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I got to level 25 in a month (my experience)

So those who browsed New Years' Resolution threads and whatnot might have seen some of my comments on this: I set a challenge for myself to get level 25 in every course that exists for Spanish speakers.

I do not do these courses to specifically learn the languages to fluency, but rather, to improve my Spanish. Duolingo courses for Spanish speakers are the only ways I can get my brain to stop thinking in English entirely, and to only think in Spanish. This way, I improve my basic knowledge in many languages AND get closer to native level fluency to Spanish.

So what language did I start with? French for Spanish speakers. I started 29 days ago (as my streak claims) and spent on average 1-2 hours a day on Duolingo, and in recent days, 2-4 hours a day. I ended the tree at around level 16 or 17 and just kept refreshing all of the subjects from there, gaining around 1500-3000 EXP a day.

Did I feel tired at times? Of course! So I took quite a few breaks. But it was worth it to finally see me complete 30,000 EXP, approximately 3000 lessons or 1500 timed lessons worth of studies, dozens of more hours carefully put into my learning experience.

And the most important question: Has my Spanish improved since starting that French course for Spanish speakers? After all, that's what I started it for. And the answer is: Heck yeah! So if you think you're very proficient in a language, try doing the reverse tree; and if you think you've already conquered that, try doing another course from your target language (if it is available) as it encourages you to use none of your native language during the course process.

Now I'll begin to start the 7 other courses for Spanish speakers. I'm thinking of Italian next. But before I go, one question for the readers: Have you guys ever completed a course that had never included your native language? What was that course and how did it go for you?

January 16, 2018


[deactivated user]

    Have you guys ever completed a course that had never included your native language? What was that course and how did it go for you?

    Yes, in fact the only course I did... German from English.

    It was easy because I'm fluent in English but of course a side effect was that I was able to brush up my English in the process.

    Laddering is a very interesting concept though it requires you a fairly good competence on one of the languages. Provided you have it, it allows you to work on two languages literally at the same time.


    Thanks for your comment, Nuno! Might I ask, what is your native language? I always assumed it was English, haha.

    [deactivated user]

      Sure... Portuguese it is.


      Aye, very good use of duolingo. I plan to reverse tree, then do Spanish to Portuguese as it's another language I want to learn anyway.

      The number of hours you put in is impressive.


      The reverse tree and Portuguese tree idea sounds awesome! I'm planning on doing Portuguese for Spanish speakers after getting level 25 in Italian for Spanish speakers. And thanks haha, I put all of my time usually invested in video games into Duolingo, so all it really took for me was to stop using my gaming consoles as often ^^


      You will have all the major romance languages covered then. Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian on path to being a polygot.

      I cut nearly all my gaming time also, not as captivating as it once was just a time killer really. Learning another language much more rewarding


      Switch the language of your video games to Spanish and declare them “studying”. :-D


      I vaguely remember doing things like that when I was supposed to be studying Hawaiian in school (I lived in Hawaii, it was mandatory for students to study Hawaiian back in the day) where I would look up Hawaiian swear words on the computers and write them down. Counts as studying, right? Funny thing is, our teacher was a foreigner from a country in Europe and didn't even know the slightest bit of Hawaiian, so she didn't even know what I was writing on my page.


      I do wonder about the value of cramming that much into a short interval. My general sense is that there is limited value to very long sessions - I am doing something somewhat similar but with a much slower time scale. Good on you though, I had not even contemplated how many hours it would actually take to get to 25.


      Thanks for your comment! Cramming that many hours might lead to burnout or bad quality of learning for some, but for me personally I've always gotten benefits from cramming. I suppose it has to do from my school days where I would cram all the time. I'm just used to putting a lot of hours in and getting good results back, I guess ^^ My logic is, if I have time to play video games, I have time to practice on Duolingo, so that's why I put quite a few hours in.


      How do you not lose motivation? I am losing motivation because I am tired of practicing the same material over and over again.


      "Have you guys ever completed a course that had never included your native language?"

      Yes, 14 (IIRC). I think it is great, we call it "laddering" here on Duolingo.


      Thanks for your comment! I wasn't aware there was a term for it. ^^

      [deactivated user]

        I don't really like reverse trees since I usually start trying to talk with natives and find other sources of learning once I complete a tree. I have however been translating songs to and from different languages for practice and I share my translations with others. FYI and others, here's my list of translations up to today. Maybe you'll like some of the songs:



        Since I've been following you I have been trying to keep up with you on the leaderboard but you are just so good!

