What does Level 20+ look like in real life?


I'm curious how far Duolingo Chinese takes you. What's the real life level you can expect by doing the Chinese tree (plus vocab learning)?=

Below are some random everyday situations I can think of, from easy to hard. How well does the Course equip you for those?

  • Scheduling something over phone
  • Haggling a lease
  • Opening a bank account
  • Holding a presentation
  • Having a casual discussion
  • Having a philosophical discussion


June 9, 2019


Hi Qualehdi Almedillu,

I'm afraid I'll echo what others have already said.

Finishing any of the Duolingo courses should take you to a CEFR A2 level; which means you should be able to :

  • Understand frequently used expressions in most intermediate areas such as shopping, family, employment, etc.

  • Complete tasks that are routine and involve a direct exchange of information.

  • Describe matters of immediate need in simple terms.

Examples of things you should be able to do if you do the Duolingo course, remember each and every last word, and study additional vocabulary pertaining to local situations...

  • Go to a hotel and book it face to face, assuming nothing goes wrong besides you getting asked to show documents or pay

  • Say a few words about you, your background, your hobbies

  • Ask simple questions to businesses (What is your phone number? When does your business close? Do you have a bigger size?)

The items you listed are probably all on or above CEFR B2, which I'd assume is about 2000h of practice. That's probably five times more practice than finishing the Duolingo tree.


June 9, 2019

I'm not sure about the Chinese course (but I doubt it would make a difference) - I'm at level 22 in the Russian course and I definitely could not do a single one of those things.

June 9, 2019

the levels number is essentially meaningless, it has no relation to how much you've learned. as for what you'll be able to do, probably you might be able to have a light discussion but i'm doubtful you'll be discussing confucius with any depth.

duolingo won't actually make you fluent, but as a starting point for further study it's just fine.

June 9, 2019

Yeah i mean you can do the simple things for sure on this list though, I see what other people are saying but if you want to be concise with your language

Scheduling something over the phone you can say "i want to book a table for 2 at 6pm" that kind of thing is in the duo linguo course.

Haggling a lease, yeah you can "ask to make it cheaper" saying things like "i've seen other places for cheeper" or "the rooms are small".

As for opening a bank account lol i don't think so.

Holding a presentation? depends? we bought or sold this much of this thing in this timeframe, next week we will do 'this' sure, this course at level 20 if you study hard you can do that.

Casual discussion, talking about where you're from or the weather, sure great. knowing a few city names might help you out with that.

A surprising amount of philosophical discussions can be had in very few words, but i'm going to go with no.

  • my experience is a bit different I've been to Taiwan a few times and I have a girlfriend that speaks mandarin, so she's pretty forgiving of my poor Chinese. Additionally I'm thinking you can 'get by' with some of these but you're not going to talk like a native speaker for most of it. but many people that i've dealt with are very accepting of my pocket knife Chinese skills (still useful, but not the tool for every job).

Also I should note I was able to talk to people and ask a few things in Taiwan and pay for things and read some things, even talk a little bit to my girlfriends family. So I'm pretty stoked, its not like magic, i've been working at it for a while (see the streak). and its pretty funny when you get things wrong because of the tones, see words like dumpling / sleep or happy / fast, and many many more.

June 12, 2019

Well, I'm going to say that one thing you should be able to do by the time you're finished the course is that you should be able to listen to conversations in the language and have a pretty good idea of what people are discussing, especially if they are talking about something which you are experiencing or just experienced.

I think your level would also be good enough that you can start to learn by watching television shows (dramas at least, probably not the news). Once you have a foundation where you can start learning by listening to other people either in real life or on the TV then course material becomes less needed.

That is my experience, I'm currently about HSK 4 which is likely somewhere around CEFR A2; I'm going through Duolingo now only to fill in holes in my knowledge.

June 12, 2019
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