https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

Language learning Expectations and Reality on Duolingo – Will I be fluent?

Language learning Expectations and Reality on Duolingo – Will I be fluent?

APRILBROWN4

Expectation: I’ll be fluent from Duolingo alone.

Reality: No … You will need many tools i.e. video’s, TV, real people, books and music for listening and speaking exercises.

Level of fluency by Duolingo: New CEFR-aligned courses

Thomas.Heiss has provided an excellent article - 10,000 hours to become an expert: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/32558931$from_email%3Dcomment&comment_id%3D32559698

Expectation: When I finish my tree (all levels above 1, we get a great little certificate, Yay!) I’m done.

Reality: There are many more complex levels ahead, keep going, you’re not really finished.

As Judit explains from her Hungarian tree: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/32558931$from_email%3Dcomment&comment_id%3D32563980

Expectation: When I complete the tree to level 25 there is nothing left for me to do!

Reality: The reverse tree and/or laddering can be the next step. It’s challenging to say the least.

For example, I was learning Spanish from English, when I finished, I chose to learn English from Spanish.

Laddering … learning another language from the first language you studied. IE. I speak native English, I am learning Spanish, I will learn French from Spanish etc.

Expectation: Duolingo has friends/followers to help me talk and write.

Reality: Duolingo is not a chat site … You can find places like https://www.conversationexchange.com/ and talk to real people in any language you want.

Or you can write to people all over the world https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/

Duolingo provides a good foundation that you can build on if you keep an open mind, adjust your expectations, focus on learning and practice daily.

June 8, 2019

139 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/George229674

Makes sense! Someone asked on here, how long will it take me to learn Spanish, and I thought to myself, I'm a 48 year old native English speaker, and I STILL occasionally run into an English word that I am not familiar with. (I look it up right away if I can.) So, I'm totally fine with knowing I'll be learning Spanish for the rest of my life. I'm looking forward to it. It's been great so far, far more enjoyable and pleasant than I ever imagined it would be.

I take all my skills to level 5, i never test out of anything. Why pass up free education? Think of how much this would cost at a local college...thousands of dollars I bet.

Someone on here talked about the reverse tree, which I started about a week ago. Im finding it to be extremely useful. I expected it to be the opposite of the Spanish tree, but it isnt. I learned a lot of new words and phrases already. I also like to watch Spanish language children's shows on the weekend. It's so satisfying when you catch a phrase, or best yet, an entire sentence, and you realize, you understand it! Super satisfying, super fun. Week by week, i can feel my grasp of the language growing, almost like a plant.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

The reverse tree is interesting, I also learned a lot of new words and phrases. I shift between the trees and when I haven't been on the Spanish to English tree in awhile, I can truly tell.

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

Yeah, it only occurred to me after I'd gotten pretty far to take all the skills up to the Max. You really understand the concepts pretty well if you keep doing them.

A lot of people move through skills in the skill tree to get to the next skill, but if you're not going through the exercises perfectly there's no reason to be moving on to the next just because you have the ability to, you really need to understand the skill being taught if you want to have any hope of mastering the language.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Contrast that with actually getting the concept into long term memory. If someone is struggling with the concepts or vocab, I would suggest going outside of DL to grasp them then use the levels to embed them.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/George229674

At first out of curiosity I pushed ahead to see what new things more advanced skills might have and I was completely unprepared and kept getting the answer wrong over and over, so i slowed down and ground out the basics to level 5. i still dabble ahead though, i have about 16 skills that are "open", somewhere between level 1 and 5. my tree is sort of like a "sloped" shape. 5s up high, then 4, then 3, then 2, then 1. i try to go over the tree like that.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

That's exactly what was happening to me. I think the phrase is, "I reached my level of incompetence." That's usually when I had to scour the internet to find clear explanations of the grammar points I was failing to grasp.

There is a certain feeling of satisfaction though when you finally realize you've got it figured out.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

And it will stick better than being spoon fed.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/bartimaus

See, this is a real problem for me. I don't really know English grammar (my native language), and understanding Esperanto grammar looks even less possible. I've settled for the possibility of just memorizing words and managing to read Esperanto.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

bartimaus. I guess you may be Australian then and from the generation our public school system decided to not teach school kids grammar.

Urgh I had that issue too due to that but I've had to teach myself some English grammar terms etc to a degree to understand the grammar explanations of learning another language.

Things are slower going for us due to this.

June 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/bartimaus

Whether you give me a sheet of paper with "man, dog, bite" or a sheet of paper with "man, dog, bite" and a list of what each one is in the grammar world, I'm not going to understand either way. This is similar to another reason I'm having so much trouble with Esperanto; the lack of word for word translation. You would have to say "the dog bit the man" or "the man bit the dog".

June 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

I'm just going to reply here (no room left).

I spent today in an English (my native language) grammar class, it was rather eye opening how much I had forgotten about my own language since I have been spending most of my time studying Spanish. Anyway, the teacher gave us a web link I'll share.

http://www.chompchomp.com/menu.htm

Grammar Instruction with Attitude - hope it helps someone.

