7 ways to get more out of your Duolingo course
It can be tempting to just click through a Duolingo lesson in order to finish the skill, without learning as much as you could. Since the ultimate reason we are on Duolingo is to learn, here are 7 ways you can learn more from each lesson:
Say every sentence out loud. This helps with pronunciation.
Take notes of new vocabulary. Writing down the words will help it stick in your memory more.
Pick a few sentences from each lesson and "diagram" them. Write them down and label the different parts of the sentence. (Noun, verb, direct object, preposition) and identify what each part plays in the sentence structure of that language.
Formulate a response in your target language to each of the sentences in the course. This gives you practice constructing your own sentences. Sentence: Me gusta el chocolate. You could say: ¡Genial! ¡Yo también!
Close your eyes when listening to your target language and see if you can decode the meaning without the text. This helps with listening comprehension.
On the multiple choice questions, don't just click the correct answer and then move on. Try your hand at translating the other two incorrect answers. They won't always have correct grammar, they will likely be nonsensical, and Duo might even use grammar and vocab you haven't learned yet, but it's a good challenge nonetheless.
After each lesson, write down every phrase/vocab/grammar rule you can remember from it.
These are tips that I have found helpful, I hope you find them helpful as well. Also, share your tips down below! I would love to hear what works for you.
I can imagine that. “Excuse me sir, why are you speaking to my dog?” “Guten Tag, Ich will Deutsch sprechen.” “Oh. Okay, then... (mutters ‘mad fool’)”.
I remember I was learning Esperanto, and I got pissed at someone at school, so I yelled this at them:
VI ESTAS HUNDINO!
vi = you estas = is/are hund- = "dog" related -in- = female -o = noun
its nice knowing dogs listen no matter what you say to them. personally, if someone says any word phrased like my name, i will answer "what" like someone: "hey, pineapple!" me: "hmm?"
Can confirm that speaking to your dog really works to brush up a language. It's so flattering how carefully they listen to you. I love dogs.
Our first dog came to us from an Irish speaker, and it was great practice for us as the dog didn't understand any English words . We didn't think you could teach an old dog new words, & we spoke to him in Irish to make him feel more welcome in his new home. (Amazingly, he actually picked up some English words like walk, go to and bed in a couple of months.) To this day I automatically speak Irish to dogs.
personally, i like to watch tv in german and yell at the characters, in german, when they do stupid stuff. 10/10 would recommend.
That's a really good tip! If you don't have anyone to practice with, talk in your target language as much as you can to a pet, and if you don't have one, just talk to yourself!
I'm learning Spanish, and I always speak to my parrot and tell him about my day in Spanish. He listens! :)
He's a Sun Conure, and yes, he picks up words REALLY quickly. Half the time, my family doesn't notice that he knows them until he says it out loud! :)
I need a new parrot. I used to have a Blue Front Amazon, but had to sell him back to his original owner when we downsized our house and had to put him in a smaller cage... his personality changed. But I so miss him! A sun conure would be nice, due to their smaller size. Or a Caique, but they don't talk.
Haha I've done that before! Whenever I go to my aunt's and I see her dog, I try to practice my German by baby talking to little Ollie.
I do the same thing! also try communicating with your family in your target language. When I do this, my family gets a bit annoyed because they can't understand, but it forces you to try to form sentences and close gaps in your vocabulary!
After I read this, I started doing it. I surprisingly don't speak to my precious darling (a Havanese Westie mix) in Spanish, but I mumble in French to him sometimes and whenever I see him (the dog's name is Jojo) I say: "Joh-joh, mon ami, comment ca va?" He takes that as a command to follow me for some reason. Oh well. Jojo will always be my dog best friend forever, even if he isn't so great at French. :)
I was! My family use to watch I Love Lucy all the time! We own the first 5 seasons on disk, but never bought the last 2.
Ask your dog yes or no questions so they can actually answer just by nodding their heads.
In all seriousness, the given circumstances would require a linguistic exorcism.
Going slowly is so important. I find that the game-like aspects make it hard to do that. The design encourages racing through the lessons, so you have to work hard to consciously not do that.
ye! I found that thinking of it more like a school test, rather than a game, works wonders.
These are ALL great and helpful tips! I love the one about making up your own response to the sentences. I'm going to definitely try this.
Here's my two tips:
On the multiple choice questions, before I answer, I try not to look at the 3 given answers, and translate the sentence on my own out loud, this helps with pronunciation too.
