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Lost in the languages

Hello, everyone, I'm Bulgarian. I decided to learn Spanish here on Duolingo, the problem is that the site and everything on it is in English. I think my English is OK, but I figured out that when I see a Spanish word I immediately translate it into English, but not into my native language, which is Bulgarian. I wanted to ask you if anyone has a similar problem and if it would cause problems in the future with my learning journey.

October 2, 2017



Relatable - I have to learn italian in school, but my school is in german. And the course here is only available in english (and on all the other sites the german-italian course is pretty awful). But I figured out that it isn't all bad, as it improves my english. Once you've built a decent vocabulary you can start to use a monolingual dictionary, since the words are explained in spanish and there is no literal translation.


And what about "tiempo" as "weather"? Doesn't your native word for it jump in to amuse you? In my experience, the third language, even if it is native, just sort if sits there quietly in the background until called for.


@AAndreeva95 I'd recommend you starting reading short stories for children in Spanish. Try also some funny cartoons on TV and read comic strips. Listen to some romantic songs because in that genre singers sing clearly. When you get a more advanced level then start reading newspapers, magazines, start watching TV shows, documentaries, movies, etc. That's how I learn to stop translating in my head when I learned French. Good luck!


Except for English from Spanish (which is my native language), I have all my languages from English because the courses are better and there's more variety. I went through problems at first trying to adapt but now I'm doing just fine. I think you will too, you just need some time to adapt yourself to learning a third language via your second one.

¡Mucha suerte!


I am a French speaking Belgian and i learn "Hungarian for English speakers".

I have not much choice since most resources to learn Hungarian are for English speakers : websites, television broadcasts, books, even personal teachers.

I study Hungarian for myself, so it's not a problem : I am sufficiently fluent in English to understand a phrase whitout having to translate it further from English to French. In other words, I can stay in Hungarian<=>English mode.

But it would probably more difficult if I had to translate a conversation between french and hungarian people (Hungarian<=>English<=>French mode). But anyway i am not at this level yet!


Hi Alexandra!

A lot of good ideas from friendly people here!

But if you decide to stay with Duolingo, I would want to tell you my own experience.

My native language is Spanish and I'm learning French from English and English from French. Yes, it's challenging, but with constancy and thoroughly practice, you will achieve to find out your learning pace.

By doing the Spanish from English course, you will no only learn Spanish. You will simultaneously improve your English skills. When you achieve enough confidence with Spanish, you can do the English from Spanish course. Thus, you will attack both languages from different angles.

It's easier "deactivate" the "mother language mode" in your brain if you only work in a no-native language platform. The trend of translating to your native language will diminish.

So, go on! Give it a try. And if you have any doubt about Spanish, post it here in the "reply" button on this post, and I will be glad to help you.

Best regards!


no causa problemas cámbiale a duolingo el lenguaje materno que quieras para la pagina si sabes bien ingles y entiende no tendrás problemas aprender español o cámbiale la opción a búlgaro es tu preferencia


No hay opción búlgara ni curso español desde búlgaro aquí.


Yeah, you're going to find it difficult if you ever have to translate from Spanish to Bulgarian because you'll end up doing Spanish > English > Bulgarian in your head. Maybe you'll be lucky and won't run into those circumstances.


Depends on your level of fluency. At an advanced level you should no longer need the middle hand (even though it may help you to remember some cognates) or any hand really (unless you're actually translating something). Ideally you'll just see a Spanish sentence and understand it without translating to neither English nor Bulgarian.


Well, I'm actually experiencing what the op is saying. Because I learn Japanese, Spanish and Korean from English and I can only go back and forth between these two. Going from Japanese/Spanish/Korean to my language is a real struggle. I can do it for simple words like 'man', 'apple', 'tea', or 'dog' but when I have to do it for something vague or without direct/simple translation, it's really hard.


How advanced would you say you are in your four non-native languages?

I would still stress that you should try to get into a habit of translating dos más dos son cuatro as 2+2=4 instead of two plus two is four as soon as possible. In other words, you should know what it means without translating it into any language. It's hard in the beginning and even harder here where you have to translate everything but honestly, the habit of always translating something in your head just hinders your progress in the long run.


I spent 17/18 years going to school and working in an English-speaking country. As for Spanish, Japanese and Korean, I'm just a beginner.

I might have problems translating between the three languages that I'm learning (Spanish, Japanese and Korean) to my native language is because can't do it well between English and my native language either. I learnt English in an immersion environment. Words were learnt and understood in context and I don't translate between English and my native language in my head.

Duolingo is teaching my targeted languages from English and that's the only reason I'm able to translate from them to English. If it's teaching me Spanish using Spanish for an example, I would have the same problem.


If you don't like the english on Duolingo, you can change the language of the website on the logout page


No language on Duolingo is offered through Bulgarian.



have you tried uTalk or Mondly languages?
Personally I am using the English-Portuguese course on Mondly, but I know that e.g German-PT and many other source languages are available.

How about learning and reviewing at least some words in a 3rd party flashcards software in your native language, if you can not get away from English on DuoLingo?

https://www.memrise.com/courses/bulgarian/ (You need to either select for your target language the "European Spanish" or "South American Spanish" or Mexico style:


Maybe you can also find some shared card decks on AnkiSRS?

I am so sorry, but it looks like when I click on the Spanish courses they just (tricked /) forwarded me to their English course variants.
The mouse hover over in the result list was first working fine showing only Bulgarian (instead of English) as the L1 language source, but later I get simply lost....
Probably there are no Spanish courses even on Memrise....


I tried Hungarian with Mondly daily for a little more than one month and stopped : there where too many mistakes, even at the beginner level. And the voices where creaky and awful, if not frightening, the kind you hear in horror movies.


Yes, I read that that the Mondly course quality depends on the L2 language.

There are reviews even in some DuoLingo discussion threads about Mondly pros and cons (on google site:duolingo.com Mondly), and that some courses like Greek might not work the same as others.

Until now, I am satisfied with Mondly Portuguese and it's really good audio.

I agree with you:
Mondly should provide a much better reporting system per lesson / question just like DuoLingo provides it.
It is very very hard to report and eliminate errors on Mondly with the current free text box (not question pinned) reporting system!! :(


I studied swedish for a little on Mondly and came across a couple occasions where the audio was in Czech :P that made me giggle I mean I understood but that is definitely a problem I have seen. however I am using Mondly just as often for Czech as duolingo as I feel it helps reinforce what grammar I learned in duolingo and since I am doing these programs more for grammar than for vocabulary it is nice to pair them together at least in this particular language instance. I cannot say how well the other languages mondly has are but I have found their Czech one quite detailed :)


Well, I'm Polish and I use Duo to learn Portuguese, so our situation may be quite similar. For me it's not a big problem, even though my English is rather poor. After a few reviews I simply remember the majority of those "intermediary" English words and sentences. There are even clear benefits of this situation. First, I simply learn two languages at once. Second, my target language has more "points of reference", one in English and one in my native Slavic language. But there is one condition - regularity. You must use Duo systematically, because after any longer break it will be harder to review your lessons.

On a side note, if you are only interested in Spanish then you should use other resources too. Duo is my favourite application/website, but one also needs something closer to traditional flashcards to review the vocabulary (try Tinycards, for example, Lingvist is also very good).

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