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https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo

What is the English level of the non native English speakers, who complete courses from English?

Casper_duo
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Do you find it a handicap and get frustrated?
Did you have to feel confident with your English abilities in order to take a course from English?
Can you understand English movies without subtitles?
Does it effect your learning negatively, if you compare it to learning from your native tongue?

Just curious.

1 year ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717
Lea.1717
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I think my English level is more than C1, but less than C2. The only thing that frustrates me a bit is when I make silly mistakes systematically in English (like "this apples" instead of "these apples") and get my answer wrong for using the wrong word. Yes, I can understand English movies and videos without subs, but I have some problems understanding some accents...

It was way more frustrating when I tried to do the PT to DE tree, as the Portuguese here is the Brazilian variant, and so it was full of words I have never heard as a native European Portuguese speaker :-/

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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What about English spelling, are you having issues with that?

When you're stressed with time, like with timed practice, and you need every second, that can stress the issue even more.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lea.1717
Lea.1717
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The problems i have with spelling are mainly because I end up writing fonetikally instead of writing with the proper spelling, (like "haus" instead of "house" and "laud" for "loud") but I do this with my mother tongue too sometimes.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/av223119

Of course learning other languages through English is a bit frustrating, especially when you make a mistake in English, not in the target language. Or when you face a feature present in both your native language and target language, but not in English. Or vice versa, when the feature is present in English only. But this is the only option we, speakers of minor languages, have.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer
scarcerer
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I don't think it's a handicap, and for certain languages outside Duo it's a requirement (trying to find Finnish material for Slovak is a nightmare). Most of the frustration and negative effect if you want to call it that comes from English lacking certain words or features that both Finnish and my target language have. I can't really answer your second question as I felt confident with my English before I knew Duo existed and one reason for the confidence is my capability of understanding spoken English without problems.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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What about English spelling, are you having issues with that when completing exercises?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer
scarcerer
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I can't say I have. More often have I questioned my spelling on the forums than during an exercise, probably because you can use a lot more complex and rarer words here than what the courses teach.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zzzzz...
Zzzzz...
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Duo prefers the American spelling over the other spelling standards. That causes me more trouble than not being able to use my mother tongue since I use the British spelling. Usually the British spelling is accepted too, so this is just a minor source of annoyance.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Patrick.-
Patrick.-
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I am a native spanish speaker, and I'm making all the courses, except Catalan, in English, I'd say that my English is very good, cause there must be more effort if you want to do a language only available for English Speakers.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Borbotrincess
Borbotrincess
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I'm used to English. Been livin' in the Midwest for 7 years. No subtitles: I listen to the show while I play minesweeper!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zzzzz...
Zzzzz...
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Yes, I can watch films without subtitles. I can also read Shakespeare and Chaucer, so I guess my English is rather good. Learning from English does not bother me at all. Quite the opposite. It just helps me to form new connections between different nuggets of linguistic knowledge. I also do reverse trees. So far they have all been English trees, but I am planning to do the German-French and French-German trees at some point even though I am not fluent in either language. Getting out of my comfort zone is a good thing and it will help me construct more of those aforementioned connections. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Omagobadoo

freakin "doesn't" and "don't", i mix em up all the lol

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LukasKafun

My english levels are c2 listening, b2 reading, b1 speaking, b1 writing. Yes I have got frustrated especially with articles a, an and the and sometimes I dont know how to spell words. I can understand english movies just fine. (except British and Australian movies are hard for me to understand).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mufinka19
Mufinka19
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My English level is more or less C1. It happens that I make mistakes in English translation because I forget some grammar. But it doesn't bother me at all. Yes, I feel confident enough with my English to take a course of another language. I have to admit that I usually watch movies with English subtitles. It is much easier for me. Of course, if there are not available, I watch without subtitles, but do not understand everything (especially slang). Sometimes it is even helpful that I have to translate French from English, because there are many words in English and in French that are similar.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.Gregor
E.T.Gregor
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I have as good as no difficulties with doing the courses from English, but I've been quite confident about my English for many years. I'm at the point where I hardly ever notice any difference in expressing myself between English and German (my native language). I easily understand English movies without subtitles and I have no issues with spelling, except a few words that occasionaly confuse me. But, once again, there are such words in my native language as well. I don't think it affects my learning negatively in general, but I sometimes encounter sentences on duolingo that require a very convoluted translation in English and would be much easier to translate into German, simply because a comparable construction exists. But that can just as well be the other way round.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Language-Fox

