https://www.duolingo.com/Saff

After Duolingo

I'm loving the app. and website ^^ However I have several questions regarding the end of the course for those who have progressed that far. How many words do you possess in your vocabulary? How confident are you with speaking/reading the language? What did you do (and find useful) to continue your learning? Obrigarda! x

February 15, 2013

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

By the end of the course you'll have learned about 2 thousand words. If you use only Duolingo, your reading comprehension will depend largely upon the amount of your work on translations - the more the better. Your writing skills will be quite moderate and speaking skills even less, but there is no surprise because Duolingo does not teach you to produce your own content in the target language.

However, if you care to do some writing or speaking practice in addition to Duolingo exercises, you'll be able to write and speak a little, too. My advice is to be open to new opportunities and try to get as much practice as possible of the skills you need most. Want to read? Try to start reading as soon as you feel confident enough and can understand a sentence without struggling for ages. Want to speak? Find a language partner and start speaking. And so on.

Duolingo worked as a perfect motivator, word trainer and reading trainer for my French. However, I used it in combination with other resources such as Michel Thomas audio course and Busuu course. The latter gave me a good writing practice. In about 2 months I was able to talk about grammar in French or have text chats with native speakers. After 3 months of studying I finished the Duo course and shortly after that enjoyed reading "The Planet of the Apes" in French (using dictionary, but still it was fun). I continued my studies on Busuu, added a good textbook and in about 4 or 5 months from the beginning of learning I scored a upper B2 level on a training session of TCF.

February 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ogergo

Thanks olimo! That was useful for me as well.

February 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Bertelli

to me, the best practice after you learn the first 1500 words is to watch a lot, i mean a lot of TV with subtitles in the same language as the audio. not only you learn to associate sound>written word, but ultimately you learn the tone, and the circumstances/context of those sentences; this is something in Duolingo is totally missing because of the robotic audio.

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jdicarlo

Do you have any suggestions on where to find this kind of content? Outside of French and Spanish, I've found foreign language tv content with both audio and subtitles (in Italian, specifically) quite difficult to come by.

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Bertelli

sometimes Youtube, Vimeo have subtitles TED.com has subtitles and transcriptions in any language and you can both improve your language and your brain ;)

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Xiuhtecuhtli

For extra practice, whenever you're watching DVDs in your own language, turn on the subtitles of the language you're learning for extra exposure to the words :)

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ChristianStroh

If you are a Spanish student then watching "Destinos" is a must! It's an introduction to Spanish in the for of a telenovela. The pacing is well suited for beginners.

February 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FiloNiagara

Thank you, Christian! Amazingly, these seem to be available for free at http://www.learner.org/series/destinos/watch/

February 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/clpm
February 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FiloNiagara

Most of us can't do the obvious thing to beef up our ability to speak a language -- go live in a country where the language is spoken.

But what might be useful is if various DL users would post (here) concrete, explicit suggestions for increasing our vocabulary skills (or other skills) in one specific language.

My suggestions for increasing real-world Spanish reading vocabulary:

http://axxon.com.ar/cuentos.php [science fiction short stories];

http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/news [links to many online Latin American newspapers];

http://www.wordreference.com [Spanish-English dictionary].

The new words I don't think I'll easily remember I write down in a 4x6 inch spiral notebook, which I review at random.

February 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/cbjj

You should also try a computer program that can do this for you, eg. Anki http://ankisrs.net/ or Mnemosyne http://mnemosyne-proj.org/ . Both are free (open source).

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FiloNiagara

Thank you, cbjj. These both look interesting. For a flashcard with a Spanish word on one side, I would want (typically) to have several translations for it on the other side, with one translation per line for readability. Do you know if such multiline answers are easy to create with either one of these?

February 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/cbjj

You can add anything to the front or the back of each card. See their comprehensive help files for all the details.

February 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/renato_f

we have from Italian to English 1466 words, I think from English to Spanish we have not far from 1500 words. I saw this from people who have completed the course, I find 1500 words for the basic knowing of a language is enough.

February 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

I have 2014 words in French course. 1500 is quite a lot, but unfortunately, not all of the words we learn here are really very common, so only part of this is really important and useful.

February 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/LB_StorM

Approximately 95% of conversation is done with the 1,000 most popular words. Approximately 98% is done with the 4,000 most popular words.

February 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FiloNiagara

The available statistics for commonly read printed material are nowhere near as optimistic as the figures you quote for conversation. Can you give a source that defines "conversation" and gives experimental proof of those percentages for a specific language?

February 20, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/LB_StorM

I got those figures from a Psychology course. From what I could dig out, you're right that they might have been too optimistic. http://www.englishteachermelanie.com/study-tip-the-english-words-you-need-to-know/

That said, this article seems to veer toward the other end of the spectrum, as I have no idea what a 'calyx', and probably don't know 50,000 words, but I can definitely understand well over 95% of communication in English.

February 20, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FiloNiagara

@LB_StorM --

The table on the englishteachermelanie site you mention is reasonably consistent with this table (for English) from http://www.lextutor.ca/cv/awl_F.htm --

Most freq 1000 words --> 74% coverage

Most freq 2000 words --> 81% coverage

Most freq 3000 words --> 85% coverage

Most freq 4000 words --> 88% coverage

Most freq 5000 words --> 89% coverage

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Most freq 12000 words --> 95% coverage

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

and it is also consistent with a similar table for Portuguese published in 1998 by the CLUL in Madrid (but that table is no longer available online).

However, consider the implications of this statement from englishteachermelanie:

"Native speakers use just 7000 words for 90% of what they say and write."

OK, suppose you know 7000 words (90% of common vocabulary) -- a magazine page contains 1000 words, so on that page you don't know 100 words and have to struggle through 100 dictionary lookups (!) to read the page. You think some of the unknown words are repeated? No, not to any great extent, because the words above the 7999 most frequent are in fact rare, so you will have to do close to 100 lookups just to read that page. Of course, being human, you will just skip some of the lookups, but you will still have enough things to look up that it will exhaust you. I went through that process learning to read and speak French starting 40 years ago, and the phenomenon is absolutely real.

Nobody has yet come up with a magic solution to this problem. Grammar is trivial; vocabulary is the overwhelming obstacle.

Incidentally, you unquestionably know 50,000 words. And you learned the word "calyx" in high-school biology and would remember it if somebody reminded you of what it means.

February 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/gringo_polones

Pimsleur course is good as well, but words are similar as here.

February 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/LB_StorM

I have to disagree. Pimsleur courses aren't worth their exorbitant price tag at all, and anyone would be hard-pressed to argue they're even worth the 90-120 hours you put into them.

I'd only suggest people use Pimsleur if they want to improve their speaking ability AND can get it for free (Arrrrrhh). Otherwise, look for free resources or purchase Assimil - much greater return on investment.

February 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

I tried Pimsleur at first, but it was SOOOO slow that I gave it up. I just don't have so much time. Michel Thomas teaches much more in less time and explains grammar fantastically.

February 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy

With the chrome browser you can set Google Translate to convert randomly selected words displayed on web pages to any language you choose. You can select the category of words that they convert from easy on up to difficult. If you are familiar with the content of the pages that you are looking at, quite quickly you just start automatically translating the words without thinking about it.

Any given can be translated back to the original language by using a mouseover. Unfortunately it relies on Google Translate.

If the content of the web page is difficult and having words from another language is distracting then you just hit the toggle button in the browser and it turns everything back into English (if that's your native language).

February 28, 2013
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