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Quickly complete tree, then strengthen, or go slowly?

Hi everyone! I've been tackling my tree and skills fairly slowly. I've been putting effort into not just ensuring my tree is "golden", but that I remember the material, whether it's vocabulary or grammar concepts. Which method works better for you - the slow method that I've been doing, or a quicker method, where you complete skills and the tree fairly quickly, and then strengthen everything?

I have about 70 skills left for German, and while I really want to finish it before Christmas, I feel like I would be rushing the process if I did almost 10 skills per week. I'd like to hear from people who did their tree quickly - do you have problems remembering the skills?

October 23, 2017



It depends on the language, how easily it settles in your brain and how closely it relates to something you already know. For example, if you already have some knowledge of Swedish/Norwegian or Spanish/Portuguese, doing the other course in each instance is unlikely to require so much repetition to achieve recall because so much of the vocabulary and grammar is very similar. Japanese, on the other hand, really isn't like anything I know, so I'm still grinding my way through the course at a snail's pace and keeping skills gold.

I'd furthermore point out that, whilst vocabulary only requires repetition, grammar also requires understanding (of course, one can learn grammar from immersion alone, but this is a less effective use of time for languages with complicated grammars), so I'd always spend more time on the latter lessons than the former.

Also, if you want to know whether you're moving too quickly, use timed practice. If you can't get a decent score (particularly in exercises typing in your target language), slow down a bit.


I got one question, do you really learn all those languages? just asking ;)


I found that when I tried to rush through my skills I wouldn't normally really learn them. I'd run into them later and not have any clue what they meant. So I'd highly recommend the slow and steady approach! (I also ended up doing maybe one or two new skills a week, and it took me exactly a year to finish my spanish tree the first time!)


One lesson each day is giving good result to me. Way back I used to practice a lot and it kind of kill the fun of it so I stopped using the app for some years. The choice is yours.

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Definitely RUSH through the tree so you can LOOK good with your friends/audience!-) Seriously, it depends on you and your goals and the amount of time you spend on each skill. If quantity without quality is your goal then go for speed... If you are interested in quality, I suggest you take some independent tests (you should find on-line free tests for German) to check your level. That said, I have rushed several trees because I wanted to have a 'feel' for the language which allowed me to do translation work within 1-2 weeks. The grammar became firmer as I used the language (in my case translation work)... So there are good reasons for rushing some trees! HTH, Daniel.


I'm doing mine rather slowly. I don't need everything to be golden for me to learn the next lesson, I just do them when I feel I'm ready to move forward.


Hear, hear!!!! That is the best way to learn!


I used Duolingo to learn Turkish, a language that was completely new to me. For me the slow method was not particularly useful since there are only a limited number of sentences and my memory is quite good. After a while I found that I knew the answers but didn't understand the material. What worked best for me was to learn the vocabulary outside Duolingo and to use Duolingo to focus on learning the grammar. I then used Lang8 to practice writing using the grammar I had learned on Duolingo. By using a variety of learning methods, I was able to move through the tree at a faster pace than if I had just depended on Duolingo. I think that if you are just using Duolingo to learn, you should go through the tree slowly. Otherwise you are going to get confused. If you have a variety of learning sources, you can go through the tree quickly.

It doesn't really matter whether you go slowly or quickly. What matters is that you learn the language. You will know what works best for you.


I did my French tree quickly. Now only a few exercises are golden, and I wish I didn't do this. I'm doing my german tree more slowly. I only do a new skill once all the others are gold again. Hope this helps you! This is a good discussion and I hope people learn from it. I gave you lingots! I like your discussion.


I've done both. I spent so much time on my French tree that I got to Level 19 or 20 and was only slightly over half done. I got tired of that and quickly went through the rest of the tree in a matter of 1 or 2 weeks. It was a nice feeling to finish the tree, but one of the downsides is that every single day between 2 and 7 skills are no longer golden and have to be strengthened. Another downside is that my error rate in strengthening is a lot higher than when I was taking more time. At the end of the day I think the end result is the same though - I'm making less and less errors over time and getting more and more proficient.

But yes, the short answer to your question is that by going quickly I have had challenges remembering skills. At some points I've found it better to go back to a specific skill and go through it several times, lesson by lesson.


For reviews, I think it is good to take advantage of the spaced repetition system, where you review words and sentences at optimal intervals.


I think it is a balance. Doing a tree, sometimes I did a bunch of skills until I thought like it would be too much. I think the amount of exposure one gets to a certain theme helps with retaining it. I did what I felt was a good amount taking into account my capacity and desire to learn in that moment, kept reviewing at the same time, and thus moved forwards.

My purpose was wanting to make sure I had retentive capacity in the language with what I was being exposed too. Fortunately it was portuguese, and already speaking spanish, the grammar was almost a non-issue for me, which allowed me to learn a lot in a short period. I am not for just sitting and reviewing, or just going gun-ho because I want to make sure I am having decent retention to what I have been exposed too.

