Is there method to your language madness? Or vice versa?

No need to pile on - This is just an opinion.

I love Duolingo. For me, in (primarily) four languages, but I also love DL's ever-expanding reach, bringing the world ever-closer together.

I remember spaced-repetition on Duolingo. (Think back!) But one adjusts. I now keep a spreadsheet with a page for each language. Listed down the left-most column are every lesson in that language's tree. I color the cells according to my "crown-level" in that skill. At the top of the month, I start at the literal (and figurative) top and start working my way down. If I'm golden, I do a timed review and move down. When I get to the bottom, I start working on new material and do that for the rest of the month. Next month, back to the top. It is a slog, but for me, effective. (Trust me, I had all four of my trees golden and complete when Mr. Owl changed his methodology. At the time it was a little punch in the gut, but new goals never hurt anyone.)

So that is my grossly simplified DL spaced-repetition method. From French to German to Italian to Spanish, I should have everything neatly tied up in a bow by 2030.

Memrise does kind of the same thing, minus the need to create (and maintain) a spreadsheet. You set a daily point goal, and Memrise lets you know how many "points" you need to review to get back to kosher. My Memrise rule - again, just for me - is: If reviewing your cards back to "zero" gets you to your daily goal, you're done. If you fall short, learn more cards. Easy-peasy.

A side-note about language-ing in general. I see a lot of snark on this forum from "serious" language learners toward "hobbyists"/"casual users". Personally, I am obsessed with language, but I celebrate the most casual of the casual users. The more I study, the more I travel, the more appreciative I am of the most tangentially linguistically curious. They are brave souls. They could be binge-watching Real Housewives for gods' sake. To someone daring enough to venture a "bonjour" or "buongiorno" or "guten Morgen or "buenos días", I offer a toast, and if we ever run into one another, I owe you a drink.

Bringing the world together. In baby-steps.

So what is the point? Not sure I know. Maybe this: Language-ing is serious business, for the seriously interested. For the less-so, it is an avocation. (Avocation + vacation). The serious folk need to study and review their process constantly and keep at it. But bravi to the ones just dipping their toes (for now - watch out! you will get hooked!). You're helping the cause, too.

Fond regards to you all, and best wishes in your adventures ahead.

August 10, 2019


There may well be madness in my language learning but no particular method beyond using the duolingo trees as a base to move forward from and return to at intervals so as to extract the maximum from them. I miss languages when was haven't paid them a visit for a while and eventually return for another pass through the tree to refresh and polish them. Each time I focus on a different element depending on my current level. I don't plan this it just happens. I think my greatest strength as a learner is that I don't force things but let it blossom as it progresses. I have learned that a period of difficulty when nothing appears to make sense is often followed by a satisfying step forward and everything will become easier to understand. It is like a housekeeping phase, temporary chaos while the system gets sorted. So I never force myself to do more than I want to or stick with a plan when something else pulls me away from it. Last month I was working on four or five languages. This month just Arabic which is just clicking nicely. Meanwhile my Russian comphrehension seems to have taken another big step forward with no actual work put in, I simply find myself able to understand more easily when I listen to it. And I suddenly found myself making up a narrative in Spanish the other day far more fluently than ever before. I find working on any of them helps them all. So it doesn't actually matter what I do, just that I do something. And I always do. It is rare that I don't have music in many languages playing while I work and I usually watch a couple of episodes of a tv series in one language or another every day and I play an audio book in anything but English to drown out other background noises while I sleep. That is where I have noticed the improvement in my Russian comprehensio the most.

August 10, 2019

you must have a fantastic memory. I envy you. To me the grammar is the easy part, that is 'just' understanding (in comparison) while keeping the many words in the head is a hard job with much memorizing.

August 11, 2019


Thank you for this discussion

here is a lingot in appreciation

eating doughnuts is a great help


August 10, 2019

Doughnuts are a great help. Thank you.

August 13, 2019

I don't have a method other than I get on every day and complete enough lessons to continue my streak. I'm fairly new here, on Day 150 of Spanish. I wish I would have started years ago, but here I sit. I'm so happy I found this app! I'm a nurse working in an area that serves a fairly large Hispanic population, and I often have patients who don't speak English. It's fun for us to practice with each other on less serious matters (that don't require a medical interpreter) during my shift, and I have yet to meet a patient who doesn't appreciate that I'm trying. I use Google translate to help as well.

Your comment about the Housewives made me giggle, because I watch that too. Nothing wrong with doing both!

August 12, 2019

Did you do a streak of 150?!

