Wow Learning Chinese and Japanese is easier that I orginally thought
In my experience, Japanese can be a good beginner language. There are fewer sounds and they are easier to pronounce and in many cases the meanings of characters translates well. The problem with Japanese is their strange grammar, with lots of exceptions and conditions of formality it can be a struggle to become fluent.
Chinese so far has been much easier to get through in terms of understanding and grammar, but I am struggling with the sounds.
I almost finished the tree, yet, I am far from being able to speak. I can read much better, I have improve my proficiency at writing (I use pinying sometime, but mostly just drawing a vague character and picking up the right one... very slow).
So, these lessons still have a lot of things to improve in order for us to actually speak and write. (especially if you compare to all the work Duolingo put in Spanish)
Just finish the tree (Yeah!!)... but really still cannot remember what the character sound like. I would like to be able to practice speaking here.
So there are a few characters I really memorize something like: 我在这吃去了给你们看 是不想和谁说什么吗 天下午上来的有他为大 .... no particular order...
In other discussion, someone posted this link that is very useful:
I practice writing them and understanding how to use those only... then, I could read more easily and the lesson made more sense.
I would love to do Korean and Japanese some day!
On my end I find the writing important. Memorizing is about connecting dots, and writing is one (major I think) dot.
I practice writing the Hanzi in a separate app, with the handwriting function instead of the keyboard. I write all the sentences I learn in Duolingo. And I use another separate app to teach me the strike order. It's a major help to memorise characters, since you get to (pro-actively) look at all details of the Hanzi (radicals + other parts).
It's somewhat hard at start, and it'll probably slow down your progress through the tree. But if you integrate it to your learning routine, you'll get great results.