500 Days of Duolingo
I have managed to complete a 500 day streak on Duolingo, and just wanted to write a quick note thanking the entire Duolingo team for their work in what has been, and continues to be, a massively rewarding personal experience.
Since starting at the beginning of 2013:
I've made friends and penpals all throughout the world, and here in New York City, to practice French with (some of whom practice their English with me)..
I've discovered awesome new French musicians (Yelle! Stromae!).
I've read a couple of books in French (Le petit prince, Stupeur et tremblements etc.).
More importantly: I've gotten to meet more kind and decent people that I didn't know, connect more deeply with French-speaking people that I already knew, learn more about the world and other people's cultures, write business emails in a second language, say unintentionally embarrassing things in those business emails, order food at French restaurants in the server's native tongue, tease people about their national failures in the World Cup in terms entirely too familiar to them, discover expressions and slang words and highly inappropriate words in another language, and find ways to make people laugh in French both purposefully and accidentally.
So, 500 days later? I'm still not fluent. I still have a difficult time understanding a lot of French radio and television broadcasts. My French correspondents on Skype sometimes get excited and speak quickly in French, and I have zero idea what on earth they are talking about. I need a translator app on my iPhone to get through difficult passages in French books.
But I can get by and have a conversation in French. And I can make sense of most French articles, and can communicate reasonably well in French. I've started using Spanish on Duolingo in the hopes that I'll have the ability to do the same in a year. I fully plan on giving German a go after that. Maybe Dutch or Chinese or Danish or Russian, later? Who knows. But I ultimately view the continuing, gradual learning of more and more languages to be a lifelong habit that I'll be developing, and I fully expect to be using this website and app for a long, long time to come.
So, thanks Duolingo! I will continue to evangelize about this wonderful service to everyone I meet in the hopes that more people use it, and the world becomes a little bit smaller. I'm aware enough to know that this site is intended more for underprivileged people in developing countries hoping to learn English for free and improve their professional fortunes more than it is for lanky dudes with fancy degrees in big American cities who really like learning stuff - but I do hope the staff that works everyday on this project will remember posts like mine the next time that you inevitably get a bit tired and cranky with your day-to-day routine. I'm a better person because of the work you've done, and I appreciate everything that you continue to do. Thanks again.
UPDATE: 1000 Days! https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11737991
What an admirable accomplishment. I'd like to quote two sentences of your statement:
But I ultimately view the continuing, gradual learning of more and more languages to be a lifelong habit that I'll be developing, and I fully expect to be using this website and app for a long, long time to come.
...and to the staff:
I'm a better person because of the work you've done, and I appreciate everything that you continue to do. Thanks again.
I've been reading every headline and a lot of posts on the English forum for some 250 days now, but these two sentences are amongst the most wonderful I've ever read on DuoLingo. Thank you for your encouraging post - and believe me, some people will remember your message.
Onwards to the next 500 days, Jay ;-)
Awesome, congratulations! I feel much the same way about my abilities in French after all this time. Duolingo has helped a heck of a lot, though!
Beautiful post; you have a gift for expressing yourself. Thank you for sharing that.
Congratulations and thank you for your thoughts and honesty. That is how I feel about Duolingo, too. Nice post.
Llongyfarchiadau and iechyd da! Congratulations on your streak, hopefully I'll get there one day :)
You will! Just keep at it. Make it a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or something. That sounds crazy, but it works.
Wow... congrats! Centime reached 500 days also, not long ago. Have some lingots for your hard work!
Admirable discipline! I stumbled upon duolingo through co-workers and then again more recently through catching Luis von Ahn's Ted Talk - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ht4qiDRZE8 on the inception of duolingo (and re-captcha). The basis of duolingo is brilliant - it's providing users with a service that has a demand and in turn users are providing their acquired skills to help translate the web - making material from different enclaves more accessible to broader group of users.
Félicitations, Jay, et bonne courage pour les prochains 500 jours!
Juste une petite remarque: Paul n'est pas français, il est belge. Une (petite) différence pas négligeable.
Merci ! Et oui, Stromae est belge. Quand je dis 'French musicians,' je dois dire 'francophone musicians.'
Thanks for this inspiring post. I checked out your web-site, and wow! Totally impressive to me that you do what you do professionally, AND at the same time have managed to keep up with Duo for 500, or probably 501 or 502 days by the time you read this.
I like the idea that you like to make people laugh in French, on purpose or inadvertently. I suspect that extends to the rest of your life. If so, that is a great thing. Life is no fun without fun.
