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Upcoming Long Ladder Chain from French

TL;DR - There will be a ladder chain of languages from French that, if one learns each language in a month starting in January, and the Incubator estimations are correct, it could be accomplished by the end of July of 2018. The chain is French-> Italian-> Portuguese-> German-> Spanish-> Russian-> Swedish


I was inspired by the chart created by TonyMintz (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25113451) to look into how long possible ladder chains here on Duolingo are. The answer seems to be 8 (currently) if one starts learning English from another language, but since I'm learning French, I wondered, after French, what chains are possible? This is my answer to that:

From French, one can learn German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Those all form a bit of a web. If those 5 languages (fr, de, it, pt, es) are targets, hitting them all without repeats is easy.

Currently, only Spanish offer languages outside of those 4, and all three dead end immediately. If one wants to do this chain of 5 languages, it will end on Catalan/Guarani/Esperanto from Spanish.

Possible chain:

  1. Portuguese-> Italian-> German-> Spanish-> (Catalan/Guarani/Esperanto)


But what about in the future?

Once the current courses in the Incubator are complete, there will be a chain that hits 7 languages without repeats:

French-> Italian-> Portuguese-> German-> Spanish-> Russian-> Swedish

This one is interesting, as it is possible to begin now as it is only the end of the chain that is incomplete, and the release dates are sequential. So one could work on it in anticipation of the completion of Russian for Spanish Speakers (estimated release in March 2018) and then Swedish for Russian speakers (estimated release in July 2018).

If one were to set a New Year's resolution to do this chain, it should be ready on time for one to complete a language each month: French in January (1/18), then Italian (2/18), Portuguese (3/18), German (4/18), Spanish (5/18), Russian (6/18), Swedish (7/18).

So if you like laddering, and are learning/have learned/want to learn French, this one could keep you busy for a while.

November 9, 2017



Oh man, now I'm interested and I have to delay my completion of the Japanese tree because I'm going to start a bunch of new courses :I

Really interesting and cool! Thanks!


You could stick French on the beginning of both ladders/chains you list, to make them 8 long.

(And in the future - either Chinese or Arabic - before French)

However, I don't see a Turkish for German speakers course, in the Incubator, only German for Turkish speakers.


You seem to be correct. Apparently TonyMintz made an error in his chart. There seems to be no Turkish for German speakers course.


Yeah, shame.

I am doing Spanish -> German -> French -> Portuguese -> Italian

This order was pretty much set by the order of availability.

I might stop there, or continue laddering through Memrise, perhaps returning for Turkish -> Russian -> Swedish


I updated the post to reflect this. Not quite as interesting without Turkish, but I found a chain of 7 (if you include French) by using the upcoming Russian for Spanish speakers course that, thankfully, is due to complete in March.


I mean I think like that is soo theoretical, but its interesting, that it is not totally practical. Like sure. It depends on what languages one knows now, what they already know and what they want to go through. And I also think it is way to simple to just think of it so linearly. I drew a picture of how I am going about my laddering process, and its not like I am just going from one to another, to another, to another, to another, to another—its more complicated than that.

Spanish> French (Not done, level 11), Spanish> Portuguese, Portuguese>Spanish, Portuguese to French (10), Portuguese to Italian (6), French to Portuguese.....

And its like, look, there are lots of combinations of those that are interesting too. Can it keep going linearly? That is a really kind of basic perspective. I think the most interesting range of laddering would go through Turkish and Russian....but its not like that is that simple. Like of course the chains exist and thats like great in all, but what I think is more interesting is plotting out a real move through these languages, and going through with it.

I mean went from Spanish to Portuguese, and am learning French and Italian from that language while still doing French from Spanish. I am also doing the French to Portuguese reverse course. And there are a lot of other reverse courses, and not just linear that one can through. I mean if you look at my comment on that post, I even came up with some terminology for how to understand how each course move fits in. I see what I am doing as level 2 laddering with Portuguese to other courses and level 2 reverse course with French to Portuguese.

And while laddering I think is really cool, I see it as a function that helps with learning and is a bit fun, with more than just a linear path. Going from French into Spanish maybe could be something worth. Another thing I have not seen anywhere, is to learn two languages from one that one doesn't know completely. Just trying to learn how things work in both languages. I think it would be hard, (possibly) not necesarily the most effective learning method—but that is not the main point of what I everyone does—, but I think it would be possible for me having knowledge of other romance language, and doing it from one, to either another one or I guess german because I have had exposure to a bunch of other stuff. I think the linear look at it is quite simple, there is a lot more potential, and I see it as boring theoretical stuff unless its thought in a more complicated way for understanding the languages, generally speaking. I mean who is to say one is going to get a sufficient amount of knowledge in the learned language to ladder to the next course? A reverse tree could be help, or doing the course from another language. I mean I learned portuguese so fast because of the high level of similarity. Cool concept and all and I wonder if you saw my comment on that post.


