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Best way to complete a tree?

As far as I'm aware I haven't seen a post related to this, but does anyone have an idea as to what's the best way to go about completing a tree?

For example, one could finish the entire tree but not maintain it as you go, and then go back and turn/maintain everything so it's gold. This would expose you to the material and then allow you to cement it into your memory and maintain it.

Or one could maintain it as they go through the tree, this would be a lot slower but would give you a better foundation as you progress.

Is there anyone who has done both(and whether or not they used other resources in conjunction with Duolingo)? Or if you have completed a tree and felt that you've learned a different way.

June 16, 2017



If you learn a language from scratch, you have to very often review old vocabulary (and grammar).

There is no win if you just rush through the tree if you are a real beginner for your selected language.

As DuoLingo does IMHO not use the apropriate spaced repetition (SR) algorithm (my personal guess and experience past 222 days)

  • because many learned words (non-golden skill) do not popup regulary
  • not all learned words are actually added to the words list (bug)
  • not all words from the skill table actually are shown in the lessons or strengthen skill excercises (bug)

  • or words from your words list may be counted as "dead words" (old skill strength viewer script) you may not be able to re-strengthen (bug)

  • or the strength of your learned words may be (very) low BUT still "strengthening" does not bring all those words back in an excercise (bug)

my solution was to go to Memrise, pick the PT1-7 offical courses, and learn many DuoLingo words, including the DuoLingo PT BR 1:1 clone course (which unfortunately misses some (newer) tree 2.0/3.0 vocabulary).

On Memrise I therefore know each day WHAT WORDS/PHRASES I really need to review.
The words from the "due to watering" list are actually presented from review and not like DuoLingo that the excercises mix any (from early tree) random old and well-known words (e.g full strength) which you would NOT like to practice at this time.

And if I don't review the words each day (e.g for finished courses), there are some Memrise user scripts which adjust the standard Memrise SR algorithm apropriately (kick back) when I am AFTER the default SR-interval but STILL KNOW that word.
My advice:
1) Review your words as often as possible with a real SR algorithm (Memrise, Anki, Flashcards Deluxe, SuperMemo, etc.) program

2) Don't rush too fast through the tree (try to understand / memorize what you have learned and practice it). Regular review and practice makes the improvement in learning.

And I am doing it since 222 days to make use of Memrise SR for pre-learning vocabulary (e.g basic verb forms) or reviewing levels/skills I learned before on DuoLingo (Duo requires verb conjunction in excercises according to persons).

As all DuoLingo users are migrated from the old (great working, lot's of features, 12+ working user scripts which extended features even more which I missed before) portal to the new portal (new code/programming language, only very basic features right now; not all features available from old portal + available (old) user scripts don't work anymore) you will probably not have very much fun in re-strengthening skills or taking timedPractice excercises.

Even my EN-PT target translation audio (right hand side) is NOT working anymore, from the great (old) user script "DuoLingo tree enhancer".
It really is an improvement to hear the PT audio, even you gave e.g the correct EN-PT translation (right hand side of the panels).

So personally I do not have too much fun anymore taking new DuoLingo lessons AND strengthening old non-golden skills on that new (limited) Duo portal.

On the old portal with some user scripts it was even possible to leave out some skills and focus on other un-locked skills, even you have not completed all skills before (e.g grammar skills).
Of course that works not anymore too! :-(

Once finishing and strengthening skills (you can deeply focus on re-golden those remaining skills when you have finished learning new lessons) many people did the reverse tree.
For doing this, you had to use one of those (old) user scripts "DuoLingo reverse tree enhancer" or the newer one "DuoLingo tree enhancer" AND disable audio in the Duo settings.

This is not possible anymore with the new DuoLingo portal, as all user scripts are NOT compatible anymore at this time.

The third was starting the laddering course (old target) from one learned language (as the new source) to a new started language (target).
Next would have been laddering those two courses with the reverse tree using those user scripts.


Wow! Thank you so much for all that, I think I'm going to bookmark this haha. I'll definitely start using memrise more, but what do you use? And how has it helped you(can you read, write, speak in the target language?)