APRILBROWN4

June 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

@bartimaus - just words won't be enough. If I gave you "to bite, man, dog" can you work out whether I meant "dog bites man" or "man bites dog" or "dog will bite man"? Without grammar you cannot tell.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

@bartimus - exactly my point. Learning just vocab does not help - and if you are not learning grammar that is what you are doing - just learning a list of words which are meaningless. It is the grammar that makes meaning out of a list of words - in English by word order, auxiliary verbs, and in inflection (other languages have their own mechanisms).

June 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

"Think of how much this would cost at a local college"

I looked up the cost for learning German at some language schools and was shocked to find it was $5000 per year (Australian dollars).

June 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

My tutor was learning English and it was $1500 (NZD) per month. However he was well beyond DL when I met him.

June 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/TravelingHeather

I can almost guarantee one of the next 20 posts after this post on the forum will be something like "Will I be fluent after using Duolingo", or "Why can't I talk to my friends on Duolingo"

Anyway, this is good information for anyone new to the site. I hope some people read it.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

LOL, you are right and thank you !

I posted it to use when people have those questions, I see them frequently too.

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/toggitang4

Hi APRILBROWN4! I have a question, how do you post pictures?

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/toggitang4

That was very helpful!!! Thank you!

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelMur693549

There are several levels. They are fluency (mastery of reading, writing, listening, speaking), proficiency, conversational fluency, conversational proficiency, writing fluency, writing proficiency............

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Hi,

I up-voted.
Very nice layouting! :-)

Are you in the mood for some fancy numbers and tables?

I found an interesting blog article several months ago:

10,000 hours to become an expert rule, comparing four different language learning scenarios: https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-a-new-language/

"How long does it take to become fluent in another language?"

vs

"How do I get my 10,000 hours of study and practice to become fluent in a new language?"

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/cjr37

Many do this in less than 10,000 hours. It took me over a year to reach that level when I was working in France, which I would reckon to be about 4,000 hours of intermittent communication, rather than intensive language studies. It is more difficult now that I am learning Italian in England. Back in 1967 it took me about 30 hours to pass O-level (now GCSE grade C) German, but I am even now far from fluent. I had about 500 hours of school French, and that did not get me far either. School French teaching was pretty poor in those days before foreign holidays, immigrants, Duolingo and YouTube.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

Fantastic article! Thank you for sharing.

Scenario #3 – Dedicated self-study – An hour a day, every single day of the year = 365 hours per year = 27 years

Yikes! I need to get busy ヅ

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

that is why I think trying to do immersion in the language you are studying is quite important if a person wants to really learn it and then you should hopefully be fluent in 1-2 years. Try to do all your daily things in the language you are learning, your shopping list, your diary, watch all your movies in target language and active listening music in that language etc.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

This is a great start - but you also need input from native speakers (movies and music is good but doesn't require interaction from you). Why? Because all your daily things has quite a small vocab and passively watching a film is not the same as someone asking you what you think of the current political situation where you have to assemble an answer.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/bagobones

The political situation in my country is pretty lousy, and has been for the last 5-6 years. We have the most right wing government since ww2, during Hitlers occupation of our country. And the same trend is showing all over Europe, with the so called right wing populists gaining in the polls in most countries. From Vox in Spain to our own FRP here up north, or progress party in English.. bla bla bla.. hehe..

Its not that hard to reach that level of fluency in a foreign language. English is not my native language, and I have never lived in a country where they speak English natively. I am learning Spanish now, and I feel I will reach a level where I can do what you say in a year or so from now, just with internet, a couple of language partners I speak to now and then, and lots of media..

Do not underestimate the power of Metallica, Netflix and Hollywood..

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rids86

Good article, thanks for the link. Just a quick point. The thing with the 10,000 hours rule is that 1. In as far as it is a rule, it's a rule of thumb not hard and fast and 2. it is very important the type of practice you are getting. Anders Ericsson, who did some of the research Gladwell arguably misunderstood in Outliers, calls the sort of practice required 'deliberate practice'. Generally, deliberate practice is hard and not especially fun, it means stretching yourself - but that's the practice that you need thousands of hours of to become expert at something. For more details, I strongly recommend Ericsson's book Peak, which is a really interesting read and changed the way I view skill acquisition.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Exactly. 10 000 hours of DL won't get you there!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

I cant imagine anyone wanting to spend 10,000 hours here on one language, they'd be way bored of the repeated sentences well before that.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Me neither - but some people have tried thinking if they just keep doing DL they will become fluent - while at best you will be a well practiced beginner.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sea-mist

you can make deliberate practice fun though by attaching to your hobbies and the things you like.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

@sea-mist

Quote: You can make deliberate practice fun though by attaching to your hobbies and the things you like.

Exactly.

Like watersports:

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/27492547/Looking-for-an-inspiration-why-to-learn-new-languages-Train-watersports-and-visit-the-country

Someone could visit Thailand, Philippines or Indonesia over the (European) winter to go Wakeboarding there.

