The “Now then what?” question comes to me
In 2016 I was finding an App to learn some traveler’s Portuguese for my summer vacation. I found Duolingo. In just a month I learned a lot and native helpers in the discussion board were very helpful. I enjoyed the course very much (although it turned out that people in Portugal spoke very good English and were very willing to speak it). The Duolingo App is extremely convenient. I can learn or practice anywhere and do not have to bring a heavy book around. I can use my time meaningfully when commuting to work or when waiting for someone. I just love it.
The downside is the courses are good for beginners and at most intermediate level learners only. For the languages I have already been learning, Duolingo is not going to be helpful (at least not now). Duolingo also give little or no explanation, and learning through context is not my favorite method (to make it worse Duolingo gives little or no context either for people to understand well).
Last weekend I finally finished the Spanish course – at a slow pace of merely +10XP on most of the days. It was interesting too, and I think I would like to know more. However, I need a short break now. The Spanish course ended at a right moment because I am about to start a Japanese course (a real course) soon. The Japanese course will be tough, and I can only afford something extra that is relaxed, just for me to continue the streak (or until I have decided to give it up - it’s merely about a 100 days).
I have started Korean a bit earlier. I have learned the Korean characters already before, but I am super not sure about their pronunciation. Considering the difficulty of the course and it is still in beta, I think I should wait a bit more (also to be frank I do not have a great drive to know Korean). I would like to learn Indonesian too, but the course is not out yet.
Finally, I started Italian. It is not my wish to learn a lot of different languages, but it seems it is a good temporary solution. I am sure I would love Italian because I love romance languages. I also would feel much less stressed than continuing with Korean in Duolingo. This issue will certainly come again when I have finished Italian. So I want to make a wise choice before that day. Does anyone find yourself in a similar situation and could you share some inspiration with me?
Hi there! For your first concern about Duolingo mostly being for intermediate learners, not sure if you've checked this post.
Duolingo will soon be launching a skills feature to introduce an advanced level of content. :)
About the next steps, I usually try to find other resources on the web that would help me advance my knowledge of the language that I am learning. That's how I came across Memrise. It has a lot of languages with multiple courses at different levels, which could be confusing, unless you're sure of exactly what you're looking for.
I like the spaced repetition feature that they have as it helps me ensure the word sticks to memory. Once you're done with a word, you can mark it as 'ignore' and it will no longer be included in the reviews.
From the grammar aspect of things, Duolingo is the best, which is why I am really looking forward to the skills feature! :D
I think that learning languages is similar to learning a musical instrument. In order to become a master, you need constant practice of the basic skills like scales and ever more challenging musical pieces. Similarly, Duolingo can take the function of playing the scales through constant practice. Of course, you also need to keep your instrument tuned, etc.
The big question is, how to be motivated to stay on task with the tedious stuff. You really need to find a way to put your heart into it. Think of all the things you do that don't really serve you, like watching mindless TV shows, gossip with negative friends and people who tell you that you waste your time with your dedication to your most desirable goals in life. Cut all this out. Don't spend time on watching negative news and opinionated comments, etc.
In other words, create focus in your life and you can achieve anything no matter how old you are or how much the people around you try to dissuade you from your goals.
I have completed 25 language trees in 7 months, focusing in all available trees in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and all related reverse trees in all these languages. Over the last once I have gone back and perfected all from English again, reaching competency levels between 58% and 67% in all these languages. And I have completed all available stories in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. I am currently perfecting all Italian trees and then I will move on to another language all the way around back to English.
I have learned several of these languages earlier in my life in school, but did not use them for a long time. I am capable of reading news in any of the languages and I can also read books, probably understanding most of the content without dictionary. I am fluent in English and German, and decently conversant in French and Italian.
I do not plan to abandon Duolingo at all. It is a great tool. You will realize that over time you will be able to go through any of the lessons without making any mistakes. For instance, I probably can make any one of the trees golden within a few days, but it does take several hours of practice per day. I also know that the lessons are not perfect, but that does not stop me or frustrate me too much. Don't expect perfection from your tool. Just move on. Focus on the things you can improve for yourself because this is the only thing that will serve you in the end. Give something back to the tool by reporting the mistakes you encounter.
