3 Years, 33 Trees, 300000 xp
It is three years today that I discovered duolingo. I am so grateful that I did, it has been such a wonderful addition to my life. It has opened a window to the rest of the world that is very hard to see through from within the English speaking bubble. The perspective is far better from where I am now. In addition it has pulled me out of the dark hole of doom and gloom that I was wallowing in and given me success and self esteem back in my life. I am in a far better frame of mind than I was three years ago. I have been able to apply what I have learned to things other than languages as well. Thank you Mr Lingo:)) I needed you.
This has largely been a year of consolidation, going back over already completed languages and polishing them to the point that I understand and read them well, most recently I regilded all the Scandinavian trees and Dutch, retrieving my Norwegian owl at last (that course definitely gets the best tree award), but I also recently finished my Welsh tree and am half way through Hungarian which I love, it is a real fast paced grown up course, although inevitably for one with such long sentences there are sentence variations still missing. Next I plan to go back to Russian and have another crack at speeding up my processing of it to the point where I can follow speech. I am too slow as of yet. Usually after a break I find a language quite a bit easier than before. When you return to it it feels familiar and flows better.
My advice from three years experience is not to worry about grammar. Just follow the course, regild skills as they lose their shine and don't be afraid of learning multiple languages. Each one teaches you something different and improves your skills in the others. Don't get fed up with repeating the basics as these need to become completely automatic, your brain needs to anticipate what is coming and fill in the blanks, that is how you learn grammar, not by memorizing tables. It is the unconscious language centres in your brain that are responsible for it, not the conscious part. You don't need to work out what to say and which ending to use you have to let it emerge because it sounds right. For it to sound right you need to get lots and lots of listening and reading practice. Duolingo is a good start and good review but watching tv in the target language is brilliant too, with subtitles first in English, then in the target language, then without. But don't be in too much of a rush to turn them off. I also think reading the subtitles while listening helps develop your processing ability as you are doing two things at once. And the text and speech often differ showing you two ways to express the same thing and teaching you extra vocabulary. Don't stop and start while watching. The brain learns best while in a flow state of engaged attention, listening while understanding. You don't need to understand every single word, just follow along picking out what you can at first. The gaps will fill themselves in. Enjoy being a detective picking out clues and building the big picture. Listening to music in your target language is also helpful and audio books too. I sleep with one on to block out street noise and it helps teach you the rhythms of the language even before you can understand much. Several times I have had the experience of a language sort of tuning in over night, going from too fast to understandable in the course of the night, which is very cool. Immersion works.
Oh ja, danke der Nachfrage. Ich hoffe, die Kaninchen kommen auch mit dem wärmeren Wetter gut zurecht?! Oder ist es in UK gar nicht so warm? Hier in Deutschland ist es recht plötzlich richtig heiß geworden. Wir haben auch Kaninchen und die mögen das gar nicht gern. Zur Zeit mache ich mehr auf Memrise als auf Duolingo. Dort bin ich übrigens auch über das Forum kontaktierbar. Hier auf Duo wiederhole ich zur Zeit nur etwas Tschechisch mit dem "reverse tree", da ich bald noch einmal nach Prag reisen werde. Darauf freue ich mich schon. Bin auch gespannt auf den Tschechisch-Baum, der ja hoffentlich diesen Sommer die Phase 2 erreicht. Und Japanisch würde ich gern ausprobieren, aber ich besitze kein iOS-Gerät, daher muss ich noch warten.
Great post! Can't agree more with what you're saying about learning grammar. And thanks a lot for your thoughts on videos and audiobooks in target languages. I don't have much experience with working on listening comprehension and I'm planning to take a few weeks to master listening during my holiday. So I'm looking for hints on this. If you can think of any other things related to listening that might be useful for me to know, please let me know. And congratulations on your three years!
German was the first other language I learned to hear. It took a couple of months of fairly intensive binge watching tv series dubbed into german to get there. German was a good one to start with becuase there are spaces between the words and it isn't too fast. Once I could follow German I suddenly found after much less listening practice that I could follow French too because my hearing had improved and I suddenly caught onto the way it is pronounced. It is impossible to describe but once you see the trick French is easy to understand. Spanish is much faster but has a rhythm to it once you get hold of it, but it took more practice than French as I needed to get faster. After Spanish Italian was easy. The Scandinavian ones were harder than I expected given that the written forms are so much easier than German, and needed more work than I expected but aren't too fast. Russian is proving difficult. It took me 18 months to go from complete incomphrension to clear understanding of German, including doing the from English tree and several cross trees involving other languages and speeding through the memrise 5000 most frequent words course to pick up enough vocab to understand enough. I think that is about as fast as it can be done.
Hello! I want to congratulate you on the amazing achievements. It takes a lot of effort to learn all of this in just 3 years.
I wanted to ask you for a tip. I joined Duolingo to learn Romanian 5 months ago and I have already finished the tree. I don't have time to keep it golden (decay rates are crazy), but I know most of it well and I practice Romanian every day, but there's still a lot to learn. I really want to start the Norwegian course because I am interested in that language as well, but I am worried that my knowledge of Romanian will drop because I won't practice it as much. What do you think about that? Is my level of Romanian good enough to afford starting a new language?
