How to Use Duolingo Effectively

Hey y'all! I've been using Duolingo for a long time (since the beta, baby!), and I want to share some advice. As you can see, I'm level 18 in German. I finished the tree, keeping it completely gold. And yet when I try and speak German, I know next to nothing. And I've figured out why. I just sped through the course without really thinking about it.

It's important to remember that Duolingo doesn't teach you a language; it gives you an opportunity to learn one. You have to put in active effort. Here's what I do now to actively learn:

Don't wear yourself out! I try not to do more than 150 xp per day, because I get tired, and then I go into robot mode. But this number is different for everyone.

Don't do too many lessons in one day! You probably won't remember it all.

Make sure to review! I don't do any new lessons until my whole tree is gold.

Speak the sentences out to yourself. I don't use the microphone option (Sorry, Luis), but I do say the sentences out to myself. Aside form helping with pronunciation, it really helps you remember it.

Make sure you ask questions in the discussion section! But remember to look to see if your question's been answered already :) The best language learning resource I've found besides Duolingo. It's an online pronunciation dictionary of tooooooooons of languages. You can hear basically any word, spoken by a native speaker! And it includes where the speakers are from, so you know what accent you're hearing. If you're learning French, it's great! You can practice conjugations over and over again.

Try learning a second language in the language you've already learned. Or do the reverse tree! Seriously, it's amazing!!!

Hope this helps! Best of luck with all your language adventures.

December 28, 2016


Probably the main reason you are struggling with spoken German is simply that you haven't practised spoken German enough. The only real way to achieve spoken fluency is by, you guessed it, speaking the language. Saying the sentences as you go through the tree (whether prompted or not) is a good idea. but what you really need is to use the language regularly. Find conversation partners, find teachers, find fellow learners if all else fails! In my experience, I retain more of the tree than I consciously realise, but unless I use it, I don't learn to, well, use it. And if I do use it, then it's really going to stick and I will remember it well.

Duolingo is primarily a course for writing and reading, with a little listening thrown in. It's excellent for a good solid grammatical basis, and it's not bad as an introduction to understanding the spoken language, but it's not going to teach you to speak unless you supplement it with speaking.

December 29, 2016

Thanks for the tips. I guess that means that my daily average of 307 XP points isn't very good. I've been thinking it's productive...

December 29, 2016

Hey, it depends on the person! If that works for you, go for it!

December 29, 2016

I do about 300 xps and I think it is productive for me, but most of the xps are from immersion.

December 29, 2016

Wow that's an amazing streak you have. Keep it up!

December 6, 2018

Interesting experience thanks for sharing it, congrats on your dedication to language learning. In my experience if you do not force yourself to talk you are missing the most effective language learning technique. Duolingo is not very good for talking, you need more phrases. Benny Lewis has a new book called language hacking he has one for Spanish, one for German among others, you may want to check them out, Mango, some Memrise courses and some youtube channels are also helpful.

December 29, 2016

I have completed my Spanish tree; and after that I made sure that everything was gold and stays gold. I have started over and completed my tree 8 times now. I do it as a review and to keep it fresh in my mind and everything gold. I only do about 100 to 150 xp's a day. I always use the timed practice so it forces me to think quicker. I do a coupe of topics when I get up in the morning with a cup of coffee and then again sometime during the day and a little at night. I also use memrise and Gringo espanol, (the as well as I watch Destinos, (a public broadcast show that helps you to get the ear for Spanish) I also use it is just a listening course. You don't write anything down, only listen to two people speak. when i'm home I always have my television on a Spanish channel even though i'm not watching anything. It just puts the language out there in the background. I do feel like i'm starting to get better but still a long way from fluent. It's a process.

December 29, 2016

Hi pilgrim2k,

I do "only" see one language level 25 Spanish flag in your account (you may are already ready as you added English on level 1).

What is the point of doing the "forward tree" EN-SP (or DE-SP) 8 times (bravo!), when the ratio of writing in Spanish is too low on DuoLingo?