        Did you test out at all?


        Thanks! And on nearly all things I didn't test out, however there was one lesson that I tested out of (I only got 20 EXP from that one haha) since I already knew the words. To respond to your other comment, I didn't lose motivation because the language I learned was one I had little to no experience in, so any time I redid a lesson, I was still learning words. If it were a language I were more experienced in, I'd probably get bored ^^


        I speak spanish as my native language, then learnt english. Now I'm doing the italian course in english to improve it, it works! :)


        Awesome! I honestly kind of wish I learned English as a second language just because of the variety of courses for English speakers you can find on here.


        hola, que tall? puedes ganar el reloj? yo, muy raramente lo gano pero siempre cometo errores.


        Siempre gano el reloj, pero a veces termino la lección con 16 o 17 puntos en vez de obtener los 20 puntos completos. Si pudiera obtener todos los puntos posibles, podría llegar al nivel 25 en menos tiempo. Pero no somos perfectos, ¿o sí? :v


        Wow! That's absolutely incredible!!! That right there is the definition of dedication and determination!! Amazing job!! Now a small part of me wants to try it sometime......but maybe when life isn't so crazy lol :P congratulations on such a big achievement!!!


        Thank you so much, Secretly_a_Jedi! I worked pretty hard :) To get level 25 in a month you'd need at least 1000 EXP a day, so when life chills out a bit you might want to try getting 100 EXP at a time and then taking a break, then coming back to it, it really helped me ^^


        You are very welcome! There was a day a while ago where I tried to get 1000XP in one day, but I only made it to 550XP......which compared to what I usually do is quite a bit. Maybe one of these days I'll try and get 1000xp in a day again, we'll see :)


        30, 000 EXP over 30 days = 1000 EXP/day = 100 lessons a day? Am I reading this right? You were doing 25 lessons an hour on average?

        I feel like I couldn't do that even in French (where I am level 22 and studied in school for 11 years). Did you do it all using the app?


        She did timed practices which are worth 20xp if you get it all right.

        So half that:

        30, 000 XP over 30 days = 1000 XP/a day times 1/2 (timed practice worth 20XP = 12.5 lessons an hour if I didn't make any mistakes.

        Pretty doable in my opinion and from doing myself every day


        Hi! Thanks for your comment. The math that CaK9x did was pretty accurate from what I see, so credit goes to him/her for figuring it out, haven't really double checked it since my brain's kinda foggy right now aha ^^ But yeah, I did mostly timed lessons which are really effective to get you to think of the answer right on the spot. They can give up to double the points of a normal lesson. And I used all web version (not a huge user of the app)


        Thanks to you both! Appreciate the clarification :)


        Congratulations! Timed practice do not allow you a "Pause" so its almost imposible to me, but on a new course the new lessons are available to do them out of line, mostly, and when you reconnect sums all your points

        Have you guys ever completed a course that had never included your native language? What was that course and how did it go for you?

        Yes, i did italian and still fighting with russian, thinking about starting portuguese (in spanish it is not very good, it seems incomplete and translated by google sometimes)

        To not get bored, alternate between languages, all the vocabulary varies. Your points do not amaze me, it s almost my average until now.


        Thanks for sharing your experience!

        To answer your question: I am currently learning Swedish (on Duolingo) and Chinese (in real-life language classes), both through (my non-native) English. I find that very useful, since, as you said, it makes your brain stop thinking in your native language and helps to prevent you from “translating” too much in your head.



        I really like doing courses from non-native languages. I choose that option if possible. Even made it to level 25 in Guaraní. I've also done "reverse trees" to a non-native language, rather than English. This winds up having pluses and minuses; these courses can be in rougher shape as far as accepted answers. However, they can also include a lot more content than the courses for English, many of which seem only to have 55 skills.

        My question is, how do your hands put up with all the typing? Particularly my right pinkie takes a beating from all the hitting of the enter key!


        Hi! OP here. Forgot to check this post, and I'm never notified of new responses anymore, so my apologies for late reply. I'm actually quite used to using the keyboard due to my school (I'm online-schooled) and my work, as well as having to often communicate by text with friends when we can't call each other. So my hands are used to tons of typing and don't really get tired from using the keyboard, which is awesome for Duolingo-ing.

