Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/gronyteen

Over a year in and still not there yet!

Well, I joined Duolingo in November 2012, over a year later I have still not completed my German tree (13 categories remain). During that time I have Duo’ed on most days, for a few minutes at least and sometimes at weekends for 3 hours a day. I am married to a German Frau, we have two boys to whom my wife speaks only German, and they are growing up bilingually. This was a big factor in my deciding to learn the language, not knowing what they were discussing at the dinner table was becoming increasingly frustrating.

After several aborted attempts to learn German, discovering Duo has really helped me to progress and stay motivated. As well as Duo I read German books and articles, watch German TV programs, even attempting the occasional Tatort (though most of it passes me by) and say the odd thing to my wife in German.

The reason for my waffle is that I am nowhere near fluent and don’t feel I could have moved through the tree much quicker than I have and still taken stuff in. I am not thick either, reasonably well educated in fact. I wonder how effectively these people who complete their trees in a matter of weeks are acquiring languages. What do you reckon?

4 years ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Neilmckay
Neilmckay
  • 25
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2
  • 1784

I am with you!!! I have 11 categories to go and Done. My problem is I keep all categories gold so I am spending a lot of time refreshing my skills. It will serve me better in the long run but that does not help the frustration. Hang in there and keep pushing forward.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PerroNegro

I am glad to hear about someone else who is spending a lot of time keeping their skills gold. Every time I log on I do a recently downgraded category to get it back to gold. If that is all I have time for, that is all I accomplish - no advancement for the day. Even on days where I do several lessons, it always seems to be heavily weighted toward refreshing skills. As an aside, this is why I am really bummed they took away the skill bars in the lessons. I always chose my lesson based on which was rated the weakest. I am feeling a little lost...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CecilieO.

are you doing general practice as well, that strenghtens multiple skills.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PerroNegro

I do the general practice occasionally but I am a terrible typist and rarely get more than a few points. I find it frustrating. The skill bars are still on my kindle version, but I think the mobile app is a little easier than the computer version and it makes me feel like I am cheating.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CecilieO.

general practice without, not timed practice (that stresses me out at least).

If you fail general practice, do it a few times, it's the same sentences that gets repeated until you pass, so you will know what to take care of in regards to spelling...

And you are not cheating on the mobile, you are pracicing :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gronyteen

Thanks Neil, I started following you a week or so ago when I noticed we were at almost exactly the same point on the tree, when did you start?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Neilmckay
Neilmckay
  • 25
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2
  • 1784

About a Year ago I think...... it is all very blurred :-). I have been Self learning for 10 years. I had a huge boost using Michele Thomas method.....catapulted me into feeling comfortable to only speak German when in Germany. I will be a support for you!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
  • 16
  • 2
  • 2

Did you get any books with the Michal Thomas. I have tapes but no books and I have never tried it. I have the Spanish tapes. Thanks.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thoughtdiva

His philosophy was to learn by speaking and listening, not with books. There should be a little booklet that comes with the tapes though.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
  • 16
  • 2
  • 2

many thanks thoughtdiva

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Neilmckay
Neilmckay
  • 25
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2
  • 1784

As already said listen without books or note as that promotes anxiety and inhibits learning. Great for the car when in between Duolingo modules . Know there is not an academic approach to grammar just dialogue.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
  • 16
  • 2
  • 2

neilmckay thank you

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

I think many of the people that seem to be 'flying' up the tree are likely to be manifesting a 'gamer' mentality rather than a 'learn a language' mentality. Just as many, many people take 2-3-4 years of a language in high school or college and a year (or less) later cannot order a taco at a street stand (my language is Spanish) I think the same is/will be true of many learners here on Duo. And some folks have 'the knack' and picks up languages readily on Duo, in school, from TV, or on the street.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gronyteen

So true about the taco.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wazzie
wazzie
  • 25
  • 11

I'm hitting 7 months, and I feel pretty good about my pace. At my current rate, I'll probably be done in 2 months (9 months total). I feel like Spanish is a relatively 'easy' language though, and I was able to quickly move through a couple of recent skills quickly, because they were sort-or rehashes of things I had already learned, and since I had taken my earlier lessons so slowly, those skills were a breeze.
One thing I did notice though, was a lot of people seemed to have trouble in those skills. While some of it was attributed to DL not having 'learned' enough phrases yet, most of it seemed due to poor understanding of earlier lessons.
If one can handle flying through the lessons, more power to them, but the slow and steady approach has definitely worked for me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OldSpiceGuy
OldSpiceGuy
  • 25
  • 25
  • 13
  • 5
  • 4

German is pretty rough :) Some people are much faster at picking up languages than others. I'll sit looking at a German word, knowing that I saw it two screens ago, having seen it 10 times before, and still have NO idea what it means. And German grammar is a mess. I feel your pain, bro. (Hey, look - we have the same streak!)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gronyteen

Yep, I'm aiming for 365, with a bit of luck I'll have finished my tree by then ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zelah_Meyer

I'm only a month in, and I expect that it will take me over a year to do my French tree too. I don't study any of the skills until I've managed a practice session for the day with all three hearts left. Then, when I'm doing the skills on the tree, I don't move past a sub-section until I've done it keeping all three hearts.

