How well did Duolingo work for me...
One of the most asked questions here is how well this app will prepare you to the real thing. I took Spanish all through high school but never touched German so in preparation for a trip to Germany I spent 9 months going through the tree. (That's how long it took me at a fair steady pace). My goal was to at least finish the tree which I was able to just a few weeks before I left. I attempted to completely guild the tree but I didn't quite make it.
While in Germany I was able to book hotels, read menus and order foods, get basic directions, and have very brief "conversations" while most importantly being able to apologize and let people know I didn't speak good German when they spoke too fast. For the most part though everyone spoke English well enough to help me out. I obviously will continue learning but I thought I'd share.
PS. Some helpful travel tips if you're traveling. 1. Get a GPS. I rented a car and I bought a gps with European maps installed. 2. Update your phone for international data. I was too cheap to do that. Luckily my wife wasn't so we could even call her home to have a friend or reletive book a hotel for us so we wouldn't have to pay foreign transaction fees! 3. Download the offline version of google translate. It even translates text from your camera in real time.
Go ahead and reply if you have any questions. Good luck in your adventures friends!
Very cool and dare I say very realistic. Realistic in sense that duolingo will not give you professor or native level of language speaking but more of enough for you to have basic conversations and still mess up because you cannot be fluent easily.
I finished tree month ago and I am now searching for ways to improve German. I started to read wikipedia articles in German and realized how much I don't know. Sometimes seems like entirely different language, especially if I read about WW2 or some heavy topic like that.
Try youtube videos! I'm sure you will find something or someone interesting there to improve your listening and comprehension skills and that way it's really fun. You can also try newschannels, e.g. www.tagesschau.de, or TV stations such as ARD, ZDF, Arte (French and German). They have a so called "Mediathek" where you can watch a lot of interesting shows and movies. I'm not sure though whether you can access these files from abroad. Another option are movies and TV series, many DVDs or streaming networks have several language options available. Viel Glück und viel Spaß! ;-)