https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

Is Duolingo too impractical?

Hey there,

I'm German and started learning Norwegian about a year ago in September 2017. I took a break of like 2 months and then started again in beginning of 2018. I also became a PLUS member at that time to support Duolingo and to give something back for what is given to me. Since then I'm doing my daily exercises as good as my time allows me, learning new skills from the tree, etc. So overall you can say I'm learning Norwegian since about 11 months.

However, even though I'm doing good inside the Duolingo "world" and with all the exercises, I was pretty baffled when I came to Norway (Tromsø) this June to spend a few months living up here.

Almost nothing I learned in Duolingo in all that time was applicable here. I was barely able to decipher (or rather guess) the meaning of some warning street signs. I didn't understand anything the locals said to me. And when I tried talking Norwegian to somebody, I didn't understand the answers. So I started to avoid trying to talk Norwegian at all, because even though I could express what I want, I was unable to understand the answers. Even basic stuff like "Do you need / require a bag?" "Do you want the receipt?" "Enjoy your meal!" And so on. This was a frustrating experience.

I was talking to a waiter from Spain, who moved up here. And we also talked about learning Norwegian. I told him I'm using Duolingo and he said that he used it too, but didn't like it. He recommended me Mondly. Someone else told me she used Duolingo to learn Russian, but didn't like it either. I also got Babbel recommended. Recently I also read a disappointing post in the Duolingo Norwegian Learners Facebook group of somebody who has an over 400 days streak and said something like "Over 400 days streak and I still barely speak it."

Until now I liked Duolingo too. The excersies are fun(ny), it has a rich community, a great accessibility, the feature to have discussions about exercises is helpful and the clubs are a great idea. However, after trying Mondly and Babbel I feel disappointed.

In Mondly or Babbel you have a whole landscape of skills to choose from freely. You don't need to "grind" through a locked tree to finally get to something useful. You have special sets of lessons ranging from Shopping, Restaurant, Holidays, Traveling, etc. to pick from freely. In Mondly and Babbel you have simulated conversations and chats, you have a vocab trainer, grammar trainer, etc. All these things I'm missing in Duolingo.

An other problem I have with Duolingo is that Norwegian is only available in English. And even though I'm speaking English since almost 25 years and almost every day, I find it cumbersome to apply it to learning a different language. Especially a language which is more similar to German than it is to English. You always have to think "around the corner." And especially when it comes to forming sentences in Norwegian, I catch myself using English as the basis and have to correct myself when I realize that I could have just used German as the basis.

Long story short: Even though I really like the presentation and features of Duolingo, I still think it is too impractical and therefore will most likely quit and stick with Mondly and Babbel. They offer way more freedom and a richer learning environment.

Hope Duolingo can improve here over time.

6 months ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Fredrikke498889
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Hei du! I am a Norwegian, but I have never been further north than Trondheim, so I think it is really cool that you get to experience the northern lights and nature in Tromsø. Hope I get to visit too some day :D When it comes to learning Norwegian I understand your frustration. We have so many dialects here that sound different from the standardized bokmål when speaking. The people from the northern-part of Norway are notorious for throwing in a local swear word in almost every sentence too which doesn't make it easier. When it comes to street-signs, I think that in Tromsø they also write some street-signs in Sami-language which is very different from Bokmål, so there is no surprise that you cannot understand those. I can't either. The only recommendation I have for you is to not avoid trying to speak Norwegian even if it fails a couple times, you learn from it and eventually you will be able to have conversations with people. :D I know it can be tempting to change to English, but it is best to just throw yourself out there. And I hope you invested in some thick, dark curtains!

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

Yes, you should definately come and visit Troms one day. But I think Norway is a mesmerizingly beautiful country all over the place. So you are lucky and don't need to travel far, hehe. :) I will travel back on 1st September with Hurtigruten down to Bergen. Have heared from many people already that this must be very beautiful too. Really looking forward it.

Regarding the Sami language, I saw some street names written in both, yes. But haven't seen any traffic signs yet, which didn't look Norwegian. :)

And yes, just switching to English is good and bad at the same time. On one side it makes the conversation easier, especially in situations where you or they don't have much time. But on the other side it reduces the learning effect. I still ask sometimes though, if they could please explain me again what they just said in Norwegian.