I saw your post, but perhaps I didn't quite understand the idea. It seemed like you were talking about using reverse laddering on the way up the ladder to reinforce each level. Like doing French-> Spanish, Spanish-> French, Spanish-> Portuguese, Portuguese-> French, Portuguese-> Spanish, and French-> Portuguese to learn all 3 languages without having too much interference from any one language.

This does seem like a fine way to learn those languages, but the thing that interests me about laddering (that I've barely started by doing a few French-> Spanish lessons) is the idea of not thinking in one's native langauge. For me, I natively speak English, so after Esperanto and French, I want to use those as springboards to move away from English. From Esperanto, I hope to learn Toki Pona. And from French I hope to learn Spanish.

The reason for this is that I want to reinforce the languages I already know while keeping English out of the equation. Just in the first few lessons of Spanish from French, I was already feeling myself leave English behind. I find the idea of laddering ever farther away from English to be interesting.

Obviously, one could view a ladder like this as a tree, with knots and branches where one can always go backwards to reinforce something or move on to another language, like Catalan from Spanish before or after doing Russian. And as Duolingo grows, the possible combinations will increase. Right now, between English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese, there is a tight web. The upcoming Chinese courses can add to that, along with Russian, Turkish, and Arabic.

Your method of laddering while doing reverse courses makes sense, and it is something that I will probably do. However, for me, I don't think I'd want to ladder back to English. Spanish back to French, sure, but I find my knowledge of English tends to cloud my ability to think in other languages too much, so I don't think I'll be doing Spanish-> English or French-> English.


I think the thing you might not have gotten, is that I started out Duolingo laddering; Spanish is not my native language. What I was suggesting a lot with the post is something you said—doing more branches. Portuguese is my 4th language (and saying this I am not perfect with it, but I am conversational). I went to the Spanish from Portuguese tree to get more exposure to Portuguese because the Spanish to Portuguese tree (and remember, Spanish is not my first language) because I had essentially memorized a lot of the sentences, and the translation ratio I wasn't finding to helpful, so, seeking more of a challenge, I did that one to reinforce my Portuguese (and this is a reverse tree from a laddered language).

From there, I got Portuguese to level 10 in French—I mean this isn't really different from what you are saying in leaving English, and I am actually not even suggesting going back into ones native language, but doing inter-language ladders that can give one more exposure. I am also doing Italian from Portuguese, and I have thought it could be cool if I get done with the Portugese to French tree (and that reverse tree, which I called level 2 reverse tree laddering), to do French into Italian.

Never suggesting going back into English; quite the contrary, because as we know, part of laddering is leaving the base-language behind. When I was learning Arabic (not with Duolingo) I translated stuff from Arabic to Spanish for a plethora of reasons: gramatical similarities, my better understanding of Spanish grammar, improving in both languages, changing between both languages, and how my brain works is when I start thinking in Spanish or another foreign, I feel a lot high capacity to learn other ones. One thing I was interested in at my University was take a PTGS for Spanish speakers class because I thought it was taught in or from Spanish, and I too really like the idea of learning languages from other ones. If I was to go live in Spain for a bit, I have had the idea of taking a French class there and trying to learn the language from that perspective being immersed in another one. Laddering shares a quality of this as a sort.

How my Languages have gone one here, is such. English (but remeber, I haven't done a course to really learn a language—outside of hebrew—in a laddering sense from English. So it doesn't really connect despite being my native language)....Spanish > French and Italian. And also Spanish to French. Just different ways of looking at it.

I mean the whole idea of doing the reverse courses was just to reinforce those given languages, and I would never do that with English really, generall speaking at this point in time.

I mean there is going to be an Esperanto course from Portuguese soon, and like we know one can go into Catalan and Guaraní from Spanish. My main point is that it doesn't have to be linear, and putting reverse courses to the potential, and jumping around with what languages go to other languages—I sometimes open a new course, like Portuguese from French, and I translate the Portuguese into Spanish because I am trying to keep it all straight (but this isn't that big a deal and I adapt pretty quick)—because I think that is one of the cool aspects of ladders ouside of a linear dimention. That was my main point, to think of ladder more complicatedly than just linearly, taking fully into account there are some neat ways to go through the trees like I said with Russian and Turkish, and like you added Arabic—which for me, I could try to do courses in Arabic as a base language, which I did a bit of already.

I mean you said it on your other comment on that page that one could start in some language that english doesn't have a course for, go into english and continue from there; but like you, I think it can be interesting leaving behind English. Thinking in another language is something I quite like, specifically with Spanish (I can do it a little in portuguese and a bit in Arabic)....And yeah.

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