To practice translating (RECALLING) into your L2 target language, you would have to start the "reverse tree" SP-EN, which gives you a (much) higher ratio from your source/base L1 language:

Also you should install Camilo's user script "DuoLingo tree enhancer", even for your forward course:

  • You can activate Spanish audio and/or hide texts, pictures to concentrate on listening practice (but you need to turn OFF the speaker in your account settings for the reverse tree).

  • These two features my be relevant for the reverse tree if you do it a 2nd/3rd time.

  • I do really enjoy the additional Portuguese audio in my EN-PT forward course on right hand side translations, solutions and multiple-choice.

The Memrise clone DuoLingo Spanish courses also help you to review effectively vocabulary, as you focus on RECALLING / typing into L2 Spanish, not L1 English.

Cooljingle's user script "All typing" even turns off multiple-choices, which you can't do on DuoLingo, sadly to say (I am searching for this).

I am not sure if you already use it - or Lingvist (~5000 words incl. sentences) - in parallel to DuoLingo?

November 20, 2017

Your 151780 XP score on Spanish is really crazy ;)

I am a little bit over 10.000XP now after I have finished my Portuguese tree.

Q: You "just" (I know it is great and much work!!!) re-do the skills / lessons manually, don't you?

Q2: Resetting a tree would remove all XP for the course (and the total dashboard XP), right?

November 20, 2017

I think you are absolutely right. I am learning Spanish and have completed around half of my tree, but I constantly review old lessons because I haven't remembered very many words. I think it is not the best way to teach, by just showing the meaning of the word and using it in a sentence, because that doesn't involve you enough. There needs to be different activities that help and force you to remember new words. I "know" 1196 words, but I probably only remember 800-1000 of them, which is why I always do review.

December 28, 2016

Thank you for these tips!

I think that one's learning experience is subjective, and more a factor of what your goal is for the day, the week, the month, the year, or for your entire lifetime.

I feel like random exposure to the language can be useful before you even start decoding what everything means.

That being said, I would agree that focusing on just a couple or a few skills a day and drilling them over and over again has a lot of potential for storing the information into your long-term memory.

And of course, we must always keep in mind the 4 pillars of any language learning endeavor: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Strengthen all 4 pillars on a regular basis in order to best work yourself toward fluency in any particular language.

December 28, 2016

For me, I have been learning Spanish on Duolingo alongside taking the Spanish GCSE course, however I find that it -Duolingo- only enhances my understanding of vocabulary, but it does not help me to speak it as well as a teacher would. Although, if you make constant notes each lesson and always remember to do practices, then you have a good chance of learning the language properly. On a side note, however, I think you do have to be an active learner outside of Duolingo to build better understanding and specifically speaking skills, for example taking listening courses or finding conversation partners. Hope you are all successful in learning what you wanted to learn!❤

June 8, 2018

Cool! This is useful!

December 28, 2016

Thank you! I'm not so sure about Forvo, though. Basically anyone can go and pronounce something in any language. I don't trust it, an authoritative dictionary is always a better choice.

December 29, 2016

True about Forvo, but for more commonly learned languages at least, there is very frequently more than one recording. And if you use it over time, you get a sense of the phonetics which is easier to apply to new words. In practice, I don't think I've only ever come across one single recording I found in the least suspect. A far worse problem is some of the poor recording quality. Of course, if you language does have a dictionary with comprehensive recorded pronunciation, more power to you!

Dictionary pronunciation guides are hazardous territory; they tend to rely on respellings instead of something really credible like IPA. And if you don't happen to be familiar with the dialect they're respelling into, you're out of luck (for whatever reasons the French dictionaries we had at school in the US Midwest were respelled into British English, essentially useless for us, and giving me the idea for years and years that I just couldn't understand pronunciation info).

December 29, 2016

Thank you for this posting

December 29, 2016 to hear pronunciations -- I need to try that out. Thanks for the tip!

December 31, 2016

For the first chatting (typing) steps, because this helped me years and years ago for my English on IRC channels, you could try http://

This is more interesting than just writing e-mail texts, because it is interactive, but you may feel more safe as it is a little bit slower and you have more time to think about what you want to say - and you can also help yourself by peeking before you submit your text).