Edit: Regarding the dark curtains -> Sleeping mask and earpax are my friends. ;)

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Agnethe542941

You are in for a treat - Hurtigruten is so awesome. Instead of switching to English, you could ask them to speak more slowly. "Unnskyld, kan du si det litt saktere?" Sometimes it is enough to give the brain a bit more time to comprehend.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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There seem to be differences in experience: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/28066020

I'm also a German, and I love learning Norwegian through English because I find it fun; for example, a few weeks ago I had a word that was translated to "possible" -- the words did not look alike, I thought. And then I thought back to German "möglich", and found that I would have found "mulig" from the German side. This is so fascinating: There are words with keys in English, those with keys in German, and those that remain a mystery. ;-)

I love the Duolingo course, but I also use other material (textbooks). I just thought that the difficulty in understanding the people in Tromsø might be due to the local dialect. Norwegian is a language that has very distinct dialects, and perhaps the one in this region is more difficult to understand than the one that the post I link to above talks about.

I, personally, found Babbel too monotonous. So it seems people have different expectations and different ways to feel comfortable. And therefore, it's great that there are different resources to choose from.

BTW, I'll travel to Tromsø in December. I'm already so much looking forward to this experience.

Edit: I just compared our two profiles on duome. Here's mine https://duome.eu/heike333145/ It seems that we are both at level 14, but you have about X lexemes, whereas I have Y. This may explain some differences. I'm copying my own data here because it will disappear when I switch the course within Duolingo.

Heike's data:

Level 14 · 6078 XP Crowns: 96/585 Skills: 59/117 Lessons: 275/531 Lexemes: 1768/3428

Strength: 52%

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

Interesting to read the experience from this user. It is more or less the complete opposite to mine.

But then he obviously also had difficulties understanding them and found it easier to understand signs and information panels. There is a big difference in understanding written and spoken Norwegian. Written Norwegian is (mainly) Bokmål, while spoken Norwegian is any dialect typical for that region.

Also he seemed to have rushed trough the tree. My tree is only approx. 25% unlocked, I'm at the level of "Questions | V: Pres. 2." So 75% is still gray and locked. I didn't rush anything and only went on when I had the impression that I got a kind of solid understanding of the current level. Maybe that is my mistake?

I also thought that the difficulties of understanding the locals here comes from the dialect. And that is certainly true to a degree. But still I feel like that you should at least be able to understand traffic signs and basic stuff, like if you are asked if you need a bag, the receipt, if the food was good, etc. And the problem I see here with Duolingo is that the useful stuff obviously comes far down in the tree. Even if it is basic stuff like "om", "som", "dette", etc.

PS: Tromsø and the Troms region are really beautiful. Also the people up here are nice and kind. However, be prepared that you will have no daylight if you come in December, due to the "Polar night." :) Being here for the summer is like living on a different planet, because we had no sunset for the whole time. So 24/7 daylight. Only now, since 21st July, is it getting slowly darker at night.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Yes, I know: I want to travel into the polar night. What fascinated me is this article (about the lower level of depression in Tromsö as compared to other parts of Norway, and this although in several weeks of the year, the sun never shines; with these pictures: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/the-norwegian-town-where-the-sun-doesnt-rise/396746/)

I don't hurry through the tree, but in the first step, I just take every skill to level 1, and if I don't make many mistakes, then I move on. I work on "older" skills when I feel a little tired, and I acquire new skills when I feel like I can do it in that particular moment.

The problem is: In order to understand, you need a certain number of words. If you have never seen a topic, you can't expect to be able to recognize stuff from it. That's why I do the level-1-thingie: Trying to get an overview first, and from there, expand the individual skills.

I would change this approach if I made a lot of mistakes.

Edit:

Edit: What does the Duome Profile mean? Except from the obvious stuff like Skills X/Y. What does the "Lexemes" mean? And what value has "Strength"? What does it mean if you have 52% and I 99%?

"Lexemes" means the number of really different words (not different forms of one word). So it's a measure of the vocabulary you have acquired. As you can see from this article, the definition is not totally clear https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexem, and I'm not sure how exactly Duolingo measures lexemes. But overall, as a number compared to the numbers of other participants, it's a quite good indicator, I think.

