https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DomJ90

Level 25 but don't feel like I know Italian at all

Feel like I am hitting a brick wall with Italian, I am barely halfway through the duolingo course but I have no idea how to progress, my learning seems to have ground to a halt, the things I've learnt so far I can practice with almost no mistakes but learning new things just seems to be killing me. Getting pretty bored with the "learn by getting it wrong" technique that Duolingo seems to love.

Any tips to keep going? Any other good resources to learn alongside Duo?

April 10, 2019

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lrtward

The same thing happens to me.

It's time to mix things up a bit - find an easy Italian book to read, listen to some kids' shows, find a language exchange partner, etc.

Everyone hits a plateau from time to time. It's part of language learning.

I find that eventually when things get going again, I've learned a lot more than I realized, and I move ahead pretty consistently for a while. Until the next brick wall, anyway ;-)

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/compsognathus

Wonderfully put, Lrtward :)

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Great answer!

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Giovanna-Louise

Very well said , @Lrtwrd!

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Haybop

Don't rely on Duolingo for your only learning experience - find easy youtube vids for people learning Italian, rent some Italian language DVDs with english subtitles from your local library or something. Have some fun putting what you have learnt into real life situations :)

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

Hey DomJ90 Try this course. I think you'll find it really helpful. It goes way beyond the normal lessons of a language course into the gritty nuts and bolts of how people really speak!

https://www.memrise.com/course/755503/2000-idiomatic-expressions-adv/

Plus it's audio spoken by real native speaking human beings! wow haha

April 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alwaysfresh

this is called a plateau and you need to take a break then resume

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

What do you mean exactly by take a break? I've been language learning for almost 2 decades and have figured out quite well how to break through plateaus. Neuroscience studies have shown that to reinforce the connections required to maintain a new language you have to use that language at least every 3 days at a minimum. Breaks are useful between bouts of study, but not breaks in the learning process itself. When children learn a language they don't take breaks.

Rather, what a plateau shows is that the methodology you're using is not rigorous enough. A good analogy is lifting weights. Many people who lift weights don't realize the body subconsciously does everything in its power to prevent us from wasting energy, so in lifting weights our bodies try to get us to lift in ways that activate the minimum amount of muscle possible, literally working contrary to our intentions. You have to adapt your methodology to address this, not take more breaks.

The same phenomena happens when learning a language. The fact is, using a platform like DL is a starting point, it'll get you off the ground, but it's not rigorous enough to push you into a real state of progress. Try living in a foreign country like I do and you'll see that a platform like DL is fantastic to get started, but it's not enough to take you to the finish line, nor could it be. You have to use language in a real way if you want to break through.

April 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/93k8nXGk

Language Transfer is the free version but similar to Michel Thomas or Paul Noble which are similar to Pimsleur. They are more relaxing. I think I can make more progress. But I wouldn't say I have actually learnt a language this way. More that there are now lots of easier ways to access language learning and books films and music videos in a variety of languages these days.

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gingin448790

thanks for the tip on Language Transfer. WOW! So many resources out there for free.

April 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Barado-San

Don't sweat it, Dom. The normal learning curve (per my college learning psychology course) is more of a peaks and valley progression. Typically early learning happens fast and then you hit a slow lull before taking off again. Rinse and repeat as you become more and more fluent in whatever you're learning. The trick is to not just walk away. When you hit the slow patches, you know you're just doing your time until you hit that next big wave upward.

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rangdo

This is a very common experience. As alwaysfresh points out, it's called a plateau and apparently happens when what you've learned so far is being transferred to your long-term memory. So it's a good sign - just keep plugging away and you'll start to see new progress again!

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarolJPar

All these suggestions are fantastico! Don, I often feel this way. I have been working on my Italian for 3 years now and am woefully not anywhere near fluent. I recently hit a really big wall and wasn't sure how I could make any progress. And, then, for whatever reason, some things that hadn't made sense, started to make sense to me. I'm very slowly working my way through Duo. I'm a big fan of Pimsleur as well. Even though it's not free, I have found listening to the lessons as I walk to work every day, extremely helpful. And, I've started watching Italian films a bit. I watch it first just in Italian and try not to think in English, but just "go with it." THen I watch with subtitles to see how close to understand I am. And, finally, there is NO SUBSTITUTE to going to Italy and talking! I'm so thankful that I am able to do this. In 35 days, I head back....