Update: Wow, my text got pretty long. I will see if I can further split it to make it more readable. I am open for any suggestions! :-)

Honestly, that is quite difficult to say for me.
For sure I am quite quite far away from "fluent in 30/90 days" Polyglot courses, books or challenges.
I probably simply missed to following one of the first 5 rules: "Try to speak from day 1" (and I would have no clue how I can acomplish that in Germany for Portuguese).

I have been just learning (since ~8 months) Portuguese completely from scratch.
Started it on DuoLingo, followed by 50languages.com (including native recorded MP3), added Memrise DuoLingo PT, Memrise PT Basic BR, Memrise PT BR 1,2,3,4,...5,...

I think my personal multiplication factor is somewhere at least between x3 and x5.
I will see how far I got in about ~1,5 years where this October will be then 1 year :-)

I started my English tree on DuoLingo really just for fun - but I am (hopefully) pretty advanced / long term learner there since my youth / school / education / IT profession. So this does not count in any way for a Romance language. It would be just fun to find some holes in my English language skill background which I could further improve (there may be some words or phrases on DuoLingo I do not know already).

You know, before 8 months I knew absolutely nothing about Romance languages and Portuguese.

So, what shall I expect??
I do not have set too high (unrealistic) goals like "I want to be able to fluently speak quite soon or know everything about the language in-time".

can you read, write, speak in the target language

I would not answer any of those questions with yes, not yet.

Chatting (IRC) for writing (quick typing) has been always great for improving my English for years, even 12 years ago. So I will probably add this challenge for my Portuguese language target.

Lately I have passed my Memrise Memonist status with 3 million points mark and "learned" roughly (probably including some double/triple because of multiple PT courses) 3.246 words.
This was my older thread "100days streak in Portuguese/English, personal 240XP day success, Memrise Membrain 1.000.000 points": https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20736135

Most verbs from Memrise "DuoLingo PT" course are there in their basic form, without (person) conjunctions where DuoLingo itself almost seems to teach only the conjugated end verbs (very rarely the infinitive forms). So they both add well together in each their way...

With all the user scripts I was and am using, I feel have the chance to read and translate (recall PT words/phrases/sentences, not only remembering the words and choosing from multiple-choice) some (easy) Portuguese.
I truly believe that Memrise and it's SR (including shorter 4-5h/12h/24h++) intervals helped me to better learn and long-term remember some elementary PT vocabulary, where for some reasons I can not kick myself to regularly review on DuoLingo those learned skills
(probably because you will not be able to focus on the latest / weak words and you have to translate too much silly crap, including many words from the early beginning of the tree).

The whole spaced repetition (SR) thing is a new one for me....

The offical Memrise PT1-7 courses (see their blog announcement about hacking + sentence translation courses) include some more advanced sentences as 50languages.com (native MP3 recorded, not TTS) actually do.

I stopped the Memrise course for a while after learning about 100 words on the Memrise user created course; but now with the Memrise TTS Audio-Provider user script I could re-start/continue that course even not all audio has been added to it by the author.

In comparision:
On DuoLingo not all teached / asked sentences really make sense (the focus is not teaching "some useful phrases" for speaking but often more like auto-throwing some vocabulary together in a sentence by a bot), but that my only be my impression (well, according to some discussion threads on Duo it is not) :-)

I was concentrating earlier on timed practices with the DuoLessonsFix user script, which thankfully stopped the timer for each question and added discussion links to the review panels.
On the new Duo portal code this does NOT work anymore, so I do not use it very much anymore....if I collected a view XPs to reach my daily goal I am done as I do not want to start it multiple times and fail again.
What I also do:
Read the sentences aload, either on DuoLingo and Memrise, that is repeating their spoken Portuguese TTS.
On DuoLingo Camilo's "Tree enhancer" user script helps to play Portuguese TTS audio from right hand side EN-PT L2 (target) translations AND nowadays multiple-choice selections.