August 12, 2019 Instead of having to keep notes for it, you can use that to see when something needs reviewing (the spaced repetition) as it will show it dropping down from 100% when it does. Looking at that, you have tons of reviewing to do. (Your German strength is down to 62%, I personally will forget a lot if my strength drops into the 70s) ..........

My learning method is basically just "whatever", I don't care where I'm doing my learning at as long as I'm learning every day.

Today I've done listening to German music and singing along, listened to a 7min German dialogue (looking up some words I did not know), did about 6 Duolingo lessons or reviews (probably do some more of those today seeing I've fallen out of ruby league last week when not much of my learning was duolingo focused). later tonight I plan to try to read 3 pages of a book, the first German novel I'm trying to read (with more looking up words).

so yeah my method is the "whatever" method lol. Which works well for me and stops me from getting bored. I do about 40-60% of my learning at Duolingo and the rest elsewhere by self study.

August 11, 2019

Fantastic. I celebrate you.

August 11, 2019

very cool tip. I am just beginning to learn Japanese, but I would like to learn some other languages as well. Do you have any tips on how to manage more than one language at a time? (And by manage I mean keep it all inside your head without jumbling things together)

August 11, 2019

As I have mentioned in other posts, I have wet my toes in several of Duolingo's offerings, but have settled on four: French, German, Italian, and Spanish, choosing to concentrate on reaching some level of proficiency. I'm no longer young.

Far from "jumbling things together", I have found this exercise in comparative linguistics to be informative and endlessly fascinating. It's like genealogy, exploring the twists and branchings and evolution of words and constructions, but much more interesting (no matter how wonderful one's family is) than one's own family. Spanish and Italian often share words, but Italian will double consonants, while Spanish keeps it simple. German predicative adjectives don't have to agree in number with the subject; French, Italian, and Spanish do. Eventually, these differences get internalized, and you start to FEEL in the language you're studying.

Have you ever seen Danny Kaye riff in languages? (There are many examples on YouTube.) He was spewing nonsense, but he captured the essence of the FEELING of those languages: Russian, French, German are the ones I recall. Kevin Kline seduced Jamie Lee Curtis with his "Italian". Ridiculous. But both these guys captured the "music" of the languages, which is more than half the battle.

I imagine - just imagine, don't KNOW - that adding courses of study to Japanese would be even less potentially confusing. There's little crossover from Japanese to Russian or Japanese to Spanish. Etc.

The only language study "rules" that I have found invariably true for me (for ME, folks) are:

  1. You gotta do it every day.

  2. A little of all your languages every day is better than putting them in rotation.

  3. Find a way - radio, podcasts, etc. - to listen to your languages. Get a feel for the music, the rhythms. Eventually, those languages will distinguish themselves you couldn't have imagined when you started.

You have bitten off a lot - more than I could - in starting with Japanese. Bravo. Unless you delve next into Arabic or Hindi or Russian, I think almost anything else is going to be a walk in the park. Maybe pick an easy one next...

Anyhoo. Best of luck and good fortune. You have my admiration and my sympathies.

Have a lingot.

August 12, 2019

Japanese as a language isn’t as difficult as people who have never studied it think it is. It is very different and two alphabets and kanji is definitely challenging. However pronunciation is relatively easy and when using katakana or hirigana it is phonetic. For anyone wanting to add another language I would recommend something totally different that uses Latin script. Maybe a Romance language. Spanish is particularly useful.

August 12, 2019

I did notice during my brief foray that Japanese is ferociously loyal to its vowels, even more-so than Italian and Spanish, which I had thought of as somewhat predictable. Once you learn the syllables (and the alphabets) you can pronounce ANYTHING long before you can understand it.

My brain never wrapped around it, but I didn't really give it a chance.

August 13, 2019

I’m serious in my interest, intensity and intention. But I don’t work in the language arts field, so in that respect I’m a hobby learner. I believe everyone deserves respect for being here, whatever the reasons are. It’s great that you have a system that’s working for you. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

August 11, 2019

Nice tips! One thing I like to do to help with retention is to keep a notebook next to me while I'm going through my Duo lessons. Every time I have to type a sentence in my target language, I also write it by hand in the notebook. When I get something wrong, I take a few lines to write out the correct answer a few times over.

Another tip I picked up to reinforce recognition when you're learning a new alphabet: Find a paragraph or other large chunk of text in your target language. Pick one letter and read through the text. Each time that letter appears, pronounce the sound of it out loud. (Repeat ad nasuem, haha.)

August 11, 2019

Yeah I do the notebook thing too. I think it's important.

August 12, 2019

como vai seu português?

August 13, 2019

Excellent ideas!

August 12, 2019

Not sure which category I fit into, but the "bravi" caught my eye, so I lingot you, Bryanlouiselle.