I do believe myself fluent in English. I never took a standardized test, but I read and write scientific papers as well as prose in English, watch everything I can in English (mostly YouTube and the occasional movie), so I've never had problems. The only thing I've ever ran into on Duo was actually that apparently These and Those cannot be used interchangably in most contexts. I get why that is, but I find it hard to make the distinction while translating a Duo phrase with little to no context. Aside of that, I've found that I learn Swedish a lot better from my German mindspace (a.k.a. the real life class I attend) than the English one since many words that mean the same in German are also phonetically similar and also the grammar is more german-y than English. Otherwise Duo has helped me a whole lot with filling my class-free and therefore "language-free" time.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VidhurJaga

I mean, i have just started the spanish course (i am a native english speaker) and based on it i think that you will learn enough to have a good conversation. But as for movies some words might be hard. Regards, VIDMAN

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/juliecaesar
juliecaesar
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Mine is a Cambridge-certified C2. I have no problems understanding movies, and rarely encounter an accent I really have trouble understanding. With speaking and writing, I do get a bit rusty if I haven't done it in a while, but it usually only takes a few days in an English-speaking country and I'm fine again.

Learning a language from English on Duolingo is, to me, just like learning from my native language. Spelling is no problem either (though I do make the occasional embarassing typo when I do lessons on my phone...).

Sonetimes I think learning a new language from English might even be a lttle easier, because, I don't know, the English words don't appear to be settled in my brain as firmly as those in my native language, which seems to make it easier for my brain to "accept" a new word for the same concept in a different language, if that makes sense.

Have you tried learning a new language from a language that's not your mothertongue? How is that working for you?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casper_duo
Casper_duo
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Have you tried learning a new language from a language that's not your mothertongue? How is that working for you?

I also put my English level at somewhere between C1 to C2 as the rest of the people in this discussion. I can read and hear anything. Writing 2nd level and speaking 3rd level (can do it, but probably a little bit clumsy).

I've, here and there, some grammar errors and some words I don't spell correctly, but generally, nowadays, I'm more used to using English, in day to day activities, then my own native tongue, except in speaking of course.

It's a bit of annoying when I make a mistake only because I used English, but it's nothing I can't handle. I actually enjoy using the language, for the most part, in my studies, but given the choice and equalness of resources, my native tongue would be probably a better choice.

It looks like no one here is in an intermediate level or below. So mostly proficient users.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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If the opinion of an English native speaker having taken courses from other languages isn't too unwelcome... I've done Italian, Catalan, and Guaraní not from English (having never studied them previously).

My Spanish and French levels are good, but not good enough to honestly say I can catch everything in movies without subtitles. I'm more of a news broadcast person, which I understand without problems.

I didn't know every word in French or Spanish for my Italian and Catalan trees, but the exceptions were minimal. The only "puzzle" worthy of the name was why "femme" couldn't be translated "sponsa," even though it seemed to appear in every hint. Evidently, many native French speakers had the same confusion, and it got even more confusing when I saw a person with the moderator green circle had said that it could be... even in a question where it wasn't accepted. Eventually, it turned out that that moderator seemed to have changed her mind on the matter when she posted in a different thread about it.

The Guarani tree in its yet quite beta state employs some unusual Spanish, a reasonable number of "Guaranisms" only really found in Paraguayan Spanish as well as some plain errors plus the Duolingo staple of somewhat odd sentences. Not being a native speaker, it can obviously be a bit harder to make out which is which. I appreciate it when I see that a native speaker has had the same question that I have.

