https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Finished the German tree (258 days) [insights]

Hi All, I'm sooooooo happy! Yesterday I've finished the German tree and the golden Duo appears at the bottom of my iPhone. Today I completed the mission by turning all lessons golden See screenshot.

I found Duolingo on the appstore and instantly fell in love with the concept of it. I chose German because I travel once a year to Frankfurt for a trade show and thought it would be great to understand and speak the language.

  • I started playing 258 days ago and haven't missed a day since.
  • The first week or two was fun and easy. About a quarter of the way down the tree things started to slow down. The lessons got harder and I needed more time to practice.
  • Some days I did only one lesson, and some I did more than 10.
  • I also had a few days with almost no time, so I did the Basic lesson again or timed practice with one or two answers.
  • I tried keeping everything golden in weekdays and progress on the weekends.
  • My native language is Hebrew, and although I've been speaking English for over 20 years now, I found some lessons challenging. I wish there were courses for Hebrew speakers.
  • I "bought" everything off the Lingot store, including the bonus levels and the Streak Freeze (haven't used it).
  • I met a tandem partner last month, who speaks German. It didn't go so well, because I felt I'm still not ready to speak. I think the next step for me would be to enroll to an intermediate course offline.
  • I did a few tests along the way:
  • 7 Months ago: 1.03/5.0
  • 6 Months ago: 3.01/5.0
  • 5 Months ago: 2.48/5.0
  • 4 Months ago: 1.42/5.0
  • 2 Weeks ago: 4.21/5.0

You can see an overall progression, although there are a few glitches here and there. I found that doing the test once a month is enough for me in the beginning, but then I shifted to focusing more on lessons.

I feel like I need a lot more learning, but I'm very proud of my achievement so far. I can't thank Luis and the team enough - you made my life richer.

I have more Lingots than I need! Comment and get a lingot.

July 1, 2014

155 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeffA2

Congratulations, you've made great progress!

But I have to take issue with one thing. You say that you don't feel that you are ready to speak! There is no single activity that will be more helpful in learning a language than speaking. Being forced to produce the language in real time will get you farther than taking more classes (which doesn't mean you shouldn't also take classes).

The truth is that you certainly know more than you realize you do, and even if you make mistakes, pushing yourself with speaking will do you a lot of good. If your previous speaking partner was not patient enough, or was too advanced, I'd suggest you look for someone more suitable. But don't give up on it, and don't wait until you think you are perfect before you even try.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yeahbuddy34

I completely agree, making mistakes doesn't matter, it's actually really helpful throwing yourself into conversation, assuming you're not uncomfortable with whoever you're speaking with

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lolaphilologist

I second what JeffA2 is saying emphatically. I think that many intelligent people find it much easier to master "reading knowledge" of a language because there is an unavoidable period of embarrassment, humiliation even as you tackle conversation skills. You just have to accept a few bumps in the road as you learn by making mistakes. I tell myself that I'm going to make 10,000 mistakes before I'm fluent, so you might as well dive in and make them if fluency is what you want. Best of luck!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

absolutely. I will give it another go soon enough.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ilwongy

so many philanthropists on duolingo, selflessly giving away their precious lingots, great to see

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Spiritfire

Also, there are so many here giving away their precious time helping others. This site (and a couple of others - lang-8 for one) really provide some bright spots of human interaction.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanLeee

Herzlichen Glückwunsch und gut gemacht! Sehr fleißig bist du auch!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ludwigzhou

Congratulations! I just started. I wish I could finish the German tree in a year

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALoUSyUseRnaME

Congrats! Have 5 lingots! (It's my tradition for people who complete their tree, so there's no stopping me) ^_^ Anyway, it's interesting to see that your certificate scores had decreased twice, and then made a big jump. I have also been experiencing things like that, my scores haven't really been getting any better... anyway, I hope I can improve sometime just like you... :)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/moodswinger

Congratulations! I think Duolingo really doesn't prepare us for speaking. I recommend that you find a course that's based on the CEFR, since those tend to place a strong emphasis on not just speaking (to an audience), but also interaction. :) I wish you luck and hope you'll keep practicing. Maybe another language?