You mentioned "tired and cranky" (don't get that way, please, staff) but it's a good reminder to me- I confess that there are times when I get really tired and cranky when it's a particularly hard slog through a particular part of the French tree. But, for so long I've been telling myself that I want to improve my French. And, if not now, when? Tick tick... Although I bought one of the widely advertised "Learn French" programs, it's DL that I keep coming back to. Frustrating at times, but also addictive, in the best sense.
Through serendipity I found someone to tutor me via phone lessons once a week. She and her husband lived in France for 7 years, and both are fluent. It's actually helpful to have an American tutor who has gone through the process of becoming fluent, b/c she knows were the demons lie. All those tricky small words like de, a, en, etc., for example. Before starting this tutoring, I had said "I want to become fluent in French". Thank goodness both gently warned me that perhaps my expectations were a bit overboard, unless of course I wanted to go live in France for several years. Oh, I would love to do so, but... it would take more than a bit of finagling to manage that right now.
Because I'd had such great experiences previously when I went to France (Paris) for short times, really wonderfully rewarding experiences using what I now understand is "very minimal French", I assumed I knew more French than I did. Ouch. Ouch, I mean in terms of my idea of becoming fluent! But, given my past wonderful adventures, I know that even it I am not fluent, there will be more wonderful adventures next time I go to France. (Trip in the planning stages.)
Oh, and Les Blues, I was really rooting for them to win against Germany, and to go on to win the World Cup. There is, of course, a certain history to the France- Germany encounter at a certain time in World Cup history. I wish Les Blues had defeated Germany.
Ah.... so I've strayed from the topic at hand. Thank you for a marvelous post.
Thanks for your kind words! The best part of learning a language is accidentally saying things wrong, realizing that your correspondent is stifling laughter, asking them why, and learning that you just mis=pronounced a word as to make it sound like an insult. In other words, the best part of learning a language is looking stupid. If you're not afraid to look stupid and you can have fun looking stupid, then you'll learn faster!
Wow!! 500 Days! That must be some sort of record!! Congrats. Now to the 1000 day mark!
I also like your post - and sure, I agree, Duolingo IS AWESOME!!
Oh wow, and I thought that my 127 days were any good :-) Seriously though, great job! I’ve been learning French - from scratch - since March 1st this year, and I’ve got to somewhere around the middle I’d say... I am carrying long skype conversations (with voice) with a friend from Paris, but I’m far from “fluent” yet. I only tried a couple of times to listen into some French TV and I have found some improvements, but I realized I’m very very far from that level when I can understand it with ease. Having said that, I’ve been able to understand quite a bit of Stromae’s lyrics already, which is a great achievement for me.
I’ve slowed down quite a bit lately because I’ve started to work on the English for Hungarian course as a contributor, but more importantly I’ve been working hard creating the Hungarian course for English speakers. Perhaps, one day you could try your luck with my unique language as well... I’m not at a point yet where anybody would study from what I’m creating, and well, I’m not even staff, but your last couple sentences are still a big encouragement for me to do my best to make this new course great, so maybe one day someone could say something like this about it too...
Good luck for the next 500!
Thanks! Seriously: French music is the way to go. Go listen to Stromae (or Francoise Hardy. or Yelle. or anyone else good) and read their lyrics as you listen to the music. It helps, and you'll discover some great music, too.
One day, you'll finish your course and people will appreciate it. I promise. So keep at it!
Keep at it! You'll get there before you know it. 500 wasn't something that I set out to do when I first started. It just happened.
Great streak. I want to crack the 1000 day barrier someday. You're only a couple of months away.
Wow! Next goal: set!
Thank you so much for this, it is good to know other people share and love this addiction!
Waa :) I've been using Duolingo since it was available, and will give up my 400+ day streak in Portuguese in some weeks when going to a meditation retreat :P
Duolingo, thank you for turning the human propensity for addiction into improving learning!
You can freeze your streak in the lingot store during your time away. And have a blessed retreat :)
Ótimas férias, e não se esqueça de estudar português quando voltar, é uma língua maravilhosa.
Congratulations! I definitely feel the same about Duolingo, that it has increased my passion for learning languages. Great post!
Rock on…… The French people and culture are worthy of your tremendous energy and perseverance. Your gratitude charms.
Well done man. Congratulation and of course thanks to duolingo for this possibility.
For instruction, I primarily used Duolingo. But as I said - I also read French books, French online newspapers, listened to French music etc. etc. I have friends here in New York City who speak French, and I'd practice with them. I also found a website that lets you practice languages with other people - so I have periodic Skype conversations where they practice their English with me, and I practice my French with them. All of these things helped.