Or check the www.bstoked.net world destination map (linked above) to scan for good windy months (Mexico, Florida, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, etc.) for Windsurfing or Kitesurfing.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/mwbrand1

Hi Thomas.Heiss, That was a great article! Thank you for sharing it.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnDouma

I don't think the 10000 hours rule is true. If I study for three hours a day then I will have studied only 1095 hours in a year. Therefore, it would take me more than nine years of daily practice to achieve fluency.

I believe that 10,000 hour rule has been applied to everything from glass blowing to martial arts and, as far as I can tell, is completely anecdotal.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/lartrak

The 10,000 hour even as it applies in the book was about people who were among the BEST IN THE WORLD. Like professional athletes and musicians - masters. Most people aren't aiming to be the BEST IN THE WORLD at their target language (highest of C2 by CEFR), just able to absorb media and converse well in the language with native speakers, that sort of level (B2-C1 perhaps). There's also seriously diminishing returns on those practice hours - you learn WAY more going from 0-1000 hours than 9000-10000. The perspective is worth remembering.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

Also studies on what makes people the best in the world show that it's not just the time spent, but how you spend it. Focused learning is key.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

There are 25 levels in the tree (most trees)

No. Level 25 is based on XP. When you get 30 000XP you reach level 25. This might be anywhere in the tree - depending on the tree and how you got those XP.

What trees have is "skills" and lessons. For instance the Hungarian tree has 78 skills and 319 lessons. And for a tree you can earn crows - up to 390 for Hungarian.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/cjr37

Of course, the 30,000 applies to each language. I am up to over 54,000 XP on Italian.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Ingen_Hjerne

For most people here it is a hobby No one expects to be fluent in high valyrian or klingon (I hope) Duolingo is a fun way to learn a bit. I don't see how one could become fluent without investing a lot of practice time and effort in real life. By the way, I have exercices to do, it was nice to chat with you

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/b05aplmun.ca

Um, your level is solely based to how many xp you have earned. It only indirectly correlates with how much of the tree you have completed. At this stage, there seems to be agreement that, using the new crowns system in conjunction with the much-expanded Spanish tree, that an average user will have reached level 25 long before finishing the tree. In the past, the average user finished the Spanish tree well before reaching level 25.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda7Italian

April, thanks for this. As you know, I'm a big fan of you and your owl and the work you do. Here's hoping this will sink in!

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

Thank you Linda, I plan on using the owl for this post. If it helps one new birdie, I'll be grateful.

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sevenjetc

Duolingo so far helped me with the grammar and vocabulary basics. But that's it. The only way to become fluent in a language is to use it.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Randolfino

Thanks for your post. I was already considering "reverse tree", but I still have a long way to go in the normal direction. Also thinking about reading children's books and trying to work my up to adult.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/renacotter

Reading books is great, but children's books are written for adults to read to children and therefore are not simple vocabulary or grammar. I prefer to use easy readers to improve my Italian. They often have comprehension questions at the end of each chapter to check comprehension. They may also have a glossary with definitions given in the target language. I download these using my Kindle app. Some of the books are available in audio + text which is great. I try to read aloud for both comprehension and fluency. There are similar books in many other languages. I hope you find this helpful.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

I prefer to use easy readers

Thank you, that's a great recommendation, very helpful.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/b05aplmun.ca

Some children's books are written for adults to read to children. Many others are written for children to read to themselves.

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

You're welcome.

I am doing the reverse tree - Spanish to English and currently trying to finish the Spanish tree since the update, it's a lot of work!

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Mehdi_2004

Thank you for using your time for posting this :)

S.C.A.R.L

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Leotique

Duolingo helps a lot, but you should try to speak with natives or wathc videos :)

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

Yeah, you're not going to become truly fluent until you're having real time conversation with a native speaker at some point; though I guess you could become very good in academia where you were only dealing with the written language.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

There is different types of fluency. Although most people think of verbal fluency, written fluency is another skill.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MTStroke

Expectation: sometime early in the course (maybe when you've finished the tree first time) you will be able to read fiction with the help of dictionaries.

Reality: yes and no. Duo gives you a lot of initial vocabulary, but it is more conversation-oriented. The German tree is one of the most extensive of all, but only one topic in more than a hundred is devoted to the narrative-past tense, the Preterite. It is not enough to start reading fiction books.

Workarounds: 1) start with drama ;) -- Plays are dialogs, they do not use the narrative past as heavily as novels or stories. 2) use the e-dictionary that is tense-aware and searches through conjugated forms. 3) read a long saga that you already know by heart in another language. E.g., Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, whatever. Use something that you really like and would be happy to reread again.

3a) "Guilty pleasures without guilt" is the motto. From the start, you can read/watch really silly memes, youtube clips, lowbrow sensational newspapers, and other material on the foreign language which you'd be horrified to be caught reading/watching if that were on your own language.

Switch your time-wasting to the foreign language time-wasting -- like to procrastinate in the social networks? -- do it, but do it on the foreign language, with full pride.

The only problem with that solution comes when you start your third language: your second may become a little bit rusty (and both the second and the third when you start the fourth, and...)

