Spanish level 25, my experience
Hi all, I just wanted to share my experience learning Spanish on Duolingo.
I started learning in April last year, and just reached level 25 today. I am a bit of a nerd, so I timed the hours spent on Duolingo : 118 hours, spread out over the last 9 months.
I cannot even express how grateful I am to this site. In school, languages were my weakest subjects. I had always been disappointed that I had never managed to master a new language (I am bilingual English-French). When I started Duolingo, I was at first dubious about my own capabilites, having always believed that I was just one of these people that is bad at learning languages. Also, I was afraid that I would use the site for a few weeks, then get bored and give up.
I started in April 2013. In June my wife and I went to Latin America for a short trip. There, I was amazed to discover that I could understand most of what people were telling me. I could also have basic conversations. I even managed to convince a taxi driver to look at duolingo, because he wanted to learn English. (by that time I still hadn't finished the tree, I was probably 2/3rds down)
A week ago, February 2014, we went to Spain, and this time I realized that I am now able to have conversations in Spanish! Of course I am not able to speak like a native but I understand most of what is said, and I can construct reasonably fluent answers. (by this time I was level 24, the tree having been finished last summer)
Besides speaking, I am also able to read in Spanish, I started reading last summer. At first, I spent most of my time looking up words I didn't understand. I still do that now, but less. I am now on my fifth novel in Spanish.
All that to say that my initial pessimism about learning languages is now gone. I was able to stick to duolingo like I had never been able to follow a class taught in school. Also, the progress I have made in Spanish is enough to convince me that believing that I am not good at learning languages was not justified at all.
My next goal is Italian!
Thanks duolingo! For the Spanish, but also for opening my eyes to the possibilities of learning new languages.
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Wow, that's great!! I only grew up with German... but started with English in Kindergarten, started Latin in Grade 7, Spanish and French at the age of 19 and Italian on Duolingo. I hope to see Russian soon on here! But so far I am only fluent in German and English ... which is a pity... I want to be fluent in at least (!) one more language ! :P All the best to you!
Thanks for the boost and congratulations to you too. I love this program too. I am native English speaker (Australian!) and never did well in school with French and German. But a couple of visits to Ecuador and a boring start to learning Spanish with Pimsleur got me interested in learning Spanish and I found it fun. I also used other courses like Synergy for a change. I have been through the Pimsleur course three or four times before discovering Duolingo. Don't know exactly when I started but I am almost at 200 days without missing a day. About to start French as I am a fan of French songs. I'm still a slow learner with over 500 hours at a guesstimate, but it is fun. I use a small program called Cuecard to save every new word I find, and every verb as well, but I also write many sentences down in order to learn Spanish spelling. I recommend Duolingo to my friends and most of my family has taken up learning with it too.
Well, French is going to be a bit easier with Spanish under your tie (does this expression exist in English ?). And I can guarantee you won't regret learning it with all the great French songs there are out there. The thing is, English songs are about melody and rhymes (the human voice is but another instrument, the lyrics are generally not that important), but French songs are all about words. The melody isn't always good, but it just is poetry sung out instead of written down.
Have a listen to Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Boris Vian when you get there. These are all pretty well known. Then you can dig in a bit deeper and look for Plume Latraverse : he's a French speaking poet and songwriter from Quebec, Canada. It's a bit of a shame that he got known for his most vulgar songs, because a few less known songs are real masterpieces. Look up "Lit vert", "El Niño", "Mouton noir" or, if you know anything about history, "1837". This last song is about how the events of the patriots of French Canada are completely forgotten from our (Canadian) history class.
Thanks ! I knew there was something fishy about "under the tie" but couldn't put my finger on it (I'll admit I was a bit tired) ! It would have been better translated as "behind the tie" actually, so I was doubly wrong there !
As for Gainsbourg, of course, he's great, but he's already quite well known in the English speaking community so I didn't feel the need to recommend him.
I am level 22 in Italian and not quite through the entire tree, but I find that I don't need to rely as much on hover hints anymore, and every now and then I'll have a breakthrough moment where I type a long sentence and it gets accepted. Woo-hoo! I am getting the hang of it!
While I cannot feel confident enough to carry on a conversation or even understand most of what is being said in a normal sentence spoken at normal speed, I am much, much better at guessing what might have been said, now.
The key, I think, is to do some of this every day. I have done a unit every day, for over 300 days in a row, and I credit that for all of my success of sticking to it.
I am an American that chose to live in Central America. Belize in fact, because they speak English. However most people speak Spanish due to historical reasons. Most people speak Spanish because of the early Spaniards, and the peoples have emigrated from surrounding countries. I have dabbled in Spanish, Italian, German etc because I have traveled a lot. So in 2013 I chose DL and have had great pleasure in using the course. I read local newspapers for practice. Recently I went out with a friend just to test my growth. ( I live on the Guatemalan border ). All the people I spoke with that night said I speak well. My weakness is hearing the language. But it is getting better if I ask them to speak a bit slower. HA
I'd like to share my experience.When I get to know a languge,I was attracted by it's music first.I remembered when I was listening to an English song-take me to your heart,how I wish I could master it someday.With the 9-year-compulsory course of English finished,I found myself can read text in English freely.But I'm still not good at English writing.Could you give me some advice?Thank you!
Congratualtions! I could not agree more. I too have been learning for about a year with DL and when I am around Spanish speaking people it is as if a veil had been lifted. I can't wait to go to South America! The only thing stopping me from tackling Italian is that I might not find operatic arias quite so sublime when I understand what they are actually saying!!!!! ;)
Thanks for sharing! Currently i'm level ten, in the middle of my tree, and I think I will finish it in about six weeks. That has been my goal since the beginning, and then move to the next language. But now i wonder... how useful is to level up to 25? In your experience, would you recommend to reach the top level, or by completing the tree is enough?