I wrote this in another post but I feel it's helpful, so I'm sharing it here too. If the language has Stories, I memorize the dialogue of one story I really like and then recite it back to myself. After I've memorized it well I try and write it down, which on the other hand helps with grammar. So that way you have practicing listening, memorizing more vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar all in one. I REALLY love Stories because you're listening to real people putting emotion in what they say and not monotone computer-generated voices like in the lessons (not that I don't love those too lol), and they are so well done and helpful I wish they were available for all the languages.
It's also a great way to learn other keyboard layouts too - my phone has a limit of four however, so I dropped all the latin alphabet languages in favour of the non-latin, and use US-international.
Losing the dictionaries was a little painful though - the amount of times the phone auto-corrects to another language has failed me a few tests :P
Finding linux & windows have different russian layouts though....
They won't always have correct grammar, they will likely be nonsensical
reading a sentence and understanding that it is gibberish shows an understanding of the language (at least to a certain degree). So that's a really good one. Good post, OP!
Yes, our nervous system doesn't have time for us to think of all the complicated things we need to do to utter a sentence, so practice is literally necessary.
So I didn't do this with Spanish, because I didn't know about it, but I'm doing it with Arabic. Do the first lesson to level 2, then the second to level 1. Then the first to 3, second to 2, third to 1. Then 4, 3, 2, 1. Then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 etc. all the way through. It does take forever to get through the tree, but it's really good spacing and repetition. I can tell you that I am really remembering the Arabic well.
That's awesome, I wish I had done that from the start. I can say I'm much more proud of my few skills that are all leveled up than with all the skills I got to level one in and then moved on from.
CheshirePat, great advice. I also do something like that, so there's constant review until I know that understand the grammar of every topic and also the vocabulary. Then by the time I get something up to level 5, there's the option of speed review, which helps me to know if I really have mastered the unit. I ALWAYS read any grammar tips before starting the lessons, and when I miss things and don't know why, I read people's questions and answers, and often find answers to questions I've had for a long time. The moderators are very helpful.
This was exactly what I started doing as soon as I came back to Duo after about 6 months out; the latest updates are fantastic, great shout!
I like that approach. But I'm holding off on Level 5 until I finish the Tree. That will give me some widely spaced review for months or years before totally finishing the tree.
What I have been doing is keeping the bottom 3 lesson in order, so the bottom level is level 0, the one above it is level 1, the one above itis level 2, but I don't keep level 3 and 4 lessons in order. Then, I use a random number generator to pick which lesson to work on next. This seems to give me a nice balance of practicing newer lessons and practicing older lessons. I'm never cramming a lot of the same lesson and not knowing what I'll practice next makes it easier to not get bored with the lessons!
Thanks! ^-^ I write new vocabulary in a small, blue book and whenever I forget what a word is, I go back and look. It's like a dictionary for me.
As well as using Duolingo I attend a German class two evenings a week, total class time three hours. When the teacher writes things on the board I copy it down and highlight the different components in the sentence with highlighter pens. I also write my own little notes as a prompt in the margin. It sometimes works for me, but after over two years I'm still struggling to speak German beyond the basic level. I find German incredibly difficult to learn as a native English speaker.
If you're that far in, it's really worth focussing on the grammar and the case system. It's less fun, but if you can get to being automatic about really understanding the difference between der/die/das/den/dem/etc and when to use them, the rest of the language will make more sense.
A few things that help me are:
Talking to my cats in the target language.
Naming the rule old example. Dutch has a LOT of rules for adjectives. And, I was struggling endlessly. So, I started taking sentences I got in Dutch lessons and writing the sentence and the rule. I find this more helpful than diagramming sentences, simply because I already learned what verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc are back in school. So, I no longer needs to learn that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. etc.
I've also made giant grammar rule posters that I could see from clear across the room. I tried post it notes and such. But, when I put the giant posters up with giant font, every time I looked up I was reminded of the grammar rule I was working to learn no matter where I was in the room.
These days, I'm barely taking any notes. Mainly just "name the rule" practice. I'm trying an approach of just getting familiar with the language, moving it away from a goal of memorization and into having made friends with it from repeated exposure and interaction. This has by far been the least stressful approach and the one I've enjoyed the most. However, it doesn't work for me with all languages. I've noticed that different languages have different personalities and require different approaches to making friends with my memory.
My best approach by far however, has just been trying different things and finding what I like. And when it stops appealing to me, being creative and locating more approaches that make things feel refreshed. :)
Good luck everyone! ^_^
Thanks for these great tips. I don't have any local meet ups for Danish yet, so this is helpful.
Once I understand a sentence fully, I also try saying it as fast as I can. I was so slow for months! Now that I'm through the first checkpoint, I can speak at a normal speed. It's very satisfying to get to a stage where you can do that.
