what I have learned with Duolingo so far

I just achieved my 365 day streak! This is a very proud accomplishment for me. It would have been nice to have my original streak of nearly 100 days included, but sadly, we all trip up on occasion. Nonetheless, I have made some amazing progress thanks to DL, and hope to continue long into the future.

Initially, I discovered DL while looking for Spanish learning material online. My wife and I had been living in the Dominican Republic for 2 years, but had made very little progress with our language. Immediately, I saw great results, and became very excited by this new tool.

About 6 months later, with my Spanish tree complete and golden, I decided to add German and French. German was my first language, but was almost completely forgotten because all of my schooling was done in Canada. Of course, we also had to learn French in school - for almost 11 years in my case - but very few actually gain any sort of ability in the language. Sometimes I wish that I didn't start both languages at the same time, regardless of my previous exposure. But I stuck with them, and finished the trees successfully.

Upon its release, I add the Russian course. This has been a project language of mine for nearly 15 years, but has proven challenging. Even with DL, I have ups and downs. But I should finish the tree by the end of this month. There are some amazing breakthroughs that I have had as a result of the DL method, so I am very happy.

Soon, I will add the Hebrew course to my queue. It will be a new challenge, but I look forward to that.

What I Have Learned Duolingo is a great program, and its natural exposure of language makes your growth similar to that of a native child. Don't worry about grammar or rules, just do the exercises. But it is best used with other tools! Just like a child learns a language, not at school, but in life - you similarly have to exposed yourself to a broad input of material. I strongly recommend the following, after you have completed your tree:

1) Read everyday. Pick something interesting in your target language, and read it. Even 1 paragraph is often enough. Mark 5 words or expressions that are new or important. Turn those into cue cards. Then drill these every day. (Use or for help.)

2) Listen every week. Follow a podcast series, or listen to a song and try to learn the lyrics every week. You don't need to memorize it, but your ear needs to get used to the different sounds. These are also great ways to learn about the culture of a language. (Use for help.)

3) Watch something every week. Have a movie-night, or watch a couple of episodes of a series each week. There is so much on Netflix and other online sources. Travel to the lands of your target language without leaving your house, and hear real-life dialogues. Your eyes will start to make a connection to the sound, which will increase comprehension.

4) Study a lesson every week. Find yourself a grammar book, or a series of lessons online. A child may not need to know rules of speech, but a teenager should. Finally progress beyond the infancy of language, and learn the why behind verbs, adjectives, and sentence structure.

5) Converse every week. This will test out, refine, and build your language ability. It ties all previous parts together. This can be done online, but is even better in person. If you can't find a native, then use another student.

Of course, I would still recommend doing Duolingo, even if you have made significant progress, completed a tree, and achieved level 25. This will keep the most common phrases fresh in your mind. (I have a funny story about that, but I'll save it for another time.) But if you have 2 languages at that point, you can alternate days, and still keep things sharp.

I hope this helps anyone new to DL, and answers some of the questions that we always see arise. Also, DL vets might get some ideas on how to progress with their language. If you have any questions, or need anything clarified, please post below.

TL;DR - DL is great, but is even better when used with other tools. If you want to get the most out of your experience, here are some things I would recommend.

May 19, 2016


Congratulations! What an achievement! Have some lingots.

May 19, 2016

Congratulations !!! How do you motivate yourself to keep going with Duolingo? I find it really hard after a few weeks. Any tips ?? :)

May 19, 2016

I have to set priorities with my language learning. Two languages (French and Russian) need more work than the others, so I split them up, and do them on different days. I work on them while the coffee is brewing, before I do anything else in the morning. The easier languages (Spanish and German) get done later, if I have time and motivation. Usually, I can do 5 lessons before I go to bed, because they are relaxing. Plus, it is easier if I just watched a show in that language.

May 19, 2016

what works for me is doing it when I'm waiting for the water to boil and for the pasta to cook, or anything else that needs to be watched and occasionally stirred for more than 5 minutes.

May 21, 2016


May 19, 2016

i am only a couple day streak i think

May 19, 2016

Muchas Felicidades. Y como va tu espanol, ya lo hablas?

May 19, 2016

Congratulations, a terrific achievement! Have some lingots in honor, a year is very honorable, and I hope to follow in your footsteps in the future!

May 19, 2016

Awsomesauce!! Keep up the good work! :)

May 19, 2016

Wow! Congrats!

May 19, 2016

i give lingot to you

May 19, 2016

Congratulations! Also, those are really good tips - thanks for sharing them!

May 19, 2016

good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 23, 2016


May 25, 2017
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