April 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AllenTaylo13

I'm only 6 weeks into my Italian journey, but definitely, Duo is only part of the way I'm doing it. I hate the lack of explanations with the questions. The message boards are sometimes helpful, but it'd be far better if they had lessons to teach alongside the topics. So, instead, I go on youtube and watch videos for things that confuse me.

One thing I've also been doing is--well, I got an Italian copy of Orlando Furioso, and a couple times a week, I'll take an ottava and try my hand at translating it, using Florio's 1611 Italian-English dictionary, along with some modern resources. While I'm doing it, I'll write down verb infinitives, and then I'll write every conjugation for the verb forms I know; I'll write down new adjectives in each of the forms. Then, when I finish, I'll check it against several English translations. It's slow-going, but fun! I try to get a about an hour of Duo in, and an hour of work outside.

April 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yvonne677733

That is exactly how I feel like right now (although I am in a much lower level than you are). You should try to use tinycards before going into a new section. That is what I have started to do since I have started to get a lot of things wrong but when I review passed sections I get most of them right (just like you). You should also try listening to Italian music and looking up the translation in https://lyricstranslate.com to practice.

April 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fc0292

Try english for italian speakers, the italian course is supposed to provide only level A2 of fluency after finishing the tree. I would also recommend youtube channels of your choice, podcasts, music. A very famous singer in Italy that I like a lot is Fabrizio De Andrè, I like also Francesco Guccini. Depending on your taste Neapolitan songs are very happy and good to listen too.

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Fc. Fabrizio De André is meraviglioso! Sono d'accordo.

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DomJ90

Thanks to everyone for their advice, it's given me a shot in the arm. I bought a copy of Michel Thomas Beginner and Advanced course a year or so ago but I didn't like the structure, I'll give it another go whilst I'm driving to work. I want to start a 1 to 1 language lesson but I don't feel confident enough yet to try this out. I don't think in Italian, so it either takes me a long time to translate or my mind goes blank, which is frustrating but normal for language learners. I'd like to get to the point, ahead of my holiday in August, to be able to speak a reasonable level of conversational Italian. We go to the same place in Italy every year, Pula in Sardegna. I've always had just enough Italian to get by, but I hate feeling like an ignorant English person and want to be able to "blend in" as much as I can. Thanks again.

April 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/4sambini

I highly recommend online 1 to 1. I hesitated for months and now wish I had started earlier. A teacher will work with you on your level. I signed up through onlineitalianclub.com and the two teachers i have seen are excellent.

April 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ilhombre2

get a language tandem! It is fun, both can learn something and you make new friends ;) I learned best with grammar books to understand the theory behind the language. My experience is that Duolingo is only usefull to practice the grammar you learned anywhere else.. It is quite effective. I need only level 9 to conquer the whole italian course.

April 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeorgeAndri

Duolingo gives you a good base, not a full knowledge. But with you skills now you can go to HelloTalk app and practice with natives, which will help you a lot.

April 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HenryYoung11

Finishing the duolingo tree by no means makes you fluent, it is just meant to give you a headstart in the language. If you really want to speak and understand the language better, you need to immerse yourself in the language (whether that be by watching Italian TV, playing video games in Italian, reading Italian books, or maybe even visiting Italy!)

April 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/esotericverses

I think a good way to discover music in Italian would be to look at all the song entries for the Sanremo annual music festival, I'm sure that you'll find songs that you not only enjoy but know enough italian to understand after a few listens, also the music is popular so you can usually find user submitted translated lyrics on the website https://lyricstranslate.com/en buona fortuna amico :)

April 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Don_Cristian

There's the "Ultimate Language Notebook" which you can find on my profile. I use it together with other resources to learn more. The notebook has 72 topics and every left page has a word list of the given topic, then the right page is empty so that you can add words that you've learned here in Duolingo, memrise, by watching movies, youtube or anything that you add there. I recommend to use that together with other resources, because it's one notebook including all the essentials of your target language, so you can just take it whenever you need to review what you know.

April 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wcjerky

learnamo.com is what I have switched to using. It's not only immersive, it's also aligned with CEFR.

April 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marta592074

Try watching Italian TV/ films/ youtube videos to make things more interesting; even if you have to use the English subtitles, it gets your ear used to Italian and gives you a way of practicing Italian even once you've finished the duolingo course, because you can make it progressively harder by switching to Italian subtitles and then removing them altogether.

June 18, 2019
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