Solution to the problem with the previous solution: don't give up languages too early. Yes, I am starting to forget English as I don't use it as much as I used to, so what? It is a matter of weeks, months at most, to recover the language that you've mastered once. On the other side, if you haven't really mastered the language before giving it up, you can forget it completely. It's like driving a car, if you've just learned a little bit to get your license, and haven't been driving for a year after that, you have to start learning all over again, but if you have been driving for years, then a year or even ten year pause won't really hurt you).

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/cjr37

I can affirm that this post gives sound information. To find these other sources of learning languages, post in Duolingo.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Devinja1

All these well elaborated guidelines belong in the FAQs, respectively in the help center.

But how do they get there?

Unfortunately, the information is scattered all over the place, so one should not be surprised if people ask the same questions over and over again.

But thank you for the effort of putting all this together.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/_Pet_

Thank you for the writing; it's quite thorough. Assessing language proficiency does present some interesting challenges. https://www.languagetesting.com/pub/media/wysiwyg/ACTFL-proficiency-scale.png https://www.languagetesting.com/lti-information/general-test-descriptions

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BrunoThedim

I couldn't agree with you more!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/David47337

I enjoyed reading your post APRILBROWN4 and the pointers in the reality. I also enjoyed reading the comments because I never know what might work for my learning process. I never expect to be fluent in my target language but the goal is to get to the point where I can communicate without the need to rely on my own native language. Right now I use the DuoLingo as a foundation, completing each section before moving on to the next. The logic is I need that repetition to retain the information with hopefully minimal loss of what was presented. I also speak out loud at home, it is a butcher job but hey it is practice. This may sound silly but when I get a chance I watch Spanish soap operas on television. The reason behind a soap opera is they tend to speak slower and their sentences are shorter for the most part. Closed captions on of course.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

I never expect to be fluent in my target language but the goal is to get to the point where I can communicate

Ah, reality ... it sounds like you are well balanced in your approach, thank you for sharing and I wish you much success in your studies.

APRILBROWN4

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ValentineK880921

Posters often pretend that not being fluent from duolingo alone is some sort of tragedy. I spent nearly a year avoiding traditional methods of learning italian, brute forcing the translation of articles word by word and watching TV shows with absurd dialects that are nothing like the language, after swallowing my pride and deciding to deploy more run of the mill methods for learning, within a few months I went from struggling to make sense of a single sentence to being able to grasp paragraphs with only little inspiration taken from the dictionary.

If you are using the knowledge duo gives you for whatever your reason was for learning the language, then the limitations of duo should be no problem at all, merely taking the time to surround yourself with the language will get you to an acceptable level of fluency. Once you put your mind to learning it properly, be it through music, books, magazines... etc, it will only get easier with your foot halfway through the door.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Ironballs2

Will you be fluent? You won't even be remotely close to the point where you can say that you can speak the language at any level. I'm almost finished the whole German tree and have leveled everything up to five crowns. I use the Duolingo recommended "hover and repeat" method of study, working usually 5 modules at once. I'm also almost finished all of the stories. I read every dialogue while listening to it and also practice listening to it without looking at it, both.

However, my listening comprehension is still virtually zero and I understand very little of what I read on the internet in this language. If anybody ever asked me whether or not I can speak and understand German, my answer would be...NO! I'm almost finished the entire Duolingo course, and yet I can no more speak German than fly to the moon. So there's that.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/mwbrand1

Excellent post. This needs to be pinned to the top of the forum.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

An excellent post! I would direct your attention to Judit's comment, for just a small correction. :)

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

LOL, I added her comment to the post, all fixed, thank you.

APRILBROWN4

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda7Italian

April Brown. I would add that your link neither lectures nor pontificates, it just gives the facts clearly and concisely. Well done you!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/teacheredgard

I agree with you in all your comment. I'm not a native English speaker, My native language is Spanish, and my parents' language was German, This site helps me to keep alive German, practice English and understand some rules of Spanish. Thanks for the post.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

The concept of fluency is rather tricky. Many native born English speakers in America can be said to be fluent, but yet have a poor grasp of English. They get by.

I have met many foreigners to North America that have an excellent grasp of English even though it is not their native tongue, and they acquired it before their first visit. Most Americans have no problem with admitting that it is not at all impossible for many foreigners to not only speak English fluently, but to also be able speak it at such a level that an American might not be able to tell that English wasn't their native language.

This is not a concession that many Americans are willing to give Americans wanting to learn foreign languages. I have constantly heard and been told since childhood that a native American can never learn any foreign language to a level that could be considered native fluent past maybe the age of 12. Is it difficult to become fluent after your teens, most definitely, but it's obviously not impossible and really has to be taken on a person by person basis.

I say take advantage of all the tools we have access to today, that people didn't have less than a half century ago. Of course Duolingo alone won't make you fluent, but it's a great tool in conjunction with other sources -- and it's a lot of fun.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Xypher101

This worked for me in terms of retaining memories of new language, but to learn new language efficiently it is still imperative to talk to people.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/rozie69

A year in Duolingo equals a week in country with people who speaks the language you are learning.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

@rozie69

Hi,

is that your personal experience for Russian or Polish?

