Dear Experienced Multi-Language Learners...
Many of you have been here already for a while now. Some of us, including me, are learning/trying to learn as much languages as possible. However, I still in the very beginning of the journey of multi-language learning.
What did learning many languages from Duolingo add to your life?
I’d like to hear from those who’ve finished numerous trees thoroughly, those who binge-learn languages effectively. For example, a person who has reached level 25 in 7 or 10 languages and grasped the fundamentals of those languages.
Inspire us by sharing your stories and experiences... :)
I've learned four languages on Duolingo, not counting the ones I've only dabbled in briefly. I haven't yet got to the stage in any of them where I've achieved anything close to proper proficiency, but they've been useful. I've learned them one after the other, changing the next time I make a plan to go abroad; Spanish, Polish (though my trip was cancelled), Italian, and now German.
It was such fantastic fun speaking to people in a foreign language, even though I wasn't very good at it. It was absolutely worth all the time I put into Duolingo.
I got to refresh languages that I learned in school. With adding more languages in the same family trees, I can see how the different languages are similar or different. Also, you can see what words were added on later as new concepts were brought in from other countries. Also, for me, switching back and forth has helped me keep the different languages strait, for all that it takes me longer to learn.
Well I'd think that they'd give you the advice of not pursuing a gazillion languages at once (hint hint) :P.
Personally I grasp the fundamentals / have a feeling with the following (non-native) languages: English, Portuguese, French and German. Italian not because it's the lastest language that I've added and therefore I simply haven't seen enough of it yet. Spanish not because my care level for it is currently too low. (I've also put some time in some other languages outside of Duolingo in the not so distant past, but I've shelved all of those). I don't think you should be studying more than one language (certainly not more than 2) which you haven't grasped yet at the same time, unless that's not your goal.
I'm not going to try to give an answer to your how question, if you even want one from me. But I'll tell you how I generally realize that I've started to get a feeling for a language: for me it's when remembering new voc becomes easier / "automatic". I.e. for my best foreign language (English) I'll already remember a lot of words the very first time I come across them. Similarly I'll remember new Portuguese words a lot faster (fewer iterations) compared to Spanish and Italian ones.
Haha, a very good advice indeed. Thank you. :) Actually, that’s pretty much what I do. I’ve been here for a relatively long time, so I haven’t “learned” those languages all at once. On the contrary, I’ve been progressing so slow through each tree. For example, I’ve been working on my Italian tree since January 2015 and haven’t finished it yet. I’ve reached 10+ levels in many trees even without reaching half of the tree. I have 3 languages to focus on more than any other. However I didn’t have issues learning French here, because I had an idea about the language. French helped me learning Italian, but still I didn’t rush the Italian tree; because I’ve started using French verbs as Italian verbs sometimes. Although I find Italian and French are very close to each other in terms of vocabulary, but learning Spanish was more confusing to learn along with Italian. Maybe because the phonology of Spanish and Italian may sound similar to me, when it comes to isolated words. Clearly both languages sound different as a whole. However, it’s not uncommon for me to say “yo vedo una mañana”, instead of “veo” or “mangio” instead of “como”... I don’t learn German here. I actually speak German fluently, so learning Dutch and Scandinavian languages wasn’t an issue for me. The issue was learning 2 Scandinavian languages simultaneously. Besides, I use sometimes Dutch words in Swedish or Danish sometimes. Despite the fact that Dutch and German can be similar to Scandinavian languages, but not that close. Yeah, I have dropped learning some languages here, until I find myself ready for them, because of the lack of time or because I couldn’t focus on them while focusing on another language. I’m not really learning other languages with small levels. I’ve just checked them out of curiosity, but planning to learn them when I have time. Sometimes you need to learn something new, when a tree has become boring for you. ;) Sorry for the long reply. :/
I can read books in four languages and see movies without subtitles too :) . Oh, I've learned English in a school , but my English has improved a lot since I started learning other languages for English speakers here.
Life before duolingo was flat and boring. Now it is full of success and challenges and wonderful sounds.
I went from being monolingual to understanding several languages very well (French, German, Spanish) several quite well (Swedish, Italian, Danish, Norwegian) having a couple approaching a good understanding (Turkish and Russian) plus having several I plan to get up to a good understanding (Welsh, Chinese, Irish, Polish) underway. In addition there are a couple I plan to take all the way once they become available (Arabic, Hindi).