        Edit: Also, that's awesome that you have 25 in Guarani! I was actually planning on starting that after Catalan. The courses that only exist for Spanish speakers are the ones that most interest me, not sure why.


        obviusly we both use mainly the app, you get 15exp without mistakes but you can choice words instead if typing so It becomes very much easier even to not have a mistake at all. Once i entered like a baby in a "point war" and made +3200 in 2, (maybe 3 hours Max) after that i needed almost 2 days to recover. in those days i still type everything, in some point i realized that you can exit and re-enter and if the first time the lesson ask you to type, the next it doesnt maybe ask you to type the half and in such case you exit again, the next will be probable enterirely selecting with "one touch".

        That s extremly useful to me in two cases, mainly to keep learning "under the desk" (you only need one finger, literally) and when the lesson is hard or worst.


        I'm pretty sure the 15 XP thing is Android-only. I haven't noticed differences in question type on iOS based on exiting and restarting, but it's mostly tapping in any case (and I haven't investigated the point in any particular way). For me, everything just takes so much longer on mobile. Just in the time to connect with the server to record the points, I feel like I could have done five sentences in timed practice. I think it usually takes me about 5 minutes do do a single lesson or review on iOS. Maybe it's 3 sometimes, but even if it were 2, that'd still only be 300 XP an hour. Needless to say, I'm flabbergasted you could get 1000 or even 1500. The 5 point bonus isn't enough to account for that! How many questions are you answering for a lesson on mobile? I think I normally have about 20, maybe 4 or 6 of which require typing.


        in the first 3 basics there are 10 question hiper easy and fast to answer with options, after that increases the number of questions progresivly by one, so, even when you have just only 12, (to not get so bored) is still easy if you only want to sum points

        Plus 5 bonus points it's a hugh difference in p/h (points per hour) In timed práctice answering perfect you can do 20 points in +/- 3 minutes... the other way you can do almost 30 points in 30seg... even more.

        The thing is, you will be learning absolutlly nothing, if you get the subjunctives probably will get 13 points in 5 minutes or in russian much much more time for less points.

        So, i saw some users with "level 25" in many languages that never finished the tree in many of them (even just repeating the first 4 basics) and they get just "points" if you want to do that is really easy, as ive just told, i don't see the point on that, but It can be done and that s someones option


        Crazy the differences.

        It takes me a good ten seconds jus for the server connection and to click through the screens and ads at the end of a lesson :)


        Yap, i think that should be the same for all, in fact, i can t see the reason of that bonus today.


        Voice recognition! Then you are also practicing pronunciation in the Ladder language!

        I'm gilding my completed German tree from Spanish and it has saved my Duolingo career (especially after i got far enough in tree not have the same damn 20 word matching game appear endlessly (or maybe someone fixed that!)


        This is inspiring! I am doing something a bit similar, but I am practising several trees simultaneously as I go along, so I will do the same skill, past tense for example, in a few different trees as I go along. (So practice english to french past, then french to english’ then french spanish and spanish french... this way I can get alot of practise in one skill) I am inspired though and hoping to eventually be able to use french as my learning language for future languages such as Italian. Thanks for the inspiring post!

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        All courses I've completed I've learned from English, which is not my native language, apart that for some of them there is no other choice. And the most difficulty in Hungarian and Chinese for me is to match exactly their version of English, which is not the same one I'm used to.


        @LasCicatrices, you are very impressive! I can barely find time to maintain my courses, let alone bring them to the 25th level... How do you do this? What is you daily routine? Between work/studying/your current occupation - it must take a lot of time ... :)

        To answer your question - I'm half on the way of completing my English from Japanese tree and at the the very end of my Esperanto from English tree; and English is not my mother tongue. It feels like it, however, because I currently spend more time using English than Polish, and it's been this way for quite a few years.


        I started swedish some time ago and it's currently the only course I'm focusing on. But in my case I have to study Swedish in English. I'm native Polish and the only course available in Polish on duolingo is English


        Q: "Have you guys ever completed a course that had never included your native language? What was that course and how did it go for you?"

        Short answer: It can safely be estimated that millions of people do that.

        Long answer: Old post but hopefully unique perspective. Most of the Duolingo courses (or any other language-learning methodology for that sake) cater towards speakers of majority European languages or the other languages with a large number of native speakers such as Chinese. High literacy ratio also matters as does the digital penetration of that society/country.

        Partly because of colonialism, one of the local languages of those regions didn't get preferred over others however the European languages such as English or French etc. became the official language and lingua franca as well.

        Africa has rich diversity with each country having dozens of native tongues. As per my observation the Africans from francophone countries learn foreign languages in French. The Africans from anglophone countries learn foreign languages in English.

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