Outside the walls of Duolingo
I first want to say that Duolingo is one of the best organizations for language learners and can teach many things, but you can be on your computer or smart phone learning phrases all day( which is very good) but I encourage everyone to try to get a book, a movie, or some songs, to help practice your language. Try to go out of your comfort zone and meet and befriend people who speak the language because most of us know many phrases and words but don't ever put them into real practice (including myself), To become fluent in a language it has to be put into practice. Don't worry if you mess up when you mess up it strengthens you. most people will know you are learning and be kind to you. Good luck with everyones language learning and if you have other really good strategies for practicing a language please leave them in the comments below.
I started watching tv shows and movies in German about a year ago - German audio, German subtitles, no English allowed. At first it was incredibly frustrating, as I had to pause pretty much every sentence to look up a word or two. But, as time went on, I found I was pausing it less and less often, until I got to the point where I don't need to pause it at all anymore... even if I don't fully understand every single word that was said, I'm at the point where I understood enough of it to know what's happening in the scene. I've watched entire movies now in German, even without having seen them before in English, and I can give you a plot synopsis afterwards. This has helped my listening comprehension quite a bit, but I've found that I'm still hardly able to hold a conversation, because formulating speech is an entirely separate skill than comprehension. I've found a few German native speakers on apps like HelloTalk who are willing to Skype with me, and that has helped developed my language skills to the next level. I still struggle quite a lot, but I'm at the point where I can hold a semi-decent conversation, and I'm extremely happy about that.
My advice in a nutshell: Duolingo will get you started on the right path, but you'll never become fluent, or indeed even conversational, until you climb over the "walls of Duolingo", as AndresGarner put it.
Due to a lack of any Norwegian speakers to chat to I started writing Norwegian for myself - stories, journals, conversations between to characters....
It doesn't help with pronounciation (although I try to read what I've written back out loud) but it has helped massively with learning to construct sentences. I try not to worry too much about whether the sentences are actually correct, it's more about using the language, getting used to using words to construct sentences rather than just translating them.
It's also a helpful halfway stage if you're not too confident at speaking - no-one needs to see what you've written but you're still practising the skill. Once you feel confident at building sentences then it's one less thing to worry about when you start speaking to people.
You are so right. Before I got totally immersed in the language, I took things up to Crown Level 5 to make sure I remembered the word to prepare me. But reading and listening to a computer program not good enough. I remembered the words alright but so many times I got the universal word utterance of "huh" because I did not pronounce it correctly. I sometimes get the universal utterance after several months but that is because of different dialects here.
In summary, having conversations is quickest path to fluency. But beware of unrealistic expectations. I hoped to be fluent in 6 months but after a couple of months, despite feeling a lot of progress, that goal is far off. But thinking of it as a language adventure, I am having a lot of fun along the way and no longer so concerned about the fast track to fluency.
I completely agree with this. A way I have been practicing is that I am watching shows on Netflix in German with German subtitles. I keep a notebook with me so I can write as I watch so that if I hear a new word or phrase I am not familiar with, I can look it up. YouTube videos are also great for this as you can usually turn on subtitles for some videos.
Most times I try to use Swedish through thinking what I am going to do next. It helps me improving the grammar I already know. Then I am also trying to write to swedish people on an app called tandem, a pretty helpful chatroom due to native speakers that can correct you and tell you what you did wrong and how you could do it better next time.