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Czech tree - not beginner friendly.

Hey all,

For those of you who have tried Duolingo Czech, what has your experiences been like so far?

Personally I found that there's too much vocab (nouns and adjectives) thrown at you at once, especially with the whole masculine, feminine and neuter thing. It left me feeling very burnout.

I've noticed in the other Slavic languages, i.e. Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish, their formats were more like duolingo's typical style. Its gradual pace allowed me to absorb those languages extremely well. It made it more encouraging and motivating for me.

I definitely do wanna revisit Duolingo Czech though, as I won't give up. But just wondering if the content creators were looking to modify the structure to make it more beginner friendly? Thanks!

July 16, 2018



I would be feeling completely at sea if I tried to get to Level 1 in all available skills, then go to Level 2 in all, etc.!

When I first started, I pretty much worked on ONE skill at a time, until I felt really comfortable with it after getting to Level 5, and then moved on to the next one. Now that I've gotten farther along, I still repeat early lessons, and I take my time mastering, or trying to master, one or two new skills at a time.

From my perspective, the bottom line is that Czech is NOT an easy language to learn, EVEN if you have some exposure to other Slavic languages -- that definitely helps, but it can also create some confusion if you start getting your languages mixed up!

Anyway, the slower pace works well for me. I'd rather take my time and feel well grounded in the overall tree, than blast through it, only to realize in the end that I REALLY only know some bits and pieces.

But everyone learns at a different pace and in a different way, I guess, and none of them are "bad."


It is helpful to hear this, because I found it really hard. Now after reading this thread I've gone back to learning one or two skills at a time and it is MUCH better. Learning in general, regardless of the topic (language, music, math) is more effective done slowly with repetition so I think your approach makes sense.


On the other hand, you end up being better prepared for higher levels :-) And believe, Czech language is extremely rich in vocabulary.


Haha yeah. Here's a lingot!


Do you do the course on mobile or desktop? For me, when the course first came out (before crowns), I was struggling, having trouble absorbing new grammar and new vocabulary at the same time. Normally, I recommend doing Duolingo on the desktop rather than the phone whenever possible, but for Czech, I much prefer to start out on the phone. With the word bank available on mobile, you can familiarize yourself with new words and grammar before you have to reproduce them. The increasing difficulty of crown levels also helps with that. Today I'm finally back on the desktop after a long time, and it's great for reinforcing what I'm more comfortable with after 3 crowns or so. Czech is a difficult language with limited available resources for learners, so I am very grateful to have this now on Duolingo! Děkuji!


Oh yeah I was definitely doing it on desktop. You say mobile is better, cause of the word bank feature, is it? Wait, I can't remember if the desktop version also had the word bank feature lol. But yeah, I can imagine it's much harder to memorise and reproduce the vocab, cause it's such a hard language. Thanks for comment. Your feedback def helped! Here's a lingot. :)


Good news -- yes, the Word Bank is now available on the desktop!


What is the word bank and where is it? Using free version on phone (app) and tablet (url).


The Word Bank presents little blocks of words from which we can select to do translations instead of typing them... so it's very handy. I'm afraid I can't tell you how to find it, since it just magically appeared one day after I got kicked into Crown Levels territory. Maybe someone else can point you in the right direction.


They are also the default in the mobile app. There is more clicking and less writing on the mobile.


I think I've been studying wrong or at least differently from everyone else. I started out trying to get to high levels on all the introductory skills (which I found easy) and then someone told me actually I should go through all opened skills and achieve Level 1 in them, then go back and do Level 2 in all, etc. So I stopped with the first tree (at Level 3 in most) and started doing level 1 in food, animals, prepositions, etc. MUCH harder. Because these introduce both vocab and a ton of new grammar rules. I liked just learning verbs and nouns for awhile with basic grammar rules re: gender. That is a good start. But the grammar gets really complicated really quickly and memorizing nouns is a breeze compared with learning table after table of endings depending on case, gender, plural, etc. So, I'm going back to the first tree and will just finish those through the top level. I do wish there were more options in Czech for some of the other cool Duolingo functions like Labs. I don't see Czech as an option..


i wonder if you could benefit from a more even-keel practice mode. have you tried starting a lesson and replacing in the url the level digit (such as "2") with the word "practice"? after you do that and press enter, you effectively get the mode normally reserved for practicing golden skills.


Yes, it works ! Thanks for this little hack.

