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"Learning" your native language. The "Reverse Tree" - issues & merits discussion.

nb This post has been edited as I have been educated by my wonderful fellow Duolingo users - I had not previously heard the term "Reverse tree", probably because I am in a course that does not have one!

So, I am around three quarters of the way through the Swedish tree and I feel like my reading comprehension is coming along pretty well. (Pronunciation and verbal comprehension not quite so well! haha)

However, the way duolingo is set up I seem to get a lot more questions that require me to translate svenska->engelska which I am finding pretty straightforward, and far fewer translations the opposite direction which is what I really feel would improve my written svenska as selecting words and word order is a bit tougher to get right. Has anyone tried completing the tree in the opposite direction once they have finished their target language tree? If so, how did you find it? Was it useful at all? Any pitfalls or things to be aware of?

Edit - I hear that this phenomenon is called a "reverse tree" which makes complete sense. I still can't find a lot of general discussion about its issues and merits, especially not in the (general English thread) so I will leave this post up with a clearer title for people who are interested!

April 8, 2017



This is actually a fairly popular thing you'll see discussed here with the term "reverse tree". I haven't done one yet myself, but a lot of people have said it's very rewarding, and that they end up learning a lot of new things that way.

April 8, 2017


Cool thanks so much! I figured that there must be a term that I was missing! (It seemed most unwieldy to type that sentence above in a vain attempt to make my meaning clear!) Perhaps I can delete this comment then and have a proper search for what I was asking instead of cluttering the discussion areas!


Had a quite thorough search and there really is not a good discussion thread anywhere! Plenty of language specific threads and other threads asking for the definition of "reverse tree" but no good general chat threads. So this one can stay as a solid, easily searchable thread for discussing pitfalls and benefits of this concept and-or "laddering". Feel free to post links to good quality threads/general discussions that I may have missed though!


There is no opposite direction unfortunately as of now, so you'll just have to stick to this one, which, trust me, is a very good resource!


Oh I do not disagree that this is an excellent resource. I have learnt enough to read around 80% of the Swedish that I see in online news etc in around two months! And that has been 90% on here! It really is a fantastic resource and the mods in the Swedish course are especially awesome!

So one cannot learn English from Swedish? Hmmm... that seems a shame though I guess there is not a huge amount of demand for it as everyone seems to speak pretty good English already! Hypothetically still an interesting question though I hope.


I'm doing it with English for Japanese speakers because I'm too impatient to wait for Japanese for English speakers. :)


Did you see them asking for volunteers to test the alpha version of English to Japanese? I will see if I can find the thread for you. Though I think you have to have an iOS device to be eligible. I signed up because I learnt a small amount of Japanese at high school and regret having forgotten most of it. Hopefully, it will come flooding back because I think (hope!) I still remember most of the Hiragana (plus some Katakana and a few Kanji...)

Here is the post if you have not already seen it: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/21934886


I saw it but I'm not sure if I have enough time to do it.


As Katred2 said, many people do the reverse tree and i have read many discussions where people said that it helps them learn more.


I am currently doing a reverse tree. My original English/German course was done on only the Desktop version of Duo. I am doing the German/English course only on an android tablet. Stay your course and get to level 25 and them do a reverse tree. At that point may want decide to narrow your second language . By that I mean Verbal or Written or both. I have decided that it is more important for me to be Verbally efficient hence the much easier and quicker tablet version, allowing me more time to practice my verbal communication skills. Good luck in your language journey


I've completed both the Spanish from English and the reverse tree. The upside is that you will be exposed to whole new set of sentences which can alleviate the boredom of just keeping your original tree golden. Plus, repetition is valuable. Downsides are: 1) You will not really learn much new. 2) there may be no exercises in aspects of target language grammar which are not relevant in your native language (eg: Spanish tree has a Subjunctive Mood skill, reverse tree does not) 3) the "listen & type" exercises are not applicable.

I suggest your time may be better used moving on to more challenging resources.


Thanks. That is an interesting perspective!


I wish, I would love if I could do either an Afrikaans or an English course on here :)


A "language X from language Y tree" is usually called a "reverse tree" if you already dominate language X and you want to learn language Y.

Also, "laddering" is when you are doing a "language Z from language Y tree" where Z is a new or relatively new language for you, while Y is a language you have been studying lately (so you have some experience with language Y but you are not necessarily fluent yet), normally after you completed "Y from X" tree, being X a language that you dominate.

Of course these are not official definitions, but they are useful notions.


Thanks everyone! I figured people would have had this idea before me but because I hadn't come across the term "Reverse Tree", it was a bit tricky to search the discussion threads for it. It sounds like people have variable but typically positive experiences doing this. Unfortunately it doesn't look like a reverse tree is currently available in my target language. Still, something I will bear in mind when considering which language to learn next! I will leave this post up because I feel your answers have been valuable. Thanks again! Tack tack!

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