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Input from Experienced Users

Hi guys! So, last year, when I was new to DL, I zipped the French and German trees (I was a little obsessed). After that, I dabbled a bit in Dutch and Spanish before finally settling on Swedish (An IKEA page was actually my inspiration). I procrastinated a LOT with my Swedish tree and was about half way done when I decided to just power through. By doing a lesson everyday, I was able to finish the rest of the tree in two months. Here's the kicker: I didn't do any strengthening for four months, so I had a sad looking non-golden tree. Now I'm working on strengthening it, but I find that I can't balance both learning new lessons and strengthening at the same time. I don't think that doing a lesson a day until I finish a tree and THEN strengthening is a healthy or smart way of learning a language long-term. As you can probably guess from my post's title, I'm looking for input from users who have been on here for awhile and so have tried different ways of language learning. Thanks!

July 27, 2017



Here's what I do with German :

Every time I do a lesson a go back and do the lesson before it again so by the time I have e finished a skill i have done every lesson twice

Every time I finish a skill i do general strengthens until I am absolutely certain that I understand 100% of what it is giving me. This can only be done from the beginning of the tree so that the strengthen is giving you like 60 % most recent skills and 40% older ones.

This is very time consuming but very effective so it really depends on if you want to learn it faster or if you want to learn it better. I have 2 or so months free now so I'm a lot of my time into German and really intensivly learning it but you can't really do it this way unless you have quite a lot of time


Basically quality vs. speed. The trouble is, I want quality, but I don't have enough patience for it. I'll have to work on that.


If I want to strengthen lessons on trees I'm still working on, what I will do is practice one day and do a new lesson the next day. That way it will be a little bit more balanced because sometimes you can actually strengthen old skills by doing new ones. The biggest tip is to just keep at it and do something when you can, even if it's only during one day of the week.

Lycka till. :)


Thanks for the suggestion.


Well, that's how I'm doing it, so I guess I'm screwed.

Kidding. Sort of. I'm like you, I power-through, and then I strengthen. However, I also supplant my learning with other resources, like Memrise, or flashcards.

You can always re-start your tree by deleting it. I'm too lazy for that, however. I think after two to three years of strengthening it just "sticks" after a while. That's the way it was for French. I took a Spanish class, and I'm currently not making any progress at all with German. So...might have to try some new things. I wish you luck!


Yeah, this is the first tree that I tried "power learning" with. I'm also too lazy to delete my tree. All that work down the drain! :) I can tell you that it does stick eventually though. I didn't know any German before starting the course and now I know most of the course pretty well after a year and a half of strengthening.


I'm planning on resetting all my trees, but I'm too lazy, just like you ;)


You can always re-start your tree by deleting it.

Or just by going back up to the top ;) which has the convenient effect of not wiping all your learning history for that tree out of the system.


I do best, personally, by reviewing at least five lessons before even thinking about tackling a new lesson. My progress is extremely slow. It took me over a year to do the French tree and I am still learning by doing the reverse tree. But I am definitely making progress. If I powered through a tree I wouldn't understand anything, and I'd just end up confused and frustrated.

Other folks prefer to power through the tree and get a feel for what's up ahead. Then they go back and review whatever they like. These folks get bored with the constant repetition the way I do it.

It just depends on you, and what keeps you motivated.


I've tried that with my French tree. I would recommend doing one lesson a day, then strengthening skills that need to be strengthened. It's frustrating, I know. I just wish there was an option for an extra-long lesson to strengthen all of your non-gold skills.


Yes! That would be so helpful. I did actually use that strategy with my French tree and it did seem to work pretty well. Maybe it's time to bring back the old (and time-consuming) strategy.


Haha, I feel your pain. It really sucks, because sometimes I'm just not feeling motivated for a week and I don't do Duolingo. When I'm back and motivated, all of my languages are completely un-golded, and I don't feel motivated anymore. It sucks, but oh well.


I know exactly what you mean. But I like to keep up a streak, so I always make an effort to do something, even if it's just strengthening Basics in something.


Yup. I sometimes have the motivation to do that, but I just can't bear looking at all those non-gold skills. Sigh


Good question! Like many other users who have already answered, I advise doing a little bit of strengthening and a lesson each day. This can be hard depending on how many languages you are working on at once and how easily or not you get the various languages (as you can see, I'm not working on many at all, which helps a lot). When working at a slower pace and on fewer languages, going through and strengthening those that need strengthening as well as working on a new lesson helps a lot. As Qiunnn mentioned, redoing a previous lesson before starting a new one can also be quite helpful. However, depending on the difficulty of the language, how many you are working on, and how much time you have, this might not work as well for you.

I hope this might have been somewhat helpful! It's certainly a good question and I've enjoyed reading others' advice as well.

Edit: Thanks for catching the typo! :D


It certainly was easier to strengthen and do new lessons more regularly when I was only doing French and German. I also had some background in French, so that was easier than starting a language with no previous knowledge.