Duolingo is a seriously amazing tool - but its developers are pretty up-front about the fact that it won't make you fluent by itself. It will get you to an advanced beginner/intermediate stage with the language. If you want to move beyond that, you've got to find other ways to make it happen.
That's fantastic JaySilverman! Your post is an inspiration to us all! Congratulations!
Stromae is AMAZING!!! Nice Job!! Good luck in your deeper studies of linguistics :)
After spending months in the south of France several different times, and with a fluent husband, I never was able to communicate more than Bonjour! Merci! Au Revoir, etc... ,so congratulations to you and I agree, this is the best app...so fun, and I love learning french now. For me, the difficulty is trying to hear what fast talking french are saying...they have the same problem when we speak english in front of them...BUT, I am encouraged that I am progressing and I am frenching it up when i have to record my speech and am not needing to repeat what i say three times.
Voila!! I hope to continue with Duolingo and learn from discussions as well as the lessons! Thank YOU!!!! Better than any high school or college course. Teaches us the way we learn...
Congratulations on your accomplishments! May I suggest you add some audio / video learning to your daily mix to help with comprehension. News in Slow French, RFI News en Français Facile, Yabla, TV5Monde's app 7 Jours Sur La Planete (or their Apprendre site).
Duolingo is killer for keeping your grammar and spelling tuned up :)
Thanks! I have the RFI app on my phone, and often listen to it whilst walking around the city. But I will definitely check out the others
Congratulations! I feel the same way as you about Duolingo, though I just lost my 165-day streak due to going to summer camp. Keep up the good work.
That's fantastic Jay! I hope your passion for life and learning grow ever more.
Ahhhh Le Petit Prince and Stupeur et Tremblements! Both excellent reads. Question: how did you meet native french speakers who were willing to skype with you on here?
There's a website that I use allows you to meet people who want to practice English, and who are willing to help you with whatever language you're studying. If you Google 'language exchange websites,' you should find a few of them. I can't recommend it enough - you'll make friends with people in other parts of the world, and you'll get better at speaking the language.
as a person who just set a 365 day goal about a montha go I saythanks for helping me to see where about I'll be and thanks for the music recomendations, I've been listening to george brassens you should check him out if you haven't. Did you have any previous experience with French?
Georges Brassens! Yes! I neglected to mention him, but I love that guy. One of my friends in Paris sent me a CD of his music during the winter, and I listened to it like crazy. Big fan.
I took French for three semesters in university, but that was ten years ago and I forgot everything. I was essentially starting from scratch, minus a bit of lingering basic knowledge.
Congratulations on your 500 day streak, and on your post. I share your enthusiasm for Duolingo and would also like to thank everyone involved in this great project.
Fantastic!!! Congrats, my goals, are to improve my translation tiers and to add other languages, like Italian, Portuguese, and German to start. I never thought that I would reach a hundred days, but stories like yours inspire me to "keep on pushing". I agree that the Duolingo Staff and community are GREAT:--))
Nice, it feels like this is a good program to keep up with but nothing replaces actually speaking one on one with a native speaker. I took a long break from learning but now I'm back into podcasts, Rosettastone and Duolingo. Wish me luck!
You truly have a gift for writing. The way you express yourself is just amazing. I'm inspired and almost moved to tears. This is...beyond words. Thank you for this post to inspire people like me and hopefully others on this site. I hope that one day, you will be fluent in French and able to write as beautifully as you did above in French. Good luck, and thank you for the sliver of inspiration that has shone through my day.
PS- Have a few lingots
Thanks! That's really quite flattering and thoughtful of you to say. Best of luck with your ongoing studies!
Congratulations and keep going...! Thanks for your great motivational talk and for sharing your wonderful experience!
I was just randomly bowsing through discussion streams when I came across this one. And I noticed you're at exactly 800 days now! Chapeau !
It is almost insane to read such a beautiful post from so long ago. A feat of such wonder and glory is amazing. Furthermore, you are only 5 days from a 1000 day streak. Congratulations and great work!
Thanks! It's a little weird to think that I wrote this nearly 500 days ago. I've thought about updating it or writing a new one for the 1000 day mark, but who knows.
its crazy, i just saw this article today and immediately after that i just checked your streak (seems like others do too) and woowww its now near 1500!!! amazing - i never thought of doulingo like this, maybe that is why im just on a 10 days streak after 5 months!! thank you for the big picture dude:)
woww you just replied that fast- you keep surprising me :)) thanks a looooot + iwas just reading the 1000 days comment hope to see the 1500 day comment from you in about two months
Ha, yeah, I guess that's what happens when I'm chained to my desk at an office today.
Not sure about 1500, but maybe when I hit 2000. It'll take a couple years, but I'll get there!