P.S. I have almost 500 lingots, so don't give me any! ;)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FluffyUn1corn

Congrats! Still working on mine. Is taking a while. The tree looks sooooo long, don't know how I'll finish it :)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/luizdameerkat

258 day streak, that's impressive. I started duolingo 9 days ago, very intriguing app. Very good to see someone offer this type of help without taking your money.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alireza_B

Nett!

What's that "Real world practice" button for?

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AureliaUK

When you get to a certain point in each course, DL actively encourages you to start translating actual documents in the Immersion section. The "Real World Practice" button presents you with a [randomly selected?] document to have a go at. I suspect this happens at the point the system tells you that you can now read 50% of real documents.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stormclouds101

Awesome work you accomplished! Keep going and never stop improving and learning! :)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/galaxy

Well done! Truly an inspiration. I want to go on an exchange to Germany at the end of the year so I really need to finish at least half the tree before December. Fingers crossed!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/robstar1a

Ich lerne Deutsch auch. Viel Spaß! Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ColinIR

Wow... does the golden owl only appear if the whole thing is golden?

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Nope, the owl appears when you finish the tree, regardless of golden.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/im_benj

Congrats man.. I hope to reach in your level soon!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/angelique2020

Congratulations on finishing the tree! I have yet to finish half, but I'm striving to finish the whole thing by the end of summer.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IndiePotato

I'm going to give you a Lingot anyway.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/svechinsky

סחטיין אחי I'm taking the german course too and I'm also a native Hebrew speaker. But I do think that we have and advantage over native English speakers since we have genders in Hebrew as well.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeterKiong

Great inspiration for me! I am going to learn it in less than a year! Thanks so much!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RenataDeDeus

Gute gemacht!!! :) I started the german course this week and I am loving this app!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ajna
  • 1738

Congrats :)!

Can I ask for some advice dealing with the most obxnious parts, like adverb I, full of idiomatic phrases and quite challenging to master (=doing a 20/20 on timed)?

How did you get past them?

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Practice makes perfect.. ;) Also, if you find them challenging, don't do timed practice.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ajna
  • 1738

I do timed practice PARTICULARLY when I find them challenging ;)

I guess that I would have not made it in more advanced lesson if I hadn't hammered my skill with them.

But thanks for the advice anyway :)

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simopr1

Uebung macht den Meister :D Still resonating in my brain!

July 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valentina0407a

very well done. I congratulate you because it is not easy.. People with many lingots, can you give me a lingot please??

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fazac

Nice work!

Slightly off topic, how did you take that screen shot of the entire tree? Looks awesome!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

I used a chrome extension called Webpage Screenshot, and edited the file later for privacy.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/luizdameerkat

I was thinking the same thing! please, do tell!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ajna
  • 1738

I guess with something like this, guys:

http://awesomescreenshot.com/

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Avimelech

Firefox has a function built in at the command line to do a screenshot easily. Steps on Windows:

  1. Shift+F2 to open the command line
  2. Down in there type: screenshot filename.png --fullpage [enter]

It will be saved to your desktop.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ccourtney_h

Watching EasyLanguages on YouTube is a good idea, since they ask native speakers simple questions and have the translations on the screen.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CJKennington

CONGRATULATIONS! How do I get the "Real World Practice" link under my "Strengthen Skills" link? It is nonexistent.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KieranLillis

Congratulations!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mavioz

Such commitment is the key to learn a language. Congratulations! By the way which course did you take? Can you share the link please?

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

I didn't take any course yet. Just met someone from Facebook.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hselcukozkan35

Congratulations !

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AyeletW15

wow well done! I would also like to learn Hebrew on duolingo because I am doing modern Hebrew GCSE and I think Duolingo would be a HUGE help!
(I was going to give YOU a lingot when I was reading your story but I noticed your comment at the end...)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/banjolelegirl

I'd love to see a Hebrew course as well. My vote for that!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/torhadas

I am speaking Hebrew as a native language and I would really like to help with this course!

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Auragenerator

I am also fluent in Hebrew and would like to help with the course.