I've also recently gone back and refreshed skills that I felt particularly weak on. I did French for five years in school, and spent 8 weeks living in France doing an intensive French language course a decade or so back. I had a pretty decent vocabulary (most of which I've now forgotten!) but I had no idea about tense/gender/any other aspect of grammar!

Duolingo is helping me learn all the stuff I skipped over & hopefully helping me build a stronger base. Eventually, I'll dig out some of the many other 'learn French' books & tapes that I have and use them in conjunction with this. For now though, I think it's helping me get stuff into my head.

I think it's easy to blast through a section without doing more than temporarily memorising the phrases you need. The bonus skills seem to be several levels above the neighbouring skills, and use words and phrases that you haven't come across yet in the tree. I've managed to get my three hearts in those by blitzing them - but if I didn't repeat them, I wouldn't remember them. I've refreshed Christmas since I first completed it, so I remember lutins and the buche de Noel, but (because they don't turn up in the general practice sessions) I'm already forgetting the idioms I learnt to pass that skill.

I guess everyone does this for their own reasons and works at their own pace. We also have brains that work in different ways. Other knowledge (similar languages, latin, etc. or even a better knowledge of grammar can all be helpful), natural aptitude, experience in learning languages, all these make a difference.

As long as we all get what we want out of the experience, I guess it doesn't matter how quickly or slowly we progress. :o)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RoniG

I'm like you too. I started in January 2013 and still have lots to go. It's not a game for me, either, and I'm learning and retaining lots. I found that I'm using my French with people who call our office. It's a struggle but I can do it!.

There are probably lots of us turtles watching the hares speed by. It's ok because I feel so confident in my French.

Gronyteen, maybe designate a room in your house that is German only. Like whenever you're in the garage, you all have to speak German.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AneurinEE
AneurinEEPlus
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 23
  • 21
  • 19
  • 19
  • 18
  • 16
  • 14
  • 6
  • 1727

While I can see the advantages of going through the tree meticulously, I think there's a case to be made for rushing through the tree and THEN practicing extensively. One practical advantage to finishing the tree before you know all the skills back to front is that bits of grammar and vocab from more advanced lessons start appearing in the earlier lessons, so when you practice weak skills you get a more realistic language learning experience - e.g. you may be doing a unit on adverbs, but just as in a real conversation you are having to remember things about tense, word order, declensions and so on all at once. Hence my own approach to Duolingo - I raced through the tree in just over two weeks flat, but now practice for an hour or more everyday. Over time, I trust that Duolingo will find and fix all my weak areas, but in the meantime I feel like I've been doing the language at a level which is closer to the real thing.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IAmJon
IAmJon
  • 25
  • 15
  • 9

The people who have only been on Duo for a few months are not really learning. Perhaps they are just really intelligent, but I don't think the words would stay in your memory for very long. I doubt people who make threads and kinda brag about completing the tree in three months do much practising.

I have been on Duo quite a while now too. I have accepted that there are people that are quicker and smarter than me. I think many people love the gaming side of Duo and feel the need to complete it as fast as possible. The gaming side is great for keeping you going, But I'd rather go at my own pace. Some people are great at languages, I had to scale back my German on here because I found doing two languages too difficult, some people find it easy to do two. Go at your own speed, if you keep learning you will defintely get there, being married to a German it is going to be easier and more useful for you too.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fremdsprache76
Fremdsprache76
  • 25
  • 25
  • 14
  • 13
  • 6
  • 133

http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek Here is a website that I use to watch German TV; every show with "UT" listed by the duration has subtitles (in German). The SOKO series shows are similar to Tatort. I used to hit pause a lot to look up words and a 40 min show would take substantially longer. This helped a lot though, as now I can watch the shows straight through without issue. The news is a bit of a different story -- I can get the gist, but that level of fluency yet evades me. Viel Glück!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gronyteen

Wow, that's great thanks, the wife will be chuffed too.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xiong
Xiong
  • 16
  • 15
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 5
  • 2
  • 2

ZDF is amazing! I try to watch a show or documentary while I have breakfast/lunch/dinner. You can also watch shows on ARD Mediathek: http://www.ardmediathek.de/

