Duolingo Stories learning approach
I just finished the first French story and found it challenging to say the least although I passed it in the end and could pick out bits to get the gist of the conversation. At times I wondered were they purposely speaking French extra fast compared to normal but I guess it's my problem :-)
Do people continue on with the next stories or continue to work on the first if every bit of it wasn't understood? Just trying to understand best approach.
Please also do keep these Duolingo. They are exactly what is needed after finishing the tree. Please put on the app too!
When I first started with the stories I would copy and paste the story piece by piece into a text file. Then I would go back and translate it sentence by sentence and would write the translations under the French, I would color the font in blue or red so that it would stand apart. It helps that as you float over each word in the story it gives you the English word or phrase.
Anything I did not understand I would look up. I would then wait a few hours or the next day and then go over the same story again. Now I was following the story a little easier and getting more out of it. I then moved to the next story. After moving through a set I would review my notes and then repeat the process before going to the next set. Now I am able to go through new stories more quickly and with less errors in the question portion of the stories.
You will notice that different actors speak at different speeds and that some will be more understandable than others. Also the emotions they are trying to project also changes the speed of their speech. As you go over the stories again you will be able to understand them better. Use the stories as a tool to train your self to react to the language and to condition yourself to understand what is being said in a more natural setting. Don't be afraid to go slowly in the beginning, Duolingo isn't timing you. Stop momentarily and try to understand what was said. You will speed up later as become more familiar with the language!
I would not worry about answering the questions correctly or even that you are answering them over and over again. It's not about answering questions, no one will grade you. Sure it lets you know that you understood and learned that tiny bit of the material. But your goal should be to learn as much as possible from the available material and to train your brain to recognize it without having to translate back and forth.
When you get bored of the regular exercises, you have stories you can go through to hone in your mental responses. You are both hearing the narrative and reading it the same time or slightly later and can hear it again or even in slow speed. This way you are training two parts of your brain at the same time! You can also learn new vocabulary and grammar constructs not covered in the main course. Best of all you can repeat it over and over again until it becomes second nature.
If you stay focused and keep practicing everyday and go through the stories like I described, you will come back to this one in a few weeks or months and your brain will be able to make out some of those slurred words. You will ask yourself, now why did I ever have trouble with that to begin with?
Not extra fast, but normal speed French. :-] Congrats on your first story completion !
Edit: Seeing yours now..
I haven't started going through the stories yet, but when I will, I'll make a list of vocabulary that I don't recognize, and look them up, and make flashcards from them.
Personally, I do not try to understand every word or sentence but just the gist of things. I do like to go back to the stories a second time, however only after quite a while (usually when I have finished all the available stories). Otherwise I get bored. Perhaps you might want to finish a set (since the stories are more or less the same level within a set) and then re do your favourites. I don't worry about understanding things word for word since the stories already have comprehension exercises built into them, so if I am getting most of the questions right, I know I understand. I think learning to comprehend the general meaning of something is just as important as learning every word, and stories do a great job of teaching this progressively.
That is not something I think about, or worry about. I have always been more of a visual than audio learner, so I read and listen and naturally come to associate the words with sounds... it works for me. However, if I did I suppose I would just listen and not look at the text, close my eyes or look elsewhere. In fact I often requested a listen straight through option, in the feedback section, so I could listen to the story like a podcast). I also listen to a lot of podcasts to practice listening skills. I think, at least for me, the stories work best if I just enjoy them, in a relaxed way. I know eventually I will reread them, and I don't even expect to pick up everything the first time. It is sort of gratifying to go back to a story weeks or even months later and see how much more I understand. However, everyone learns differently. You might also enjoy thefrenchexperiment.com, as you have many different options to read along, just listen, or see the translation.