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  5. How do you use Duolingo?


How do you use Duolingo?

So I'm just interested in knowing how all of you use Duolingo. E.g. Do you just memorise the vocab, write it down? etc.

Personally, when I come across new vocab or grammar notes on Duolingo I write it down in a notebook so then I can read over it. Does anyone else do it like this?

December 29, 2017



When I do the lessons the first time, I always make flashcards for the words and grammar concepts.

I use Anki for it (a flashcard program), I prefer it to using premade flashcards from tinycards or memrise, because making my own cards is an important step for me. Plus in Duo I learn from English but my flashcards are from German (my native language). To know the meaning to a new word in two languages I speak fluently helps me pin down the nuances of the meaning.

Sometimes I edit the cards later on to add new stuff I learned, about irregularities or distinction to synonyms or notes I read in the sentence discussions.


I use Duo only as a training service. I learn everything from other sources and keep repeating stuff here to "automate" my skills. :)



Yours is the best strategy.

Duo teaches you to translate written words.

It also reinforces attributing the sounds of letters in your own language to the same or similar letters in your target language which at least part of the time is a very bad thing. Relying on Duo for learning to understand spoken language can be counter productive.

Most of the spoken examples provided in Duo that have sound are well formed and slow in comparison to natural spoken language. In addition you always have some idea of the context of the spoken material. The result is that you don't have to accurately hear the differences between your notion of how the letters sound and how they actually are rendered.

In real life that just doesn't work. If you want to learn to hear and understand your target language you must go elsewhere to get practice that will teach it to you.

However, knowing grammar and word order is also essential and that is something that Duo does an excellent job of instilling.


It also reinforces attributing the sounds of letters in your own language to the same or similar letters in your target language.


Not if you listen to the pronunciation it doesn't. How could one possibly do the French course without realizing that "je" doesn't sound like it would were it an English word? Sure, you mightn't have figured out the nuances of producing the French "r," but that simply puts you in the company of virtually anyone learning the language through more conventional means.

My quick trips through trees for Catalan and Italian have allowed me to have a perfectly adequate comprehension of these languages to comprehend content aimed at adult native speakers. If anything, the real stuff is probably easier because it's not coming out of a TTS engine.


We can debate endlessly but here is a test. Ask any student who has completed the Duo tree, maybe even a couple of times if he can understand conversational French when he hears it. If Duo is his only platform and he didn't or doesn't have additional exposure to foreign language, he will be stymied.

It is not because he doesn't know some of the words. Instead it is because he can't effectively hear the words he does know. To hear the sounds he needs to know he has to hear them a lot and I mean a lot. Hear them in a natural setting where the intonation, spacing and emphasis change depending on context. Just like in English where could have becomes could of because context tells you it was could have, circumstances define the rhythm and enunciation of conversation. Alternatively, he has to train his ear in a systematic way to be able to hear sounds that he doesn't expect.

Duo does not do either. It doesn't try to. Nor should it. Other platforms already do that.

As for your own experience, if you had no exposure to any language other than English, completed the Italian tree quickly and then are able to watch Italian movies with no difficulty and engage in normal conversation, that is impressive. Impressive because it is very unusual.


Other platforms already do that.

Are you referring to learning platforms specifically, or just the universe of material out there aimed at native speakers?

Certainly the entirely of my formal language class experiences has included notable weakness in the domain of casual conversational speech / enunciation. It's the "real world" where you encounter things like chai pas or "Whadja do?"


For vocabulary, I make flashcards on Anki and Memrise (I use both because I still can't decide which one I prefer, lol). I keep grammatical notes written down in Evernote. I used to keep paper notes, but I'm generally an unorganised person and I ended up with loads of scraps of paper and half-filled notebooks with everything all out of order. :P

Then, I just practice, practice, practice, over and over again - I keep going through skill practices until I can translate everything or almost everything accurately and automatically.

My favourite revision method on Duo is going through skills, and redoing each skill until I get two or three 20/20 timed practices in a session (depending on how many times I've already reviewed the skill) - and if I spent too much time thinking about an answer I automatically count it as wrong. I find it's a great way to learn to think on my feet and it helps internalise phrases and structures, and it appeals to the gamification side of Duolingo by being a great way to get loads of points, haha.


It varies for different languages. For example, I usually write down everything I learn in Japanese, because the grammar is so complex and the spelling's kind of weird, but for more simple languages like Spanish, I just memorize the vocab.


Oh....I just complete a skill and then strengthen the skill and then do my weakest words until it's perfect. I usually turn off speakers, though.

Then, when I finis all the skills, I repeat the same process with each and every skill!!!!


I haven't been using DL for that long to be able to speak of a real strategy, but what I currently like to do, is work through the tree while keeping every skill at 4/5 strength and then regild to 5/5 after completion.

I'm almost done with French-from-Italian, and I plan to abandon this tree, possibly for good, as I will be laddering other trees. I am planning to continue with German-from-Italian; after that, I think I will have seen plenty of Italian for a while, so I think I will be doing Spanish-from-French to brush up my knowledge of French.

As for material aside from DL, I like to dabble into Youtube in Italian, series/films and books. I also used to write down paradigms for the verbs, something which I can wholeheartedly recommend in order to connect the dots between all the forms you have encountered.


I used to supplement it with Anki, but now I just using for training...like sprints, and I write down vocabulary from elsewhere.


Typically when I do Duolingo, I keep redoing all the lessons until I immediately recognize and understand all of them; recognition of vocabulary is the first step for me. Often, I don't jump right into writing the words down, I do it when I have a good idea of the basic vocabulary or "foundation" of the language. Then when I'm more of an A2 level, I start writing down vocabulary. I wait to do this because I often find that I "burn out" when I'm writing things down too much, so I prefer to do it for vocabulary that's hard to memorize from just reading it.

I also supplement my lessons with Memrise and watching shows in my target language. After reaching a B1 level, I typically just use it for training like others said.


I don't write anything down. I'm essentially certain the learning results per unit time are greater elsewhere. Sure, maybe retention is some fraction higher with handwriting over typing for a given amount of text, but assuredly it's not enough to make up for the dramatically faster speed of typing.


I just use Duolingo as is, but I don't expect it to teach me everything. It trains vocabulary and writing, mostly. I have very hard time learning pronounciation from Duo, for whatever reason.

For Danish, I take the government-offered classes which for me focus on pronounciation and understanding spoken languages, since grammar is mostly familiar from Swedish. I also use an Anki deck to practice pronounciation.

I should also figure out a good way of practicing listening.

I further learn by reading newspapers and books in Danish.

For Japanese, I'm just learning it for fun, because job prospects there did not pan out. So currently I only use Duolingo, and do that slowly. Once I'm done with Duolingo or get a better reason for studying the language, I'll try a wider variety of sources.

Duolingo also teaches me a little bit of English due to necessary laddering, but that is strictly a bonus.


The tips and notes section is located under the list of lessons and can clear up some fuzziness. Also, Duolingo has already gone onto Tinycards, and there are decks for the whole Spanish, French, and German courses.


I know, I use the tips and notes to learn grammar


I use the Memrise app to cram vocabulary

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