Why are some basic skills are far down language trees?
Like the title says, I've noticed in multiple languages that skills like numbers, colors, sports, and feelings are far down the tree. Why is this? Are these categories really that challenging? Thanks once again, Duolingo community!
I'd argue that they're not basic skills - they're basic concepts. Duo's method is to teach you basic grammatical skills through the medium of sentence repetition, rather than the method many courses take which is to teach you 'useful' things like telling the time and asking directions early on. Doing this means you're simply repeating a phrase, not learning a language.
It takes longer to learn to do these types of things with Duo, but by the time you can do them you're fully able to construct your own sentences on a variety of subjects. Other courses which 'teach' by giving you sentences to parrot with no thought towards how they're made don't do this.
Short version: many courses get you communicating quickly, but in an extremely limited fashion. Duo (among others) does it more slowly, but more effectively.
you can't even do the first few parts of the reverse tree without using Gerunds
Really? There can't be that many English present progressive constructions out there that can't feasibly be translated with the Spanish simple present. Maybe they're being unnaturally strict for pedagogical reasons?
I can see reason for having the gerundio taught relatively far down the Spanish-from-English tree: English speakers overuse it. It's also easier to form, so far better to drill the more complicated present simple conjugation well before introducing it.
I agree simple present should be taught first and well, but gerund is taught after all the past tenses (except conditional) and only one before future, the gerund is used a lot differently in spanish than in english and is often not interchangeable, so although the simple present is used more often gerund is also very important to learn early on because there are a lot of simple concepts that cannot be expressed without using the gerund and since it is easy to learn it wouldn't take that long and would allow spanish learners to try the reverse tree or even do it simultaneously as a lot of learners can for other languages