August 10, 2019

Doesn't really matter, Linda7. I'm less "serious" than some, more "serious" than others. To whatever extent I pursue it, language-ing fills my brain and soul in a way I find satisfactory.

Lingot YOU!

August 11, 2019

I remember spaced-repetition on Duolingo. (Think back!) But one adjusts. I now keep a spreadsheet with a page for each language.

I have a much less labour-intensive spaced-repetition method on DL, which consists of never updating the app. I also look at skills strengths on Duome from time to time when using the website.

August 11, 2019

Bravo. I held out for awhile, until my students bugged me about being in the "clubs." Now the clubs are of the past too. I wish one could revert to a past version of the app!

August 12, 2019

Thanks for a thoughtful essay. I like the part where you talk about the casual language learners, I think many of us have been there at some point.

August 11, 2019

Wonderful post Brianlouiselle. Thanks for sharing your learning methods and inclusive thoughts for everyone learning a language.

August 10, 2019

Beautifully articulate english as always... Im thinking infatuation is the way Duo has me at the moment...the Arabic has me hooked. Always a bit seriousish...but now...

Interesting to hear your strategies...I'm very random and can see more formal strategies might help me fly faster to those golds...or rather to a rough fluency.

Good reading...thankyou...back to my addiction...))

August 11, 2019

That's far more dedicated than I am in terms of tracking progress, but bravo. I think my language learning is a little like my workshop. It's messy to the untrained eye but I know where everything is.

Some of my languages here are review, but for German and Spanish I've done/been doing the full tree going to level 2/3 in each section, then I go back and do level 4, then 5, with a little skipping around. I keep a text file of sentences I've missed that's on my icloud drive, so I can open the file on the go when I have a few minutes to kill. All my Duo learning is on the desktop, and I use memrise on my phone, usually at the dog park or when I'm driving on the freeway (just kidding).

When I was learning Japanese, spaced repetition of Kanji was key. 2 new ones a day, then review. As I moved on I had to limit review because you just can't review 2000 of those things a day. So I would do 2 new, the previous week, the previous month. Then repeat the review process every year.

Constant review and exposure over years of time is really the only way. A little bit, every day, for a long time.

August 12, 2019

All good ideas! Thank you!

August 12, 2019

Hey Bryan you speak French. You should check out my favorite podcast "Les Pieds sur terre". I think you would love it.

August 14, 2019, 5:45 AM

Your post made my brain work hard. I'm beginner but I've been studying at least 6 (probably 8) hours a day, the last 12 days. It's hard, but I decided this time will be the definitive try to learn and mastered english.

By the way, what "language-ing" means? I mean, the difference between use "language" and "language-ing".


August 11, 2019

Hi AlanFC, just to make it clear, 'language-ing' is not a real word.

However, having said that, the writer has used it to mean 'doing' language learning or study.

Language on it's own is simply the way in which a country (or community) of people communicate. :)

August 11, 2019

As you said, it's just my stupid construction to substitute for "learning a language", or "the process of learning a language", or "practicing languages." Usually, I hate these verbifications, these neologisms, these faux impactifications. But I agree with John McWhorter and Steven Pinker that language is ever-evolving, descriptive not prescriptive, and memeful. (If it sticks to the wall, it will last...)

Have a lingot.

August 11, 2019

memeful ? Oh pulleeze !!

August 13, 2019

Very happily amused by all of that. Encore! Encore! :D

August 13, 2019

@AlanFC The author of the post turned the noun language into the verb “language-ing”.

August 11, 2019

Hey AlanFC, good question re "language-ing". It's not really a word in English. He made it up and it's understandable cause it fits the pattern. And kudos to him as it's meaningful and logical. Anyway (entonces?) lots of native English speakers are making up words every day these days in English as younger generations don't have the grammar so instilled in them at school-- so you go for it too. What he means by "language-ing" is "learning (or trying or practising) a language that is not your language (or not your mother tongue)." Hope that helps. Cheers :)

August 12, 2019

This is so well put. I just recently discovered this app myself after wanting to pick up Spanish to be able to communicate with my girlfriend's family. But, I have been enjoying learning the language that when I am comfortable with the amount of knowledge I have in Spanish, I'd love to move on to another language. I'm glad that most people on the app are supportive to other learners and I am excited to browse the forums meeting language learners from across the world!