For the first tip, saying each sentence out loud, I came up with a clever way to do that. Instead of typing your answer when prompted, use the dictation feature on your device to be able speak your answer. Much easier than typing.
Repeat, repeat repeat! And one more... Repeat!
Leave it for a while, if you are getting bored but... Again, repeat!
This is my method.
Bonjour stergi3. I agree that repetition is the best way to remember the new language. I am okay at writing the word(s)/phrase(s), however, I must remember to say it or them as I write. This learning takes habituation, like learning the alphabet. I have to remember that I didn't learn the alphabet the first time I said them (or riding a bike). I'm sure you get the idea. Thanks for reminding me to take it slow and repeat, repeat, repeat. samanthasi267304
Great tips. I do similar things while studying German, and that is why it takes me 6-10 minutes to do a lesson, whereas my students generally click through the lessons in 2-4 minutes.
One thing you didn't mention is to open up the discussion page on tricky sentences, because often you can find good comments by native speakers or mods that are helpful, or you might find out that the Duolingo sentence has a mistake, or is somehow awkward.
By the way, I just wanted to let you know that you have an error in your example of "formulate a response:" If someone says, "Me gusta el chocolate," the correct rejoinder is "a mí también," rather than "yo también." In Spanish, people don't directly "like" things, but things please people.
Nice tips, thanks for sharing. Here are few of my own. After completing the Spanish language tree once, I focused on learning the grammar by following a good beginners grammar book. Also started reading basic books for kids in Spanish language with Spanish-English dictionary by the side, that really helps speed up the learning. Eventually, plan to progress to reading more complex books for adults. I have completed Spanish tree twice and doing it for the 3rd time now, but already comfortable speaking in Spanish and can follow Spanish TV content. Repeated lessons on Duolingo are good for vocabulary building and faster recall.
Splendid! Another tip could be what I discovered by accident: watch tv/netflix/... series or films in the original laguage you are studying. You will be surprised!
Also- try to advance past level one in each skill. I originally was only getting to level one in each skill and then moving on, and I wasn't learning Portuguese, I was learning how to pick out the right bubbles. As I try to advance all the way in skills I learn comprehension and grammar.
These are some excellent tips - many thanks! I use some of them already, but there are a couple of others I haven't utilised so much.
Regarding multiple choice questions: one thing I like to do with the multi-choice questions concerning verb conjugations is go over each one, which helps to reinforce patterns. Or if you're doing an exercise that requires you to pick one out of four characters (which you can get in e.g. Japanese, Chinese or Hindi), try to identify the three "wrong" ones. E.g. "The correct answer is "ki", but that character means "ka", and that one is "ga" and this other one is "ko".
A couple of other things you can do for practice when away from Duolingo is try to name everyday objects in your target language. Or if you're doing a task that requires counting, then count in the language you're learning. I find this can help not only with language learning, but also with making dull tasks more interesting!
oh my god, how can one person learn all those languages! I was getting tripped up after 4!
It helps that a number of them are related to each other (although it is certainly possible to trip yourself up by e.g. writing "jeg" instead of "jag" in a Swedish exercise, because Danish and Norwegian use "jeg", and several times I have translated the Dutch "je" as "I" instead of "you" because I'm used to the French "je", which does mean "I"). But yeah, cognates and similar grammar structure between some languages definitely helps. I cycle through them and drill myself pretty thoroughly in whatever language(s) I'm doing on the day, and the method seems to be working quite well - I can definitely feel myself improving in each one, even Vietnamese, which is very tough with all those different accents! But I focus strongly on the bare-bones basics first to give myself a solid foundation, and then just keep building skills on top of each other.
It's certainly a challenge, but I find it a lot of fun. Although three languages (French, German and Spanish) are more about revision as I already knew them before discovering Duolingo. Even with those languages though, I've learned a few new things, which has been great.
how do you work and keep adding more languages like? how many lessons do you do per language before you move to the next one? and do you just take 1 theme at the time (Basic 1) to level 5 or do you take many themes at the same time and try to finish the tree ASAP?
The number of lessons I do depends on where I'm up to. For example, if I'm up to a skill where I'm knocking on Crown Level 5 and there are 20 lessons to get through in that skill, I'll probably just do that and nothing else this time around. But if I'm up to some new skills that maybe only have one or two lessons each, then I will do several skills at once before moving on to the next language in my cycle.
I certainly don't try to rush. Language learning takes time. So I aim to drill myself fairly thoroughly. But I break it down by groups of skills between checkpoints. So I'll do a group of skills between one checkpoint and another up to Crown Level 1, then do them all again to CL 2, and so on and so forth, rinse and repeat, until I've made all those skills golden (i.e. up to Crown Level 5). That gives me a good solid foundation for the next set of skills, and I just do the same thing with those.