Once you have reached I decent level of competency, extend your learning by reading books, watching YouTube videos, reading international news, etc. Listen to recordings in your target language, no matter how little you understand. If you understand little, just continue listening over and over again and you will discover that your understanding will increase over time until you practically can pick out almost every word. This will also train your ears to the sound of the language and its pronunciation. Don't be discouraged or feel ridiculous. Just keep going. And most of all, don't be discouraged by any of the mistakes that you make by writing or speaking. Every mistake brings you one step closer to perfection. Dare to make as many mistakes as possible in as short a time as you can. The mistakes are the dirt on the road to perfection. Just sweep them away.
Practice makes perfect! Good luck on your journey to become multi-lingual.
I have been hoping to further improve my Japanese fluency, especially in listening and oral ability, like understanding TV programs or movies without having to read subtitles or be able to get most of the details when there are subtitles. I will try to force myself to watch video in Japanese this year, alongside the Japanese course. That is one of the areas I mentioned that Duolingo is not going to help much with a beginners course in beta.
I do watch some mindless TV shows and play games with my phone. Actually I have also been spending quite a bit of time posting comments in Duolingo discussion board for Chinese and Japanese to help other users. I am seriously considering cutting these down and concentrate on my own learning.
Your reply gave me light to re-focus on my goals. Thank you!
Does anyone find yourself in a similar situation and could you share some inspiration with me?
I am brushing up the foreign languages, which I had to learn at school in the Netherlands: English (6 years), German (3 years) and French (4 years).
After 567 days exercising in Duolingo, I am still learning a lot each day, despite I have 4 trees gold (English, German and their reverse trees).
Duolingo uses a very good teaching method for beginners and for people, who want to brush up their school knowledge.
In the course "Portuguese for English speakers" you are learning the grammar and the pronunciation. You will mostly translate from Portuguese to English and the user interface is in English.
In the "reverse tree", the course "English for Portuguese speakers", you will mostly translate from English to Portuguese. The user interface is in Portuguese. And you can start to read (and write) in the Portuguese discussion forums.
(set the microphone and sound to OFF in Duolingo's settings)
In the "laddering trees" you can do "Foreign language 2" from "Foreign language 1" and reverse. If you are learning two ore more foreign languages.
"Spanish for Portuguese speakers" and "Portuguese for Spanish speakers"
"Laddering trees" are my favourite courses in Duolingo.
For more inspiration, read the comments in this discussion
I have a friend living in Turkey and I am considering to benefit from all available Turkish language courses in Duolingo before venturing there for a visit. I checked the language out for a few hours on Duolingo and I am confident that I could certainly learn that language too. However, for the moment I have placed in on the back burner as I already have enough other languages on my plate.
I am using Duolingo to brush up my French, as well as Hebrew. With french, I first went through the course very quickly, as a quick refresher, but now I am going through things more systematically. What I do is I more or less ignore the strengthen skills suggestions, and instead I focus on what I want to study. For example, today I spent on the past. So I will do the english to french lessons, and then I will do the reverse, french to English for the past tense right away, so I am really practising this skill and not just jumping around from one thing to the next. I am also learnig the most through the sentence discussions. The moderators are so great at explaining the little confusing nuances, so even though I am repeating the same lessons, I am learning more each time. I am also suplementing my duolingo learning with lots of other resources, other websites, books, music, podcasts. Of all these I personally believe reading is the best way to learn. Even if it means having to open a dictionary every other sentence, reading really is what enables me to internalize these skills and get comfortable with the language.
I am also a whole-hearted believer in reading. I use kindle books as kindle allows me to attach the appropriate dictionaries to the books, making it very easy and convenient to look up all those words that puzzle the mind. Reading really helps one to build a solid foundation of grammar. If you can, study grammar books in your target language and use dictionaries in your target language. It is amazing how quickly you can solidify your grammar and vocabulary. It is a great feeling to see how quickly you can understand so much in a language that was a complete mystery perhaps only a few months ago.
French is also my favorite language, and my first 3rd language (we learn Chinese and English from childhood in school). Since I quitted a job of serving French customers, I have no connection to the language at all for a longtime. I haven't touched the French course in Duolingo, also because I had believed that it wouldn't be able to help me advance to any higher level. But as you have suggested it is a good idea to use it for refreshing my rusty skills.
I am jealous of your interest in reading, as that is the last thing I would usually do and it is very bad for language learning (I have ever finished 1 and 1 book only over 1 inch thick in my life other than school textbooks).