July 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xeno78

Congrats! My French learning journey has been slightly on-and-off because there were days when I completely gave up and stopped practicing. However, now I have decided to do at least a little bit of practice every day and maintain a streak (19 days so far). I have completed about half my tree, and hope to finish it before summer ends. Best of luck in your future endeavors! Cheers :-)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philjemmett

It's great to see the entire tree glowing golden. That's a really inspiring sight to see to push me on to get that tree finished too! Well done!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jakhongirb

Congrats! I wish the tree could expand into more advanced levels for those who completed the tree.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anton_Rich

Books are more suited for that, don't you think? I wish I were able to read Nietzsche in German right now : )))

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MultiLinguAlex

Nietzsche had an enormously huge vocabulary and is sometimes difficult to understand (even for German natives). I don't want to discourage you; it's a great aim to reach, but it's very tough to accomplish reading Nietzsche in German (and understanding him ;-) ).

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tcgriffin

Not that it would solve that problem, but maybe vocab for individual writers would be a good idea for a bonus skill.

July 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/diamandog

Congrats that is awesome!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/catglasses

I'm having a hard time finishing the tree because of the time involved with the increased difficulty. I think I'm going to use your system of maintenance on week days and progression on weekends. That's a great tip!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SethFriday

Congratulations on finishing the tree, you definitely earned it with your hard work. I think the hardest part for all of us is taking what we've learned into spoken conversation, but sooner or later we will have to. Weiter so! :)

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nnamuuun

Wow..im only starting..can't wait till i become like you :))

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Victoria_DGS

That's something I can only dream of. I like your strategy of learning on the weekends, and "goldening up" on weekdays. Only recently have I started making my tree golden - it's great for my learning, as I sometimes have to keep going over certain skills. I'm just about to head into a great grammar section (adverbs, adjectives, verbs and future tense), so I think it'd be best to wait for the weekend. I enjoy speaking German a lot, and I do like to see if I can translate common spoken sentences into German as I say them in English. I tend not to be able to do the spoken exercises, mainly because it does not pick up my words correctly. I'm proud of my progress, but can't wait to finish that tree!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/saladism

Congratulations.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/djduolingoad

Gratz!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anton_Rich

I'm intrigued to here from you about your speaking experience. I hope you will have more speaking practice.

P.S. Congrats!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mahuora1

Herzlichen Glückwunsch und gut gemacht!

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/freewneel

You are an inspiration to us all.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AquaV1tae

Good job! I started the German tree and was immediately discouraged because of the hard, and extensive, article system. That's the only thing about German that bothers me. Other than capitalizing nouns.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AureliaUK

There are offline courses in Tel Aviv:

http://www.goethe.de/ins/il/lp/deindex.htm

Or maybe you could consider taking an intensive/immersion course in Germany for a couple of weeks?

http://www.goethe.de/ins/de/enindex.htm

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IInvader

i see that you bought with lingots the bonus skills. however i dont have anything about chirstmas that i can buy although i gave plenty of linglots. how did you acquire that skill?

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

It was available during Christmas. I also can't see it in the iPhone app, just the website.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IInvader

i can't find it on the website neither. and i'm feeling like i'm missing something valuable :/

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

hang tight till christmas and it will magically appear

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aldittli

Congratulations. I finished the tree in almost exactly a year. I tried to do one new lesson a day. I'm still working on getting everything golden. Don't give me any lingots. I have more than I'll ever be able to use. If you want to be able to speak it, you need to dive in and not worry about your mistakes. You'll make lots but that's how we learn.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndyBCFC

Congratulations! I admire anyone who can stick with something from start to finish. I had the initial excitement phase and got to level 3/4 when I first discovered duolingo, then returned just over three weeks ago, reset my level, and I'm making sure to keep the streak going now. Good luck improving your speaking, that's something I want to work on alongside duolingo.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JenniferForJoy

You did it in under a year! Wow! I just started recently, and now I know what I have to look forward to with that golden tree. :) Hopefully I'll be able to see my own soon enough ^.^ Keep it golden!

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/castro_alex0219

Wow thats amazing!!! would you say you can speak it close to fluently?

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Definitely NOT! I can read it good enough and write it without mistakes - but I have a long way before I could speak it fluently. My guess is that my level of speaking is like a native 2 year old (which is not bad because I started learning only 260 days ago..)