For www.bliubliu.com text stories and native recorded audio I was not well prepared a view months ago as they miss beginner Portuguese texts (they even alerted me about that fact).
Understanding Portuguese natives speaking fast and fluently: Damn, that is another thing, pretty hard!
My later goal is to add pods and hear recorded user stories from natives.
The author from www.language101.com is IMHO absolutely right:
Only hearing Portuguese words / sentences (including the German or English translation) is NOT enough for me (personally).
So even finishing two to three times the complete 100days 50languages PT MP3s on walk outside, I still can not fully retain the stuff learned (heard) before.
So I will HAVE TO re-learn all the words/sentences on Memrise (including reading the text, playing TTS, repeating TTS and speaking out loud the read text).
Can I compare all that to real word Portuguese (fast) listening, real stories, people (like the audio CDs you can get with some books), freely create spoken Portuguese, etc.?
Probably not!
I definitely will have to add different material in the future (after learning the vocabulary / grammar stuff).

Will all the above help me to further extend my PT knowledge (from zero)? Probably and hopefully!

Honestly, I do not have the feeling that the exact order or courses/levels/skills teached are really PREPARING you for being able to actively speak QUICKLY the target language :-(

I believe I always have to learn too much vocabulary crap (on DuoLingo, on Memrise, etc.) which I can not use 1:1 in real life, probably never....

Actually I had that feeling quite soon starting the course with all the "milk/bread/eating/food/animal stuff"....so you somehow have to get pass that phase on DuoLingo (however you can't ignore the required skill reviews)....

Normally you will forget stuff you learn but not have to use in real life (in context)....

Some Polyglot blog even wrote about it:
Try to forget the "not sticking" vocabulary (delete the flashcards), you can not use right now or very soon (learned vocabulary used in context).

So I will probably have to look for a native teacher who helps me to put all the previous learned stuff together.

Yes, that is actually my plan:
Try to fit the basics together myself (without having to pay too much too soon), do my 15++ words/phrase thing per day and finally being able to learn how to put it together at some time from a teacher (or 1-2x a week) :-)

I found e.g a new language meeting location in my city in Germany/Nuremberg, where they meet each week and have multi language tables, where you are also allowed to switch.

Do I have the (good) feeling that I already learned (including SR) enough Portuguese from all the above taken courses to give myself a real challenge, visit them and try my best in PT:
Listen to natives, try to follow their conversations AND try to speak myself (as I think and write it English)???
NO, of course not!!! :-)

NO, I have not yet finished PT5, PT 6+7, all available intermediate+advanced+hacking Memrise courses, I have not finished all DuoLingo PT grammar skills, etc.
Therefore I can NOT meet that group yet.
I am simply not prepared enough :-) What a damn excuse, isn't it? :-)
But it is still true:
Even that Memrise PT1-5 courses are teaching some basic grammar (include some "will/can/was/went", etc. verb tenses including conjunction), I was not successful on DuoLingo to speed up my tree and finish those (important) grammar skills.

I even tried that concept on DuoLingo with maybe 2-4 skills, but I experienced that the (locked) skills more down the tree always ask me for vocabulary I had not learned, because I wanted to jump over that skills in the tree.
Not funny!

For the moment I am way more ahead on Memrise "DuoLingo PT BR" with the levels (=skills) as I am through with my DuoLingo tree by itself, so I would really have to earn some XPs per day/week to get some progression.

And with my latest account migration (=rollout) to the new DuoLingo portal (bad bad idea Luis and team!), I can not even access those (locked) grammar skills further down the tree anymore.

Oh , by the way, these have been my older threads on DuoLingo, where I struggeled to find an exit from this one-way-learning stuff and move either forward for concentrating more on learning grammar (instead of learning bulls.... vocabulary which I do not need right now) OR getting more into the direction to learn only the stuff to be able to actively speak Portuguese:

Maybe it's the Memrise course dashboard, grasping for points, etc. or the knowledge that Memrise compares their offical courses PT1-3 for A1, PT4-5 for A2 and PT6-7 for B1??!?

I even found some phrasebook and hacking courses for Portuguese and Spanish on Memrise.
One Phrasebook (200 words + sentences) is not yet on Memrise, but the author mentioned the PDF book was created as a AnkiSRS shared deck.
My plan was to ask if is still available, to be able to re-learn that 200 words and see those words used in multiple nice sentences.

