Are you using duolingo to strengthen your language skills or to learn a new one from scratch?
I ask because I find it a wonderful tool to remember and learn new nuances but I've never tried to use it for a completely new language. Since there are no complete explanation of the rules and all the exercises are contextual I'm curious to know your perspective :)
Both. Sometimes you have to look beyond Duolingo to find grammar rules - normally about the time that you spot something has changed slightly in a word, but can't quite say why. Once you have looked up why something is happening, it's usually easier then to absorb the rule from the examples given. It's still not perfect for context, and idiom and very different grammatical concepts interfere with this process, so there will still be errors in learning, but this just leads to new discoveries of how the languages differ.
Duolingo however has its limits, not only in the amount of grammar it conveys, and the amount of vocabulary it teaches, but also in the methods it uses to teach, and I find that for some languages it is necessary (or at least desirable) to use other resources from the beginning.
So if you ever feel like starting a completely new language with Duolingo, go ahead, but be aware that you might want to find another good guide for beginners to that language - and that could mean a website, a book, a tutor, or a mix of these.
Thanks, for now I'm using it for languages in which I already have at least a passing knowledge in, such as Spanish and French (at least a little). I'm very excited to start Japanese, now that is finally available, at least from mobile. I have done a basic course, but very basic, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to advance with it alone, but I'll have fun along the way either way! Hope to hear more about your stories!!!
Yes, both for me, too, and rumraisin expresses very well the way I feel about learning from Duolingo as well. I often get either bored or curious about vocabulary or grammar and look elsewhere for entertainment/information. Often I get hooked on other sites as a result, like www.studyspanish.com.
I'm using it to re-learn Welsh, but everything else (Norwegian, Polish, Japanese) is completely from scratch. So far I haven't had to use any other resources for Norwegian, as the course is very in-depth and there's a ton of useful information in both the Tips & Notes and sentence discussions, but I use other resources (random websites and grammar books) for Welsh, Polish, and Japanese. In each case, however, Duolingo is my main resource, and it'll probably stay that way until I finish the courses.
I'd say the web interface is fine for starting a language from scratch, as long as you're prepared to seek out other resources and use your own initiative to read up on grammar rules or vocabulary usage - completely relying on one resource is never really a great idea. :)
(The mobile app is another story entirely - if it wasn't for Japanese, I wouldn't even keep it installed, lol.)
True, considering that I hadn't realized that there was a desktop version that was different before last week :) I mainly uses the mobile app, and it's perfect for those languages where I have at leas the basis to infer the rest, but now I'm discovering all these other resources!!!
When I read your question, I had a whole essay about this ready in my mind, with total of 100ish days of duolingoing to back me up. Then I saw the top comment with 913 days streak and forgot everything :D. Congrats man, just wow...
Anyway, back to the question - I started learning Swedish from scratch few years ago, got to level 18 then restarted after a long break. I never had any contact with this language previously, and I'm Serbian so our grammar is not similar at all. I used no helping tools whatsoever (Memrise, Rosetta stone, immersion and such), just pure Duolingo.
From time to time, i go to swedish wikipedia, find a random article and try to see how well I'm doing. I'm happy to say that I've recently begun understanding sentences better and better, and can even translate some of the easier articles. This is huge to a person that had no experience in Swedish whatsoever and practices for 15 minutes every now and then.
So yes, it is definitely possible to learn a new language (with correct grammar) by just using this site, although there is a huge difference between writing / reading and actually speaking to others, so you might need to use some additional tools to help you in that regard if you ever decide to learn a new language.
I'm very sorry for a wall of text, cardiology professor got me drunk in exchange for a good grade, so I'm currently writing everything that pops into my head without any restriction. Cheers! :D
Thought I was done? Haha, no.
Mobile version is very cool for learning new stuff, but after you got a skill golden and are comfortable with it, I suggest practicing it on computer, in Timed Practice mode. That stuff is nasty, in a good way. A few timed practices until you can earn 20 points in a single practice and you will remember everything perfectly (plus the skill will be golden for a very long time, sometimes it takes me 3-4 weeks of not touching duolingo to get my skill down to mortal colors)
Okay, now I'm done for real. I think.