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Will DuoLingo prepare for a trip in 2 weeks? Thoughts, experiences, suggestions, resources to use


this is my answer mixed with "some thoughts, experiences, my own impressions, suggestions and what resources to use" to a question from Monir which came up here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25328808$comment_id=25362377



  • Try chatting on www.hellolingo.com (you may need to have learned "something" before which you can use ;).

  • for getting system-supported (automated) corrections by natives try other apps like www.hellotalk.com.

  • order an online teacher on www.italki.com to train 1-2 hours / day the really needed basic German stuff, to better prepare you for your Vienna trip.

  • booking a full-time 4-6 hour 14 days course (at best locally in your city) may be the best for you!

  • Try the free 100 days course www.50languages.com with native recorded MP3.

  • Signup for the #add1challenge 90 days challenges which might give you different material (I have no idea when the next challenge starts and I have not used it myself)

  • Try to learn speaking phrases on the pay-site www.language101.com (however, it may be even more effective if you learned the language basics (incl. grammar) for ~1-1,5 years on a different site before).

  • www.bliubliu.com (reading site for intermediate-advanced students with native recorded story material) used to have 30 days challenges https://bliubliu.com/en/learning/challenges/, but they seem to have stopped them as the page is now empty in contrast to their facebook shop site

  • Mondly www.mondlylanguages.com has several different theme topics where they concentrate on specific (freely selectable) areas: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23524002/Mondly-languages-added-19-new-topics-to-their-tree

I would say DuoLingo uses the concept to (more deeply) teach some language stuff long-term with different difficulty across the whole Duo tree, with a quite strong (high ratio) focus on reading in the EN-DE "forward tree" in your German foreign language and translating into English.

So it may take you maybe ~1-1,5 years to finish it (the German tree is quite long!) IF you are not speeding through or making 150-250XP/day; however, you will N O T strongly train writing and speaking in German with it anways.
To do this, you have to start the 2nd "reverse tree" DE-EN laters.

Correct me guys if you want, but you might not learn that many useful speaking phrases (yes, there are some) on DuoLingo with the focus on travelling!?

But instead of DuoLingo has rumor for quite funny random translation sentences ("Bunt zusammengewürfelte Sätze von einem Robot") which often make only sense to learn/review vocabulary....and not all of them are picked from "the real world".
A Duo tree also IMHO teaches you you a lot of bulls..... vocabulary (animals, food, abstract objects, colors, etc.) which you can not (or may never) use personally in the near future, especially for goals like "I want to learn (a little bit of) speaking within 30/90/180 days".

But IMHO DuoLingo's focus is NOT only to try to effectively / didactically teach you the required / needed basic stuff FOR SPEAKING in a short ~90-180 days period; if you have gone through the tree you know more than just "phrases".

One negative point:
You also can not freely crasp ALL of the "grammar skills" with some basic Duo vocabulary learned, to add a few more tenses.

Instead of to get those (grey) skills unlocked further down in your tree, you need to complete the other "vocabulary skills", as everything - like words and sentences - is pretty hardwired into new lessons and strongly depends on each other.


You better use "quite effective didactical" material, real (online) teachers, 4-6h/day full-time courses to prepare for your trip which already starts in a few weeks and that gives you a tough deadline.

Please don't waste your precious time learning AND reviewing daily "not that important" / not-required (not right now) bulls...... vocabulary!!

PS: As English is not my first / native but 2nd language, you may encounter that maybe some thoughts might be phrased quite direct the "German-way" or even some errors.
Please feel free to correct me.

What are the experiences, thoughts and tipps from other DuoLingoists?
Any tips you want to share with Monir for her trip to Vienna/Austria?
Any further threads or material you can link?

Tell us! :-)

November 28, 2017



For a trip in two weeks I would not spend anytime learning grammar or writing. Would just focus on pure audio and language exchange.

  • 1959

I agree with you, I have also noticed that most of the things you study in the German tree only really make sense (and are usable) after you finish the tree. Or better yet, after you go through it few times. It's not like you do 30% of the tree and have some usable knowledge. I guess it works the same for most languages, because I feel the same about the French tree.

If someone wants to quickly gain some knowledge to get around while traveling I would recommend official memrise courses (here for German: https://www.memrise.com/courses/english/german/ ). Memrise courses are done the other way around than Duolingo. They introduce vocabulary and grammar in different areas (traveling, body, food, social interaction) on certain level. Then they go through the same areas on a higher level of skill (more vocabulary and harder grammar). Which is pretty cool, since you are gaining some basic skills in all important areas right from the beginning. Duolingo feels more random. It's like 1000 pieces puzzle, where you only see the whole picture after putting in the last piece. I find that both of these systems eventually work. I'd say Duolingo is better for more serious learners (it introduces great set of vocabulary that you can build on) and Memrise for more casual learners who want to have fun while learning and want to see useful phrases from the beginning. Overall doing both of these courses alongside each other would probably be most beneficial.