I like learning new languages but I equally like improving my higher level ones too. There are so many exciting stages one goes through as you learn a language. I couldn't really say which is the best bit. It is wonderful when you realise you can understand most of what is said without subtitles, but it is also wonderful when the spelling of words in a language just clicks or when the correct case just comes to you automatically where it would have taken a great effort before. Possibly the best bit is when the language seems to slow down and you suddenly have time to think about the individual words instead of struggling to decipher one and missing the rest of the sentence. I have reached this stage with Russian and am loving it. I watched a whole episode of a series last night without subtitles and followed it all and learned new vocabulary in the process. It feels all the better because I have found Russian so much harder than other languages. But I also love learning Chinese characters and get great satisfaction from reading sentences in characters more so because I expected it to be really difficult and instead it is really easy. The variety and the glimpses of insight into how the brain works are also fascinating. I couldn't be content with learning just one language, or even just a few. The similarities and differences are intriguing in and of themselves. For me this isn't about being able to speak the languages, it is much more about the process and about the sound and the rhythm and by the meaning conveyed by them.
Thanks for your question! It might not be the best phrase to use. Well, “binge-learning”is a term inspired by duonks, pretty much like saying “binge watching a TV show”. Of course, you know what that means and you’re after the whole term “binge-learning... effectively”.
Some users here, who reached high levels in many languages, stated that they weren’t as serious about certain trees as others. They learn X language casually, without aiming to grasp a lot from it, but they’d rather to focus on other languages. Despite reaching high levels in that X language.
Basically they learn an extra language or more either out of curiosity, to spend some time, to get the very basics of that language, for a short trip or a project, or simply for comparison purposes.
What I mean by effectively that they’re so serious about those multiple trees and try to make the most of them. I hope that’s clear now!
From my experience quickly going through a tree in a language closely related to one you already speak can yield some pretty significant results indeed :)
Sounds like you've probably found something similar with Dutch and Scandinavian languages given your background in German. For me the examples come from the Romance family. Is the connection between German and the other languages close enough for you that you can understand e.g. news broadcasts in them?
Yes, I agree with your idea. :) In my case, it’s still a bit confusing to study a language that’s closely related to the one I speak. Not only because I tend to mix both together, but also I automatically fill words that I don’t know or recall with German or English words in Dutch, for example; or “italianised” French words in case of Italian; or simply Italian words in Spanish.
Similarities between Romance languages are more pronounced than similarities between Dutch and Scandinavian languages; or German and Scandinavian languages. Needless to say, that similarities between German and Dutch are more significant; as well as between Scandinavian languages themselves.
I can understand a fair amount of a Dutch broadcast and more of a written Dutch text, but I can’t understand a Swedish, Danish or Norwegian broadcast. It doesn’t sound like anything that familiar to me, except for a few words and I’m always not sure if what I heard is what I think it was. However, I still can recognise many Scandinavian words when I read; for example in Norwegian the word “besøk”, is pretty much like „Besuch“ in German or “bezoek” in Dutch.
Apparently you’ve invested time learning many languages here. :) Aside from the perks of learning related languages, did you face any challenges learning them? How confident could one be in a language upon level 20+? Let’s say A1 or A2 level?
Thanks for the Germanic languages insights :)
Challenge, thy name is Japanese :P
The confidence/level correspondence is completely language dependent I fear. I guess I'm getting sort of close to level 20 in Japanese for example. Concretely what this means for me is that at some point I had about half the skills in the tree reasonably sufficiently loaded (sequentially, not simultaneously) into my short-term memory to successfully respond to a good majority of standard Duolingo exercises. The tree targets A1ish level I think, but I would say that requires having the contents in active vocabulary, obviously not Duo's current forte, not to mention the other half of the tree + forgetting ;)
And at level 12 in Italian (plus some reverse/ladder tree work, etc) I've been enjoying an RAI podcast series about Charlemagne of late. And I guess I have enough grasp of the very basic words and the Spanish, etc cognates to be able to sometimes express some pretty complicated ideas in speech. Simple things - harder. Reading - maybe, kinda? Can't say I reliably recognize how even familiar words are written. Writing? LOL :P (but I'm hacking my way through a reverse tree, and it's not so infrequently that I manage to guess right!)
Other languages fall between these extremes. Sometimes details of Duolingo tree execution play an important role, for example making XP disproportionately easy to rack up but correspondingly less meaningful in terms of knowledge gained.
