How do you feel after finishing?
How fluent do you guys feel after finishing the course?
I started learning Spanish - as an absolute beginner- on Duolingo last July, and finished the course in by mid-August, then started from the beginning again and finished again early September. (Yes, I found the program to be extremely enjoyable, almost addictive, in fact!) After completing the course I found that I could start reading newspapers in Spanish with a fair degree of comprehension, but not able to understand the language in TV programs or movies except for picking up a few words. I then started the Memrise.com course, 5000 Spanish words, and started talking to native Spanish speakers that I found through Language-exchange.com (The Mixxr) and have also started Spanish Verb Tenses in a textbook series, Practice Makes Perfect. (although I am only half-way through that, not nearly as much fun as Duolingo or talking to people. Now, after 8 months, I can begin to understand speech in movies and can really enjoy my live conversations. Language learning is a PROCESS. It takes months for the brain to really begin to process and understand a new language, but it does if you stick with it and spend the time, in my case several hours a day on it. (although it becomes less and less tedious study after a while, and increasingly enjoyable and useful - I try to get most of my news every day from newspapers in Spanish.
To answer your question explictly, finishing Duolingo was just a start in learning the Spanish language for me, but and EXCELLENT start. The new language is a enjoyable and useful tool for me now. Hopefully fluency will come in time.
I've heard that finishing the course puts you at about a B1 level by the CEFR system(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages) in reading and writing. Your listening level will be lower (A1-A2) and your speaking level will be much lower (A1, if that), because you'll have little experience with spontaneous conversation. Programs with better speech recognition like Rosetta Stone will help more with pronunciation, but there's no real substitute for talking to native speakers.
Although I have not quite finished the Spanish I am presently working on, I feel really proud and good. I am already fluent in French. I'm an old guy trying to keep the grey matter working to some degree of usefulness and I think it is working. I recently heard a radio program with several brainiaces talking of pushing or delaying in not preventing some of the senior brain problems (Dimentia and Alzheimers) away for some time by learning new languages. I hope it works for me.
Not yet finished with all lessons, but I'm after the last checkpoint and it starts to feel "finished" for myself. I'm really surprised I got to this level so fast and it was fun to do. Absolutely a great way to learn a language. Now I'm ready for the next steps, I ordered some books in German and sometimes watch some short youtube movies and I'm planning to chat with German people online (after I finished 3 books).
I think it's a great website to get to the point where you can start using these other resources. It also motivated me to learn German... I thought about it before, but never really did much with it and now I ordered books, looked up movies, etc.
I'm not sure if I will finish Duolingo 100% because Duolingo cares about getting some words/grammar perfect and I don't.
I do recommend using other resources as a next step because with only Duolingo you wouldn't be able to say much in that language. You can probably read some, but write/say only a little.
( not near the end of the lessons but I feel the need to comment on nancy's post here )
I find this commendable..further, I ,maybe, doing things backwards. lol.. IRL, I am speaking to people, already, and online I am chatting to people in their own language. I am, also, listening to many Spanish songs. I have ... a goal set that by next March I will be if not fluent in Spanish.. at least very close to it.
But.. I? find it a bit intimidating to pick up a novel and read it in Spanish.
and watching a movie..??... I always thought that might bore me...
But I gotta buddy who is a native Spanish speaker that likes to watch movies with me in English, my tongue.
After reading this, I may, once I have "downed" a movie or tv show or 2, by myself, offer to watch a movie in their language, instead of always mine.. lol also they have gotten me interested in fubol ;) might be cool to not just watch but understand more than Goaaaaal lol..
that actually kinda sounds fun..
I am near level 8 of the German course. Although I have had some experience talking to natives and knowing the 1000 basic words of the German language, I am not still able to express myself clearly. I am sure these courses will get you nowhere near the proficiency however, why would one assume using only one source of language learning would make them fluent?! In order to get the most out these courses you need to listen to natives ACTIVELY (there is no such a thing called passive listening) and again take part in the conversations ACTIVELY. For reading, you can learn the language structure in a some good extent here and start reading local newspapers and magazines while looking up the words that have not been covered in these courses. Finally, the good writers are the ones who read A LOT! Read as much as you can adding to your vocabulary, and the writing skills will follow. Good luck!