Tips on how to progress though Duolingo
Do you have any tricks that you use to help you get through Duolingo? I'm not referring to ideas on how to learn your target language, like watching TV or using index cards. But how to progress through Duolingo.
What I've been doing: 1. Write down sentences and their translations.
make a list of key phrases/words like conjunctions
write lists of verb conjugations to refer to if needed.
Occasionally go back to old lessons and try some again.
Don't fuss about getting perfect English translations in the lessons. Ease frustration by simply using the word Duo wants rather than arguing about why your word is not accepted (wanting to use "Grandad" for 'abuelo' or "girl" for 'ella," examples I saw just today ). Realize that all of the the drop-down options are not necessarily correct, or in order of preference. Realize that Duolingo is not a stand-alone teaching tool, and you'll benefit from a separate dictionary, grammar book, other online sites, apps for your phone or tablet, etc.
For French, I wrote down the most complex sentences with their translations. This may look like cheating and partly it was, but writing the phrases down with your own hand is really useful.
Duolingo's Vocabulary section and hover hints are still far from perfect. I can't rely on them to get the gender or the plural form of the word if I forget it. A dedicated spreadsheet is better. Both for French and German I've been writing out all the new words into a Google spreadsheet. I include the genders of nouns and the conjugations of verbs (at least, so I did in the beginning, later on I dropped out the conjugations). If you are interested you can see my French-Russian vocabulary here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmSIqBXqDpQPdG1iTkx5RjgwdzdpZzFwLWZseGJNSXc#gid=0. It can be imported into Flashcards Deluxe for iPhone (though I can't say I play around with the cards much).
It seems that many people redo the lessons until they get full hearts for them: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/223366. It does not make you get faster down the tree, but it certainly is good for retaining words and phrases in your long-term memory.
And, of course, I always look for grammar explanations to be sure I understand every word and ending in the phrase.
I'd say - speak/repeat everything, and do it aloud. I try to focus on hearing and speaking and I use those simple tricks, depending on kind of practice:
for most tasks I close my eyes or at least look away when browsing to each new screen (except when no voice is provided). I try to understand all just from hearing (of course, duolingo's bot pronounciation is far from being perfect yet, but hopefully it will get improved in time). If I don't get it for the first time, I repeat over several times (ctrl-enter helps). Then I try to imagine the situation I would speak so.
for translations to foreign language, I try to say my answer alone before even seeing proposed answers.
..similar approach for other kinds of tasks
It's really too easy to make shortcuts using analytical skills / logic, when you see the pattern ('aha! I know it, it's like this or that) and complete task without 'embodying' that. Question is if you can hear the pattern or fluently apply it when speaking - I find it especially difficult in French with all those mute characters and liaisons. Understanding from hearing is definitely not analytical process (unfortunately).
Mind that children learn first to speak, then to read/write.
I started on Duolingo with French and moved now to Italian with a new structure:
I'd master the first lesson (Basics) e.g. 6 lessons or something.
On the second day I'd finish the first Refresh-Lesson 1 and move then on to master the second lesson (Phrases). I always make the recommended lesson.
Again: First refreshing the first AND second lesson (only one refresh lesson a day, if there is a bonus round or translation you can do that as well or leave it if you don't have time but do every day one lesson to refresh your done work). When you did refresh move to the new lesson :). You will have around 100 to 120 points every day (except the first two days).
This way you always have a view what you did last and have the feeling to learn everyday something new. Of course: If you want to step slower you can only do the refresh-lessons and one new lesson instead of mastering the new one. Simply do what is best for you!
For example I always speak the sentences aloud for I'm an auditive learner. If you're mor visual try to imagine that elephant eating a bee xD. Or write those sentences down if that helps (for me it's simply a time of waste. I'd better download the audio and listen to it).
Well, I wish you all a nice progress!
At 76 my memory is not what it was 5 years ago, never mind 50 years ago. I spend a great deal of time practicing old lessons. When something is unlocked I will review for 2 or 3 days before going on. I work for those ten coins every day and they don't always come easily. Verdammt.
At your age and doing what your doing is fantastic, your never too old to learn, Your 20 yrs my senior and if you think you have memory lapses, I go brain dead regular, the point is your doing it and enjoying, any tips you can give would be great, after all nothing beats the wisdom of a wise old owl. Keep on the path of knowledge.
thanks for the support. I make lots of charts of declensions - pronouns and adjectives. Are they provided somewhere on the net? I'd like to copy, but otoh preparing them myself is a learning experience. and eventually I make connections dem-diesem; der-dieser, etc. After nailing pronouns I found that colors had a different pattern, so off I go again. My German speaking husband sez I'll have fun with genetive when i get there! :)