I've found my second time through the spanish tree to be very valuable (basically trying to get everything "gold" again. Part of this is that duolingo improved since I first completed the tree, but part of it is that with all my other spanish studies, it re-bases me in the grammar. Duolingo has been about a third of what I am studying (I've been working on it for about a year and a half), but I can now have good conversations with people and I just finished reading Harry Potter in Spanish - by the last few chapters I barely had to look anything up.
Congratulations. I hope to one day achieve conversational fluency. I am currently much stronger when I read and write, where I can take my time to construct or absorb a sentence, as opposed to on the fly. I have been told by native speakers that my pronunciation skills are outstanding, and that if they did not know me, and just overheard me speaking, they would think I was a native speaker. My problem is I don't get enough spoken practice, only short bursts here and there with friends, or when mi novia comes over. I have resorted to singing along with Spanish music for spoken practice. Hopefully one day I will get there. Good luck with Italian.
I've felt it in every new language I've learned (first four I've learned before. I'm studying my fifth here on Duolingo) and it usually is just a question of hanging in there until you realize you can pick up a few words here and there either written of spoken. Then you get the confidence boost you need to see it through. One usually really get going about learning a language when one stops fearing one will make mistakes. Yes we make mistakes while learning, but it's part of the process : stop worrying that much and then it'll go smoothly.
This is great. Congratulations. When you start learning Italian, you might want to see if learning Italian for Spanish speakers is available on Duolingo. The idea is to use your second language to learn another one. It's called "laddering languages" and helps reinforce both languages.
Haha, that's what I do to learn German. When I first joined, there was no German from Spanish, so I signed up for German from English (which is my second language). I would like to learn Dutch and Swedish too, and now I will try to sign up for them from German if the option is available when I'm done with German.
(To be truthful, I think it's been easier for me to do German from English than it would've been to do German from Spanish!)
French would have helped a bit too for German, but not as much as English. Actually, French may help a lot more than we'd think for English : so many words in English come from French, all of that because the English aristocracy spoke French for nearly 400 years in England's courts. It may explain why there are so many Latin expressions in modern English...
Great story story to which I can relate a lot. Laddering is pretty awesome. I am french canadian, english is my second language. I'm going through the spanish tree like willmcc did and my english has improved a lot since I started. I am level 20 now and working on reading my first novel!
Well everyone who doesn't have English as their first language is doing exactly that (laddering languages) when they learn another language on Duolingo. For exemple, my first language is French, and I'm learning German from English, because I can't learn it directly from French (as of now) in Duolingo.
Another great strategy is to try and teach your newly learnt language to someone else. You can't imagine how much you learn about a subject (be it a language or anything else) when you try to teach it to someone else !
That is so true! Back when I was a TA and Tutor for first year Japanese, my skills sharpened up so quickly! And then when I moved and was unable to do those things, my skills dulled. I can't wait for the Japanese for English speakers course, because I'm going to spend a lot of time teaching grammar, pronunciation, and spelling in the Japanese Discussion forum :D
I'm looking forward to when I can ladder Japanese/Spanish. But, I'm going to do the Spanish reverse/mirror course first. (It's my Spanish 6 step plan! Tree, level 25, reverse tree, ladder course. And of course, translating in Immersion and reading lots of fanfiction in my target language) :D
(PS And I'll be doing the same thing with Japanese. )
Edited My plan is actually 6 steps. I was just thinking in terms of Duolingo trees earlier. Thanks to moodswinger for encouraging me to list the other two. :)
Amazing! Level 25 is still a dream for me. I hope you do try Italian next. It's lovely. I want to do Spanish. I started, but put it 'on hold' for the Italian.
But did you really do just 118 hours, on DL? I feel like I've done ten times as much, yet am only half way through my tree
he knows French too, which has a lot in common with Italian, so that means (plus knowing Spanish already) he can learn Italian with almost no difficulty at all. he knows the language already before he knew it. analogously speaking,he just needs to but ask the girl out to just realize she's already in love with him, madly! no effort and fret about seduction- just go for it!
Actually, that's exactly what I did : I speak French as my first language and learned Spanish in school and then while travelling, then Italian came in as a breeze. I found the Italian grammar to be a wee bit more complex than the Spanish one though, but nothing as bad as the French one !
I love hearing your story! Duolingo has created so many great stories for so many people already- for me, not only was Duolingo the only hope I EVER had at learning a language other than English, they even made it easy and fun, and Spanish has become a huge part of my life as a result! So glad there were people who put the dedication that they did into such a life-changing program!
I have 6 skills to complete, yet I feel I was bogging down on learning. So I have decided to go back and review. I thought it would just be basic stuff again, but it is not. Yes you will review basic words, but often DL throws in words from way down the tree to create a sentence. Past, present, future etc. Things you learn at the bottom of the tree comes back to the top. So in a way that is multiple review.
I have 6 skills to complete, yet I feel I was bogging down on learning. So I have decided to go back and review. I thought it would just be basic stuff again, but it is not. Yes you will review basic words, but often DL throws in words from way down the tree to create a sentence. Past, present, future etc. So in a way that is multiple review. So things you learn at the bottom of the tree will come back reviewing the top.
Having done it myself (with French before that), I'd say if you don't master Spanish well enough, either don't go into Italian or keep practising both at the same time with sustained effort, so as not to confuse the two. I regretted forgetting almost all of my Spanish while learning Italian (after being asked by a native if Spanish was my first language) because I stopped practising it. Now I feel I'll have to re-learn it as if it was the first time :-(. The up side of it is that now I know what not to do !