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What's your strategy? What pace works best for you?

Do you try to complete one skill per day? One hour per day? One language for each day, or all languages at once? What's your strategy? What works best for you, experienced users?

July 4, 2017



It works best to do a row of skills every day, yet sometimes I am very far off this schedule. For me, practicing for a mere thirty minutes can be very effective, and it gives me time to complete at least one skill and strengthen any weak skills. Everyone has their own pace; some people can complete a course faster than others, but how fast you go doesn't matter. It mostly depends on how much you've learned, and what you remember from the material you've covered.




Since I don't have too much time per language, I don't do too much. I do two to three skill strengthens a day in the completed trees (three if there are any skills decayed) and two new lessons plus whatever skill strengthening is necessary if I haven't completed the tree. It gives me about five to ten minutes of practice per language. It works well enough in so far as it keeps the tree golden.


I do one skill a day, but sometimes two if I feel like I've excelled at the prior one. I've been working on my tree for eleven months, yet I'm only 2/3rds through. I also strengthen any skills that need it. I rarely do more than three a day.


I'm only working on two languages at the moment. I have a daily practice of using Duolingo for 15 to 30 minutes before I leave for work on weekdays, and on weekends I usually spend longer.

I completed the Spanish tree quite some time ago. I have a long history of studying Spanish and am quite proficient with the whole Spanish skill tree; so I just check it daily and if any skill drops below full strength I either strengthen the specific skill or redo all the lessons in the skill for a good review. I was at Level 18 until yesterday when I accidentally deleted Spanish and had to start over - thank goodness the placement test at least gave me enough points to start at Level 10.

French is the language I'm actively learning now, and I take it pretty slow in hopes of better mastery. Every day I do one new lesson in a skill, usually repeating it twice. I redo the previous lessons in that skill set. I also do daily general strengthening. I usually aim for two sets, but now that I'm getting more proficient I am faster and can usually fit in more than two.


I see that you're learning Spanish AND Italian. How do you manage that? I've wanted to do the same thing for quite a while but I'm very scared that I'm going to mess both of them up, because they're such similar languages.


You can always give it a try and see how you feel (I think at times I've been trying to learn Italian and Catalan pretty much simultaneously, and certainly sometimes I've felt some confusion originating from that, but I also confused Russian and Portuguese at one point, and, well, one does get past these things :) However, either one will come ever so much easier after you've got a degree of mastery of the first one. Having learned Spanish, I find myself able to pick up Italian just by listening (not to mention the great extent to which I can just understand it automatically). As such, I can't help but assume that the quickest path to fluency in both is to concentrate on one first.


Yep, that seems like the best way to go about this. I think I'll complete the Italian tree first, which is generally said to give you an A2 level of mastery, and then look for books and other resources that are more advanced and do the reverse tree. That's probably when I'll start the Spanish one, but I'm not so sure. It can be quite demotivating for me, having to keep up with several languages, all of which I expect to reach advanced levels on. Anyways, thank you for your input. I can see that you definitely have much more experience with consistently learning several languages. If you have any other type of advice to give, I'd love to hear it. If not, thanks anyways! :D


I totally get what you're saying: it can feel like the end goal is ever so far away when your objective is attaining an advanced level. For an English speaker learning Romance languages, a counter-intuitive thing I've discovered is that it can be easier to understand what would seem like more advanced things than easier ones. The common vocabulary for politics, economics, lots of history is a lot more than for other things. So if you get to the point of reading, but are finding children's books tough, it might well be easier to read Wikipedia-type articles on things children would find quite difficult. Looking at your location, maybe you're not a native English speaker (I never would have guessed from your writing), in which case you also have the massive advantage of already having learned to speak a non-native language, which I have found to be a large "fixed cost" that just provides benefit to every further language.


You're correct, I am actually already bilingual. And thanks! I've been learning English for quite a while now, and it makes me happy when people say that the way I communicate is natural! But then again, it's really easy to expose yourself to English nowadays. My native language, Albanian, is isolated and complex in weird ways. That kind of helps me to keep persevering when I look at something that "doesn't make sense" to my brain. After comparing it to my own language, whatever I was finding unintuitive or nonsensical becomes a whole lot easier somehow. Most of what I've learned is that, even though you may be grammatically correct in what you're saying, it may not sound or feel natural. Languages are weird, full of rules with a bunch of exceptions, but somehow fascinating at the same time, right? Anyways, you recommend that I switch to simple Wikipedia articles if I find children's books too difficult? That's actually some pretty solid advice. Thanks! I'm very familiar with the sounds that Italian makes and I know a small portion of words that I've picked up just by living in a country which is in close proximity to Italy, so that's why I started with that. However, I think Spanish would be a lot more useful because it's applied in many more countries, AND Americans seem to have to learn that (and French) in schools, which by default makes it SO much easier to find Spanish resources on the internet (which is made up of mostly English users/articles/etc. Statistics are a bit iffy when it comes to this, but even if it's not the most used language, it certainly takes up a huuuge portion of the used languages, in proportion to how many languages there are in the world.).