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rodrigoalvesv

Congratulations, Ben!

That must be very hard to keep up for such a long time. Did you use any other material beyond Duolingo's lessons?

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Thanks Rodrigo! I subscribed to German word of the day rss feed, and that's about it..

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LullyLace

Wow, that's a pretty inspiring post! Not that I needed the motivation, because this site is so much fun to use and it gets me excited with how quickly I find myself picking up German, but it's still nice to hear a success story! Congratz, man!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thijmen98

A whole tree in 258 days!? That's pretty fast, I think. What are your going to do now? Just translating German texts or maybe another language?

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

I'm going to continue and improve my German.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kayleeqaz

Great job, man!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CommanderTiger

I would like to learn the extra lessons. Please send some Lingots my way!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b_andi2004

Well, this is really amazing. The entire German tree in one year! As you described on your post, it was a hard work. I think you had to make a good plan and follow it every day. This is normally not so easy, there are always some other things which suddenly are important. Just continue this way!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BeatOhio

Congratulations! I am just starting German on here. I am taking German all throughout high school and thought this would help cause High School German is well I'm not gonna learn a lot. I have a question though, are you a native English speaker? If so did you find it hard?

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

I am not a native English speaker, though I started learning it when I was 6 years old - 25 years ago.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shulique

I finished about 40% of my German tree in the 21 days I've been playing. Was your pace similar? because although it has been slowing down in the last couple of days I don't think it will take somewhere around 240 days to finish it. כל הכבוד שיחקת אותה!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/randallsurles

That's awesome! I just started German, but what I'm really waiting for Dutch because I'm hoping to apply for a job there next year - I think they are similar.

congratulations again!

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/possum404

Based on the comments here, there are several Hebrew speakers on Duolingo. So . . . when can we expect the Hebrew-English courses? :-)

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shulique

Different letters, completely different language (not even the slightest similarities between English and Hebrew like it has with Spanish, German etc.) So I doubt Duolingo would ever offer courses in Hebrew (and Japanese, Chinese and Arabic for that matter) - coming from a native Hebrew speaker.

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/possum404

I don't know . . . they're working on a Russian course. Seems to me that would present those same objections. Different letters, completely different language that bears no relation to English, etc.

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shulique

Well, Russian is written with the Cyrillic alphabet, which is closer to the Latin alphabet than Hebrew alphabet. On both cases, I don't know how they could make it work because you first have to learn the letters so you could read basic words, and Duo doesn't give you any lessons like that. But who knows? :o Anyway, for me it's easier to learn German from English than from Hebrew because the two are very similar.

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

there's a course in beta of English for Arabic speakers, so it's just a matter of time before the release the reverse course as well. And since Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages, my guess we could see a Hebrew course in beta in a matter of months (English for Hebrew speakers) Duolingo is releasing a new course every week.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/new.england.jess

Major kudos to you, sir!

You mentioned you had difficulty speaking German with a native - do you think that you need the offline course just to practice and gain confidence with speaking, or is duolingo weak in a specific component (for instance, understanding written words may be easy, but recalling which words you want to use when speaking may be difficult)? I ask because I'm trying to combine duolingo with various books and videos and I wonder how much failing to regularly speak the language will hold me back.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelSibulo

are you taking the proficiency test? can i have a lingot? HAHAHa congrats dude!!!!!

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/95Shane

First of all, I'd like to congratulate you. But I have a question:

How do you feel learning German on Duolingo has helped you? You mentioned that you had some trouble speaking with a native. Of course, I'd assume your knowledge of German is definitely better after completing the course. However, in practical real-life situations (such as listening to the radio, speaking with a native, reading news/text online, possibly a job interview, etc.), how do you feel Duolingo has contributed? I understand that Duolingo is most likely not, nor should it be, your only tool for learning a language (in this case, German), but I'm curious to know, from someone who has used Duolingo extensively, how it has helped them.

EDIT: Of course anyone who has used Duolingo extensively, feel free to answer.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oletange

I listen to http://www.democracynow.org/es/ I definitely could not do that a year ago. So my understanding of Spanish has gone from 0 to understanding a news cast. Actually composing sentences is much harder, but I am confident that I would have no problems as a tourist in places where they only speak Spanish.

