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Learning with Duolingo: stories of succsess

Hi everyone,

As a professional translator, I'm often asked for some hints about how to start learning foreign language. Now I always passionately recommend Duolingo as a simple and effective solution, and when people feel uncertain that something so easy can really be very useful in language learning, I tell them this story.

When I was introduced to Duolingo, I've tried a bunch of languages like French, German, and even Irish, but never went past the very first levels. And then, after some pause, I've had a sudden whim to learn Swedish. And that time I've stuck with it. For the first time I've finished a course and even started to go through the expired lessons. It is necessary to say that I've never used any additional materials: I was doing my three lessons a day (sometimes not even every day), I was reading comments when something was not clear, and maybe I've followed a link or two the commentators offered, but that was it. And then, after maybe nine months of such light and easy learning, I was googling something, and one of the first results was the link to the Swedish Wikipedia. Hmmmmm, I thought, interesting, if I'll be able to understand a word of it. So I started reading the article and was deeply surprised to see that I can understand enough to decipher unknown words from the context. Astonished, I went to the Stockholm University web-site to test my Swedish. And what do you know? My speaking and listening turned out not very good but my reading turned out solid B1 (so solid, that web-site recommended me to try B2). That was very unexpected result, because it always seemed to me that Duolingo offers quite a limited vocabulary. And that was just what I wanted - to be able to read in Swedish!

Now I am still improving my Swedish and learning Norwegian at the same time. It is very interesting as the languages are very close. Also I've used Duolingo to prepare for the trips to Greece and France. Few weeks of learning appeared enough to understand what's on the menu at least ))

I would like very much if you share your own Duolingo success stories with me. So I could motivate myself for further learning and also have interesting examples for others.

January 13, 2018



That's amazing, thanks for sharing! Duolingo is a great way to learn how a language actually works. I'm a big believer in listening - to podcasts, videos, native speakers, etc. My goal is to be able to comprehend my target language when spoken casually by native speakers. Not always easy - I struggle especially with hearing French.

But while I do believe in a lot of exposure, and I believe that no course can teach you to be fluent (you have to achieve that yourself), something like Duolingo is essential. You will never learn only through exposure, you have to learn the basics of the language. And you will never learn to recognise grammar patterns if you have no idea how verbs are inflected in your target language.

What I appreciate most about Duolingo is that it helps to keep my language learning effort consistent. And as we all know, consistent effort over time has a cumulative effect on success!

Btw, I'm really jealous, I wish I could learn Svenska now! It has been one of my favourite languages for so long. But I have to prioritise, and right now my priorities are polishing German and learning French.


Yes, these are my thoughts exactly: Duolingo is giving you very good understanding of inherent structure of the language, and what's best, it is doing so not by memorizing the rules, but from very active experience. For me as a philologist it is especially interesting to deduct these rules and patterns :)


It's a very good method of learning, not just language but i believe many things could be taught this way, math would be a perfect one.

This is the future of learning and teaching, at least it should be. Computer courses that track what you are picking up and what areas you need more practice it. Customizing the learning/development to each student.

That you reached reading B1 from Duolingo is outstanding I expected A1 early A2 out of it. Thanks for sharing.


Khan academy is an excellent free website/app that teaches math in a very similar style to the duolingo approach, and sciences/history/programming music as well.


I've also expected something like that. Imagine my astonishment!


That is absolutely amazing!

Good luck with your other trees! :)


Thank you very much!


Inspiring! Thanks for sharing!


Would you mind to tell me how is it difficult to study swedish considering that I am good in both english and french?


I had almost no experience with any foreign language except English prior to Swedish. My native language is Ukrainian. I must say, it was not too difficult to study (my experience with Greek before the vacation was much more rough). But again, I have a degree in linguistics, it helps a lot. Anyway, I think you should give it a try if you feel the urge!


English will help you more than French with this. Any prior experience with German would help as well.

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