Sadly to say, HelloLingo does not have an in-build support that the native speaker can visibly correct your posted text (grammar / words).

Once the chat is established, there is also a voice option available (which I did not already test because of mic/headphone issues).

November 20, 2017

I love the way you put it - Duolingo does not teach you a language, it gives you an opportunity to learn one.

July 15, 2018

How does one NOT keep the whole tree golden?

I mean, I went through a phase of just 20XP or so a day and at the end of it, the whole tree was still golden. The only time when I saw a non-golden skill was after I finished that skill and forgot to do a full-review on the next two days. One single full-review a day is enough to keep the whole tree golden all of the time it seems. And in my opinion: If you never do full-reviews (only skill-reviews and lesson-reviews) you are already doing something seriously wrong.

December 29, 2016

Apparently the longer you keep a tree golden, the less XP you need to keep it gold. It also makes you repeat more if you tend to make more mistakes in that skill. I am still a relative beginner in Irish and I most definitely need more than 20xp/day to keep my half-tree golden.

Also not all trees are equal; the German tree in particular is a beast compared to other trees. 124 skills, 465 lessons - that's nearly twice as long as the Irish tree! I doubt one review session per day would allow you to see the vocabulary often enough to keep skills gold. I was trying for weeks after finishing to keep it 100% gold and finally said "that's good enough" when I still had some not-gold skills.

Another point: If skills is rather far from being gold, a "full review" as you call it becomes exactly the same as a "skill review." I find that skill reviews are actually more helpful when I'm still struggling to learn the vocabulary, because it makes me repeat the same words more often.

December 29, 2016

I use Anki for my vocabulary reviews, so I don't need "skill reviews" as much. What you wrote makes sense. Maybe my tree stays golden so easily because I use Anki for vocabulary training. This means that it is possible that I make less mistakes in Duolingo (relatively speaking) and so the tree needs less attention.

December 29, 2016

What do you mean with full reviews? And how do you keep the tree golden just with one review a day? I did this a couple of weeks with a finished tree to keep it golden - just one review every day - and now are 15 skills not golden.

December 29, 2016

On the web, when you see your tree on the left side, it is the "Strengthen skills" on the right side. On Android, it's the blue button with the barbell icon.

As opposed to the "strengthen ..." when you enter a skill or if you click on the lessons themselves.

My daily routine is doing the "Strengthen skills" once, then doing one "strengthen ..." on skills I did recently and still have problems with, then learn a new lesson and then (if I still have time) I redo lessons in the skill I am currently learning. That way I get 30 to 50 XP per day.

On weekends I sometimes do more than 100. In those cases I do up to three or four "Strengthen skills". But that happens only about every second week or so.

December 29, 2016

It is not so easy to keep the tree golden. For me it requires at least an hour a day. After I completed my Spanish tree I had to work very hard to get it Golden. I had to strengthen 4 to 6 skills a day to make progress, and it took about a month to get the tree golden. Once it was golden it required about 4 skills a day to keep it golden. It requires at least an hour a day just to keep it I gave up.

What is a "full-review"? Do you mean "Strengthen Skills" from the homepage?

What is "skill-review"? When you go into a specific skill and do "Strengthen" for that skill? For example, open the Food skill and click on "Strengthen Food".

What is "lesson-review"? Do you mean "Lesson Redo" from inside each skill?

December 31, 2016

Yes, that is what I meant.

I see that I should have stuck to the button labels instead of using my own classification but I was in a hurry when I originally typed it.

Anyway, even with the possible explanation of cdub4language and my speculation on it I find it strange that experiences vary so much when it comes to keeping the tree golden.