July 1, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lolaphilologist

Thanks for the link! I've been looking for a good source.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

That is actually a great question that I thought I knew the answer to, but it keeps on evolving.

I met a native speaker and found that we CAN communicate, but for me it still wasn't good enough and I felt I was wasting the other person's time. In my head I would translate from Hebrew->English and then English->German, and only then say the words out loud. This is frustrating and I believe it will improve as I practice more and more. If I was in a German speaking country things would be a lot easier, because then I would have been forced to practice all of the time. Last year I visited Berlin for 5 days (112 streak days on Duolingo) and found it extremely helpful. I was able to communicate with native speakers, very slowly.

My opinion is that Duolingo is a great tool to help you "kickstart" your second language. It's definitely not a replacement to intensive language courses, but it can save you time and money in the beginning. I now have basic German knowledge - 1700 words in my vocabulary, grammar, etc. - and I was able to achieve it FOR FREE, in my spare time.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emmilennia

First, congratulations on your perseverance - completing a tree is no small task!

Second, and to your point of not feeling ready: I get the sense you're holding yourself back. Perfectionism is the bane of language-learning. I know this first hand. I have a BA in French, but you'd never know it. I was afraid to speak (terrified, actually) and kept waiting for the "perfect" moment when I'd be ready. It didn't happen! So 20 years later, I'm starting over because disuse made so much of all I learned fade. Now, I'm determined not to allow that fear to prevent me from speaking a language I love. (Because of the way my brain works, passive activities like reading and listening don't do that much for me; I need verbal use and training myself for recall.)

If you sit back and think on it, you'll realize 1700 words is quite a large vocabulary! According to some linguists, the average person only uses about 2000 in daily life (his or her "idiolect"). You're almost there :) You CAN do a lot with all you know, and learn new words/phrases as situations dictate, etc. to build on the excellent foundation you have. Accept that you'll make mistakes, and know that a lot of native speakers are actually quite patient with "new" speakers. Yes, exceptions exist, but I imagine those people are unpleasant in other areas of their lives, too; i.e., it's not you! :)

The TL;DR of this: you know far more than you're giving yourself credit for. Be gentle with yourself, accepting of mistakes, and know you'll do far better than you think.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beekysky

Perfectionism is the curse of many a language learner. This is one reason that people speak foreign languages better when drunk: they simply stop caring about making mistakes. Think about an average conversation in a native language and how many times people forget a name or a word or use "thingamajig". People make mistakes in language use all the time. In my opinion, if you are being understood, then you're fine.

(used to teach English as a Foreign Language)

July 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emmilennia

Exactly! Yours is an important point. In a former life, I taught college English. Yet that doesn't mean my English usage is flawless - it isn't - or that I always have the appropriate word or phrase on hand - I don't. (I'm quite fond of iterations of "thingy" when a word or words won't come to me.) Conversations especially, which require thinking on the fly, can cause most of us to trip over our own tongues in whatever native language we speak. We shouldn't expect a foreign language to be any different.

(I used to work a lot with ESL students. It's very rewarding work, isn't it?)

July 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CharlieMingus

What I got out of this: drink while learning German.

April 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drkameleon

Awesome answer. :-)

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angelastic

What you say about translating from Hebrew to English to German in your head is something that made me a bit skeptical of Duolingo. I learnt Japanese and Maori at school, taught in English by English native speakers (I'm also a native English speaker), translating a sentence or a word at a time and only having an actual conversation once a year in a dreaded oral exam. I even wrote some software to create random sentences in Japanese and English and test myself on translating them (I had to get the translation exactly right though, since it only came up with one version of the sentence in each language, not multiple like in Duolingo. It was like flashcards but for sentences randomly generated from known sentence structures and word lists and some rules for transforming words into their different forms.) I did well in exams and I enjoyed learning the languages but I have never had a conversation in either language with a native speaker, and I hardly remember anything now. But then, that was all before 1998.