You’re most welcome. :) Thank you for your well established reply as well. :) Haha, this’s just the “japonised” form of my Latin name. ;) It’s good that you pointed out the idea of confidence level. I forgot to include this in my questions. Generally speaking, I categorise languages here into Indo-European and non Indo-European... not much of a surprise, I guess. Haha. So, I’m approaching level 9 in Japanese too, but with finishing 8 skills. It’s hard for me to retain a completely foreign alien language as Japanese. Turkish had been also a challenge to some extent. Let’s say arbitrarily, that my level 5 in French or Italian is equivalent to level 10 or 12 in Turkish. Another good point that trees are significantly different, for example for me the Dutch and Norwegian trees are more advanced than the French and Turkish trees. I’m not sure whether my knowledge in French made tree seem very basic, or my knowledge in German made me feel that the Dutch tree is more “high yield”. I’ve enjoyed Italian tree, but to be honest, it’s still for me not that easy to retain what I learned from it. I still can understand written and spoken Italian to some extent, but I can’t recall myself as much as I learned from the French tree. Maybe because French is occupying my mind and I tend to confuse it with Italian; or simply because I’ve started learning French when Duolingo was harder then. It’s still an argumentative debate, whether Duolingo has become easier than before or not, but from my experience I can confirm that. Hopefully the long-awaited “skill level” feature would sort this issue out. However I’m still sceptic about it’s effectiveness; I mean would I need to do “Basics 1” 20 times to achieve full “fluency/crowns” in that skill. How hard could “Basics 1” could get? Wouldn’t that be sort of frustrating? Especially if progressing in one skill until achieving full status is slow-paced. I know that one can progress through the tree without having to go thoroughly through each skill, but what if that makes me feel that I’m not taking a good/boring learning tool seriously. I know it’s more of a matter of psychology and scepticism here, rather than learning. Sorry if there were grammatical, spelling or any other kind of mistakes. I wrote this reply quickly and didn’t proofread it. :/
Well, it can take quite a few gos for "alsjeblieft," although I guess that's probably in Greetings :)
I think a great feature of the Dutch tree is that it incorporates grammatical structures more naturally throughout the tree than some/many others do. The sentences in the vocab-centric skills grow harder as one progresses, which is not something every tree does nearly as well.
Haha... :D I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a groundbreaking helpful feature.
I agree! I’ve also noticed that the Dutch tree teaches harder sentences early, but without stressing out the learner. Most likely duo to the characteristic, that you pointed out, of “incorporating grammaratical structure”. That’s something I’d love to pay more attention to, as I progress further through the tree. :)
It's given me the comfort to try foreign languages in situations I wouldn't have before. I now have to fly through Frankfurt on a relatively regular basis and will speak in German when I wouldn't before -- though not when going through security :D
I've also had a conversation with an Uber driver in Spanish when I noticed her GPS was set in Spanish. It's good to be able to read signs and newspapers and whatnot in a variety of places or to try speaking with people in their native languages.
I have yet to reach level 25 (German this year?) so I might not be at the level of those from whom you are asking advice. However, I like to finish a whole tree, then do the reverse tree while I work on the next one, then a tree between two non-native languages once I start the next next one, so I usually have three trees going at once (but only one in a new language NOT counting a little dabbling here and there). I'm also trying to maintain my trees at gold for the English ones, because English is my native language. Getting the EN-Russian tree gold has been quite the struggle, but I'm finally getting close.
Thank you, HooSteveK for your reply. Actually, you’re one of those whom I’m seeking their advice. :) As long as, you’re an active learner who advanced through multiple trees, your advice or story is much appreciated.
Was it hard to have a conversation with the Spanish-speaking driver? Was your ability to maintain the conversation backed with external learning sources or just Duolingo? I know that Duolingo serves to help you to establish a good background to start learning a language. I just wanted to know where could Duolingo alone take you, as long as you take it seriously.
The conversation was a little difficult, but it was also 5 am after flying across country with major delays and difficulty (I was supposed to get to San Jose at 11 pm and ended up landing in San Fran at 5)!
By the point of that conversation, I had added a bit with Memrise, to increase vocab, and had watched some tv and listened to the radio. Plus I had a couple of helpful friends who were bilingual who would have snippets of conversations with me. So I had definitely moved beyond Duo as the sole source.
I would say with Duo alone I got to a pretty solid A2 level Spanish or maybe low B1 on the CEFR scale. The other items have gotten me to a pretty solid B1 with probably B2+ levels in reading. Listening is always my problem, except for French for some reason, which I tend to hear better than other languages (maybe more long term exposure through HS and university?). Obviously some trees are much better than others also, either because of bulk or because of the audio quality.
Thank you all for sharing your stories with us. It’s always great to share nice experiences with others. Wish all of you all the best with your studies and life. Happy learning! :)
i had a bunch of languages, but then i took some off, because most of them would have been of much help to me in the future, but i know both a Spanish speaking person and a french speaking person, so those will be helpful, but when i finish those two trees i will probably learn more