August 11, 2019

This reminds me of a couple things. One was a woman in a French class I took many years back. She had absolutely zero knack for languages. Like, none. It was just not her thing. Kind of like me, and math; or me and spacial recognition. I could study and study and study those things, and I'd learn some, but I'd still never have a knack for them, ever. Anyway, I always admired her so much. She was terrible at French, nothing about learning another language clicked for her, she seemed almost constantly confused, and often frustrated, and you could tell, just from the questions she asked, that she didn't even get the most basic things, and was totally confused...but she was there. She showed up, she did the best she could, and, best of all, she did something that was not her thing at all.

I have, in the past, tried to do things that were absolutely not my thing, things for which I have no natural knack. Because my spacial recognition is beyond awful, it is my worst thing of all, I thought it would be good for me to practice it, as opposed to practicing something I do have a natural knack for, such as language. So I tried various apps that were supposed to help you with your spacial skills, and, I tried. I tried, and I got infuriated, and frustrated, and I stuck with it, even though I kept wanting to throw my phone at the wall, the games were so exasperating to me....I felt like that woman from my French class.

Eventually, I gave it up. Maybe I shouldn't have, I don' t know. But the thing was it just made me so freaking miserable, I couldn't see any point it in, it stressed me out....if there had been any tiny glimmer of enjoyment or sense of accomplishment or anything, I would have continued, but it didn't. I just got really stressed and mad.

August 11, 2019

A VERY interesting post. Here's a lingot.

Leading to myriad tangents.

Having a knack; not having a knack. There is a tendency these days to say things like, "You can be whatever you want to be." There is a commercial running for an online "university" that says something like "People are born with equal abilities, but not equal opportunities." BS.

Languages, though, are different. Unless you are blessed to be brought up in a multi-lingual household, you're going to have to find your path, grasshopper. I lead kids, for a time, in recording sessions, trying to get very specific performances out of them. What I found, after a while, was that every kid has a unique lock, requiring a unique key; no one solution works for every child. Languages are similar. You have to - as YOU said - find your own path. That path might be verbal, aural, graphic, typographic (spatial?)...

For example. I have found certain words that (seemingly) invariably confound me. I can't explain why. "il completo" (the suit) in Italian never implanted itself in my brain. Then I saw "Kingsman: Secret Service". At one point, Colin Firth says, "Manners maketh the man." And my brain said, "Clothes maketh the man. A bespoke suit maketh the man. A man with a great suit is "completo". Never forgotten it since.

Shapes, too. I have a crap sense of space. But - again, in my experience - I have found paying attention to space and shapes has helped me with Italian words, which often have (to the outsider's eye) unpredictable doubled consonants. Memorizing the "picture" of the word helps, sometimes, more than trying to process the spelling.

I hope you are able to get back into it, I really do. Languages are about joy and connection and discovery. They are welcoming. Or should be. You just have to find the method that gives you joy, that doesn't chastise you.

August 11, 2019

Dear Bryan...

Bravo! Well put and I am sure you are a great teacher with that attitude. I applaud you. Never give up, just work at it until you find the key that will unlock that door, it's there. That is what I teach my kids. Some of us are more "language equipped" than others but it doesn't mean you can't learn something. You need to find your style of learning then do it.

I love how you say are most likely a very good teacher...again Bravo!

August 12, 2019

You are kind.

As put in The King and I, by Rogers and Hammerstein, "If you become a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught." I conducted that show when I was 19, and that is one of the life-lessons I have never forgotten.

August 13, 2019

I didn't spread the gratitude enough.

I have learned far more from those taught than I have imparted by teaching. What do I remember most? My pedagogy? My pedantry? No. I most remember every time a kid (metaphorically) kicked me in the head and changed my life. I will be forever grateful.

August 13, 2019

Again spot say you are OLD, but if you are not too old I'd love for you to teach English for me in China...then again you'd have to want to come and live in this weird place...LOL...I need teachers like you. Kudos for your attitude and wisdom. (BTW love the photo...his films were a favorite of mine in college way back when)

August 13, 2019

Smiles, PerfectEng554596.

I'm sure you were kidding (but kind) in suggesting I come to China to teach English.

I can think of a few obstacles:

My degree was in classical piano performance. And I don't have a masters. And my career was conducting musical theater. Yes, I produced children's musicals for Disney for ten years, and I was a senior editor for the Silver Burdett Ginn music textbook series, neither of which has to do with teaching English.

I would kill - I'm not THAT old - to live in China, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not fit for your needs, if you have them.

Thanks for the kind thoughts, though. And best regards.

August 13, 2019

We do a drama program so you'd be perfect! If you are not over 60 (and there is some wiggle room) then you can teach here. Check out our website to learn more

August 13, 2019, 9:57 PM

Julia. sure I wasnt in your French class? lol. I was just like that woman you spoke about in your post, I actually loved my French classes at high school but ended up failing miserably as I just couldn't absorb the French though I tried and tried (the school then did not allow me into any language classes due to my failed year of French).