Depends how you exactly mean it.

For the "training of speaking", I do not think that one year on Duolingo is any comparable to visiting a country for 1-n week(s) and talking to native speakers...or talking to them remotely on the Internet.

Duolingo does not really drill you on that part...

But if you mean that you can actually learn in one week (by visiting the country) the same amount of vocabulary and grammar you can learn here and there within 1,0-2,5 years - appropriately spaced out with the help of SR software/algorithms - I would not agree with you, sorry.

Especially not if you are a true beginner and you have to learn a new language TOTALLY from scratch.

Honestly, I had some difficulties learning Portuguese here within my first ~3-4 months and I felt back in 2017 that Duolingo will probably drive me nowhere with a clear focus on speaking.

Looking back I am quite sure that I would have been totally lost visiting Brazil too early:

  • either in the very beginning (no previous knowledge, not even in the other Romance languages)
  • within or after 3-4 months first PT learning period
  • before I have completed my Portuguese tree (1 year) or tried to periodically practice it
  • before I have completed my 2 PT reverse trees and other resources (I am progressing, not finished)

I am still not sure:

  • how I would "perform" with locals after learning this very beautiful Portuguese Brazil language (the basics) for 2,5 years

  • how well I am "trained" on the "speaking thing" and to be able to construct my own sentences, even if they might be short:
    My reverse trees will hopefully assist me a bit....but I do not have to write that much in Portuguese anymore, sadly to say.

I find that I still have some difficult times learning the "1000 common verbs", 5000/6000Plus frequency vocabulary courses on Memrise, etc.

Same is true with regularly (or not) reviewing the more advanced Romance grammar stuff, especially verb tenses.

IMHO a true beginner, who is not a native Romance language group speaker, won't be able to "master" the pesky verb tenses and remember all verb conjugations for all personal pronouns easily in a short time

  • visiting a country for a week
  • or only in a 4-6 weeks vacation course without any previous preparation

However, I am convinced that being forced into speaking either in the country by full immersion, 1-on-1 trainers or language exchange tables could boost the knowledge and experience of an upper-beginner / low-to mid intermediate with good language basics greatly.

I feel like I can write this as I am a native German speaker, and I need to invest a lot of time learning about the "Subjunctive" use cases and when to correctly apply them.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Jazztonight

Perhaps an exaggeration, but your point is well-taken.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Without a base (either classes or a language that is similar to your native language) - a week is useless. A month is useless. I have tried this. Total immersion - no English. The result? A month of really knowing what is going on. I got an ear for what the language should sound like - but there is no magic. Words do not suddenly make sense in your brain.

Six months on DL, however, gives a thousand odd word vocabulary and a grasp of basic grammar. From that point, if you have people willing to help a week's immersion might be useful. Myself, I continue to mix a couple of months immersion with formal lessons (but not on DL).

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Bob20020

I achieved the seal of bi-literacy in German from solely using Duolingo and watching YouTube videos for listening. I've never even spoken to someone in German before and I still did better than my Spanish test, where I've talked to people for a while. Duolingo should definitely take you to an advanced level. I got advanced in writing, intermediate 5 in reading and listening and intermediate 4 in speaking. Definitely possible with Duolingo!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nurul206546

Yeah laddering! That's what I do in learning Spanish. I'm native Indonesian, I'm intermediate in English and I'm learning Spanish from English.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Lightning_11

That picture is so hilarious! Time for an upvote! ^

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nicholas.Pela

I have been working on Italian with Duo and am on a 2,091 day streak. I can now read Italian well, but have to look up some words. I can write almost anything I need to express, sometimes needing to look up better/proper ways to say things. I can almost always understand the Duo audio phrases and can converse simply with other learners here in the USA. The rude awakening was actually trying to converse with the Italian people in their native language. My wife and I have made two trips to southern Italy, seeking out family in three very small villages in Basilicata and Campania. Almost no English is spoken in these rural areas. There is a HUGE difference between being able to read and write a language and actually being able to communicate verbally in the real world. The best way to learn to do that is total immersion, and the good people of Rotondella, Canna, Bagnoli Irpino, and Bellona are gracious and helpful.

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

The other thing about interacting with real people is they can use different words or phrases to express things you learn in DL. So although you can say a lot with a couple of thousand words, understanding is not always guaranteed. Sounds like you hit a great way of learning - a good solid grounding with DL which enabled you to learn more from the source.

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

Since English is not my first language, I'm gonna write some stuff I did as I was trying to learn English. Maybe you guys find them useful as well.

I listened to a lot of English songs. Something that I did and helped me a lot with improving my listening skills is that I would play a song and then try to write down the lyrics. My vocab wasn't that strong when I started this so sometimes I would end up writing complete nonsense. Once I wrote criminal like "cream in all" cuz I didn't know the word! but It's a really effective method I think, and I'm currently doing the same with German.

