https://www.duolingo.com/mjedport

Anyone with no spanish experience complete their spanish tree?

I'm wondering if anyone, who is like me, starting out with practically no spanish experience has completed their spanish tree and if so if they feel comfortable having conversations with native speakers. I'm about 60% of the way through mine and whenever there is the opportunity to speak spanish with a native, I freeze and haven't found many of the words in my vocabulary useful.

4 years ago

20 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Farjo1
Farjo1
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There's never a milk-drinking duck when you need one!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rycroft6

Absolutely quality hahaha

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

I find the vocabulary to be less than useful for me, but I never really expected it to be useful because the vocabulary in language classes seldom is. Duolingo actually compares well against the other language classes I've taken--I took a year of Russian at my university and never learned the words for left and right. Duolingo doesn't teach left and right until halfway down the tree, but at least they're THERE. In the early levels they teach way too many animals--I have yet to ever need pingüino in Costa Rica (where I spend three months a year)--but later in the tree you do get more practical words. I use Duolingo to learn the grammar; the vocabulary I look up for myself, usually right before I expect to need it.

(Yo me digo: necesito llevar la gata al veterinario. Como se dice hyperthyroidism? Hipertidroidismo. Bien. "A pill" es un pastillo, "half" es mitad, la gata necesita mitad de un pastillo dos veces al día.)

No language class is going to teach you that vocabulary, because 1) the lessons tend to be structured around things found in or around the classroom (even Duolingo does this, when we don't have classrooms), and 2) there's just too much variety--I doubt you're never going to need to discuss veterinary care in Spanish, and I doubt I will ever need to discuss whatever your passion is in Spanish either. So you need to look at where you're encountering Spanish speakers, and think about what you might want to say to them. If you have Spanish-speaking customers, learn the vocabulary for your business, whatever that might be. If you're meeting them at church, learning religious words will help you out. If at school--well, maybe those classroom words really are of use to someone. Sports? Learn to say "Is that umpire blind?!"

The thing is, I'm living part-time in a Spanish-speaking country, and I still freeze up sometimes, especially if I haven't had a chance to rehearse what I need to say before hand, or if I'm tired. But I've found that the other person, if they speak (some) English, also tends to freeze up. Speaking a foreign language is hard and it is embarrassing. One of the best things about speaking even a little Spanish is that the Costa Ricans I speak to are suddenly much less embarrassed about their own English abilities and "unfreeze." (The same was true of Japanese in Japan and Russian in Russia. In the Czech Republic I discovered that sufficiently bad Russian is indistinguishable from sufficiently bad Czech and will serve the same purpose.)

Remember, though, that in Duolingo you lose a heart if you get the gender of the article wrong. In real life? They're usually so surprised that you tried that they probably won't notice. You gain a heart for the attempt.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mjedport

Great insight, thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Robin_H

That happens to me too but when I speak in English! Then I realized that I had to practice more. Practice makes perfect as they say! So I feel more comfortable, when I explain to the native speaker, That English is not my mother tongue! And if I make a mistake I apologize and I ask him to help me out with a word or something... It's fine to make mistakes! sometimes mistakes are necessary to get something right! It's part of learning and it's ok... So you shouldn't freeze, you should ask for help, make laugh at your slip ups to create a nice atmosphere... Also you should expand your vocabulary and make same notes when you don't know a word!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Hi mjedport,

I've seen them in discussions before so, they do exist. ^_^ As for freezing up and such, I'm hoping to have some helpful advice for you.

Passing a lesson and learning the contents are two different things. Tools cannot teach us things, they can only provide us opportunities to learn. Duolingo is a tool like that. So, finishing the tree is just that, finishing a tree. What matters is what you did or didn't do along the way.

For instance, how much time to do you spend studying each day? If you don't spend enough time, it is possible to forget past material as it starts to rust. This is one reason to work on keeping your tree gold. And if you feel that even keeping your tree gold is not enough practice, practice extra.

Also, whenever I do the lessons, Timed Practice, or work in Immersion, I read everything out loud. I don't want for Duolingo to prompt me. This was a huge boost to my ability to speak because I was already used to saying these words out loud and often.

I see that you are on level 8. This means that you've gained 1,650 points to get there. The highest level for each course is 30,000 points (level 25). So, you still have a long way to go before you've really spent much time with the material in the courses and Immersion. It is good to have realistic expectation. For the majority of people, learning a language takes hundred and sometimes thousands of hours of practice.

As for me, I took 2 years of Spanish in university many years ago and then forgot it all because I hadn't soaked in enough to use it outside of class. My aptitude when I joined Duolingo would only have allowed me to pass the first two checkpoints. At day 199, with an average of about 150 points a day, my speaking and reading comprehension is already far beyond what I learned in those 2 years. (Averaged based on that I use to gain 500 points a day, I had a month or two of 20-60pts a day, now I gain 100 points a day.)