When I learnt French, the class was taught in French (I'd read a book beforehand to get the basics) and I found it much better. Learning in the language itself, I could actually understand and speak French as it was, instead of translating it to or from English first and then understanding or saying it. I realised that constantly translating was the wrong way to do things; it discouraged fluency (it takes more time to translate something into another language than to just translate it to the 'language' of your brain to understand it) and make intrusions from English grammar more likely. Plus, all that switching between languages is tiring. It's also very useful to know how to ask questions about the language in the language, so you can ask native speakers even outside the classroom setting. So when I discovered Duolingo after I already knew French reasonably well, I used it sparingly, afraid it would get me into bad habits. I tested out of most of the tree after learning French in other ways. I passed my C1 exam recently.

Now I'm learning German, and I've had German classes taught in French and some taught in English (well, the teachers talked German a lot too, but would explain things in the other language if necessary), in a fairly conversational way. I don't feel like I understand enough to listen to podcasts or songs or read books very easily yet. I recently (15 days ago, as you can see) got back into using Duolingo, and have found it useful for practising various grammatical rules and words that we haven't gone over in class much, and which I probably wouldn't have the discipline to study every day otherwise. I think it's good in the early stages of language learning (I'm doing a B1 class but I didn't study much while doing A1 or A2, so I don't know all the grammar.) I like that it encourages listening and speaking as well as reading and writing, too. But once you're more fluent, I think it could be dangerous to go back to this sentence-by-sentence translation.

I'm using Duolingo for French again too, but since I've already completed the tree, I'm just doing the immersion. While it's still translation, the point is to first understand it in the original language, then figure out how to say it in English, rather than translating into English in your head in order to understand it. Plus there are more complex sentences and there's some longer reading and understanding and research needed to do it. In most cases I understand the French without effort, and I enjoy the challenge of finding the best way to express the same thing in English.

July 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dcommando

New Zealander!!!! YAYYY!

July 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/95Shane

What a very interesting, detailed response. How exactly does one not translate? I completely agree with what you have said about how translating is tiring and slows things down. But overcoming that "translation" barrier seems quite challenging. Do you have any tips for someone learning a language to do this? Any practice techniques/methods?

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drkameleon

"Force" yourself to actually think in the language. I don't mean just reading, watching movies, talking with natives, etc. All these are perfect. But...

Force it into your everyday life, like in your (sub)conscious stream of thought. E.g. Instead of saying "I'll go to the kitchen", "say" it in... whichever-language-you're-practicing. Sounds funny? Not really. After a while, any language will suddenly feel really familiar and you will actually be thinking in the language.

Try it! ;-)


P.S. Of course the above requires a fair mastery of the grammar beforehand, so as not to end up "saying" things that do not make any sense.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/95Shane

Thanks for the tip :)

I don't think it sounds funny at all. That's quite a good suggestion. Definitely sounds like it will be intensive at first, constantly having to think about this and that. But I guess that's part of the learning process. Looks like I better start whipping up some common everyday phrases :D

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angelastic

When you learn a new word in your native language, you learn what it means, not just that it's another word for something else. Say somebody tells you that 'grin' is another word for 'smile'. Maybe in the beginning you'll have to think, 'ah, they mean smile' whoever somebody says 'grin', but eventually you'll just know what 'grin' means. And let's say someone shows you a boot and tells you it is a boot. You then remember that that thing is a boot. You don't remember, 'a boot is a kind of shoe that goes up higher on the leg' and substitute that phrase in your head every time someone talks about a boot. You just know what a boot is. So try to think of the language you're learning the same way; attach the new word to the concept, not to your word for it. It may be that the closest word in your language doesn't even map to exactly the same concept.

As for strategies, well, I guess I first learnt this by being in a class that was taught in the language. There was not always time to translate what the teacher was saying; eventually I just had to understand it. But if you can't do that kind of course, try reading books or listening to podcasts or songs in the language, or watching movies in the language with subtitles in the same language (because you can sometimes understand writing more easily than speaking, and this way you will know the spelling if you need to pause to look something up, and alternative ways of saying things if the subtitles are abbreviated.) If you don't understand a word, try looking it up in a monolingual dictionary first (I think there are learners' dictionaries out there which intentionally have simpler definitions that learners of the language can understand, so you could try one of those), and only if you don't understand that, look it up in a translation dictionary. Try to stay in the language if you can, instead of going outside it and translating to your own language.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/95Shane

I found this very helpful. I will definitely be applying this to my language adventure.

