What I like about the upgrade...
So, I have completed my German tree already so admittedly and selfishly the tree completion has no impact on me. However, completing the tree was too easy. The emphasis was translating German to English where the new system puts equal emphasis on translating English to German which is much harder. This negates having to "Learn English from German" to get that necessary practice which many of us have done. But I'd still like the quizzes back!!!
Interesting- are others seeing this emphasis on translating English to German as well? I hadn't noticed any difference in difficulty with higher crown levels, which was disappointing.
I'd be happy with the new system if there was a clear increase of difficulty at higher levels, but as it is now I'm trying to decide if it makes sense to go through the tree again 3 times (to review basic vocab/grammar+have a sense of completion) or just quit Duolingo entirely. I'm at a point where I am watching TV and reading some books in German without problem (and live in a German-speaking country), so Duolingo isn't that helpful. But I was enjoying using Duolingo to review core basic vocab and grammar, which is now much more time-intensive to do. I understand why a lot of people are very unhappy with this system.
On the other hand, I could see it being useful for Japanese, which I know less well, when I go back to learning it. So I think the value this system has is highly dependent on language level and better for beginner learners rather than intermediate/advanced (which is the opposite of their claims, though maybe they have a different definition of intermediate/advanced). Still would be nice to have clearer difficulty increases by level.
Well let me say that you are farther along in your German than I am. If you are able to watch German media easily, you have passed the benefits of DuoLingo I think. That's awesome! I however am still struggling with my listening skills (TV and movies). So the more difficult levels of DuoLingo as well as other sources are still important to me. Other than living in Europe, any suggestions for those of us that are willing to put in a couple hours of work a day? Clearly you have figured out something that has worked well for you.
Yes- there's actually a pretty specific strategy I used to get to the point where I could watch TV. There were a couple phases of this- Phase 1: I watched shows I had already seen in German with German subtitles, and eventually a couple I hadn't seen. Because I could read along, I was able to more easily comprehend than just listening. A little later, I also started to read comic books (that I hadn't read before). After each book, I'd often go through and take pictures of panels with words I didn't know, and turn those into Anki cards. This was important, because it helped me get the additional vocabulary I needed to start watching TV.
Phase 2: I started watching TV in German without subtitles. Here, I started with a couple series I had already seen and then started watching new ones. Whenever possible, I got DVDs of a series and used mp4box, vobsub2srt, and substudy to make Anki cards from each episode. These tools use the subtitle track to chunk the episode into audio chunks for each subtitle bit. Then the cards have an image (from that part of the episode) and an audio clip on one side, and the subtitle (in German) on the back. I would then go through and remove cards where I knew all words or where the subtitles didn't match the audio, and then added definitions in German to the ones I kept. This helps with both listening and vocabulary building.
Then, I started reading increasingly difficult books following the same strategy for words. I've found that ~500 words (plus many hours of exposure to the medium) was required to feel totally comfortable with each phase/difficulty level. With books there will probably be more phases than the two needed for TV.
I don't think living in a German-speaking country has helped me much so far, aside from providing additional motivation and making it easier to get German-language media in stores, at the library, or on streaming services. Everyone speaks English and I have to go out of my way to speak German. I'm still having a hard time breaking the barrier to actually speaking, but the reading and listening skills I've learned could be built almost as easily anywhere.