This includes an added Spanish user-created course on Memrise from Benny Lewis "Language hacking Spanish", a few user-created courses (some chapters) for the "Oi Brazil" book and 1-2 grammar ("Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar (2nd edition)") and collequial books which I have not started yet.

It probably will be a long way, to fight through all the resources, find some new ones yet available and finally being able to speak the language, even if you practice it daily.

So, finally getting to the end, what do you think yourself:
Will you be able to read, write, speak in your target language once you have finished your DuoLingo tree?

Do you already have the impression that you want to jump over some skills and concentrate on others, which you think are more important (e.g grammar, tenses, future, etc.) than others?

As you can read in my linked threads above, others have already tried to warn me searching for other course resources, taking other courses (in parallel), splitting time, trying not to focus on the DuoLingo skill by skill, top to down...

Do you feel that you want to start some courses in parallel?

I am not sure on that, but probably I may have quit before as my 2nd DuoLingo "skip some PT skills" / " try to focus more on grammar skills" attemps were not working out as I hoped, because of it's programming / design flaws.


Thanks for the reminder about Bliu Bliu! I had bookmarked it a long time ago but had never actually used it any. Seems a useful adjunct.

I'd encourage you not to be too put off by most of the vocab-focused lessons in the Portuguese tree. Generally, there are heavy in obvious cognates, so even if they're not the most pedagogically important, they're not too big a hindrance. And you do need exposure to the patterns that allow you to unlock your English vocabulary for use in Portuguese. The relationships are clear enough, and hugely important (you'll be able to read news articles with only a couple thousand basic Portuguese words most likely), but they can be a touch less obvious than in Spanish or French.


Despite my above text about the new DuoLingo portal and loss of almost all powerful (old portal + 12 user script) features/functionality, here comes finally some good news:

1) The "DuoLingo tree enhancer" user script from Camilo, which is:

  • also working for playing audio (e.g English->Portuguese questions in forward tree courses on right hand side L2 answers
  • and being able to read multiple-choice L2 answers (please see my comment at the bottom of this thread")

has been successfully updated for the new DuoLingo 2017 portal code: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19654789$comment_id=23151134

Please help Camilo to test it on the new DuoLingo portal!

2) NEW: Camilo's script now even includes (tested for forward EN-PT tree so far by myself) the possibility to read out loud multiple-choice L2 audio (e.g Portuguese from EN-PT course) answers, not only translation challenges! This has not been working before.


take my lingots sir. thanks gracais danke


I went straight and finished all the romance language courses without reinforcing the units, it was easier for me, when I tried to do this with Russian, it was almost impossible, I guess it depends on how comfortable you feel with your progress. Anyways I'm reinforcing all languages after I finished them, because at the end it's all about practice.


Do you mean you tried to learn all the Romance courses at once, and reinforced them at once as well? I've always been really interested in learning all the Romance languages offered here, and if you had any tips please let me know! (Did you complete only popular languages or Catalan and Romanian as well?)


I was speaking only about Portuguese and French, haha, what I meant is that I finished those courses without using the practice tool, this is because my native language is spanish and those languages are easier for me than others. Now I'm trying practice all units until I reach all golds on the trees.


Ahh I see haha, thank you and good luck!


Merci a toi aussi mon ami, bon courage aussi!


Honestly, it really just depends on what type of learning style you prefer. For me, it was to go through everything first, and then redo the skills again so that I could have them rooted in my memory. It worked for me :) The best way to go about completing a tree is the way you are most comfortable with and the way that is helping you learn the most. Conclusion: Your choices above are both good ways to go about completing a tree, but the best way to complete a tree depends entirely on the person.


Thanks! Do you feel comfortable reading, writing or speaking in that language? Where would you place yourself?


Hi! I would say I'm intermediate. I'm comfortable reading, writing and listening to French. When it comes to speaking, I do struggle a little, but I try my best :) Anyway, I go on websites like Duolingo and memrise to practice my French skills (Also, I watch a lot of videos on Youtube). Despite practicing for a few years, I still have a long way to go before I can even be considered "fluent".


Thank you so much :) I'll take that into account when attemping more languages.