I think I will apply that suggestion and practice it using Anki. I'll probably have a picture associated with the word and try to just drill it (i.e. associating the word with a concept, as you mentioned). Perhaps I'll have the "translation" (more like a definition, hence why I quoted it) in the target language (would of course, have to be very simple and to the point).

I completely understand what you were saying about subtitles. My course/book (with audio/CDs) has text for all the dialogues. I have trouble just listening; however, when I'm reading along with the dialogues, I seem to understand things very well. Which means, I probably should also start training myself to understand the dialogues at normal speed without reading along.

Cheers!

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AntoineLP

I totally agree with 95Shane question... Reading that you weren´t able to speak with a native speaker sound frustating to me.

So I will tell my point: I am from Madrid, where I began to study German. I reached an A2 level. So I decided to do an intesive course in München. The first day I could not remeber any word, but at the end of the month I could make myself understable for a German speaker, and also understand them a little bit. The thing is that all the words that didn´t appear in my mouth at the beginning appeared at the end.

With Duolingo I HOPE will be the shame. Doing exercises all the time to earn vocabulary. Then practise to reach this vocabulary in mind faster and have a normal conversation.

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/malloryraymond

la cosa es que cuando alguien esta estudiando una idioma, es facil aprender. pero cuando TIENE QUE USAR las palabras, es dificil porque no puede decir "lo siento pero no quiero hablar en aleman." no hay otra opcion.

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/moodswinger

Si ya tienes un nivel A2 de alemán, Duolingo no te va a valer de mucho, porque el curso, ahora mismo, te permite alcanzar un nivel A2. Quizá un nivel B1 en comprensión escrita. Esto está corroborado por los hablantes de alemán que han completado el árbol y tienen conocimientos del MCER. Desde luego, Duolingo no te prepara para la expresión oral ni escrita, o la interacción, y la comprensión oral tampoco es perfecta. Te recomiendo que pruebes con otro idioma, o que hagas Immersion. :)

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BiaOliveir8

Man, all this comments said me what I needed to no more be stuck on the perfectionism. Thank you all

December 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CharlieMingus

Hey Shane, I'm trying to learn German and Swedish simultaneously. What's your experience been like?

April 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arminmiry

you are the best

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wordchemist

Congratulations and thank you very much for sharing your learning experience! It is inspiring!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sisibrazz

Congratulations from bangkok!!! I restart my duolingo again 4 days ago, now i really hope that i can finish it!!! I will too start study in Goethe institut in some weeks, then i think Duolingo can help me with my vocabulary and with pronuciation. I use too other tools, it is Deutsche Welle http://www.dw.de/aprender-alem%C3%A3o/s-2199 , really good!!! Weil ich deutsch sprechen will!!!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sisibrazz

ohhh sorry people! it is only for portugueses speakers the site!

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/klausw

awesome

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vatsanshuman

You can try http://app.wespeke.com/connect for improving your communication skills in German. Hope this helps. :)

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Looks promising! thanks for the tip.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lolpeace999

that is amazing

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/adpala

Congratulations! And, of course, it would be a great addition to add more speaking in the Duolingo repertoire. I find myself fascinated with the idea of complimenting Duolingo with another website to chat with people and exchange languages, because you can develop a real conversation without loosing too much time of your day, and these people often are native-speakers who can teach me more common expressions and show you a bit about the culture.

You should try that, and perhaps some of these new friends you will make can try to chat with you through skype or any other software in which you can improve your speaking.

Keep the good work! I hope I can put more time in Duolingo from now on! (:

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jamie.wilk1

Good job! What an accomplishment!

Did you find that reading German is easier to understand than by listening?

I started 2 months ago and am really enjoying it. However, it seems that I understand when reading the phrases, but if I close my eyes and just listen, I cannot make out what is being said.

Luckily, I found a German social group in my city on Meetup, so I am going to try to attend some of the functions to practice.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benklinger

Reading is easier than listening because I do it in my head.. But if you want to learn to language you must dominate this skill as well, obviously.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xydan

Thanks for the lingot. :P But seriously, awesome to hear that you've finished the whole tree. I'm not sure if I can even make it half way!

