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Vocab differences between reverse trees?

Hey everyone! I know a lot of people like to do the reverse tree of a language when they are finished learning the language from English. Is this just to gain more practice typing in the target language, or are there also any vocabulary differences? Will you learn more vocabulary doing the reverse tree than only doing one?

October 17, 2017



I've noticed a difference in vocabulary between EN for ES, and ES for EN. :)


So do I, especially once they added the very large new update (about 24 new units) to Spanish for English.


Is that the normal/forward course English (L1 source)-Spanish (L2 target) then?

Or do you mean the reverse Spanish-English?


I presume b05aplmun is referencing the English for Spanish speakers tree, as it's the one I'm aware of having been significantly expanded recently. (And in fact an entirely new tree version is apparently entering alpha testing if I recall forum announcements correctly).


You're right. I botched my directions, so to speak. It was the reverse tree that got a huge addition a few months ago.


I have learned a ton of new vocabulary by doing the reverse tree. Also, there are more L1 to L2 translations which is more challenging than the other way around.


I have noticed some vocab differences in the Portuguese for Spanish and Spanish for Portuguese, there is a different ratio of translating, and I think it is good for looking at languages from different angles. I also really like the process of laddering, which is something I have done, and started Duolingo doing.

Have you heard of Laddering?


I think so. Would that be using a second language to learn a third? Like if I wanted to learn french after german, I would do the french from german course, to reinforce both?


Exactly. I started out doing Duolingo from Spanish, which I had a high level in. After completing the Portuguese course from Spanish, I started the French course from Portuguese—laddering— in addition to the Spanish course from Portuguese (reverse tree).

I have learned new Portuguese vocab from both (and also occasionally a new Spanish word), and I think it is a quite interesting way to learn to look at languages and learn through Duolingo. I think it is also helpful for doing multiple languages at once. Learning from different languages helps me keep them seperate. I think it is a neat notion.


There is different vocabulary on the French and reverse French tree. One that sticks out to me is "faire la malle" which means to walk or take a walk (I haven't been able to figure out if it is closer to marcher or promener. It seems the reverse tree has more "authentic" vocabulary because they are teaching people who already have a fluency in that language.


There are indeed vocabulary differences. In the reverse tree, you'll do more translating to your target language, too (for instance, if you are learning Italian from English and do the English course for Italian speakers, you'll do more translating to Italian). I sometimes wonder if this is intentional to get us to do a normal and reverse tree... it's actually because the course contributors are not always the same for both courses. :)


I sometimes wonder if this is intentional to get us to do a normal and reverse tree.

I phrase pretty much the same query differently: is it because there are reverse trees (for most languages) that "forward" trees have so literal translation into target language? Those few learners who are serious enough to actually want that can self-select into doing the reverse tree, diluting "pressure" to actually ratchet up the percentage of translation into target language in the forward tree.

As a very speculative point of evidence for this, I would point to both the Guaraní and Catalan trees, which have no reverses, providing plenty of translation into the target language after a certain point. Meanwhile, it's been harder to get that much in Russian.


A few things that I hadn't fully understood in the regular trees got clarified in the reverse trees. You not only learn new vocabulary but you learn to use the words you already "know" better. In addition, the discussions in the language you are learning are very helpful. I've picked up vocabulary that way by seeing how people say things in various different countries.


As we all know, it's relatively easy to translate into your native language. For example, most doing the Spanish tree learn quite quickly that both "por" or "para" translate to "for" in Spanish. However, the other way around is much more difficult. You frequently have to choose which preposition to use when in the reverse trees. There doesn't seem to be a one-to-one correspondence of prepositions for any of the languages I've tried, so it may be the case in the language you are learning as well.


When we practice a particular verb tense skill in the regular trees, that gives us a clue on how to translate it. In the reverse trees, you have to not only conjugate the verb correctly but also choose the right verb for the context far more often. If there are fifteen possible translations for a particular word, sometimes they might be interchangeable and sometimes not. I also might think that I know what a word means, then realize that it can be used in different contexts... or not used in other contexts. Translations are not always literal.


The biggest benefit for me was all the instructions in Spanish. It helped me to think in Spanish for the first time.

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