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Is there a point when Spanish becomes coherent?

Hello, I am trying to learn Spanish. I am presently at level 13 and I am doing well with the DuoLingo lessons, but when I listen to someone actually "speak" Spanish I cannot understand very much at all. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a point in the learning process when words become coherent? Just curious.

April 17, 2018



The speed at which the words are read to you in Duolingo will almost always be slower than that of a native speaker talking at a natural rate. If you want to improve your listening comprehension, TV with Spanish subtitles, podcasts with Spanish transcripts, or finding a language learning partner to practice conversations with who is a native Spanish speaker are probably your best bet.

Edit: TV with captions and listening to podcasts while reading transcripts aren't as effective as redneckray's suggestion of using clozemaster because they are forms of passive listening. Active listening, that is, having to listen to something and then perform some action is much more effective. Here's an article about that: https://www.fluentin3months.com/listening-skills/


yes, there is. For me it really clicked after about a month deep in the interior of Mexico. I had taken four years of Spanish in high school and several semesters at university. I could read everything from newspapers to medieval manuscripts (albeit slowly), but I didn't really think in spanish till I was forced to. One day I jumped into a little yellow, ghetto, rustbucket, 18-year-old Toyota Deathtrap 5-speed that I purchased for $500 in Boston and headed south. I got as far south as Honduras. I took no cell phone or laptop. I rarely had the need (or chance) to speak English. That trip lasted about four months, but within about a month I realized that I was thinking in Spanish, dreaming in Spanish, and not pausing to translate in my head each line of each conversation I was having. I was able to make friends. Got invited to peoples houses. Even scored with a nice police woman I met at a museum in Guatemala city.

I don't know if you'll get to that point solely by doing on-line learning with web sites such as this one. You might, but the problem with Duolingo is that it is constantly having you translate back and forth between English and the foreign language that you're trying to master. It's a fun tool, excellent practice, and it will probably help you learn to translate, but if you want to be able to understand everything the puertorriqueños in the seat in front of you are saying while commuting to work on the bus every morning, well, no website can substitute for actual human interaction.

If you want to speak and understand Spanish, then surround yourself by people who speak and understand Spanish. You don't even have to leave the USA to do that, by the way.

Edit: I don't mean to put down this or other language-learning websites. I discovered it about seven weeks ago when I was searching "free + french + on-line" on Google because my son started French I in school this year. Initially I was staying about a chapter ahead of him in his textbook so we could converse. (I really want him to excel in any subject he takes on, and although I told him I'd much prefer that he take Spanish, if he insists on taking French then he must really learn it. Not just make an A, which is notoriously easy in high-school language courses, but really learn it. To that end, I agreed to learn it with him and practice it with him.) After only seven weeks I can read, write, speak, and understand that language sufficiently to keep up with movies, for example. (We have an agreement never to put English subtitles on when we watch French movies. IMHO, that will not help you. It gives you fishes, of course, so you can eat tonight, but it does not teach you to fish. So to speak. Pause it as much as you like. Rewind. Break out a dictionary if you need to, but turn off those English subtitles!

My point wasn't to denigrate this excellent learning resource, but to point out that the ability to think in Spanish (or French or Hebrew or Klingon) will not be the result of interacting only with a website whose main teaching strategy seems to be back-and-forth translating between English and the language that you're trying to learn.


Google "notes in Spanish" and listen to the podcasts while you are walking / exercising / driving.


That always happens when you are learning any new language in the world.


When you say "level", what do you mean? Crown level?


No, your profile level.


Yes he means Crown Levels, not sure why he said, no.


Thank you. I see I have the Spanish logo by my name here in the discussions and next to that I have 10. You have 18. Is that a level too?


No, each lesson-each icon you click on that has 3, 4, 9, or more mini lessons where you learn new words- each icon now has 5 levels. When I first started the Spanish, there was just the one icon to click on for each new lesson. I would go through the mini lessons under that icon, review the new words I learned the next day and then go through the whole thing one more time. Now, you can't go through it a second time. When you try to do it all again, you are actually starting a new level- with the same words of course, but harder. You don't have to go through the levels to proceed, all you need to do is finish level one with each icon, but the extra levels are extra exercises and more listening exercises that will greatly help you out. You do get crowns but I really don't understand that stuff nor care. I am doing this to learn Spanish, not to play any games!


The amount of exposure you have to Spanish will increase the coherency.


The same happened to me.


With the new changes and levels, it, at least for me, is getting better and better! Level 3 is when you start getting a lot of listening exercises and I can definitely see why they are now requiring this new system. I first I did not like it one bit and almost quit. I now see the point!!!

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