I don't really have a desire to go fast now, but with french, its just a balance like I have said. Do a little new content, try to absorb the grammer rules, and review what I have done. Though I haven't been doing that recently, and this is just my theory of how I would go about it, given I don't have a strong interest in learning french at this given point in time. Those are my thoughts. I hope it is helpful to you. I think it is balance, and trying to take into account retention of information while going forward.

One quick other example. I am doing the hebrew course. with how different hebre is from english, even I know some Arabic, which helps, a LOT, I go slower because I am taking into account my ability to retain VEERY different gramatical structure, and sounds, and script and so on. Point: it is different, my capacity to retain is different, and thus my pace changes.

That is my take on it, and I think that is a structure for think enough, that you can find your own answer to your question by thinking about how you learn in this kind of structured format. Because if learning is the goal, thinking about retaining in relation to speed is the base line idea of a much more complicated algorythm of how our brains really work. I hope this was helpful to you .


My current method is something in between, I don't rush through the tree but I'm not going super slow either. I basically try to get a good idea of what the lesson is teaching and repeat each lesson a few times then move on, even if I still don't fully understand the skill or have the vocab mastered. There will be a lot of strengthening in the future for me, but I still get the gist of it all. Whatever method appeals to you the most is what works best!


Yes I do.

I have virtually forgotten all the German, Spanish, and French I learned because I rushed through them and didn't strengthen them.

I forgot almost all my Turkish (but still have a good idea of the grammar) because I spent 3 months finishing the tree and 2 months just strengthening it. I gave up strengthening the turkish course for almost a year hence why I forgot almost everything.

I've been using Anki to practice some chinese sentences and it turns out that I actually forget quite a lot when I cram cards in one day, because when I do my review sessions and the cards from the cram days show up, that's where performance suffers the most.

My suggestion is:

For long term memory and making your life easier for learning even harder stuff later on: Don't cram

For short term bragging to your friends but then looking stupid in a month because you forgot everything due to a lack of solid reviews: Then cram.


I am in the last phase of the tree in Irish and I have changed strategies several times.

The worst one was to do too much too quickly ( I was competing with a "friend"...) and I think that is what earned me my first signs of decay 3 weeks ago. And rightly so, I did not know the stuff... I am just sticking to my "steady strengthen no stress" strategy, I do 1 or 2 general strengthen skills,and only 1 new lesson a day if at all, and I strengthen like mad each individual skills instead of quickly moving on... I find the general strengthening exercises are the real tests of what I have assimilated. The tree is nice to look at,and yes, it shows a progression of some sort, but really, I feel the amount of xp earned by strengthening, ie my hard work should ensure knowledge is retained , well , I hope so anyway! Good luck with your studies.


I completed Spanish somewhere near 100 days if I recall correctly and zipped through Japanese in just just 33.

When I worked on Spanish, I wanted to cement everything into my mind as I went. I got anxious and frustrated so much that I'm surprised I ever managed to finish it. I imagine under that kind of self-imposed perfectionist pressure, some don't. If I hadn't taken some Spanish classes many years before, I don't think I would have made it to the end of the tree. I think I would have given up. But, because I had some prior knowledge, I made it somehow. I've since gone through the Spanish tree 3 times and its reverse course once. (Learning a language is never finished, even with our native languages. Stop practicing long enough and we can forget it.)

With Japanese, I just wanted to see how fast I could go, so I did. I was much more relaxed about not fully understanding things before moving on. I'm currently reviewing Japanese thoroughly as I try to get comfortable doing one skill at a time in Timed Practice.

The important thing is to not go so slow that you are a perfectionist and stop enjoying the journey, but not to go so fast if you don't trust yourself to put in the time to review after already having the course's trophy in hand. I will say, I was getting bored reviewing Japanese. I may have already dropped off if it hadn't moved to the website where I could have fun with Timed Practice.

And, in the long run, be sure you set achievable goals. I don't recommend starting with the goal of fluency. If that is even your goal, that's far off in the future. You'll want smaller goals that you know you can reach to help sustain yourself. Set one goal, reach it, and set another goal that is achievable from where you are. It is like finding direction with a compass. This summer while on a backpacking trip, we had to use our compasses. So, we found our direction, focused on an object we could see in our direction's path and went to that object. From there, we looked at our compasses again and picked the next object. We did this until we found our way to our campsite. And then we did it again to get back to the trail. Learning a language can be a lot like that.

Good luck with your studies! :)


If you spend the same amount of time on it and earn the same amount of XP, it doesn't make much difference whether you do the tree slowly, or do it a few times more quickly.

You should just focus on earning plenty of XP to get to a high level, and getting a high streak, (both are the result of spending plenty of time learning), but just do it at the pace which is most comfortable to you


Not necesarily, because XP is not 100% correlated with learning. I could do a ton of a tree, moving forward, not retain almost any of it, get a lot of xp, and not retain a lot. Focus on learning seems realistic for people who want to learn.


I do 2 new lessons a day and if I have time, I strengthen one or two skills and that's more than enough for me. Sometimes, I want to do more but I don't because I find that doing more kills the fun for me, which is where my motivation lies. So I keep myself in a constant state of wanting to do more and that brings me back every day.

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