There was nothing wrong with our teacher, he was a French, passionate about his language and must of been a decent teacher as the rest of the class did okay. Sometimes though someone just needs a different method to what is being used to teach them.

Cause of my French classes, before I joined Duolingo and like made up my own kind of ways I would study, I'd been left thinking I was incapable of learning a language which is kind of sad when I had a huge interest in language learning.

I NEED to be learning from lots of different sources and in lots of different ways to absorb it all into my head and be able to specifically focus on whatever methods are working the best for me "at the time".

Though learning the German is very important to me, I would of quit had I only been using duolingo as at one point I was so very lost and confused with it all here that each single subject lesson started taking me up to 45-50 mins to do (15-20 questions I was getting wrong over and over and could not remember them each time they appeared back, I literally got stuck for weeks and if using word bank I dont remember) as I just did not understand what I was doing and it took other sources of learning (German with Anja on youtube) to get me past that.

I really just needed to leave it for weeks and use another source to learn from.

If you have not been able to learn something, you just have not either found the best method to learn it yet for you or not had the right teacher to teach you.

August 12, 2019

@sea-mist - Congratulations for not despairing sea-mist and for being prepared to try Duolingo. I am so glad it's working for you now and just gave you a congratulatory lingot. There are all types of learning-strengths and teachers don't usually teach to them all. (Howard Gardiner authored a wonderful book entitled "Multiple Intelligences" as well as many other wonderful books. I believe you'd enjoy reading some of his works if you get a chance). Well done and all the best with your Duolingo language-learning. Bon chance :) :)

August 12, 2019

thank you very much.

August 12, 2019

You're very welcome :)

August 12, 2019

I totally agree with you. I have an aunt who's learned French from books and memorizing conjugation and grammar rules. She has never been to a French speaking country yet she is a French teacher, translator, and speaks the language wonderfully! That kind of method has been a source of great frustration for me with the German language (we've had a love/hate relationship, haha!). I was one of the worst student in class for many years, because we were supposed to memorize rules that didn't make any sense to me. Then I traveled to Germany, lived with a family there (au-pair) and it was a revelation!!! I could actually understand what they said! I could speak in their language and be understood! My pronunciation is apparently great too, amazing!

So, to end my story, there is a method that works for some but not others. It does not mean that one method is better than another, but that our brains are all unique so we need to find a way to align our wires for whichever language we want to learn! :)

August 13, 2019, 9:25 PM


BINGO! Learning styles are important..when you understand how you learn (which style works best for you) then you will do better at learning. As a teacher I try my best to incorporate all the styles into my can be hard because my style of learning works for me but it may not work for some of my students so I need to be flexible. I am an oral processor, and I am also kinetic, but I need to remember some of my students are more audio and visual learners so I try to incorporate things that will help them.

This is a good site for info...I hope the link works

August 13, 2019, 10:16 PM

It's not knack with languages, it's method. It can help to learn basic things like 'What is a verb?', but a lot is simply exposure. I struggled terribly with languages in the past, but as it turns out, I'm not so awful at them after all, the method sucked. It might have been harder for the woman in your class depending on her native language, but if a native English speaker can't at least learn to understand French -and being able to use it follows- the method needs adjusting, unless they're truly functionally illiterate in English too, in which case they have other problems.

August 11, 2019

it is both. Some certainly do have a knack with languages. It's like anything in life, some are better at some things than others. Some very lucky people actually have photographic memories. I guess that would be a great help in language learning.

Just imagine being able to see a word once and remember it from there. (I used to have a friend who had a photographic memory). I suppose many of those people who aquire a new language in a matter of months must be like that though of cause immersion really would help too.

August 12, 2019

@7.Julia.7: I had trouble with spatial (yep, that's the spelling!) understandings too and still do; but map-reading and revisiting elementary school math(s) textbooks helped me quite a bit (the subject area often known by some teachers as tessellations). I still need to revisit a lot of numerical studies - but prefer to try Spanish learning!! Congratulations to that woman in your French class who did not give up - I admire that - but she perhaps needed another teaching approach presented to her (now there's a big topic!!) And congrats to you too for trying again to gain spatial understandings. However I do tend to agree with you. If it's stressing you out you need a breather or a new approach!! Or hey, try something altogether different!! And guess what, doing the unfamiliar is said to reduce the chance of developing Altzheimers or dementia, so that's a plus for persevering!! Cheers :)

August 12, 2019

What you posted is really nice indeed. I like your spaced-repetition method and maybe I'll try it out and think of this duolingo post whenever I do, who knows ;) Seriously though, I do think that might be useful. Now, as far as language learning and all its learners are concerned, I don't think it's a good idea to judge them. If some people take this process more seriously than others or vice versa, what's the problem really? Everybody can decide to learn a language in whatever way they prefer, with whatever spirit. Let's focus on what we do individually, rather than focusing on what others don't do, yes? c:

August 11, 2019

lalaslang. If you have not done so check out the spaced repetition on as you may find that easier than having to keep notes.