"Strength" means how active you have recently been. I am not strong in Norwegian right now because I've focused on Italian in the past weeks.

In my opinion, the interesting parameters are the lexemes and the numbers of skills and crowns. These indicators show the quantity of stuff you have covered. That's how I interpret the situation at least.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

Thanks for the hint with doing the "level-1-thingy." I will give that a try. :)

I'm also interested in spending the winter here and experience the polar night. Many locals told me that it isn't as bad as it sounds. You don't have complete darkness, you still see some sunlight from the horizon, the snow reflects light and then you have the moon, the stars and of course the northern lights.

I've been in Tromsø at end of January / beginning of February 2017 for a few days and was lucky enough to see the lights. "Problem" is that once you've been here for just a few days, you will most likely start falling in love with the region and the people and then think about moving here. At least thats what happened to me, hehe. Take care! ;)

Edit: What does the Duome Profile mean? Except from the obvious stuff like Skills X/Y. What does the "Lexemes" mean? And what value has "Strength"? What does it mean if you have 52% and I 99%?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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With regard to your Edit, I added an edit to my post when your Edit was still an Edit in your previous post. ;-)

Yes, Norway is wonderful. I traveled along the coast with Hurtigruten together with my Mum in April 2001, and during my short stay in Tromsø, I fell in love with that town. In particular, I wanted to see the Eismeerkathedrale, but since I had to cross that long bridge to get there, I feared that I would not get back on the ship in time (and my poor mother would worry ...). Now I'll stay in a hotel right opposite the Kathedral. :-) This is so very cool ... Enjoy your stay in that wonderful town!

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

I will travel back on 1st September with Hurtigruten down to Bergen. Really looking forward it. :)

When you are here you should definately visit Polaria and meet the seals. :)

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Priit_

Honesly - I get the same feeling when I read Dutch. OH THATS ENGLISh, OH GERMAn, WA I UNDERSTAND?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BarbaraCha360905
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Keep in mind that the dialect spoken in different areas of Norway varies a lot. The way they speak in Tromso is not exactly standard bokmal. You should gradually get used to the accent or dialect used in the area you are in.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Semeltin
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If you can't understand anything, you need to listen to Norwegian on the Internet. Even in language courses you won't be prepared better.

The reason I like Duolingo is that I can translate sentences into the target language and practice my grammar that way. There are not many better ways to do this and none that is as straight forward.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

The reason I like Duolingo is that I can translate sentences into the target language and practice my grammar that way.

How / where can you do that?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Whizbang
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Make Duolingo a part of your study, not your only study. Duo seems to be a really solid introduction.

I try to supplement with a lot of listening and, when I am lucky, I get to speak some.

When I stop routinely screwing up simple sentences that every native Norwegian speaker wouldn't have to think twice about, then I will know that I've outgrown the Duolingo Norwegian course. That day has not come yet.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

I don't share your bad experience, but Im also using multiple sources and not only Duo. Also your personal motivation and affinity to learning languages affects the learning process a lot. You could use Duo without understanding or learning anything, since you could just learn to write the answers for a certain question.

Despite this, Im agreeing with some of your points. Specially the one about learning another language by using english. Im trying to improve my russian, and many of the russian constructions, kasus usages and prepositions are similar to the german usage. Having english as step in between makes you lose this advantage. This is not Duolingos fault, but its a weakness when learning a language by using Duo, and it happened uncountable times that having explanations from the english point of view made the entire thing so much more complicated.

All in all I can only suggest to use as many sources as you can. Even when its just, that you hear the same sentence spoken by different voices.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LovelyCrazy

This is very interesting. Looking studying on different apps and websites, I figured that Duolingo was only helpful for vocabulary. Not conversational and honestly just everyday things. I highly recommend Mango Languages.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fveldig
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Unrelated, but your username should be "En-tysker-i-Norge" (uncapitalized noun, instead of capitalized adjective). Norwegian commonly distinguishes between the adjective of a nationality and a person from a nation:

Norwegian English
en tysk avis a German newspaper
en tysker a German (person)
6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

Thanks for the correction. Always wondered if it is correct, because it sounded "off." However, "En-tysker-i-Norge" is above the 16 characters limit Duo allows. Well, one can't have everything I guess. :)

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jorge_Solana
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I have some norwegian friends and they told me they barely understand each other from one town to another. We need to know that it seems to be 4 major dialects in the country and bokmal is just one of them (most popular probably). I get your problems could have been because of that maybe.