Nice write-up!

Your English phrasing is really superb and much better, than I will ever be able to write it (and feel it) myself as a non-native speaker.


For Portuguese their "Learn Basic Brazilian Portuguese" course from their team head BenWhately with 133k learners (352 words/phrases/sentences) was IMHO a great stepping-into mixture, and already used techniques from cross skills here and there, like you mentioned it.

It's nice that now even Memrise with PT1-7 pushes me with "Imperatives"and "Subjunctive" sentences from time to time, after I finished my DuoLingo PT tree, and I had read some grammar details ("hints and tips") about those and also saw them in DuoLingo "strengthen lessons" in action.

I really feel like a big big puzzle get's slowly connected together, as you can't understand everything from the first minute, even with the PT BR Basic Memrise course I finished a longer time ago :-)


"Your English phrasing is really superb and much better, than I will ever be able to write it (and feel it) myself as a non-native speaker."

I thought you were native english speakers based on your past posts...

If my Spanish skills ever get to your level of English Ill be very happy.


Thanks Mark,

in German: "Dein Kompliment geht wie Öl runter!" :-)

If my Spanish skills ever get to your level of English I'll be very happy.

Well, if I learn anything in Portuguese like writing and speaking the next (2-5) years - even if it's not exactly to my English knowledge - I will also be VERY happy, trust me! :-)

You really have to know that I actually try to practice English almost my whole life, school, education, with IT/EDV professional material from the US / computer stuff (definitely easier with that!), RC model flight English US/UK forums....

I really enjoyed the "Business English" full-time course several months at the Berlitz institute in my town in 2005!
Was a great push forward.

Yes I know, there is still room for some advanced English Bx-C2 stuff and improvements....

I am planning to book some coaching as soon as I have a good basic foundation with Portuguese.

I started the PT-DE reverse tree and having to write that much in Portuguese and also to get presented some NEW vocabulary is something interesting to me.

I had great fun on www.hellolingo.com a few weeks ago with my first chats with Brazilians! :-)


I would add listening to songs non-stop. Print out some of the lyrics, get some favorites. Preferably find songs with somewhat clear lyrics. Also children's songs are good.


I wouldn't tell anyone that they can learn a language fast, but I really like the motivational aspect that a prospective trip will bring.

Two weeks can be a lot if you can dedicate 10h per day on the language, but it's nothing if you can put in 30 minutes per day. I think Duolingo definitely has a place in fast language learning though, since it focuses on the basics, and the interface allows for effective learning.


Hi Panu,

the country tip from Monir is like the same motivation boost which I experienced, when DuoLingo released Duo BETA labs Portuguese stories.

I started 3-6 stories, even my tree was not finished (maybe 50% and 75% half-through it).
Thanks to matfran and others to encourage me that those stories do not all need high advanced language skill and you can get by once you pass the upper-beginner/intermediate/upper-intermediate phase...

And I really tried hard to push forward toget my tree finished within ~1 year to be able to continue the stories, so I should have a good command of the language (either vocabulary and grammar).


Quote Spiceyokooko: He said he did 70 hours of practice
Source: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29854685$comment_id=29857075

Quote TonyElPescador:
It also says nothing if he went through the tree at Crown Level 1....
I would surmise the former that he stayed at Level 1 which, IMO, is BS.
Source: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29854685$comment_id=29857275

This is my text from the thread "Letter to David Freedman / The Atlantic / Essay: Duolingo" https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29854685$comment_id=29858939

I can not exactly agree on this point.

I will give you an example how I learned the (some) Portuguese basics, totally from scratch (no previous Spanish skills, no Romance native speaker but German, so there was a ZERO benefit):

  • I completed my EN->PT tree in November 2017 after one year.

  • The first 3-4 months (exactly at that point I started to wonder) have been horrible and I finally noticed at the point that I will go nowhere for the speaking part and learning some useful phrases / seeing interesting sentences quite early in my course
    (there are so many abstract / non-usable skills like "Animals" & more, which I will rarely use in conversations; I also did not like Food skills at this (very) early stage!)

  • In April 2018 I was switched to crowns and some (not many) skills from the first half of my tree were migrated to crown level L2 max ("crown simple" instead of the more interesting "complex conversion rule" which took crown L3 level also for other users intro consideration when migrating trees).

  • Well, at least I had seen the FULL tree (=all of 69 and with the update 91 skills).

