I just finished the spanish tree... You Beauty!
I am so happy to finish... Yippee for me... Duolingo Rules! I am taking spanish classes as well but Duolingo really gave me the ability to self study.
I am definitely still learning, however my tips for starters would be this:
=> Duolingo your way through new concepts/level
=> read/post comments for questions where you have concerns as there is always someone that has a thorough explanation
=> this guy is awesome for self study lessons on youtube. He is very clear and will help with pronouncing words https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS0Z_G7-cH5R5G5h32vj_mp1C-NgrWW_3
=> learn 100 common verbs and conjugations here http://www.linguasorb.com/learnspanish/most-common-verbs/
=> pick up a copy of Lonely Planet Latin American Phrasebook and give them a test run. It is quite exhaustive for all situations. http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/south-america/latin-american-spanish-phrasebook-6/
=> enroll in a spanish class (to solidify your skills and practice talking and continue learning more words)
I'm 1/3rd of the way through the Spanish tree, any tips for motivation to get going? Do you read or watch Spanish films?
For me, I finished (but still working on getting everything golden) by:
ô Setting daily or weekly goals of what I wanted to accomplish, and making the time to actually do this. At the end, it was "There are 23 lessons remaining. Finish them by the end of June."
ô Look for funny and weird phrases. Write them down, and share them with friends or https://twitter.com/shitduosays .
ô Write down useful words and phrases. Practice them in person if possible. Later in the "game", you learn deber and this one I found very helpful. If you can't practice in person, plan a vacation (real or not) where you imagine what conversations you might have. Run through them by saying them outloud.
ô Reward yourself after a few tests by going head to head against other people. It feels great to win, and reinforce that you're learning by beating others.
ô Following "Spanish language" on Quora and try to answer questions about Spanish there with what you've learned.
ô Try to beat friends who are also playing, and poking those in real life who are not practicing much to practice more as a way of being able to keep up competing with them.
Keep on plugging away... It is definitely the best free resource you can use for self study. At the end of the day, if you go too fast, you don't retain a lot of information and duolingo is not as useful for your learning. Don't be too worried about not going fast.
goals really helped me. i got addicted to writing down the skill i wanted to learn on a to do list and checking them off as i completed it.