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.
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.
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!
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... :)
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! ;)
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.
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 :-)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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?)
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.
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?
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. :)
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!!!
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! (:
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.
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.
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!
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!!!!!!!!!!!!
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?