Absolutely, doing another language will only improve your skills. If you do forget things it will only show you where to focus your efforts next review. I started by doing three at the same time. Time is the constraining factor, your brain will create new connections to accomodate whatever you put into it. Have confidence in yourself and enjoy the process. You will find that if you return to the tree after a gap the decay rates will calm down as you get more credit for a correct answer in the form of improved decay rate after time has gone by.
Mjauu! Congratulations! >^_^< You are such a source of inspiration for my language learning and I can't thank you enough for all the strategies and tips you have shared over the years. I am really excited that I can understand a great deal of spoken French now and it is thanks to listening to audiobooks while following along with the text. It is like what was once to so blurry to me has come into focus.
For Italian, are there any audiobooks you recommend? Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino are two of my favorite authors but I'm afraid that their writing might be a little too sophisticated for me at this point and strangely enough there is precious little of either available on audible in Italian anyway.
I'm from Denmark and I haven't studied that many languages and I only knew German and English before Duo, but this year since I found Duo I've not only learned a new language, Spanish, but improved my English skills as well from the Eng-Spa course - and reverse!
Never forget to learn a new language reverse afterward! :)
And I too have been in a very dark place for many years - after 17 years of heroin addiction and the death of my parents and both siblings within a few years, I really could relate to the "No Future" mode from the 80's: So much hate, greed, racism, wars, killing, reverse equality, despair, etc, etc. around us makes you feel sick and hard to feel a point of still being around!
But this one year of "going to Duo school" here every day and learning a new language and watching movies, reading books, etc, in this new language, has brought a light back to my life and me back to believing in a future for me too - and within a year from now I'm moving to Spain to live there, alone and for just my pension - and improve my Spanish even more. :o))
Sorry my English skills still isn't good enough for me to express as well as some of you, and especially the amazing Bookrabit <3
All my very best wishes to all of you :o))
and it will be time to go back to Russian. I use my streak to count off how long I have been working on thungs. At the beginning of this 100 day segment I went back to finish my Welsh tree and started regilding the Scandinavian trees and Dutch. I finished those and so dabbled in Greek and Romanian before deciding to do Hungarian first. I had a streak of over a year at one point but let it lapse while I immersed myself in German Netflix.
I will do Vietnamese one day. I am starting at home and working my way outwards. So Europe first. I also set myself a bit of a challenge as a protest against Brexit to learn to understand all the European languages while we are still part of it. Vietnamese does seem fascinating, I look forward to finally getting there.
Мои позлравления! Ваши Duocomplishments никогда не перестанут меня удивлять!
Inquiring minds want to know: are there any cross-trees (between languages where you've done the forward one) that you haven't completed? How do you decide it's time to move on from the forward tree to the reverse/laddered ones and authentic content, whether video, audio, or written?
There are quite a few I haven't finished yet, the reverse Ukrainian tree for example, and the from Russian trees still each have a section to go. These I plan on finishing quite soon. Then there are quite a few combinations that I haven't had time for yet, although I have lost track of which ones. I move on when I think a language needs to consolidate itself for a while, some bits settle into long-term memory and some I forget and can look at again with fresh eyes when I return for a review. Some I get reminded of while doing another language and they suddenly slot into place. I would like to keep trees gilded for longer after I finish them but I am too impatient with much too long a to do list pulling me in other directions. I really want to do more work on Welsh right now but I also want to finish the Hungarian tree and regild Russian and regild Irish so maybe having done 100 days of Welsh I will leave it for a while. And then there are the Greek, Romanian and Hebrew trees that I started, and my German owl flew away and needs to be recaught. I also have lots of books I want to read or listen to and series I want to watch. I recently discovered Walter Presents on All4 and there are more there I haven't seen yet. I usually finish the tree before watching in a language so I can understand as much as possible and pick out new words from context. Watching comes before reading or just listening as the visual contextual clues help build vocabulary faster. I keep looking at books to see if I am ready to read. I don't want to plod through looking lots up, I want to able to read properly and fluently and absorb new words from context as I would new English words. Russian is particularly difficult as they seem to like to use lots of different words the way English does and of course there aren't as many cognates. I just haven't been able to make that step yet. I also want to be able to have it sound good in my head. I love the sound of the different languages, I am not prepared to just read for understanding, I want that inner voice to sound right. So I see reading books as an advanced step. I will listen to audiobooks earlier but not expect to follow the plot at first, just absorb the pattern and flow and tune in the bits I can. The same with music. I try to find music from quite early on in the tree. I am listening to quite a bit of Hungarian music, mixed in among other choices. Sometimes I start a reverse tree while still working on the forward tree especially if I need extra practice. I haven't decided at which point to start the Hungarian one, it seems to give plenty of practice as you move through it, and is degilding very slowly. I do cross trees when I need extra vocabulary to build towards reading as different words are included for different languages. The full suite of from Russian ones gives you lots of extra cognates to make use of. And you get a better contextual understanding of words by seeing which usages they correspond to in different languages. I find it fascinating. I think that I have waffled enough!
Nice read! Personally I would rephrase the grammar bit this way: get a rough understanding of how some grammar aspect of your target language works, then move on to the related exercises. Come back to your notes only if you get completely lost. Anyhow, congrats on your steady learning path and in general for being a pretty awesome person.