I've studied and practiced Spanish for years. Most of my study has been done on my own; so although I wouldn't call myself conversationally fluent, I do have a solid basic foundation in the language. I can basically pick any skill in the whole Spanish skill tree and do it without even thinking. For example, I can usually take a quick glance at a Spanish or English sentence and without even thinking I type out the response in the other language.

In that sense I'm not really actively learning Spanish on Duolingo. I just use it to review and keep up the basics. I think that's why I'm able to study Italian without getting mixed up. If I were actively studying both, I think that would be a lot more challenging.


Thanks for your answer! You were quite helpful. I guess I'll just have to learn one and then the other. Have a nice day.


I concentrate on one language but do the others inbetween to break things up. Once I'm done with the tree I will concentrate more on one of those languages, while still repeating Swedish.

Compared to others I'm kind of slow at least I feel like it. I take a lot of time to progress in the tree (except for French, that was a refresher). As of now I'm level 17 in Swedish, but not finished with the tree. I'm at the last checkpoint and still have a couple lessons left to go until I'm done. But I like to keep everything gold or at least always sure that I know everything on the tree up to that point before I start a new skill, so I'm not adding something new every day, but when I do start a new skill I do the whole thing. Sometimes I break up the big skills with 10 lessons, but not always.

Every word I learned I put into Anki while doing the lessons. Complete with all the word forms from wiktionary or dict.cc.

I have Anki on my phone to study the words on the go, rather than using the Duo app, I prefer the webversion for the typing and added difficulty and only use the app when I really have no time to get on a computer.


For each of my three languages that I study daily on Doulingo ( German, Norwegian, French, and soon to be Russian ). I tend to do a full skill each day. After I've finished a few skills, I spend the next few days "strengthening skills" in order to retain what I've learned.


I combine Duolingo and Memrise. Memrise to learn all the words (which works much better that Duoling for me) and Duoling to learn new lessons. Swahili still is in beta there is no audio and is is hard to remember the so unfamiliar words. So it takes me a lot of time, but now I really know about 300 words. making progress. My ambition is to learn 2000 words before next summer ends.


Could you briefly encapsulate why you prefer Memrise? I've come across many others who share the view, but you're the first I've seen who's expressed it for a language as different from English as Swahili.


Swahili is a language very different from the European languages I speak. Every word looks very strange. I'm a native Dutch speaker and many words in German or English have familiar structures. Swahili has influences from other languages, some words are based on European languages, there is a lot of influence from Arab. So for me it is very hard to remember all those strange words and I need a lot of practice. For instance some Swahili verbs: kula, kulala, kupanda, kupanga, kuja, kujua, kucheza, kupenda, kuchukua, kuchagua Memrise keeps a detailed track of what you remember, what you forgot again, it will repeat all words and challenge you regularly. It also requires you to type the words frequently. This continuous practice and repetition works for me. Als it goes very fast, much faster than DuoLingo in the strengthen exercises. So can train a lot in limited times. The disadvantage is that it is not very flexible and you cannot train f.i. conjugations. That's why I combine these two. When I am more advanced, I would like to write little stories in Swahili, try to read children's books, read the BBC News in Swahili etc.

Sorry, it is not briefly but I hope you get the point.


Thanks! More information elucidates more! I asked the question because I've enjoyed Memrise for languages with more familiar words (like German and English for you), but I've found it quite the burdensome experience for those with unfamiliar words (like Swahili). I've found it frustrating trying to just brute-force memorize these words outside of even the limited context of a sentence. Interesting to see a contrasting take. If you're putting the vocab from Duolingo in Memrise (or if there's a Duolingo Memrise course I'm not immediately finding), I can see how that would be a really good combination.

I definitely get your point about typing the words frequently; that's certainly a big weakness with Duolingo, although it does seem to improve with more time and engagement with a tree.


Thanks glad you like it!


I mostly rotate through things, concentrating on one language, then another. Also incorporate podcasts and other things where my level allows for it.

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