  • 1424

Shamrock14, it seems your English is good but I see you are studing it (maybe doing a reverse tree and you don't need English advise at all) so I'll just wanted to point out that your sentence starting out "I advice doing a little bit of..." should be "I advise doing a little bit of". I hope you take the advice in good spirit. :-)


And I just wanted to point out that

you don't need English advise at all)

should be

you don't need English advice at all.

Now you're even. :P

  • 1424

Hehe, I was waiting for that. Have a Lingot!


Haha! Yeah, that's a typo, thank you. The English is just a reverse tree for me, but I'm afraid my spelling still suffers. :D Oh well.


Back when I was active (trying to get there again) I'd never progress unless I knew I had a good grasp of the previous lessons, golden or not. (I don't trust Duolingo to have implemented a spaced repetition system completely, and I had to be careful my strategy didn't turn into obsession or perfectionism)
I did try to rush through the last skills then strengthen (strengthen), didn't work so well! Well, at all, didn't work at all! I'll have to redo the lessons with more focus. I'd say be sure to prioritize reviewing to learning new words, don't let yourself be stuck with perfectionism, and progress at your own pace. What's the rush?


I knew I had a good grasp of the previous lessons, golden or not. (I don't trust Duolingo to have implemented a spaced repetition system completely,

This is a great point. When I'm in do-tree-thoroughly mode (whether that be in the first pass or sometime later), I stick with a skill until I can get through a bunch of timed practices with good scores and minimal hints. That can easily mean racking up hundreds of XP. But then when I move on I don't feel a particular need to scurry back, whatever color change Duo decides or doesn't decide to pull on me. I concur its version of SRS isn't too worthy of deference; it seems a confusing mishmash of too fast and too slow in different ways all rolled into one.


I finished my French tree a few months ago. I had been working on it for a few years and I knew French before, yet it took me that long. I still gold up my French tree. Today I'm doing Swedish. What I usually do is I gold up skills and then try a new lesson. When I get tired of Swedish, I'll move on to the next language on the list, which happens to be Irish.
Yesterday for a change, I tried English for Dutch speakers. It was very interesting and I was so amazed at all the Dutch I could understand, even though I don't know very much Dutch. I read their Tips and Notes and some sentence discussions.
Some of the Dutch was just like reading English, just with bad spelling.
The English voice sounds very nice, which makes me feel confident that the other voices are as good.


Hi! I finished my French Tree a year ago. I still work on it. I figure when I can do all the strengthening exercises without making any mistakes...THEN I will be done. I found the best way for me to do my tree was to try and keep any circles golden that had started to degrade and then I would start a new lesson. Sometimes I had so many circles to re-do that I wouldnt be able to work on a new lesson but I wanted to really learn my language, not just finish for the sake of finishing. When I would re-do a circle, I would do all the lessons within that circle. It was slow going but I feel pretty confidant saying I am an intermediate speaker rather than a beginner.

Now I am working on Italian and Japanese. Same method more or less. Some days I am too tired to work on all three but I do at least one language every single day.

Best of luck to you. Learning can be so much fun with the right attitude.


I progress quite slowly. I spend at least 30 minutes a day on Duolingo. I do one new lesson and spend the rest of the time strengthening skills I've already learned. About once a week when I have some free time I spend considerable time strengthening. For example, today I had the afternoon off work, so I individually strengthened every skill in my completed Spanish tree from the first to the last. It's taken me 2.5 to 3 hours to complete. In general, I keep all completed skills golden; so my daily strengthening targets any that aren't gold.


I do a lot of reviewing, like some of the others have mentioned. Usually I spend a few minutes on Duolingo in the morning, and a few minutes at night, and I do every lesson three times before I move on to the next one. So in the morning I will review yesterday's lesson and then do a new one. Before I go to bed, I review that morning's new lesson to see how well I remember it after thinking about other things all day, and then I do a general Strengthen Skills. The next morning I review the lesson one last time, and if I'm feeling confident about it, then I'll do the next new one. If I feel like I'm struggling, I'll take a day off from new lessons and just do reviews.

It is slow, it took me one year to finish my French tree, but it's the system that works best for me. I found if I do much more than one lesson a day, or do less review, then I have a hard time remembering things. I'd suggest doing a little experimenting to find the right balance of new lessons and review that works best for you.


I think I most enjoy going through new content until I get confused and have to use "too many" hints. Then I go back up the tree to where I'm comfortable and work my way down again. This can be one skill, like in Hungarian, or the entire bottom two thirds of a tree, like in Catalan from Spanish. In Catalan I got myself confused in the top fifth, but after that it was smooth sailing. Once I got the golden owl I began working through the whole tree in a much more in-depth manner.

I think trees are more useful (i.e. more translation into target language) once you've done all the lessons once ("finished" in common parlance), so I tend to postpone really in depth review until that point. From this standpoint, sounds like you've gotten your Swedish tree into a very good position for further learning!


Hmm. Interesting idea. It sounds like it would work pretty well. Thanks.


Duolingo's facilities enables to draw a linguistic tree while live video chat enables to get the tree alive.


I try to golden everything (or what I can) and then do new lessons. That way I retain my previous knowledge.

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