My Portuguese isn't nearly as good as my Spanish or French, but it was good enough to not feel like I learned much when I did the French from Portuguese tree to see if I could improve it any. So I'd be happy to work on additional languages from Portuguese. I can definitely benefit more from the practice there than from potential base languages I've got a better grasp on, and any small decrease in learning speed for the laddered target language I think would be minor and in any case simply redound to my benefit in Portuguese.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Monika462979
Monika462979
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Duolingo = learn two languages at the same time, English + another language. Yes it might been easier if I could learn from my own language. My level is probably B1-2.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vytah
vytah
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What my level is, is hard to tell, but I guess around C1. I don't have a problem with English when taking Duolingo courses, it's sometimes I stumble upon an idiom or some grammar trivia that I feel like investigating more deeply, but apart from that it's smooth sailing.

As for understanding spoken English, it's important which dialect it is. Standard American, Standard Canadian and Received Pronunciation I understand almost perfectly. I also understand Standard Australian, most American English dialects, some Northern English, Irish English, Scottish English, and AAVE dialects, and most non-native varieties of English, including whatever is supposed to be English coming out from Japanese natives. Since most movies and TV series go for not "heavily accented" forms of English, I understand vast majority of them fine. I recall having to stop watching unsubtitled The Wire and You Rang, M'Lord? few years ago because of accents of some characters. All other shows were fine. I also don't have any problems with all American, British, Canadian and Australian youtube channels I'm following. (I don't think I follow any Irishman or New Zealander on Youtube, if you know a good one, you can suggest one.)

As for the effect on learning, there are often moments when I feel like an English translation of a word is not conveying the full meaning (since English likes having words with multiple broad meanings), so I sometimes check a dictionary for a more precise definition. But I guess some English natives do it too, they just don't notice such ambiguities as frequently.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Just out of curiosity, could you give an example or two of what you mention at the end?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vytah
vytah
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For example, just today I had to check if the German word Element has similar multiple meanings as the English word element, the three or five most common ones corresponding to non-interchangeable Polish words element, pierwiastek and żywioł. It turned out that in this case German and English words have pretty similar semantic ranges.

Another example are Esperanto words nombro and numero, corresponding to (again non-interchangeable) liczba and numer, which the course from English translates both as number. English native speakers flooded the comment section with questions, but it happened only after the second word was introduced.

Another brilliant example is the word glass: in German, you translate it as Glas in both of its most common meanings, but Spanish has vasa and vidrio. I personally didn't have to figure it out, but some other native Polish speakers with less knowledge and intuition could ask themselves: "Okay, the courses say that Glas and vasa are glass, but does it mean only szklanka, or does is mean szkło as well?"

Then there's word director: German Direktor, Spanish director and Russian директор all cover the general meaning, but do they also cover film directors? The Spanish word does, but in German and Russian – just like in Polish –there's a separate word for that: Regisseur, режисер, reżyser.

In all of those cases, the English word has multiple meanings that are referred to with different words in my native Polish, so this ambiguity immediately stands out to me and requires an immediate explanation by using a dictionary.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
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Ah, the wonder of homonyms! Thanks for the explanation. Interestingly, the Wiktionary entry for pierwiastek duly lists five meanings translated by three separate English words, all of which are homonyms themselves, having separate meanings not corresponding to pierwiastek. Fun stuff! :P

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vytah
vytah
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I wonder what is the longest non-repeating chain you could create by just translating a single word between two languages, jumping from a homonym to a homonym. Of course it's not exact science, but it could be a fun experiment.

Another story regarding Duolingo and homonyms: before taking the German from Russian course, I knew that Leiter means ladder and лестница means stairs, so when I saw the course suggesting that Leiter=лестница, I had to pause for a moment to connect the dots. It turned out that лестница can mean both ladder and stairs. If I didn't pay attention, I could have replaced my understanding of the word Leiter (since I was less sure about this one) with a wrong one. Meanwhile, Russian native speakers noticed in the comments that two German words translate to the same Russian word and in at least one thread a course contributor explained the difference.

1 year ago