It seems you can also redo individual lessons of the skill by just changing this digit by the one you want to revise but before you finish all the lessons on this crown level


Thanks for this additional tip!


Brilliant! Just tried it and it works.


I started Czech three month ago (april 2018), directly from Duo, with no previous experience of the language.

I thought that it would be an easy thing since I already have a good grasp of Russian, but it wasn't. I really must concentrate on the skills and work them slowly with pen and paper and repeat the lessons several times. Surprisingly enough, I don't need to do that with Hungarian or Russian.

But I realize that (1) it was after the crown system was introduced, (2) I was not following my usual pattern for learning a new language : as I said, I had no previous experience of the language. Usually, I make the first contact with Loecsen.com and some other apps like MetaLanguage and several very basic podcasts to quicky get a handful of useful sentences and get a feeling of how the language works.

So, I let Czech down to concentrate on Hungarian and Russian but I will certainly come back, and next time, I will follow my usual pattern.


Rethinking about it...

When I began Hungarian or Russian, I could repeat any same single lesson of a skill several times before going to the next. At the end of the skill, I could even repeat the lessons in any order I wished.

It's not possible anymore with the crown system : once a lesson is completed you have no choice but going to the next. This gives an unpleasant feeling of being rushed forward, with no time to properly absorb the material (unless you use paper and pen, which is not always possible)

Of course, once the skill is completed you can redo it to earn another crown but, again, you must review all the lessons in the same order and cannot concentrate on the weakest.

I think THAT's the main reason of my failure with the Czech tree.


I agree with you about not being able, post-Crown-Levels, to repeat individual lessons within a skill, It was VERY helpful to go back to the specific lessons that felt more shaky and run through them until they were more solid. Although the Practice option still exists, it's not quite the same. I liked being able to see the individual words that were taught in each lesson, because i could recognize the ones I didn't know and could repeat them until they "stuck."

I think the change is a Duolingo thing, rather than a Czech course thing, but either way, I miss being able to review words at will... :-)


Well,you can continue Czech when you finish Hungarian and Russian. Maybe then there will be some changes in crown system and it will be easier for you.


With Czech, for some reason the vocab just doesn't stick. I have to do a ton of revision to get it to sink in. I have only completed two skills and I did both of them to crown level 5 and did some more practices before I felt ready to tackle the next skill.

At this slow pace, I don't think masculine / feminine / neuter are going to be an issue, because I've typed the words so many times I don't think I'll get dobry and dobra confused; I think the gender of the various nouns is pretty solid (when I can remember the nouns at all, that is!).

I've got 15 crowns and 1140 XP (level 8) in Czech and I've only done two skills. I don't feel like I'm getting "everything thrown at me at once" but I do feel like I don't have my vocabulary solidly under me yet, and I need more practice still.

Maybe you're going too quickly?


Sorry to have frustrated our celebrity student. As you know, the course structure is frozen until Version 2, so I am reading these reviews from frustrated users mostly with the future tree in mind. In that sense, a user who is motivated to post before ever making it to row 3 is a goldmine.

The question I see is this: Would it be more or less frustrating if we threw full "be" sentences with the subject personal pronouns in the gender skills? (So František is mladý. or Já jsem František. rather just than mladý František.) The stakes for us volunteers are pretty high. If it turns out that the silent majority of users hates the full "be" sentences that early in the course more than the drudgery of memorizing isolated nouns and adjectives, the new tree fails the A/B and our work will have been in vain.

The CEFR-ization of the course being a whole other can of worms, of course. If we could sneak in one or two forms of "be" in the revamped introductory phrases skill, the gender row could support short descriptive sentences.


Personally, I really liked having simpler structures instead of full sentences before getting to the sentences with byt. However, in terms of the order of the tree, by the time that I got to the plural lesson, I felt like I was having a lot of information to deal with. Just for background, I was using the duolingo tree in order to solidify the content I had at in-person Czech classes, and for the first few lessons, it was incredible, as it provided me with an outlet to really hammer on the articles and basic declensions for the words, but by the time I got to plural, instead of having to learn just the byt for the plural part of the personal pronouns, the declensions felt somehow more complicated than with singular. All things considered, the tree has been really good with providing me with a way to practice! Thank you and all the other volunteers for putting your time and dedication into this project :)


Hrmmm yeah I do feel like learning full sentences would be more natural.