Also, the Deutsche Welle has news podcasts and short video clips (on their website, on itunes, and also on youtube): http://www.dw.de/programm/s-9093-9800

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
  • 22
  • 22
  • 22
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 24

It's great that you're still working at it! Look at finishing the tree as more of a personal accomplishment, not so much a proof of your language ability. Personally, I feel like finishing the tree is only the first step to learning a language, and if you're already reading and watching TV in German, then you're already getting a move on the next steps. Good luck!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
annika_a
  • 22
  • 17
  • 17
  • 16
  • 11
  • 11
  • 5
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

Here's a lingot for you from one of those "hares"... :-) You have already received many wise replies regarding different learning styles and strategies, people having studied a language (or other similar languages) before, this not being a race, the brilliant idea of designating a time or room for just German, etc.

I would like to echo those comments, and just wanted to give you a lingot because I bet your wife and kids are VERY, VERY proud of the effort you are putting in!!! Never mind if it takes a bit longer to get there.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FKrasniqi
FKrasniqi
  • 21
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4

German is a difficult language, though at times when learning a language you feel like you don't know anything but you would be surprised at how much you probably do know! Good luck!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bleausard

I've started the french tree roughly 4months ago and seem to be one of the people rushing through. It's now 9 skills to go and I am to finish during next week.

During the whole period I tried to do 5 lessons a day and more at the weekends or now during my few days of annual leave.

Main rationale to go as quick as possible is that I will need french for my new job starting in Feb and I try to brush up and get as much vocabulary in as possible. I am clear it is not learned perfectly but as a lot of people described above, once you come into a situation where you need a word, you start digging and find a lot. I wouldn't say I pick up languages quickly and am german native and french feels completely different... but I mainly hoüe that I can lay a base with Dolingo before the real world conversations start!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wolhay
Wolhay
  • 20
  • 19
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

I know you're not asking for advice in this thread but my recommendation would be to watch the German TV programs with subtitles, it makes it easier to check up on the words afterwards. I add words to a text file while I stream TV programs on the computer. It's my favourite method of practising German.

I went through a period of being really sick of the whodunnits in Tatort but I think that the most recent episodes have been really terrific.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Grumpycat1
Grumpycat1
  • 24
  • 21
  • 10
  • 7
  • 6

well, i had German for five (!) years at high school, with very strict teacher, got As and Bs.....then came four years of pause.....and now I am here, have 13 remaining too.....and I want to work in Austria when I finish school (since autumn) and I just do-not-understand-those-people.............but I understand German TV quite well........damn dialects!

now I´ve started watching ORF news.....they speak pretty high german, yet austrian german....

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nateVONgreat
nateVONgreat
  • 23
  • 11
  • 8
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I am also learning only german, on a 137 day streak, and started in November!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LingoKiwi

What I find helps is to converse only in my chosen language (French) to someone who is fluent, in your case your wife. Sit with a word reference app such as http://www.wordreference.com/ and slowly talk, looking up words if need be.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wjranch

I recently began Duo for German (since Nov,, absolute Newb) .
I have progressed, though not nearly as quickly as I had thought I would. I often feel like I just keep returning and redoing to reinforce, but, each time I do, I find my grasp and understanding of the actual language rules is stronger.
I think many can fly through the levels and treat it like a game (as others have mentioned). Which is fine I'm sure if they never truly wish to be competent enough to converse fluently. I am coming to believe/understand that, although my brain is a sponge, even a dry thirsty sponge requires some time to completely absorb the water. Patience and persistence will build strong skills that will stay solidly in your mind.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
annika_a
  • 22
  • 17
  • 17
  • 16
  • 11
  • 11
  • 5
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I take issue with the notion that those of us who like to go through the tree quickly never truly wish to be competent...

I whizzed (well, everything is relative) through the tree because having a specific goal motivated me. Now I am trying to keep my tree golden, and am noticing that I make fewer mistakes and need to look up fewer structures every week that goes by. Someone else may be doing their repetition as they go through the tree, I do mine afterwards.

However strong, skills decay with time (both in the real world and as simulated by Duolingo's algorithm), so we all need some repetition over the long term anyway.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zelah_Meyer

I think that, as you say, repetition is what is important. Whether you do that as you work through the tree or whether you go back through and do it afterwards, it's still that action of repeating the exercises that will help to get it into your brain (unless you're really lucky and have an excellent brain for languages. A few, rare, people are like that. Sadly, I'm not one of them!)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gchoy
gchoy
  • 15
  • 6
  • 2
  • 2

perhaps you might want to supplement with lessons from DW network http://www.dw.de/learn-german/s-2469

4 years ago