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/invader4000

I'm trying to do the Italian tree in 6 months, which is my goal :)

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EijiAhad

I hope I can finish the German tree as fast as you

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/azizove

Congratulation, and think you for giving us an idea about your successful path.

July 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AhmadAliKarim

Gratulation! So what happen when we finish German?

July 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mellenwix

Congratulations! I hope to do the same this summer. I am going to Austria for a year in September and I am trying to study this summer all I can to learn what I can before I leave. I have been trying a combination of Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and reading German books and watching German movies. Very time intensive studies. Congratulations though! very exciting.

July 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacinthPaul

Wonderfull!! and good to see you completing the whole tree!! Im gonna join you league soon :-)

July 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zonii

Thank you for sharing your experience. I feel a bit worried sometimes when it says, "now you can read 35% of real German," and then when I look at the text, I don't really understand much! Ha! BTW.. Do you have any websites to share that have helped you along the way? Thanks!

September 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ali253171

fantastic it is i love duolingo my native language is persian(IRANIAN)and i know english and i found deutsch or german fantastic

July 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ali253171

fantastic

July 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ali253171

very good

July 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hussein_961

ive found it very useful to surround myself with the german language completely by musik and movies and german speaking friends . ive still got a long way to go around 50 percent done . but due to my german speaking friends ive ranked as A2 so far which is great.

July 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dont_tread_on_me

Bro, that is awesome and very motivating. I'm trying to do the same right now with Polish, learning the words seem pretty hard though but I enjoy it. Anyway, good luck with all the other languages you might wanna learn in the future.

October 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aryamaan008

Hi, Congratulations! I hope that I also get one for Russian(just started though :P)

January 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/noagreene-1

i think the way your progress is shown in the tests is super cool, it looks like you have worked very hard and deserve the golden dou, congrats!

February 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/borakilicc

Great! Give me lingot lol

April 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimMellon

I'm just now discovering this old thread, but there are many helpful comments here. What has happened since your original post - have you kept up with your German? What level were you then vs now?

May 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelSibulo

are you B1 or B2 certified right now? :)

May 31, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/M.Ahmed9

Congratulation!

June 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jagnes.achacoso

Amazing! I have 32% fluency, but I might get there someday!

August 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cummins66

I am excited to learn a new language. I chose German so that I could communicate more effectively with a co-worker.

August 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CharlieMea5

I just finished the tree today and I feel like I'm still a Babe in the Woods. Thank you Duolingo for this wonderful course.

March 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rattaurus

Congratulation!

July 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joeltreliving

Congrats!

July 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/barbs422494

very inspiring - well done!!! i have found it really helpful to try to do a whole lesson at one time as it then has time to really become set in my mind and i get to understand it better - if i do just a minimum per day , by the time the next day comes i have forgotten what i did the day before!!!!!!

always wanted to know if one gets an email or anything when given a lingot so i do hpe you are still giving them away!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YV.BG

Good day! I just wanted to ask you whether you could provide me with a link to the test, which you used to determine your scores? :)

August 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saifulla9

Congrats

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saifulla9

Where do lie on German level A1-C2

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danny890257

I look forward to this day myself! I am currently on a 54-day​ streak and curious how long it will take me to complete the tree and make gold. Also, I will make each lesson gold before I move to the next.

February 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aminbehravan

lol, it will take 3 years if you wanna make all skill Gold before going to next one

April 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/insrt_user

Congrats! I can't wait until I finish all the lessons :D

May 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LugoschPierre

Herr Benklinger. Just got my Golden Owl today. It took me 672 days without stop but I probably spent 300 or 400 additional days before that but with many stops. I think I can bluster my way through a conversation (with lots of mistakes), but certainly not fluent. When they changed the tree and added all the new lessons I found this to be a big improvement. The addition of the "Leagues" also made me work harder. I have been doing about ten lessons a day for the last six months. I want to spend a few months in Austria or Germany to try and coalesce what I have learned. Nothing works like immersion. I wonder how many people have finished the German Tree and won their Golden Owl?

August 28, 2019
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