With some languages, I'm up to about the third group of skills, while with others, I'm still on the first group. It just depends on how long ago I started the course. Some I've been doing for a while, others I'm still quite new to. But anyway, I think doing skills in little clusters helps to keep it interesting, but by focusing on just those skills and then moving on to another group when they're done, I think I also ensure that I'm not spreading my study out too thinly.
I am studying Korean and here are a couple tips for anyone starting or thinking to start Korean. 1. Forget romanization, its hard to learn the words when you put a romanized sound to them because you expect it to sound exacly like the rimanized word. 2. Get a korean keyboard for your phone or computer, i have memorized and learned words because of this. 3. Write everything down, if you can put it in your native language the target language and transliteration (i recommend this for any language you learn.) Well i hope that helps someone out. Best wishes to all on your language learning abventure.
My 50 days challenge: Learn italian for 50 days. How: I have switched my phone's language to Italian from day 1, and I listen to RTL (Italy's most popular radio station which has news in every whole hour and mixes english and italian music) 5 mins per day and I do Duolingo 5 mins per day for 14 days and then I increasing it to 5 more mins until it hits 20 mins which is max per day. Goal: My goal is to understand what they're saying in a child program like, peppa pig.
Great ideas! However, I think 5 minutes per day is too little. Think of babies... they get all their waking hours absorbing the "lessons" of the people who surround them.
what u mean with 5 mins a day - too little?? u mean with the radio thing??
5 minutes per day is probably light for DL if you want to be understanding anything in 50 days. 20 minutes is a better minimum - work up from there.
Amazing! I do similar things but my goal is to be able to speak and understand basic conversational French in 3 months, then the sky's the limit from there.
Pick a few sentences from each lesson and "diagram" them. Write them down and label the different parts of the sentence. (Noun, verb, direct object, preposition) and identify what each part plays in the sentence structure of that language.
Not a skill everyone has - and not useful for all languages. Hungarian, for instance, has a variable word order that is not entirely free but follows its own logic. Assuming one sentence is a pattern for another can be a trap (often in discussions I see people complaining they used the same word order as another sentence, not realizing why this is a different case).
Formulate a response in your target language to each of the sentences in the course.
Vraiment de bons conseils didactiques pour apprendre une langue. Merci Lingual Lightning Moi, j'écoute aussi des chansons et en cherche les textes sur l'Internet. e.a. Renaud, Joaquín Sabina, Aznavour. Tous des magiciens des mots.
Yes, and I also follow some French news accounts on Twitter, just to see if I can translate their headlines, and if it interests me, I will try to read an article and see how much I can comprehend.
That's actually a really good idea. I won't be doing that quite yet because I've only just started, but later on I will most definitely be subscribing to some french news articles1
Also if you are using the web version there is an option to "use keyboard" to answer the translation questions instead of the bubbled words in the beginning lessons. It's harder, but producing the words yourself cements it better in your mind.
I feel like I already use most of those techniques naturally, which makes me really happy and motivated. Even if tons of people do it, I think that learning a language isn't easy, if you think deeply about it:
It's like learning a hieroglyph, a totally new code. You have to learn the code, understand it (decode) and code messages for others. It's like being born again, learning noun by noun, verb by verb, until you manage to say a simple sentence without thinking too much.
Note: Personally, the techniques that work best for me are the first one, fourth and sixth.
Thanks for posting!
I look up spanish songs that I like and try to understand the spanish text first. Then write the text down and try translate it. Also don't forget to sing along !
I sometimes try to narrate what I'm doing in my head. So I'll be thinking "okay so now i'm going to get some water" etc in my target language haha
Excellent! First signs of future fluency. Now, when you can, make yourself say those thoughts out loud. Even if it's just a whisper, it will help. Practice makes perfect.
I say to my best dog friend Jojo in a mellow, sweet sounding French accent "Oh! Jo-jo! Comment ca va?"
(I am typing on a keyboard, so pardon the non existence of the accent on the c)
On the: "Write what you hear":
After typing your answer (what you've heard) and before pressing enter,
Say the translation out loud.
After all, you want to understand what people say,
not just parrot it like a tape-recorder.
(Came up with this one after realizing that sometimes I type the right answer without even knowing what they say...)
Once you leveled up enough in a skill,
(say, reached level 3. Or your choice, depending on how confident you feel.)
when encountering a word-pool exercise on the web, choose use keyboard instead.
One tends to learn more when having to build the entire sentence without the word-pool hinting them.