  • But I had done so MANY re-strengthen review sessions on the www.Duolingo.com web portal - and on Memrise (web) in parallel (typing, true L1->L2 RECALLS) - that you can not really rate this as any too fast binge learning "level 1 / first tree completition BS" which usually comes with the "mobile tapping apps" into play....I took my time (one year!).

Anyway, my impression was that staff's crown conversion code had somehow failed for the first 40-60% part of my tree as I had reviewed so MANY skills on a daily / weekly basis multiple times over and over again.

No, within my first year and even 6-12 months later I have not reviewed the more difficult verb tense / grammar skills (e.g Subjunctives) from the bottom of the tree on a weekly basis....I definitely should have but Duolingo does not assist me on that quite much....

FYI: I had shifted my SR focus to Memrise for the bottom "vocabulary skills" which words I actually had pre-learned for multiple weeks when I finally finished those skills on Duolingo which turned out to have been a great learning concept to push forward with the tree completion but not having a too hard time with the recalling and typing on the web portal.


Talking about skill completion vs crowns L1 bu..s..t:

This "BS" may fit better, when people go directly from L1->L5 for each single skill, with almost no appropriate spacing, without ever pushing forward in their skill tree and when those learners never try to get / see the big picture of all grammar (might be different for languages like Irish, Welsh, Russian, Czech,...).

Nowadays people reach their language level 25 @ 30,000XP with all that L1->L5 crown stuff (incl. test-outs) and they have not even completed their full tree!

Like your example where you say that this would map roughly to 15-20% total tree progress after several months.


I have to admit that the Portuguese course provides very good html formatted "tips and notes".

In June 2018 the EN->PT tree got an update from 69 skills (406 lessons) to 91 skills and I have re-completed several of the converted skills (some with the old "lesson test-out", some with L0 crown sessions = sequential lessons).
There are 72-74 grammar notes available on the web portal / Duome.eu which really is just great!

Newly added Portuguese skills are reorganizations of grammar skills and splitting the previous grammar skills.
Actually there are dedicated grammar skills, no vocabulary skill c..p like EN->SP or French tree8+12 because the tree layout design (like French tree3) is superb!

If you want to learn a language, you can not only stick to the first skills and level them all up to the highest L5 level (yes, it will depend on the language, but the spaced repetition is most likely the problem with that approach), but you also have to learn things like Subjunctives (there are four Subj. skills in the PT course!), conditionals, modals, present perfect, 2x future, etc.

New staff courses (long trees with 119/156 skills) like French tree8+12 even fail to add the former 26+ dedicated grammar skills (Subjunctive Past, Future,...) from the very well made contributor tree3 which discovers a broader range.

Proper spaced repetition (SR) and daily/weekly reviews, where Duolingo almost completely fails for the RECALLING part (where Memrise web succeeds with Cooljingle's "all typing" Tampermonkey userscript), is IMHO much more important in the first 6-12 months.


Isn't Duo's highest L5 crown level PRACTICE button and code broken anyways (giving easy low crown exercises, pictures, short sentences, etc.)?!?
That seems to be also the case for the L4 lessons/crown sessions (miss of high ratio of L1->L2 target translation directions, still using picture exercises, "fill the word into the blank" challenges with 1-4 multiple-choice selections) for my first four Portuguese skills!!

No Duolingo, with all that kiddie stuff this is not how you are going to push a serious learner into their target language, force learners into writing/typing, RECALLING and building more complex sentences!

Thankfully it is getting better here after two years and the Portuguese->German reverse tree is just great.

For some reason I magically still can't test out most checkpoints and all 91 skills of my EN->PT course with the into placement test on the web as I stumble here and there across challenging sentences...so there still is plenty of material given even after two years ;)

Thankfully Duolingo is not getting too boring after 1-2 years with all the reactivated sentences which have been previously suspended 3-4+ years or even 5-6 years ago (high user error rates because of difficulty).

But it takes many more hours than only 70h or 3-4 months to get to the point where you will actually recognize that Duolingo brings also up also brings up some useful sentences to learn (which is especially true for my PT->DE reverse tree!).

Recently I am stumbling across more and more new interesting sentences (no sentence discussion comments started) in my EN->PT course...it looks like to me that contributors are adding more...and they have not been put together randomly with words by a robot.

I am very thankful to the contributors of the two Portuguese trees for all their massive work they have put into and I have heard that there even is a new A/B tree for the PT->EN course rolled out (108 skills) which I can get in a "private browser window (no activity tracking)" to play around with the intro placement and checkpoint/skill tests".

My 2cents

Best regards / Viele Grüße aus Deutschland

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