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Can't learn spanish this way


im a little worried over my spanish skills/knowledge.

People say that I'm really good in spanish, but I am not.

I understand spanish, but i cant speak or create sentences. I've tried websites and applications like memrise, duolingo, drops, babel etc. But they are all the same. The courses wants me to translate spanish to english. Learn the spanish word. That is easy for me, I cant learn that way. I need to learn the opposite way. Translate english words to spanish.

Or i might be wrong? I feel like im not learning.

For example: "¿Quiénes son ellos? " - i could EASILY translate that to ''Who are they'' and I was correct.

If the exersice was 'Translate 'Who are they' to spanish' - i would get wrong, i think i would type in 'Quien es ellos'. This way i think more and correct myself.

Now instead I just got a green light, applause and some EXP points for being correct. Do anyone understand me? Am I wrong and should just keep on going? Or can I do something differently?

August 17, 2017



When you recognize words, that is called "passive vocabulary."
When you can call words to mind readily without any prompt, and use them in conversation or writing, that is called "active vocabulary."

It is easier to develop passive vocabulary, and our passive vocabulary is greater than our active vocabulary. Acquiring a passive vocabulary is the first step in language acquisition.

After you finish your "Spanish for English speakers" course, try out the "English for Spanish speakers" course. You will have to translate into Spanish a lot more in that course. Also, start using HiNative (https://hinative.com/) where you write short passages and native (or fluent) people correct your Spanish. You will correct passages written by people who are learning English.

Also look on ConversationExchange.com for a practice partner who is fluent in Spanish and learning English. Sites like Busuu, Speaky, and iTalki are frequently mentioned in the forums, but I haven't tried those personally.

The more you practice using your Spanish - generating written passages and awkwardly producing spoken sentences - the better you will get at it.


Thank you for your answer, a really really good answer. I give u 10 lingots for it


holy sh.... i got hundred back.. haha wow! Thank you!!


Try the reverse course English for Spanish.


Hi there!

Duolingo does ask you to translate both ways, but it builds up gradually to this point. When you first learn a word the exercises start easy to help build up passive knowledge of the words-- Frst with multiple choice pictures, then you get asked to translate from Spanish into English, and you'll get a variety of free typing and multiple choice. The hardest questions are the ones where they ask you to type in a sentence in Spanish, and you should start to see these when you go back and review old lessons.

So yeah -- stick with it for a bit longer, and don't forget to go back and review old lessons when they fade from gold.


ok! Thank you so much! great answer. appreciate it


Tal vez, debes practicar lecciones de español . . . en español. Eventualmente sería más mejor leer, escuchar y hablar en español. No traduzca.

Or just follow Lrtward excellent advice.

Translating is fine (easy and passive) in the beginning but eventually you will need to activate what you have learned. It is hard and difficult but you will make mistakes and probably feel uncomfortable. You will need to develop your active vocabulary.


I think you should try conversation with people, but if it is not available or you don't feel comfortable about that, try "Inverse tree" in Duolingo: English for Spanish speakers.

I'm a Spanish speaker and I felt the same about English course, then I did "Spanish for English speakers". It was very useful.

Buena suerte y que disfrutes el aprendizaje.


If you install Cooljingle's user script "all typing" on Memrise, reviews will require you to type (on the web) in L2 target language: Spanish!

If you install the other user script "auto correct", you will even see all special accent characters as you type normal words, so this even works with strict typing courses. So this might help you remember words - as you are writing them - better.


you're on the right track!


Maybe try to write some texts and post them on duolingo forum. Surely someone will correct you and that's how you can learn.


I have a problem with "passive vocabulary" as Lrtward calls it.

To try to fight against it, I try to form sentences in Spanish as much as I can. And I think it's been helping. Like when I put on my shoes for work, I think, "Mis zapatos son negros." When I cook, I say, "Pasta con ajo y tomate." And so on, so forth. They are simple sentences, much like ones you would hear children say... you know, children who haven't fully grasped their own language yet. ;)

And if I come across a word I'm having trouble recalling or remembering the meaning, I try to write a few sentences with it, much like children in school do... you know, children who haven't fully grasped their own language yet. :P

My point is try to take things that might have helped you learn your own language and try applying to learning your second language. ^_^

As for your example above, mind your grammar. While your sentence would be almost correct if you were talking about a single (male) person - just put "el" instead of "ellos" and, if I'm not mistaken, you've successfully asked, "Who is he?" - the verbs and adverbs change depending on the subject of the sentence.


I suggest the English for Spanish speakers course. It's very helpful, especially with translating English to Spanish. I have to admit, while I love duolingo, and even though I still don't understand Spanish, it does annoy me how we do more translating to English than Spanish.


After a few more lessons in the regular tree, you could also try the lab for stories too. That is all in Spanish and it's reading and listening comprehension. So if you feel you understand Spanish enough it's worth a try. If you are using the app too, you could try the Spanish bots. Again it's all in Spanish if you see a word you don't know you click on it and find out.


I have this problem too i can have a conversation in Spanish i keep forgetting what words i need to use but i can read the text just fine and videos are doable too.

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