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Something strange and unexpected happened today....

About two months ago I took a long break from Duolingo and spent most of my time on other resources (Youtube, reading, and Memrise). By now my finished German tree looks to be in a terribly weak and feeble condition. Quite a sad looking tree.
I've rushed through the tree quite fast, and half of them, the more advanced skills, I only did once - ever.


(This is actually the "improved" state as it reported 450 dead words this morning and 30% strength.)

Yet, coming back after this long Duolingo siesta, I was very surprised to see my tremendous progress since then, and that my abilities didn't weaken but rather, quite the opposite, made a great leap forward.

Previously, when I did a timed practice it was quite difficult and often I run out of time, with only a few questions answered correctly, which was tedious, not fun, and above all - frustrating, but now it is just a whole different ball game.
I just seem to be able to "fly" through them.
Knocking sentences one after another at a dizzying speed. It doesn't even matter if it's an advance skill from the bottom with 0 strength, which I didn't touch in ages.

My ears seem to be much more trained now, and I can hear a lot more precisely what is being said, and if I don't know the word I can still spell guess it, often times, accurately and fast.
I get much fewer grammar mistakes,' and it isn't something that I focused on in my break, and I even have, more often than not, plenty of time on the clock to closely examine and notice my mistakes, while the clock is still running! (Previously I was only able to do it with a script that stopped the clock after the answer was submitted.)
And overall I just remembered a lot better the vocabulary.

I've today completed 1000xp in roughly 2 or 3 hours!
About 10xp a minute (roughly). I didn't expect that at all.
I've never done more than 500xp points a day, previously, and even that required quite an effort and time, but now it was like a walk in the park, while still taking the time to appreciate the roses.
I still have a lot of practicing to do, don't get me wrong, but certainly, something was up and it received my full attention.

The lesson from this, and what I wanted to share here with you today, is that don't get stuck on doing the same thing over and over, again and again, on an endless mundane loop like many of us do (me too!).
I think this is, in fact, counter-productive.
I also don't believe duo is doing a good job on drilling you on the material, so perhaps you're just wasting your time, but that is another matter.
Always try to mix things up. Don't get stuck on beginners textbook material, or be afraid that if you stop your normal routine you'll forget everything.
Always try to challenge yourself even further and take it to the next level.
Keep in mind that everything that you do with the language is a natural cycle of non-ending reviews!
Your brain is doing it without you even consciously noticing.
So just keep at it but attack it from multiple directions with moderation.
My opinion is that doing too much Duolingo, and just that, every day, is far from the best way to go about it.
Also, the obsession with keeping the tree at a constant state of gold is pointless and unhealthy.
If just streaks, lingots and fluency scores, are what keeping you going here, you'll need to find your motivation and persistence from within.
See them as what they truly are - distractions. You don't need duolingo to keep you motivated.
After some time, a few months, you'll be surprised by your progress, and how what was quite challenging before, will now seem to be like a fresh breeze.
I was overblown and overjoyed by the rapid progress and my retention.

P.S.: Keep in mind, that my recent experience is based on just one day of practice, since my return, so I hope I didn't speak too soon because that would be embarrassing haha :)
Anyway, I thought it's worth sharing what seems to be a tremendous progress even with a withering, desperately in need of irrigation, tree.

I hope I didn't ramble on too much. I wish you all good luck with your studies.

May 30, 2017



Where did you get the skill strength report? I'm guessing it's a script but maybe it is something I missed or another AB test.



The information there is also an interesting read.

  • 1507

Thanks, Casper_duo, that is so useful - it shows me what to target! Definitely lingot-worthy!


you aren't doing german...

  • 1507

Oh, but I am. I just haven't advanced enough for my flag to fly yet. Besides that, it works in French and Spanish, too.


Oh, that makes sense. You wouldn't even comment if it wasn't. :)


Haha! Had to check I didn't post this myself, it is exactly my story. Memrise, German pod, deutsch für euch, german with jenny etc. I've lived in Gemany for a year and my "hörverstehen" is terrible, I downloaded the 4 Germanpod101 intermediate series while in the trial period and printed off the pdfs, listening to them on long bus rides, BrüggenBracht is as they say "das Archloch der Welt". Now I'm able to follow a lot of the dialog on the tv. I came back to Duolingo a couple of weeks ago, gilded the neglected tree in 3 days and restudied the notes. I have a long way to go but I am coming to the end of what Duolingo can teach me, particularly as the sentence discussions (which were always mostly jammed with crap from users who just REFUSED to be wrong but contained valuable gems from native speakers) no longer work for me. Vielen Dank! Tschüss!


Good advice! exposure to a language you are learning really does wonders. But I tried listening to some german songs an year ago and none of them made any sense lol. It kind of discouraged me. I think the new bot feature is great because you become familiar with many new words quickly outside your lesson.


Well, congrats on 1000 xp in one day!

I think I've read something about talking breaks helps languages sink in, but I'm not quite sure.

I'll keep in mind what you said!


It was never really a break I just continued learning through other channels.


Good point, I guess I forgot that while reading through everything you've done.

[deactivated user]


    WOW!! great job!!!!


    Thats just an imperfect javascript add-on. I have done some lessons like four times and without mistakes and the Skill strength applet gives me a really low % or just plain zero.


    You're right. I don't think it works very well too.


    Man thank you for sharing your words, I've been doing what you call the endless loop, reviewing everything over and over without trying to progress much further. I now have a new insight on what to do to better improve at German.

    I don't know about the others but your advice did very well on me, I really appreciate it.


    Glad I could help. :)


    Thank you for this.I get frustrated trying to stay 'healthy'.Might try another source.What do you recommend? I am a linguist, but finding Portuguese difficult- the pronunciation largely. Val

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