My Recommendation For Duolingo Users: Write In Your Target Language
I am not 100% sure this is the correct forum for this, but I wasn't sure where to post it if not because it applies to people learning any and all languages on Duolingo.
Duolingo is a great website to use to learn a language. It teaches you vocabulary, grammar, and more, not to the point of fluency but it is a great start. One thing Duolingo does not do is writing. Yes, you write sentences it gives you. However, to be successful at any language, you need to be able to create your own sentences. If you have ever learned a language in school, you have most likely written short paragraphs in your target language. This is, in my opinion, a great way to practice putting your language skills together and create sentences you will likely use. So I would highly recommend that users of Duolingo write a paragraph in their target language starting after a few weeks of learning.
It doesn't need to be a long paragraph. Aim for 30-50 words the first time. Next week, try it again but aim for 40-60. Gradually increase what you are writing and it will really help you. Try to do it without using a translating website for help, if you really need help you can use one.
Here are some ideas of what you could write about: About Yourself- write a few things about yourself, likes and dislikes, name, age, etc. Favorites- favorite color, food, book, music, etc. Colors- write about the colors you see. what things are what colors? (bonus points if it's a poem!) Recipe- this one is a bit harder than the first few, but try to make a recipe for a food you like in your target language
If you try it, let me know! Feel free to leave it as a comment to this (as long as there isn't too much personal information like age or what school you go to) and maybe help others in the same language!
Edit: I will be adding tips and resources onto this post as I think of them. Everything below this is an addition and was not originally in the post.
Try to pronounce everything you write in your paragraph. This way you can practice your writing and speaking skills.
https://hinative.com is a great website to use in combination with your writing practice and speaking practice. I joined after a few people recommended Lang-8, which is no longer accepting new users. Hinative lets you write or speak in your target language and native speakers rate it and give advice on how to improve. So I would post your paragraphs on there along with a pronunciation as a "does this sound natural" question. I HIGHLY recommend this website.
Thank you very much to the generous lingot donors! I will put them to good use :)
Ideas of what to write about: -You are writing to a new penpal in (country where target language is spoken) Introduce yourself and ask a few questions to your penpal -You are at a restaurant. Address any dietary restrictions you have (vegetarianism, nut allergy, etc.) Order a drink, a meal, a dessert, and ask for your check. -You are keeping a journal. Write an entry on what you did and how you feel today. -You are texting a friend about a dream you had. Write what you would text your friend. -Find a picture online. Write a story about the picture, explaining what happened right beforehand and what happens next. -Write a poem. It can be about anything, but it has to flow nicely. Some ideas to write a poem about are nature, a childhood memory, changing seasons, or emotions. -Write a love letter to your significant other or crush. Explain how you feel about them and why -You are an exchange student who will be staying with a family. Introduce yourself, ask any questions you have, and address why you chose to come to this country.
Thanks for the extremely helpful post. I've seen Lang-8 once but somehow thought it wasn't good. Writing may be exactly what my languages need now and I'll definitely try it. If you have some more specific tips from your experience, I'll be happy to hear them. I'll get to it later though, most likely a few months from now, because now I will be working on listening skills (which I'll also do in a month or so because sadly I have very little time for language learning now).
You are very welcome! I've only done the writing a few times so far (and it is already helping) but for specific tips, I would start with what you know. If you are good at saying "I am " and "I like to _" write something about yourself. Write something you would say to introduce yourself to a pen pal, and make it short to start. Post it on hinative.com and ask for tips or corrections.
Next time, try to write something a bit more challenging. I'll add on to the post as I get better at it and as people leave comments with their own suggestions.
So it does indeed seem. How annoying! :-S
Here's a thread on Reddit discussing this and listing some similar alternatives: https://www.reddit.com/r/languagelearning/comments/5yyq5z/lang8_no_longer_accepting_registrations/.