Substitute of Immersion
As we all know, immersion is gone.
Will there be a substitute for it? It's hard to level up now with nothing to do in certain languages when fully strengthened. Will they just have to 'fizzle away on the back-burner' or will there be something else to use in the future? Immersion was a good tool, but maybe they got rid of it to put something even better in?
Not here on Duolingo, but you can use Lang-8 to practice your writing/translation skills.
For leveling up, timed practice is excellent. It's also excellent for strengthening your ability to think on your feet.
For really learning a language, though, you need to leave Duolingo and it's translation model and start reading books, speaking, watching videos, listening to the radio, etc. all in your target language. Get the translation bit out of the picture.
lang-8 as far as I know is useless for developing reading skills. For a lot of Duo languages, even upon mastering a tree, reading even the simplest material will remain a massive struggle. I doubt the average Russian tree finisher (i.e. actually knew it well) could understand half the average picture book. And the translation model has a great value as a check that you have actually understood what you thought you read. In a very real way, I think the only languages (from English) that had Immersion were the ones that least needed it. One can make some sense of authentic materials with a couple thousand words of French or Spanish b/c the English speaker has thousands upon thousands of words they'll comprehend on first sight. Hebrew, Hungarian, Polish? You're just adrift.
You're right, Lang-8 is best for improving writing, but no good at improving reading. The best thing I've found thus far at improving my reading skills is to get a well-loved book in the target language on a Kindle, along with a bilingual dictionary. Looking up words in a paper dictionary just derails my train of thought too much to make reading enjoyable, but the ability to touch the word and see the definition is very helpful.
Here's a good article about reading foreign books on a Kindle: http://gregreflects.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-read-foreign-novel-on-kindle.html
Are you here to learn a language, or add (meaningless) levels? There is a great big world out there with limitless things to translate to/from Spanish, for example.
If you like an Immersion-like translation set-up, there are a couple options: former Immersion users set up http://communitytranslation.freeforums.net/ as a place to coordinate translation efforts, mostly in Google Docs. Click on "Account Verification" for how to get signed up.
There's also http://www.translatedby.com/ which is a lot like Immersion.
In real life, "immersion" in the context of language learning means immersing the language learner in the language. For example, an elementary school immersing English speaking children in French won't just have a French class for part of the day. The math class, gym class, etc. will be taught in French too, so the children will be immersed for most of the school day in written and spoken French including face-to-face interaction with French speaking teachers.
It's supposed to be close to the way an infant is immersed in his or her family's language (or languages) at home. :)
There's more information at http://carla.umn.edu/immersion/FAQs.html , https://www.parentmap.com/article/say-what-exploring-language-immersion-preschools , and https://www.parentmap.com/article/dual-immersion-foreign-language-schools . :)
In Duuolingo, the staff used to use "Immersion" as a name for a feature that crowdsourced written translations of articles from one language to another. Naming this feature "Immersion" instead of something else is very misleading.
Duolingo originally was going to make money by selling translation services. For example, Buzzfeed paid Duolingo to have some of its articles in English translated into Spanish by Duolingo users.
The trouble is, this took a long time.
Some people put in gibberish for translations in order to gain XP. The software increasing one's XP did not tell the difference between an accurate translation and gibberish; that was left up to other users upvoting or downvoting each other's translations.
Some people constantly downvoted each others' translations, such as when English speakers disagreed on whether to use a U.K. English version or a U.S. English version. The software that kept track of which sentences were untranslated, translated but not upvoted enough, or translated and upvoted enough then marked the article as "not yet 100% translated."
At least one person downvoted other users for translating things that were the same in both languages, and accused them of taking the easy way out by translating those parts of the article. Again, the software that kept track of which sentences were untranslated, translated but not upvoted enough, or translated and upvoted enough then marked the article as "not yet 100% translated."
This all slowed down the time it took for an article to reach "100% translated." :(
A tool on duolingo they deleted in January. You could upload or use other's documents and translate them for XP.
How do you have Japanese if it's still hatching? Are you on the incubator team?
Didn't work. It just changed the name of Portuguese to Japanese and when I clicked on it, it changed back to Portuguese.