This works for me for languages I don't find especially hard to remember (through cognates, etc.)—the Romance and Germanic languages being included here. For things like Vietnamese, Turkish, Japanese and others, however, practising as I go along is absolutely essential or I simply won't remember any of the vocabulary.


Oh wow! Nice job with all the languages haha, I aspire to be like you. What languages that you've learned here do you feel most comfortable with reading, writing, and speaking in?


As danielloperena really well encapsulated, it matters a lot what language you're working on; correlated to that it matters a lot what your own language background is. At the end of the day, I think your common sense will tell you if you're moving too fast. If you have to use hints for just about every word, you'll just intuitively feel that something's amiss. Frankly, it's also a lot less fun. But if you end up in a situation like that, just head back up the tree and redo things until it comes more naturally (I did this about 1/3 of the way through the Catalan tree, for example, and enjoyed it a whole lot more after doing so since there were so many important, basic words I hadn't remembered well enough). On the other hand, don't worry about mastering every little thing before moving on. If you get to about 80% mastery of a skill, it's almost certainly time to go for some new material, and it could definitely be appropriate well before that. New topics sometimes aren't introduced all that well, and they can suddenly fall into place further on with overall less time spent.

I've gone through trees fast. I've gone through trees slow. I don't think it makes all that much difference as long as you're willing to go back and review afterwards if you "finish" quickly. I'd recommend against going "super slow" in relatively familiar languages (which for an English speaker would be the Romance and Germanic ones, plus Esperanto) b/c it has seemed to me that I get more translation into the target language when I have "finished" the tree. I did about a third of the Dutch tree at a pace to finish it with 25,000+ XP, and I still was hardly getting any translations into Dutch, while I've gotten many more translations into the target language in other trees where I have done all the skills a first time, even if quickly. (I'd be very interested to hear if anyone else has observed something similar.)


Thanks! I've noticed that some topics aren't introduced so well, I have a habit of hating food and animal lessons whenever I start a new language, they seem so repetative and unnesecary at times haha. But something inside me forces me to make all of them gold, but I'll probably start moving more quickly on topics I'm confident in. (I'd also be interested to hear more about said observations)


I have finished 33 trees so I have had plenty of chances to perfect my method. I recommend doing at least 50 xp a day, although 100 would be better. Only do new skills when the tree is all gold. The first time a skill degilds redo the entire skill, don't just regild it. That way it will stay gilded and you won't have to keep going back to it. You should make quite good progress down to the end of the third section (usually, there are variations with trees of different lengths). At that point expect degilding to get away from you for up to a week but persevere you will get on top of it again. After getting it under control the first three sections should be very well behaved and you can make good progress again. Of course this will vary depending on how well you remember what you learn, and on how difficult the language is, but I think it is a good formula for tree felling. With this method I finish a tree at about level 16 knowing it quite well. If you take a break at any point restart by first regilding what you already did. Repetition is not a waste of time. It gets the pattern of the language into your subconscious so you feel when it is correct instead of having to waste time thinking about it. For languages with other scripts such as Russian, Ukrainian and Hebrew the memrise courses are worth doing along side the duolingo course because it is a steep learning curve to get used to reading them and there are also fewer cognates to help. But I really don't think it is necessary for roman script languages as duolingo's degilding algorithm is very good and learning words is sentences is far less boring.


Haha obrigado pela ajuda! That's the system I've been trying to use now(keeping them all good and doing 50-100XP+ per day), and it has helped me a lot so I may stick with it. How comfortable you communicating in the languages you've "completed" and do you continue to study them outside of Duolingo?


I don't have opportunities to communicate using them but I listen to or read several of them everyday aside from the ones I am concentrating on learning. I can understand most of what I hear in ten of them and want to eventually understand all of them. I may or may not progress to speaking them, that remains to be seen.


Interesting stuff! On a side note, any good techniques for getting better at listening to spoken language?


I agree with so many of the comments above. I keep doing a few new sections of the tree, but every time I feel that I am too far away from what I have learned already (I review the WORDS section to see how long ago I reviewed some of the oldest words), I will go back into the earlier sections and do more. This is why I have parts of my tree on Level 5, some on level 4, many on level 3, level 2 and my newest parts I am just completing level 1.

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