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To those that did the reverse tree: was it useful?

June 5, 2017



People seem to either love or hate the reverse trees. I quite liked both the English for Spanish speakers and English for French speakers trees. Some who hate the reverse trees tend to be very vocal about it and downvote anyone that says anything positive about them.

I'd give the reverse tree a try and see what you think, but here are my reasons for liking the reverse trees:

  • I had to answer more in French and Spanish. For me, this is more difficult than translating in to English. I tested out of a lot of these trees and then could focus on the skills that are more challenging for me. I've had to learn to use the prepositions correctly, choose the right word or verb tense, and so on. A few things that I hadn't quite understood in the regular trees got clarified in the reverse trees.

  • The discussions in Spanish and French were very helpful. Mostly, I just read the comments but answered some questions about English in French or Spanish every once in a while.


I think that goes both ways. Those who like the tree downvote anyone criticising it and those who don't like it downvote anyone approving it. Just look at what has happened to Patrick below. That said, I found the reverse tree tedious at best.


Patrick's comment seems not to speak to the core of the matter at hand. If you quiz out of virtually the entirety of something, it's not really reasonable to expect you have attained a useful basis on which to make an evaluation. I have certainly seen quiz-out tests where the majority of the translations were into the tree's target language. For a reverse tree, this means into your native language, making the quiz-out an even more poorly suited modality for either attaining any benefit or evaluating usefulness.

To be honest, I generally haven't seen too many negative comments about reverse trees. Did you find it tedious because you already had sufficient mastery of the content? Ever so often, this would be difficult to attain because so few users get much translation into their target languages. This makes reverse trees a useful way to get around this particular deficiency in Duolingo's set-up.


That's probably true. I haven't downvoted anyone just because they don't like the reverse tree, but I'm sure that people do.

I do think it's more helpful when people explain their reasons for liking something or not liking it, but I expect that many get tired of having to repeat themselves.

I'm the opposite and find that maintaining regular trees (nearly always answering in English) to be more tedious when it's a refresher language.

The only way to find out if a reverse tree is helpful is to try it and decide for oneself. I'm glad that Duolingo has the flexibility that each of us can figure out how to use is best in the way that works best for the individual.


Yes, I studied the Italian reverse tree and found it very helpful. You might want to skip the speaking part by muting the microphone as obviously your English speaking skills will be fine. What it really helped me with was comprehending more written Italian and writing more complete Italian sentences.

Also, the reverse tree wasn't a complete mirror of the Italian from English course, so I ended up learning additional vocabulary by doing the reverse tree, perhaps that is the same for other reverse trees?

Lastly, once you finish the reverse tree, you'll be very glad to get back to your main tree and hearing the language that you're studying, not hearing the lessons in English, and when you get back to your study language of choice, somehow you come at the lessons with a different perspective, more immersed somehow.

Anyway, that's my two cents, good luck!


I finished the Russian from English tree & am now doing the reverse tree. It is much easier (so far) but helpful: I am learning some new things & am getting more practice with what I've already learned. So I find it helpful.


Yes, because it forces you to think and to use more your target language (for example: the tip & notes section and the comments section). Moreover the trees are slightly different and the reverse tree could contain some new words.


Well, I'm a native spanish speaker from Perú, and, after finishing the English course for Spanish speakers, I took the reverse tree, I don't know if I have achieved something with that, cause I am learning English since I was 5, So i took the exams and finished the tree in just 5 hours. But, In my point of view, It does not help you.


I'm in the opposite situation. I'm a native English speaker and I took several years of Spanish classes when I was younger. After finishing the Spanish for English speakers course, I took the reverse tree and I found it very helpful. It's notable that English for Spanish speakers is 45% longer than Spanish for English speakers, so this could account for some of the difference in experience.


Well, that 45% extra, was included just 3 weeks ago.


Yes, it was useful. It helped me consolidate my knowledge of Spanish, whilst also exposing me to more vocabulary.


I loved the reverse tree before the duolingo site update because I ran some scripts to make it have almost the same experience as the forward trees. These scripts no longer work. So now I'm disappointed

Long answer :

I learned Chinese through some other apps and then I came to duolingo once I felt confident. I started the Chinese to English course and it took about a month to get through the first half of the tree because it was way harder than what I learned from my apps.

I finally finished a few months ago, and I've been in a perpetual tree gilding state for about 2 months. I'm not satisfied with my practice sessions because although I recognize characters, I forget how they sound since Chinese is not a phonetically written language.


It is useful, but maybe it is more useful to review your current tree and make sure you have mastered everything, you may need more resources in addition to Duolingo to achieve this.


I did my "reverse" trees not to my native English but to a language I speak reasonably well but am not native in, which I suppose ameliorates some of the issues people sometimes find annoying. That said, yes, I certainly found them useful and after a pause am back to focusing on them. I have found generally they're excellent for the lessons but a lot more varied when it comes to strengthening. The lessons will be almost entirely into your target language: obviously very useful and one of the most significant benefits of reverse trees. But strengthening, even with audio transcription and speaking exercises turned off, can still have quite a lot of multiple choice type questions into your native language, which don't help so much.

Still being on the old website, I frequently look at the review panel after strengthening to see how many total translations were to/from my active target language to make sure that the balance is still in favor of the reverse tree. For now, my French from Portuguese strengthening remains a lot more useful for helping my Portuguese than French from Russian does for Russian.


I'm finding the reverse Japanese tree useful. There are a lot of words in the reverse tree that are not in the forward tree, including the buttons on the site.

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