At this point in time I can read at around a level B1 and I can have conversations with my friend. My vocabulary is still limited because the Duolingo Spanish course offers less than 3,000 words (I've misplaced the number, I think it is around 1,500 it could be 2,500 though). But, translating articles in Immersion can help build your vocabulary far beyond that.

I hope that this information has been useful. Don't give up! And buena suerte con sus estudios! ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mjedport

wow, over 200 days you are averaging 150 points a day? I've been averaging about 16 points a day and thought that was good progress. How much time do you spend on Duo to average that much?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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@mjedport, I can gain 100 points in about 15 minutes if I use the Timed Practice and get most of the questions right. The Timed Practice feature becomes more difficult the further you are along your tree because if you use it it will test you on everything you've covered thus far. (You can use it for individual skills as well. But, to use it so that you can review everything, go to the Strengthen skills option on your Home tab. I took this screen shot (below) to help people know how to change their language, so the Strengthen skills button isn't showing. But, it is right below all of that stuff. ^_^

Alt text

If I am gaining 100 points doing Lessons, this can take 45min-2 hours depending on the difficulty of the skill for me, if it's new, etc. However, I still like to redo lessons the long way as well because Timed Practice doesn't give me much time to analyze what I got wrong. It takes a lot longer but it's very important for initially learning how to put things together. So, I always suggest that people do some lessons and do some Timed practice everyday. :)

The most important thing, however, is to use whatever strategy and pace that works best for you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mjedport

Thanks, I started doing timed practice. Which does help me accrue points a little faster and helps me think quicker with the language. Good for practicing, but not learning.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Indeed, it makes a good review tool.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mirriel
mirriel
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I started with no previous experience with Spanish and almost completed the tree (7 skills left). But I have no native speaker to try talking to ;) Also I'm more into reading in Spanish. I plan to read Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal after the last skill (I already started and although I don't understand everything I understand enough).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mjedport

That's pretty awesome that you can read a book in spanish after competing the tree with no previous experience. My goal is conversations, but reading is a step in the right direction. How long did it take you to get through the tree? I'm doing about 15-30 minutes a day.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mirriel
mirriel
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201 days and still 6 skill to do (one to be done today) ;) I started with at least 100 points a day, but recently it's rather around 50. There were also days when I did only 10-20 points a day.

There is also the problem that English is not my first language, so it's harder to learn from it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mercutio

I also started the tree with no spanish experience and I also do get tongue tied, I find I understand things I hear or read better than my ability to recall the information from my brain to answer

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thimblethom

well according to DuoLingo I should be able to read about 53% of Spanish articles.. that is if I can remember everything from the vocabulary, conjugations and grammar rules (which sadly enough I seriously can not).. but I think it takes a lot of actual experience and practice to improve the vocabulary and also learn and remember the words that are more often used.

DL teaches words mainly based on subjects mostly, not on the frequency it is used. (mental note for self to practice more..)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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@thimblethom I've read a lot of debate in the discussion forums over what types of articles are covered in that 58% I myself am a bit skeptical because it is so vague and it doesn't say "fluently read". But, I still enjoyed seeing the numbers rise ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thimblethom

I'm very skeptical about my actual skills to read the article (mainly because I'm not brilliant at languages or remembering everything the lessons taught me), but I appreciate the positive, but slightly false motivation DL gives me with the numbers

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

Here is my experience:

  • No prior Spanish experience
  • Completed the tree in about 3 months.
  • Comfortable speaking with natives: definitely not. I don't freeze, but I have a hard time "producing" spanish, ie actually coming up with the right words in a timely fashion. I find timed practice difficult for that same reason (which probably means I should be doing more of it).

I speak english and two other languages fluently, so it is not a general language learning disability.

I think it is the massive emphasis that Duolingo puts on translating FROM target language TO source language - it is very useful for comprehension of every-day spoken conversation or newspapers, but if you want to be able to speak and come up with words when necessary, DuoLingo doesn't seem to be the tool for it. Also, while it teaches you pretty much all there is to know about the grammar, it teaches you a relatively sparse vocabulary (2000 words or so) which is not enough to read real books in spanish.

Conclusion: you WILL have to use something else in addition to DuoLingo if you want your Spanish to be useful.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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That's one reason why I always ask people if they are going to do the Reverse tree. I found that it reversed the ratio of from target language to base language and I got a lot more practice when I tried it. I haven't completed the reverse tree yet, but that's because I'm redoing my Spanish for English speakers tree. I feel much more prepared now. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

Yeah, if I wasn't busy working in the "German for Russians" course, i'd be doing the reverse course as well ^^ Actually, my goal is to learn Italian using Spanish as the source language, once that course is available - if it ever is. (I think it would help me learn exactly the differences between the two AND train my spanish while I do that)

4 years ago
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