Whenever I wanted to watch an English movie, I would first watch it with Persian( that's my first language) subtitles on. Then I would play it again with English sub. I had a general understanding of the meaning of the dialogs so it helped me a lot with building my vocab. Sometimes I'd watch the movie for the third time as well without any subs.

Cartoons helped me a great deal since the voice actors try to pronounce the words correctly and completely for children. Cartoons helped my listening, grammar, and my accent. After a while, I found out that I can understand cartoons with no subtitles, and later I could do the same with movies.

I talk a lot with myself! I'm an only child so I always did this cuz I had no one else to talk to. I started talking in English with myself. I mainly still talk in English but sometimes I try to switch to German. It's still hard for me.

And finally, I started writing my diary, in English of course. When I look at my first entries, they're filled with grammatical errors and funny words. But now the grammar comes to me naturally. Although sometimes I make some mistakes but so do native speakers.

I found these exercises worked for me. Some of them might work for you as well. Try to put yourself in the atmosphere of your target language as much as possible and find what works best for you. Hope I was helpful! :)

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

Thank you for the tips!

You done very well writing this ... If you had not told me English was not your native language, I would never have known.

APRILBROWN4

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

Thanks! Also thank you for writing the post.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/logane616

Your English is better than many native speakers' English.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/The_Viola_Girl

Wow you are totally fluent! I never would have thought that you weren't a native speaker. Great job learning a new language!

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MarquettaC3

You not only speak (write) as a native English speaker but you have picked up on subtle nuances and colloquiums like "cuz" and "gonna". Well done! I hope to be as fluent in Spanish as you are in English. How long have you been studying English?

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

I started when I was 14, by the time I was 16 you could say that I was fluent. But I decided to test for my English diploma when I was 17. I think it was a good choice since I started reading novels that year which taught me some infrequent but yet essential words.

Good luck with your Spanish dear! :)

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/joe.havens

to be honest, most (American) English speakers will PURPOSELY have slightly bad grammar. like "I can't grammar" but english grammar is pretty hard.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

Haha yeah I've noticed this. The other night I was telling my friend that I was "femaling incorrectly"

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BLRT2000

I've never tried to watch cartoons to learn a language. Your logic is solid, thanks for the tips!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Try Peppa Pig - 5 minute bites.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelMur693549

Peppa Pig is great for a lot of languages. Also, if you have Youtube access, there several channels of Fairy Tales in different languages. Just search for the name of language and Fairy Tales.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ddeck22

+1 on The fairy tales. At least in Italian, they include a mixture of a lot of different tenses, which is good to get a better understanding of expressing when actions occur (and all the conjugations). Peppa Pig is generally only in the present tense.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

Wow! Thanks a lot for that tip man. Lingots are pretty useless but here’s a lingot anyway.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ddeck22

Wholeheartedly agree. Simple concepts, 5 minutes at a time. Learned a lot of words and then when you go back and watch them when you become more advanced, you will pick up even more.

Plus, you will memorize "Dinosaur" in your target language.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/GhostlyGhostHost

Un dinosaure - Rrrrrrggg !!

I stumbled on Peppa Pig while trying to find something I could practise my French with. I give it full recommendations as a learning tool for beginners. They'll introduce new words through conversations while also using words and language duolingo teaches right from the beginning.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/jensenbecoming

Music is huge, in my opinion one of the most effective supplements

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JessicaEri77649

Journaling is a fun idea, I should give that a try! Thanks for the suggestion!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Chainnecklace

Thank you for writing this! English was not my first language either. I went through years of English schools and tutoring, but the thing that helped me the most was moving here to America. Immersing myself with native English speakers increased my English skills rapidly. To learn a new language efficiently, you need to be in a environment where you can hear the language and see the language most of the time.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

I agree, but I’m an awkward introverted girl! :))

Many people say having a foreigner pen pal works best but personally I prefer not to talk to people. So I kinda superficially put myself in that atmosphere.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JorinGedam

I'm an introverted guy but still manage to say what I need to say. Nice to meet you!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BeastBloblade

seeing how fluent you are, I gotta follow those fluency tips for my french

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/PycLearner

Haha I'm doing the exact same with Russian

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/mkury

Congrats! Your english is great! :) I'll try to apply that for german learning. Which german songs can you recommend? Cheers

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NaericaS

I usually listen to metal. Rammstein is an obvious choice! Besides them I like Megaherz, Ost+Front, Mono Inc.( they usually sing in English but have some really good German songs too), Heldmaschine, Unheilig, bands like that. Faun is also one of my favorites they have a more folk themed music, Lafee has more Pop into it but I like her a lot. The thing about German metal is surprisingly they pronounce the words so clearly! I'd say almost any song can be a good start.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SovietAK

I recommend Moskau

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Carrotsand2

This really works for me, thanks!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Laconcha432

Thumbs Up! NaericaS

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/heidi554334

thank you :)

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rimuzhis

Thank You for sharing your learning methods :)

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sym8424

Thank you. Good writing skills!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowfall1001

Thank you for the advice! :D I haven't thought about listening to songs and journaling the lyrics down.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AmberD877

Those are really great tips! I'm going to use those!