My other feedback is that with these vocab, the skills could be a bit longer. More lessons to keep practicing different sentence iterations of these vocabs, it would help solidify them to memory.

Thanks for your response and I appreciate the hard work you put into this!


Yeah I agree with what you said about the vocab not sticking, even after I completed the five levels of a certain skill. I'll try your slower approach. Continue practicing it beyond than the five levels even, if I have to. Here's a lingot!


I agree with your impressions, but I don't actually mind all those things. I'm Polish, so I'm used to these masculine/feminine/neuter stuff, to noun cases and so on. So for me Duolingo Czech is beginner friendly, but I perfectly understand that it may be difficult for non-Slavic people.


Oh I don't mean the Czech language. I mean how they introduce it on the course for the learners, like throwing out a lot of nouns and adjectives all the sudden - and for some reason they don't stick lol. I'm doing Duo Polish as well and find it very beginner friendly. But yeah, I will persist with Czech. Here's a lingot! :)


Thank you very much! And I know that you didn't mean the Czech language. It's just that the learning curve of this course seems more steep for, for example, an American, than for an user of other Slavic language, because all those nouns and adjectives seem more familiar to me.


I feel like if you REALLY want to learn a language, you should see Duolingo as a tool and not as the exclusive course where you will learn to speak fluently. You should mix it up with other websites like http://www.locallingo.com/czech/grammar/index.html and http://mylanguages.org/learn_czech.php .

But most importantly, I think the most useful thing that helped me learn faster is a flash card app. I personnaly use anki, but there are others too. This helped me learn words / verbs / patterns a lot faster so I could concentrate on declensions when using Duolingo.

I hope I helped!


I would agree that it is much more effective to have multiple ways of learning, though with Czech that is not always so easy at least in the U.S. where there are limited options for courses and limited access to Czech-based resources. I'm going to be living there for 6 months, but not in a tourist area where I can count on English. I've taken a couple informal language courses from a native speaker which has helped, using a workbook ("Czech Step by Step") so I didn't try to start Duolingo from scratch. Then adding Duolingo has really made some of it come together.


mylanguages.org : nice site ! I was looking for a resource to learn basic Latvian and reinforce my Hungarian vocab. That's it ! Thanks.


For me learning Czech is a challenge. Sometimes it remembers me the Latin lessions in School, where you had to analyze the right meaning of a sentence. The first lessions were not so difficult for me. From my mother language German I am used to genders and declension. But the difficulty level is growing very fast. Until now the worst lession is Conjunctions". All this abstract words are very hard to remember and to understand the small differences between them. And the worst of all: no Tips! For me it would be better not to introduce those words all together in one lession. Something else: Why are you so finical with the right English translation? My mothertongue is not English, and half the mistakes I make are with the English translation, wrong word order for example. That can be demotivating. Czech alone is difficult enough! But fun is bigger than frustration and therefore I don't give up. Thank you for this course!


We are discussing a lot what can be changed for Tree 2.0 to make the start easier, but it will simply have to be quite hard in later lessons. I can feel your pain with conjunctions, I am presently learning the Latin ones and there are so many of them and so often they mean something else in a different context...


Thanks to you and the content creators for helping improve the Czech course. :) Perhaps an option could be to look at other language trees as a template? I didn't have an issue starting off in the Russian, Ukrainian and Polish trees.


to give your opinion its proper weight, how far did you make it in the course? the second row, where we teach just isolated adjective-noun combinations?


Yeah. That part tripped me up. I'm planning to get back to Czech. Just deciding if I should wait for a 2.0 tree or get further in Polish first before coming back to Czech. But I definitely will.


I am begining Czech and like all people I have seen, the words sound like Russian and the words don't stick. Repitition is key, if you have Masculine finshed let's say, then click the key icon and take the test, I did suprisingly well and now undertsand many things I did not before. Fully reading the lightbulbs(explanations of the lesson) is a good idea too.


I am so glad I found this topic. I started to study Czech not long ago and found it to be very difficult. It is the only language I have ever approached without any grammar book whatsoever, although I did begin to learn Italian simply by hearing it spoken. The comments by people here have been very heartening. After reading them I feel that all I have to do is to stick with what I have been doing: slowly (ever so slowly) repeating the the most rudimentary elements of the Czech language which Duolingo makes available to me. I thought that I was the only person who had to repeat each of the very first lessons endlessly before I could remember anything from them. Now I am going to continue the repetition in better humor.

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