August 12, 2019

I’ve not seen any comments about hobbyists vs serious users. The vast majority of the comments seem to be about the app and it’s features rather than about languages.

August 11, 2019

I think it's fine for people to learn casually! People just need to be realistic about what is and isn't possible, so as not to discourage others - people can't make an informed decision about whether they even want to study casually or more seriously if they don't know. Spent three years on French from native English and can barely understand anything and you're about to tell other people it just takes such a long time? No, you're not learning. Which is fine, but be honest with yourself and others that you learn a tiny bit occasionally and also forget a lot due to not being active in the language. For me, discovering how fast it was possible to learn to understand French was when the gears started turning for me and I was motivated to give it a try.

August 11, 2019

Great method big you have many languages to study. After a while you feel confused though. I tried a similar method. It really helps. What is the best? I don't know. But I noticed something very important. After two years in my Italian tree my fluency has been improved. Dramatically! Notice I didn't know any before Duolingo. It doesn't happen to all trees though. It seems that all trees are not so good or all languages are not in the same level of difficulty. I cannot say what is happening about.

August 11, 2019

Some trees are much better than others. Some languages are easier than others .. so it makes sense that you may suddenly find one of your languages greatly improves while others may be still coming along slow.

congrats for the jump in progress.

August 12, 2019


For me, duolingo kind of always took a backseat. Don't get me wrong, it's great for getting a base in a language but I just can't seem to focus as well when doing things on a computer. It's like my retention is just worse when compared to books. I still love it though. It just does not help that much for me personally.

Generally my study day would be:

Get up - Have breakfast and then either go to the gym or straight into studying. Usually I will start with Laying in bed and going through my Daily lessons in Duolingo, some stories on Duo, Daily Lingodeer lessons, Memrise (I have the exact same study routine as you there) and then take a short break.

For duo - I will make a part of the tree a certain level, then move down and make the level under it one level below the one above it. I don't know why I do this. It just looks nice I suppose.

I will then go for a walk for about 30 minutes while listening to a Pimsleur lesson in my target language. I do this once or twice per day depending on time availability. Usually I would first repeat the lesson I had the day before without speaking out loud (People would think me crazy, walking around spouting German on my own) and do the "New" lesson for the day later on.

I would then have another break, eat something, maybe read a bit (Currently been into astrophysics so have been going through some pop-books on that and having a blast :)). After that I sit down by my desk in my study room and study with books. Currently I'm working through the "Teach yourself: Complete German" book and i'm quite enjoying it. I tried to do one chapter per day (23 in total in the book) but retention just got a bit too spotty when flying through the content of the book. Currently doing about half a chapter per day and i'm up to chapter 15 so far. I'm learning a lot, but I'm a bit saddened that I will have to rush through the book since school starts soon and I will have to focus on Math and physics there rather than language. (Although, I will be having tests and further courses in Japanese this year, which is great! :D).

There is a method for when studying in books though. I always mark up my Grammar points to remember with an Orange highlight pen so I can go back, I also mark the pages with grammar points with an orange bookmark, Super important stuff with yellow, good practice points/texts with blue and the Answer key with Green. As such my books end up looking like someone sprinkled them with about a hundred colorful bookmarks. :) After that, I allow my brain to relax, maybe play some guitar occasionally (I suck!), read a book or play some Computer Games with some friends.

I'm with you on the attitude towards people studying in different ways. I love studying language. If I could, I would do nothing else, but alas not everyone thinks the same way. If you are willing to learn anything new and are not willfully ignorant about things, then you got my respect at least! :)

All the best!

August 12, 2019

I enjoy the Pimsleur audio book language lessons too. I tend to listen in the car, where I presume other drivers think I'm calling them names, or singing along to the radio!

And you'll get there with the guitar. However, it needs daily practice. Music is a lot like languages, little and often is better than the occasional binge!

August 14, 2019, 11:21 AM

I think the key to learning any language is motivation. You need to find the motivation to learn (il)logic grammar rules and its exceptions! For me I fell in love with each language I learned when I started translating songs (I used to study opera). Pop songs work too. I love listening to the radio in German in the morning (Radio Garden), great way to passively work on comprehension.