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/annadomings

"Whenever I wanted to watch an English movie, I would first watch it with Persian( that's my first language) subtitles on. Then I would play it again with English sub. I had a general understanding of the meaning of the dialogs so it helped me a lot with building my vocab. Sometimes I'd watch the movie for the third time as well without any subs."

Yes! This is a great strategy--watching a movie whose plot you are familiar with, in another language, with that language's subs on. Good for you!

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KatyAnn6

I never thought of keeping a diary in Spanish! Love that idea.

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/KateCollins99

Watch a youtube video about this.

June 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/fluffyunicornis

This is really helpful! Thanks!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Littleduolingo

Yes, It is really helpful!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BrandonEve926969

I was curious what the discussions here would look like; thanks for the thoughtful post and plentiful resources to explore, April! I hadn't even remotely considered reverse-tree learning or laddering so that'll be exciting to explore when I'm topped out with Japanese's tree!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/efisgpr

Thanks, I had never heard of https://www.conversationexchange.com/ or https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/.

Cool!

Que tengas suerte mejorando tu español!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Carrotsand2

As Duolingo isn't a standalone product, you'll need other resources like books, similar apps or even new friends. Duolingo is best for those who want to get started, as for me, it depends on how motivated you're in the course.

As for romance and Germanic languages, Duolingo is suitable for it. But as for Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, I think you should need another product for that.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/raydpratt

I started studying Mandarin with Pimsleur audio lessons (I'm parked at lesson 2A-13, or at about lesson 43), and native speakers routinely tell me that my pronunciation is good. I turned to other materials to try to learn to read and write the characters, but my efforts were slow and unsustained, so I did not learn or retain very much. Duolingo has done a lot to help me read the characters, so I would say that Duolingo is better than other materials for learning to read the characters.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/-Jesse-B-

I asked a similar question a couple weeks ago. More answers there.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Setimiti

Thank you again for the great advice! You have given me advice twice, and it was helpful every time!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/spiceyokooko

Excellent post April, I can't praise it enough.

I hope it might help to stop all these repeated posts asking the same questions but somehow I doubt it! Nevertheless, we now have a concise and to the point answer post that can be referenced.

Great job!

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/APRILBROWN4

spiceyokooko good to see you!

Thank you! I'm sure it won't stop repeat postings but everyone has pitched in and provided some very useful advice that can be referenced like you said.

P.S. I hope your studies are going well

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/spiceyokooko

Thank you April, nice to see you too!

As you can see I'm still around, but less active in the forums perhaps than I used to be for precisely the reason you've outlined—too many repeat questions that have been asked and answered hundreds of times before. I think the forum provides a very useful additional learning resource but at the moment I'm more focused on Tree Revision.

Studies are going well thanks! I'm mostly focused on revising my Spanish - English Tree recently and as you can see, I finally reached level 25 in that one! As well as plugging away at the new additions to the English - Spanish Tree.

I hope your studies are progressing well and knowing you a little, I rather suspect they are!

June 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr.Steal_Ya_Grl

Thanks

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Amigacat

My native language wasn't English either, but I was fluent by the time I was 5. ( I started at 4. 10,000 hours? I don't think so.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Fluent for a five year old. Were you discussing scientific breakthroughs or the ethics of assisted dying then? Language develops for many years - even with native speakers.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

@Judit @Amigacat

Hello,

Quote: but I was fluent by the time I was 5.

Please define "fluent".

Quote: Were you discussing scientific breakthroughs or the ethics of assisted dying then?

May I ask why do most people go for the one or the other extreme side?

I can not remember that I ever have done something similiar in English, my 2nd language, which I practice (in reading, writing, listening) for more than 24+ years (+ all early school years).

Not with 5, not with 18, not with >30 years of age.
Then what exactly is the point with that?

Do all people here want to start a political career on Duolingo to become the next foreign minister and reach a native-like speaking level when they visit representatives in other countries? ;)

I would also be very reluctant to have to talk to a doctor about certain medical conditions in another language in which you do not have a really good command of.

..(...)..

Let's see: I am able to write longer English texts and even listen to native TV shows or YT video, so I should have a profound knowledge of an at least mid- to upper intermediate speaker and apply this in real world scenarios (with all contained spelling or grammar errors maybe low-intermediate ;)).

I also can study IT product (vendor) or book literature (I have been doing this since I finished IT education) or talk with English people on RC hobby forums www.helifreak.com or www.rcgroups.com about (very) technical things.

But I would rather not call myself fluent in English specifically for the speaking part (almost zero opportunities here in Germany to do that on a regular basis) even I would be able to get by quite well, but you know, a job interview in English for example could probably bring me quickly to my practical limits; I had seen this happening without previous special English speaking training in 2002/2003.

The new started "1000 common" / 5000 freq / 6000 WordsPlus PT Memrise courses (from English) honestly just drive me crazy...

......so many new EN words, so many EN synonyms added by the author which I have never heard before.

