Learning several languages -- Suggestions?
I'm a native US English speaker, pretty proficient in Brazilian Portuguese and can carry on a good conversation in Spanish. I consider myself trilingual.
I'm looking to learn French and don't know where to start. I'd like to learn more than Duo has to offer. Sure, it's great for vocabulary, but there is practically no explanation of sentence structure and grammar on Duolingo's mobile version. I don't use Duo often on the computer because it's a little clumsy and I have to go out of my way to do it.
I also want to speak Russian. I have a pretty good grasp on the Cyrillic alphabet and I have a Russian native speaker friend, but I'm still a little frustrated with the words and sentences that Duolingo is giving me. I don't want to ask where my mouse is. I want to be able to say basic phrases like "I don't know" or "Please help me" -- not ridiculous useless phrases and words I'll likely almost never use. Sure, fluency requires you to be able to ask why the ant is eating chocolate, but that can come later after you know how to navigate daily life processes...
If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears. I am unfortunately limited on time (I'm learning other things that require consistent attention and persistence) and languages are my "fun activity" when I have some free time. I try to get a Duo lesson in when I can, but I'm also trying to not spend my life on my phone when I have things to do. I can't take a French or Russian class at the moment.
I learned Portuguese with books and the internet but I almost never got all the help I needed without serious effort and time trying to understand the explanations of native speakers that usually went something like "Well, that's just how we talk, I don't know why."
Thank you so much!
The strength of Duolingo for me (I speak five languages, and Duo has considerably helped me in learning two of those) lays not so much on how useful the phrases it teaches us are, but on how we can use those phrases, adapt them to our needs, and sort our language problems out. Indeed, I may not need to ask someone where my mouse is, but I can learn the "Where is....." structure, and use it to fit my needs.
The main thing you need to remember is that there is not, nor there has never been, a perfect, flawless method to learn a language. It is up to each and everyone of us to do what we can, when we can, and the better we can. If learning a language is really what you want, you need time, effort, and patience. Fix more time, put in more effort, and arm yourself with patience.
Then the results will show up...
Duolingo's strength is in keeping track of what you need to practise, and in teaching the first stage of learning a language; basic grammar, and a foundation in the vocabulary of the language. For explanations of the grammar, you're better off elsewhere on the web; there's no shortage of grammar explanations. I find Wikipedia's articles comprehensive, if a bit dry, e.g.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_grammar
Duolingo aims to teach you language skills, not phrases. If you want useful phrases, get a phrasebook, but if you want language skill, use Duolingo.
Use Duolingo, supplement it with a bit of reading about the grammar of the language, and when you've finished the course and kept the skills gold for a while, branch out to reading children's books, listening to the radio, and finding a language exchange partner, etc.
See, what I don't like is that I'm semi-fluent in Portuguese and it tells me I'm at 29% because I don't practice the same basic skills and words for man, cat, dog, water, he, she, etc. that I'm solid on. I've found Duo's strength/weakness profiles highly inaccurate for me (they often say the words I'm weakest in are the ones I'm actually good with) and they insist on phrases that are nonsensical. I actually think they teach phrases and not language skills. They teach me how to say things, but not why. I can't construct my own thoughts if I don't know why sentences are structured as they are.
I prefer to learn structures and vocab side by side, not phrases.
I don't have the time to keep the skills gold, which frustrates me, as mentioned above. I've got classes to manage, I'm an animal rescue volunteer, I need to dedicate intensive time to my violin, and I don't have time anymore for things I enjoy -- let alone wasting time enforcing skill bars to prove to Duo that I can translate "He is a man" to Portuguese... or anything similar.
I get tired of the fact that Duo won't let me advance past practicing the basic skills.
I would love to have a language exchange partner but again -- time is an issue right now.