I used DL language trees in "accelerated mode" for the languages I already know (Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese), keeping the grammar fresh, but I work very slowly through the Esperanto tree because I have never studied the language before.

August 12, 2019

My method is, every time I'm on the internet and I see something I don't understand in ANY language, I stop what I'm doing and I go do about 20 min of this language :)

August 12, 2019

What a fantastic idea!

August 14, 2019, 11:22 AM

The short version is that I learn the most frequently used vocabulary and grammar before anything else. I can play Pokemon in French after only a few weeks of study because of that.

August 13, 2019

I am bananas impressed with how systematic you are. That is all.

August 12, 2019

I have been thinking of some sort of spreadsheet or the like for review purposes. It is beyond my abilities, but I admire your creation. It must be an invaluable asset.

August 12, 2019

My method is to practice every day. It seems to be working.

August 12, 2019

Thumbs up!!!

August 13, 2019

My method adjusts depending on the language and what about it I'm struggling with, as well as my intention for learning it.

So far in Dutch, I'm using repetition and saying things out loud. Outside of that, I've been naming the rules whenever I encounter a Dutch adjective. There are SO MANY rules! I was not making any progress for a while. But, then I posted a challenge called something like "Name that rule!" A pair of Dutch course contributors participated and corrected the rules I'd named for various sentences. It helped a lot. :)

For Japanese, I've taken extensive notes. I wrote out a song to help me remember Te-form, and have note cards in a binder to help me remember other tenses and declensions.

For Spanish, I created posters for grammar in huge font so I could easily read them from across the room.

I mentioned intention early because I'm not aiming for fluency in any of the languages I'm studying. I had a traumatic brain injury and it was really demotivating to have fluency as my goal and study myself silly for years just to have what I'd learned slip so easily from memory. So now, I study with the goal of remembering enough in case I'm in a pinch, or so I can use it as a jumping off spot to learn more should I meet a friend who is fluent in that language. It revitalized my love of studying other languages. And, so far, knowing even just a little of another language has been enough to help save a life and help me navigate some difficult situations. I've kept a mini-journal of those times to help remind me that even just a little knowledge of another language can go a long way. (It keeps me motivated to do review each year.) ^_^

August 13, 2019

I have a couple things I do to help me practice. I live in America and the two most widely spoken languages besides English are Spanish and French so a lot of the times you'll see Spanish and/or French translations of things on products like a can of shaving cream or a bottle of lotion. I often try to read the french captions to see if I can understand what it says and if I come across a word I don't know, I look at the English caption to see what it is. This has helped me learn quite a few little tid bits about French grammar and new words.

Another thing I do is I listen to French music in order to familiarize myself with the pronunciation and grammar. Being a music fanatic, it's not only fun to listen to and help spice up my music taste but it also helps me learn French at the same time. The first method can be a bit difficult to do depending on the language you're trying to learn but it is helpful nonetheless. The second method you can do with almost any language. Both of these are easy ways to train your language skills in everyday life when you're not on Duolingo.

August 13, 2019

Intresting post, as well as many interesting replies from others. I haven't used duolingo for that long yet, so I'm still kind of testing how it will work best for me. It's been the 43 days, which is also my streak.

Originally I just looked for an app to do this maybe a bit more casually than I have done so far, but got a bit hooked. I was just getting frustrated with how much I'd forgotten of the German I'd learnt years ago - several years at school, but then haven't gotten much practice after that and when I've encountered a German speaker it's felt like I couldn't find any words, while I did understand a bit. So I wanted to get back to German and review stuff and learn more maybe, plus maybe also reviewing and getting a bit further in Italian, which I've just been to two basic courses before, the second of which I didn't really have enough time for at the time to really learn. I also visited Austria and Germany a little after I started with duolingo so that was one inspiration as well (but more of that's maybe for another post in the German forum).

Anyhow I really got into this, and I'm happy I came up with the idea to look for an app, because it's also much easier to find the time to do this than sign up on a local course. Then I couldn't help myself and started French as well as a completely new language. I've wanted to just learn at least a bit of it for long. But what I've done, is that I did the placement test in German and Italian and got some skills up on Italian and to about the second castle checkpoint in German (though the checkpoints are a bit different on the app and the website). In the end I decided to start from the beginning with Italian anyway and found the suggestion to do it so that I have for example the first row to level 5, second to 4, third to 3, fourth to two and so on and then go up a level in each again. That's what I'm trying to do with that, and then maybe going a bit back again every now and then when I've got further. In German I feel like I know quite well a lot of the more basic skills, so I started by doing a little here and there and then starting to do everything up to level two while also progressing some skills forward. Then I felt like I needed to practice some stuff at least a bit more before progressing and say get a better grasp again of the ackusativ before properly diving into all the dativ. So now I'm doing previous skills up a bit again by sort of jumping around and doing something from earlier and something from later each day. Then soon maybe I try a bit again on the ones where I'm on level one only. In French I've done a bit like Italian, but a bit slower and a bit more on the very first skill before I moved forward.

