I have finished learning more German on Duolingo. I have done all the lessons and translated 400 sentences. My aim was to improve my ability to read German, but not to speak it which I think would only be possible if I went to live in Germany for a few years. I found the lessons very useful, I learnt quite a lot. But the web pages were very hard to translate, with so many idiomatic expressions, which are not found in a dictionary, and the present of English words that are not always with the same meaning they have in English. I want to be able to read German literature, such as authors like Thomas Mann, most of whose works I have already read in translation and would like to try in the original. I don’t want to be translator but just a reader. To be a translator requires and a lot of patience and skill which I really do not have.
I will still go to the Duolingo site, I like reading the comments and sometimes putting a few there myself. However, I won’t be doing any more with German there. I can already read French and Italian using a good dictionary. I hope to reach the stage where I can do the same with German. I think that both these languages are fairly easy for an English speaker, particularly French because so many words are similar to their English equivalents, coming ultimately from Latin. Of course, that only applies when they are written, when they are spoken it’s a very different matter. Whereas with German, only very basic vocabulary, such as, Mann, Hand, Arm, are like English, because they come from the proto Germanic language which is the common ancestor of German and English. For most other words. They are completely new and strange therefore requiring a lot of concentration.
When my reading of German has greatly improved, I would like to come back to Duolingo and study a language new to me. It would need to be a language that has a large presence on the web, after all that is what Duolingo is about. Probably Turkish or Finnish would be suitable. Turkish, I think, is a world language and Finnish, though it is not in that category is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Incredible! And thanks for all the detailed feedback. Today we rolled out new wiki translations to some of our members for testing. You can hear more about them from Duolingo's founder, Luis: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/261407 They might be something that interest you. Congrats on getting through the entire German tree!
Congratulations! This story is inspiring. My goal is to be able to read Spanish before I get into speaking. DuoLingo will surely help along with other tools and media. Note, I do think that you can learn to speak German by "becoming" German, so to speak. Just immerse yourself in German radio and television programs. I'm sure there's no shortage of language exchange students online willing to help your while you help them. There are many studies of people learning how to speak a foreign language without ever setting foot in the target country. I'm convinced that the idea that you have to live in the targeted foreign country to learn the language is a myth. Learning acquisition is all about the right tools, system and motivation.
Just a thought.