..(...)..

As I have seen Judit's comments in several threads about being able to hold presentations and talk about stuff in the target language in more detail:

Yes, we exactly had to do that in our fulltime Berlitz "Business English" course in 2005.

As I had some problems to find an appropriate topic in that people group, I had to abandon it and focused myself on my 3rd IT VOIP specialization, what products are available (e.g Asterisk) and how it works.
I may have had some difficulties in preparing my presentation script, all English jokes I wanted to include gone horribly wrong, but at least I learned and felt what it means to hold a presentation in my 2nd language.
We also had to freely answer questions from the audience.

I am not sure if I will ever reach that higher (speaking/writing) level with those Romance languages (targets set) in the next 5-10 years.
If not, well, the world will not go down because of that...


So when we now learn e.g Romance languages on Duolingo and other resources:

  • 1) to be able to visit the country

  • 2) to have a talk with those native speakers in our own country or visit language exchange tables about some random interesting topics

  • 3) to read interesting Internet pages (e.g product descriptions from French companies)

  • 4) to understand people talking about our hobby stuff (e.g taking a course with a windsurf-/kitesurf instructor who does not speak English or our native language)

  • 5) to maybe be able to professionally use the language also one day a bit in a business environment within a team (hopefully, but that goal is IMHO may not be fully reachable without investing another 10-24+ years)

why do I have to aim for the same (advanced) level like I have with English (plz give me an IT job in warm/sunny/windy Hawaii or Florida in the European winter and I will further improve in speaking ;))?

Or why do I even have to try to reach a native-like level in those languages when I do not currently "live" in those countries?

Example:
Try to discuss with two municipality members for 45 minutes why your car was directly parked on the (very) broad sidewalk for the last 20+ years, as all neighbours do it, in the street and that you do not want to personally accept the parking ticket/stammer because of the visible drawn (but faded) lines and you do not want to have people crash into your car when it is parked in the middle of the street or how it shall be handled this summer with the new construction site or how to park out of the property at all when others park theirs directly in the driveway.

Viel Spaß! :-)

I definitely would not have liked to have to do that even in English - instead of German - which I practice more than 24+ years.

Can you really do that in your (2nd), 3rd or 4th+ language?
What CEFR level do you have to reach to be able to do that? B2? C1+?

  • 6) (Minor) "Conversational level" in Czech, Polish, [Slovak or Russia] - in addition to the PT/ES/FR or IT Romance languages:
    Whenever I reach that to have random talks, may it be broken or not, to people at our Wakeboarding German hot spots in the next 10-15 years I think I will definitely make a red cross in the calendar :-)
    One time I even would have had the chance in 2017 to speak Danish...but I have not learned this language yet.

Best regards / Viele Grüße

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

May I ask why do most people go for the one or the other extreme side?

Habits of being on the debating team? No, seriously these are the type of things I was asked to do in class (and with one of my tutors). I could have mentioned discussing intimate relationships, work problems, film criticism. Or what I did have to do negotiate a lease for a flat, get repairs done, then try and argue the rezsi. Anything beyond what a 5 year old would be expected to discuss.

I agree that fluency is achieved long before you can pass for a native - or discuss obscure technical or work related things. But it should include being able to participate in a conversation with adults.

June 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/sym8424

Great analysis. Thanks for posting.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/lara474052

متتكلموا عربى اسهل Please speak english

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BrittGreen3

Para ser honesto, tú no serás fluido por solamente estudiando en Duolingo porque esta aplicación no provee ningunas explicaciones en detalle significante. Por eso, recomiendo que visitas buenas sitios de web que enfoquan en el idioma español exclusivamente:

http://www.fsi-language-courses.net/fsi-spanish-language-c…/

https://studyspanish.com/

También quiero que tú dés de la tienda Google Play la aplicación se llama Español Gramática, el icono de que contiene un símbolo de una corona sobre la palabra Español. Es maravillosa!

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DanielS278

Thank you for the great tips. I shall apply them as I'm learning Japanese.

June 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ExpatGoneForeign

Duolingo vs. reality, graphic explanation:

http://bit.ly/DuoEGF

:B :D!

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/rwalsh101

sorry if i make u sad but no

June 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MATTFROMWi

si

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanRankin1

You can't actually become fluent unless you go somewhere where people speak that language and speak it exclusively for a couple of months. But Duo Lingo EXCLUSIVELY (with a bit of extra practice on conjugations) gave me enough Italian to navigate several crises in Italy in Italian so YES you CAN learn enough to get around in a language in DuoLingo.

June 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Nelson-James

While I think that was the case in the pre-internet past, I don't think that's necessarily the case now. Immersion can jump start internalizing a language because you're forced to, but through Skype, movies, books and a host of learning tools and apps, I could immerse myself in a language without traveling anywhere, and if you're fortunate enough to live in a major metropolitan area with a huge community of people in your chosen target language, so much the better.

Even in my area in the Southern U.S. I have access to Russian, Spanish, Chinese and French native speakers I can talk with at any time.

June 10, 2019
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