I've tried doing at least German every day, and while I was traveling I only did German, and I also didn't do much each day anyway, but it felt like a bit of extra confidence boost to keep up then, to be brave enough to speak German a bit while I had the chance (and I did speak a bit). Then otherwise I've tried doing mostly at least Italian each day too, but I have tried to not stress about doing the other languages necessarily every day, but mostly I have lately. I've also taken more breaks from French at times, to get Italian a bit further first. As they are related languages, I don't want to mix them up as I've already noticed that some things are similar, which both helps and confuses a bit. I also try to not do them at the same sitting, while I don't mind as much with German, as I'm at a completely different point there and it's quite a different language, so that already separates it from the others. As long as I remember I switched the language... sometimes I did do the first exercise in the wrong language after changing language. So I think doing something else in between is probably a good idea.

But sorry, I ramble a bit... Oh and the Swedish flag there. That's mainly just a test thing as I know Swedish from home, but I might do some exercises there again at some point just to practice translating between Swedish and English and well, I could also practice English that way, I guess.

August 12, 2019

Duolingo is just a very small part of my language learning.

August 12, 2019


August 13, 2019

I'm, like, casually serious. I never write anything down, not in Duolingo, because I discovered that a) eventually I'd pick it up without it and b) it made me not do lessons until I was in a position to write things down, and I figured the casual learning I do is better than the serious learning I don't do.

When I've finished a tree for the first time, all the other times I do it backwards, so it gets easier as I go. Some trees I play games with. I used to get within one lesson of getting a crown, and I'd do that for every skill, for a whole tree, so that I could go back and turn everything a different colour in one fell swoop (until the percentages happened). And something happened to Dutch, I guess they redid the tree while I was in the middle of it, because I got a bunch of level zero skills added behind me. I've been keeping them, so eventually I can make a fun rainbow tree. So yeah, super serious, me.

August 14, 2019, 5:57 AM

Method? Duolingo is the method, the madness falls in how many languages I am interested in. Most of those I'm 'learning' on Duolingo, I have studied before, either in a formal classroom setting, or from friends and family, and I use Duolingo to refresh and keep going. However, some (Greek and Polish) I am learning from scratch here, with the aim of being able to read a children's book by an arbitrary date (my eventual aim is the first Harry Potter book, because it was aimed at 8 year olds and published in hundreds of languages, but baby steps, so something like Fferm Fach Ceri [aimed at learning to read in Welsh] is an acceptable start for me!)

Am I fluent? Barely. I can hold a basic conversation, but I usually start with "I'm sorry, I only speak a little... [insert language here]", which I have found often forewarns native speakers that I am rubbish and will get it wrong, but also that I am trying, which tends to start us off on a good footing. However, I don't need to be fluent. I travel far less than I would like, and I learn languages because I want to learn languages, and for no loftier reason, well, maybe the research that suggests learning another language can help prevent the onset of age-related memory loss and related illnesses (apparently including Alzheimers), but even that is secondary to the simple fact that "I want to", and I don't mind people being snobby because I can order food and drink in lots of languages but not converse properly in more than around 3, and have an in depth technical conversation in only English. I am not learning for other people to have a high opinion of me, I am learning because I would like to know what the Greek word for strawberry is, or how to order a round of drinks in a country I may never visit, and so that I can read a book originally written in, Norwegian, say, and know whether it's rubbish because it's a rubbish book, rather than wondering if it was just a rubbish translation.

I understand that other people are more organised, and certainly more serious, as well as being better than me, and I'm happy for them. But I suspect that I fall into your casual learner category, and I am pleased to be in it, so I will return your toast and I'll buy you a drink too if we ever meet!

August 14, 2019, 11:16 AM

i am confused. most of this post i agreed with but that stuff near the middle about the halocaust concerned me. please get back to me when you can to sort this out

August 11, 2019

I'm sure there's a point to your holocaust [spelling] reference but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. Maybe YOU can sort this out.

August 11, 2019

I think he probably replied to the wrong post. I remember reading one yesterday in which the poster expressed a slightly odd enthusiasm for learning German in order to visit Auschwitz, or something like that; I can't find it now, though.

August 12, 2019
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