About Duo, you are completely right. The thing is... they already have conversations available, but only for some main languages. Some others like Norwegian are still far behind, but still I find it fun and a good method to learn something and, to help me a bit more, I like to use Mondly too.

The important thing is that you use what you feel more comfortable with and gives you back the best experience.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/En-tyskr-i-Norge

I have some norwegian friends and they told me they barely understand each other from one town to another.

Well, thats motivating. :D

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AmberjackCZ
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Well, if you're learning ONLY from Duolingo then there is no help to you.

Duolingo is great as a supplemental resource. To get a grasp of the language, to build basic vocabulary, to be motivated for daily studying... Nothing can replace a good textbook, reading a real book or listening to an audiobook and most importantly - speaking to a real human being.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badnoodle
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I think it just shows that Duo works really well for some people (like me), but maybe one of the other projects will work better for you. If you use reddit, I also subscribe to r/norge as a way or exposing myself to casual written Norwegian from a variety of native speakers.

I didn't make it up to Tromsø, but I already want to go back and take the Hurtigruten all the way up to Kirkenes.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bigfat3932

Not for me, duolingo is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I'm learning A LOT.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dan.Carlson

I've only dabbled a bit in Norwegian, but I feel the same way with German. I've finished the tree and keep practicing, but I can't understand most articles in German, or understand much in German shows on Netflix. However, I did just start using Pimsleur for German and I noticed it's more to get you into thinking in another language with basic day to day interactions with people rather than cramming in vocabulary and sentences like, "the grass is green", and "Butterflies don't bite sheep", which don't help at all in real life. It's audio based with some reading lessons on the side, so you can learn it while you're cooking, or riding a bus, or stuck in traffic. So far in a month of Pimsleur, I can comprehend more than the last couple of years on Duolingo. I believe they have it in English to Norwegian, but I'm not sure if they have from German to Norwegian.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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I would not use Duolingo as the sole source. I never have a sole source because I have found that sometimes something is explained in a way I can't quite get in one book, and when I look it up in another book, I can immediately understand it.

Therefore, it has always been my approach to combine several sources.

Duolingo is wonderful for keeping me going. Opening a book, finding the right page, is sometimes already too much of an effort for me. But doing a quick Duolingo lesson is easy, and then I'm curious for the next one, and then a question arises that requires me to open the book -- and there we are: I've learned a whole host of things without even realizing it. :-) This is really very, very cool, and I'm grateful for that.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dennis324822
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Here's something that I actually use when learning a scandinavian language or any language really... In terms of grammar and tenses it's really good to compare it with the English use of tenses and you will see that you don't need to learn anything. So basically I've looked up many tenses and could concentrate on the vocabs. At least this is pretty much true for Swedish. So there's a good chance it also applies to Norwegian. Currently I've added Danish as some kind of vocab practice for Norwegian. Basically one word is almost exactly the same in all languages and I've repeated a vocab for all languages or it's only similar to Norwegian and I've repeated a "Danish/Norwegian" word or all of them have totally different words for a thing and those differences will be fairly striking and special. Next time you see that word you will think: " Oh it's the unique word" ! From my experience so far those are rather rare. I personally do not intend to speak Danish because I'm really reluctant to produce deliberate vomiting noise as in the Danish pronunciation of "bread" but Duolingo may enable me to give me a headstart in understanding any of the three languages and to reply with whatever I feel most comfortable with at that moment. Even varieties of svorsk are better than switching to English, as long I still know that there's some vocab gaps that need to be filled in order to avoid svorsk in the future.

Anyway Folks, try to work with what you already know, compare stuff with grammar you have already learned, put different grammatical aspects in the "English" , French, Spanish, German or whatever box in order to facilitate the process of getting a grasp of the language.

5 months ago
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