I don't really use Duolingo as an all-purpose app. For me, it's a vocabulary builder that serves as a foundation for the rest of my learning tools. I use children's books (then move up in reading level as I go along), watch Netflix shows in the language (just search your target language and check out what they have to offer), and write, listen and all that other stuff. The grammar stuff, I've been doing so long I can intuit it now. I don't need to break down what is a noun because it's obvious. I feel like people should study grammar in their native language before they pick it apart in a new one because it only causes confusion. And studying grammar in every single language seems time-consuming as well. You really only need to learn grammar once, save for special rules in a new language, in order to be sucessful in language learning.
for learning a language, for me pacing is really important. i never try to stretch myself beyond levelling three skills at one time, and even then, i won’t start learning a third until the other two skills are at level 3 or 4.
Thanks for the tips! I'm definitely guilty of clicking through some lessons.
Why did Duolingo eliminate word test at the end of a story and give us a chance to add those words to the TINYCARDS library? That feature was very helpful in learning new words and how much of the story was retained in the memory. It would be great, if you can add that feature back.
Hi Lingual Lightning,
Thanks for your post! I complimented you on it earlier. Then when I was doing a lesson, I realized that one of your suggestions is probably better not done (for some reason I am not able to indent and quote): "On the multiple choice questions, don't just click the correct answer and then move on. Try your hand at translating the other two incorrect answers. They won't always have correct grammar, they will likely be nonsensical, and Duo might even use grammar and vocab you haven't learned yet, but it's a good challenge nonetheless."
The reason I think this is a bad idea is because the alternative suggestions are sometimes, no I'd say often, really wrong grammatically! They also sometimes even include words that don't exist! I don't think it's a good idea to dwell on things that are wrong, much less analyze them.
A different approach to the multiple-choice items is to read the question and answer it in your head, then see if your answer is included as one of theirs. If you find it right away, don't even bother to read their other entries, they are often mish-mush and better to avoid confusing yourself with them.
Just kind of chatting to yourself in your target language works, too -- the shower is a great place for this, or while you're cleaning. Also! Listening to music and the radio in your target language is great practice. There's an app called Radio Garden that lets you listen to radio stations from all over the world, and spotify has plenty of music in other languages. :) Reading books helps too -- kids' books are great places to start.
Thanks for the recommendations. I am using much of them now. I am visual and writing down is good for me. I'm having trouble with the app itself. I've been practicing daily, however, I'm unable to navigate the app properly. What can you suggest to help? I am samanthas227304 studying French. Thanks.
You can also read the stories they provide a take note of the words you dont understand and also read out loud the words or phrases that seem difficult
Great advice! Thanks. I have to stop myself when the gamification of language learning gets in the way. I sometimes rushed through lessons in order to get my owl back - and that rushing can result in less learned.
Beautiful piece, I do the first and second tasks whenever I'm learning on this app, but now I'll start trying the other ideas you stated. Thanks for sharing.
These are some great tips that I have been following for Japanese, the writing is a bit trickier with Kanji though, so I haven't spent much time there yet. I have used IME on Windows to type up the kanji and have started using the Keyboard entry while I'm studying on my computer.
Great tips! I already do some of these but I could definitely try the 'diagram' tip and the general grammar rules because its so irritating when you get one wrong from simply rushing and ignoring an important rule! Muchas Gracias!
These are some great and very helpful tips, thankyou. I do use some of these sometimes.
I have a blank notebook from MUJI that I write down every kanji, hiragana, and anything else I learn. It really helps me remember.
Reading out loud really helps a lot with comprehension as well, it's easy for me to just pick out the right answers right away just by looking at key words but if you slow it down you can get so much more out of it.
Is there a recommended companion to Duolingo for optimal language learning?
I'll also add that there are free services that will pair you up with a native speaker of your target language that in turn wants to learn your native language. My buddy loves learning new languages and says stuff like that is an amazing tool.
If any family members speak the language or are learning it, you can do a challenge where you have to speak the language for a certain amount of time. For instance, you could try to speak sentences in the language for 30 minutes-1 hour. When you get better, you can even try to speak it for the whole day
Great tips! I keep a written list of new words and try to memorize them with der /die /das. I watch tv shows and movies in German with English subtitles. I practice conjugating new verbs throughout the day.
This post is SO helpful! I had to reset all of my courses bc I couldn't memorize right. (i forgot to take notes)
It would be really awesome to talk to your dog in a language. You can ask them yes or no questions so they nod their head.
I talk to myself. And I listen to music in my target language to get a feel for pronunciations.
I always cover the multiple choice questions and try to answer them correctly first in my head and then uncover them to see if I got it correctly