December 31, 2016

Maybe the tree acts differently now than it did 2 years ago. The last time I tried to make my tree gold was in December 2014. After working hard for about 2 months to keep it gold, I gave up because I wanted to spend time learning a new language. I could not afford to spend an hour a day just to maintain Spanish. But maybe today, 2 years later, it isn't as hard

December 31, 2016

This helps a lot! Thank you for those useful tips ;-)

December 29, 2016

These are great tips. Something similar happened to me. I sped through half of the Turkish tree and realized I hadn't actually retained much and had to start over. With Duolingo it is way to easy to complete a lesson while guessing.

I would add re-doing lessons to your list of tips. I usually do a few lessons in the morning an re-do them a few hours later.

Also, Memrise has courses that mirror duolingo courses which are great for practicing vocabulary.

December 29, 2016

Thank you very much

April 28, 2017

You said in the post you were level 18 but now you are only level 9 in German, why is that?. I guess you reset your progress but if so may I ask why. I reset my French course 4 days ago because I had not studied in a while and I wanted to start fresh. Is there any benefit for resetting the course?

June 18, 2017

Hola a todos! He estado usando Duolingo durante mucho tiempo (¡desde la versión beta, bebé!), Y quiero compartir algunos consejos. Como pueden ver, tengo el nivel 18 en alemán. Terminé el árbol, manteniéndolo completamente dorado. Y sin embargo, cuando trato de hablar alemán, sé casi nada. Y he descubierto por qué. Acabo de acelerar el curso sin pensar realmente en ello.

Es importante recordar que Duolingo no te enseña un idioma; te da la oportunidad de aprender uno. Tienes que poner en esfuerzo activo. Esto es lo que hago ahora para aprender activamente:

No te gastes! Intento no hacer más de 150 xp por día, porque me canso y luego paso al modo robot. Pero este número es diferente para todos.

¡No hagas demasiadas lecciones en un día! Probablemente no lo recordarás todo.

¡Asegúrate de revisar! No hago nuevas lecciones hasta que todo mi árbol es dorado.

Habla las oraciones a ti mismo. No uso la opción de micrófono (Lo siento, Luis), pero sí me digo las oraciones. Aparte de ayudar con la pronunciación, realmente te ayuda a recordarlo.

¡Asegúrate de hacer preguntas en la sección de discusión! Pero recuerda mirar para ver si tu pregunta ya ha sido respondida :) El mejor recurso de aprendizaje de idiomas que he encontrado además de Duolingo. Es un diccionario de pronunciación en línea de tooooooooons de idiomas. ¡Usted puede escuchar básicamente cualquier palabra, pronunciada por un hablante nativo! E incluye el lugar de donde provienen los altavoces, para que sepa qué acento está escuchando. Si estás aprendiendo francés, ¡es genial! Puedes practicar conjugaciones una y otra vez.

Intente aprender un segundo idioma en el idioma que ya aprendió. O haz el árbol inverso ¡En serio, es increíble!

¡Espero que esto ayude! La mejor de las suertes con todas tus aventuras idiomáticas.

November 20, 2017

how to do flashcards

November 24, 2017

Thank you!

December 20, 2018

I find the only way to learn a language is to speak it. I also watch movie movies. I learned German while living and working in g Germany and I learned Spanish by visiting my husbands family in South America. I also am a member of a Spanish Club.

March 12, 2019


June 5, 2019

Have been trying Duolingo,Italian, sporadically for a couple of years.. what is a tree? I have yet to discover it and know what it is used for although it is mentioned frequently by users...thanks

June 5, 2019

Is there any instructions for beginners. I have found by trial and error that you cannot skip in a particular skill (say, adjectives) the lower levels, but must go through 1,2,3,4 before you can try 5. But I am not sure for example whether to aim for level one in every skill then go back and try for 2, etc., or whether to get each one up to five before advancing, or whether to just do 1, or even just a part of 1, then go on to the next skill and only do 2,3, etc if I am having problems. I originally just did part of 1 and thought that the program was automatically telling me to go on to the next 'skill'. But now I see I CAN go back. However, when I do that, it seems pretty repetitious. Is there a real difference between 1,2,3, for a specific 'skill' or grammatical category?

June 26, 2019


June 29, 2019


November 20, 2017
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