Well... that escalated quickly!
Due to the quarantine, and my anxiety around the way it affects my work, I have distracted myself by diving into Duolingo!
Having always found modern languages a real chore before I might be... well... a little too keen! I've earned 6496 XP in the last six days.
Any super helpful person able to give me tips to help me on my way?
And can anyone give me a sense of the range of practical conversational/reading standards that can be achieved after completing every lesson on the French tree and listening to all the stories?
Also, I 'spent' 1000 XP on a costume for Duo using the mobile app and I can't see it. What's that about? :-p
Not too shabby. You seem to not be hovering, so my tip is: hover. https://blog.duolingo.com/whats-the-best-way-to-learn-with-duolingo/
Duo should be wearing his costume during the motivational messages (though I've seen some people on iOS mentioning he's naked):
You are likely to forget much of what you have learned if you speed on through the course material without looking beyond Duolingo.
Use some of what you have learned to write a diary or short story, letter, whatever - a bit of freestyle writing each day using something new and something learned before is best - so that you are not just parroting sentences you will never get to use, but manipulating the language and getting a feel for it.
Try having a conversation - with an imaginary person if you must or like - that would actually be useful; you could imagine you have been asked to tell someone how to get to a restaurant or shop you like for example - and make it more realistic for use in France by adding in a trip by bus, train or metro as well as meandering around streets. Give your "language partner" a verbal shopping list and cooking instructions for an imaginary dinner with friends. Develop a dialogue around the theme of one of the skills you are working.
Also, either buy a grammar book, or use a site such as Lawless French (lawlessfrench.com) to meander around the grammar - I find that site quite accessible and readable, not too dry - and it has links so you can start by looking up a point that you come across in one of the lessons, and then dive into one of the other pages it links too, so you learn more than Duo alone can offer you.
Good luck as you progress
EDIT: I'm not a great fan of Google translate but if you want to check something you have written in French to see how it "traslates" to English, it can be helpful - just don't use it to write your French for you, and don't assume it is correct.
To be understood by a native, you don't have to be 100% correct (or ever close!) so don't worry about accuracy early on - just check the gist of what you intended to say is coming through in the translation, as you won't have a real person to check it out for you.
And you could post your daily writing on the French forum - people will review it for you, and suggest improvements.
EDIT 2: Duo skillls alone gets you to about A1/A2 on the CEFR scale - which is about UK GCSE lower level. Add in the stories and the writing and speaking practice - plus a bit of listening to youtubes (and there is an easy to understand current affairs web site, but I've forgotten the name - hopefully someone else will chip in) and you are at GCSE higher. I believe that equates roughly to a US high-school SAT subject specialism
Make sure you read the tips before each skill - and sentence discussions after the lesson. Take notes. And use the hover method (do not take each skill to level 5 quickly) - https://blog.duolingo.com/whats-the-best-way-to-learn-with-duolingo/ (this gives you the best chance to remember long term and to understand the material)
If possible turn off the word bank as soon as possible.
For French - make sure you learn the gender with the noun ie un homme.
Plus all the usual things for studying. Eat well. Sleep well. Take mini-breaks every 10-15 minutes and long breaks every 90 minutes or so.
How far will DL get you? At best A2 in reading (lower in writing - much lower in speaking and oral cmprehension).
The stories on the duo site really have helped me, they're simple, easy, and kinda fun! as for other french books, comics were really easy to start with because you can understand what's happening on the page with pictures that can help you if there's a word you're trying to figure out. I'm not a huge podcast person the books definitely helped me more. did this help?
Très bon travail! J'ai terminé l'arbre français et je ne recommande pas de prendre les raccourcis de Duolingo. Vous apprendrez beaucoup plus et mieux si vous # 1 prenez votre temps # 2 utilisez d'autres ressources d'apprentissage tout en utilisant Duolingo. Je recommande également de commencer à lire des articles en français à votre meilleur niveau et même de regarder des vidéos Youtube avec des légendes, puis au fil du temps sans. Essayez également d'apprendre avec des amis. Essayez de faire une conversation en français. Je recommande également vivement d'utiliser pleinement les ressources de Duolingo, en particulier les histoires et les podcasts de Duolingo. Bonne chance!
Also, seeing that you haven't been learning French for long it seems, from what you've said, here's the translation---->
Very good work! I have completed the French tree and I do not recommend taking Duolingo shortcuts. You will learn much more and better if you # 1 take your time # 2 use other learning resources while using Duolingo. I also recommend starting to read French articles at your best and even watching Youtube videos with captions and then over time without them. Also try to learn with friends. Try to make a conversation in French. I also highly recommend making full use of Duolingo resources, especially Duolingo stories and podcasts. Good luck!
Thanks Julie, for your thoughtful replies! In any skill, I often take three (or two, or four, depending) quizzes that allow you to skip the first sets of lessons, and then settle in to concentrate on the late part of each skill. I feel that I get as much out of paying attention to the quizzes as I would out of doing the lessons. Would you recommend against this? I find the process of taking the early lessons repetitive, and, as I say, I do get a lot off of the quizzes.
Everyone does have their own unique style of learning. I grew up speaking Cajun French (a French dialect) so it will definitely be a slightly different learning experience for you. Doing the quizzes is very helpful, and challenging yourself is healthy. As long as you are retaining what you are learning, you should be on the right path. To make sure you're retaining the information, try to quiz yourself besides on Duolingo. If you've learned any of the "house" vocabulary, start saying to yourself what each thing you pass or intend to use in french. If you cannot remember some of the things you learned the next day while using the vocabulary again, I recommend taking extra time to study it. I also recommend only studying one language at a time, at least in the early stages of learning French. Some can handle learning more than one language but you just want to make sure you don't confuse yourself or forget what you've learned while trying to balance learning more than one language. As said, everyone has a unique learning style, so keep that in mind while learning.
Thank you so much Julie! Yes, retention is certainly critical.
I personally generally find that my problem is never not understanding the principles.
The problem is not even forgetting details (eg. a word or how to conjugate a verb) if I am asked for that detail in isolation.
The problem for me is that I make what my school used to call "silly mistakes"- eg. I've been wrestling with a verb form in a sentence, successfully, and then I just spoil it by temporarily forgetting that adjectives have to agree! Or similar.
I do this All. The. Time.
So frustrating! But practice makes perfect, I hope!
Cajun French sounds fun. is it very different from the French on Duolingo?
Wow that's a lot! And just try to keep learning. And I understand your stress with work, I go to high school next year and I want to do well in high school and me and my friends had worked out a plan to do well in high school but this quarantine is making it difficult to learn, so I do Duolingo to help me out too. Just try not to avoid your work. Et bonne chance avec le français! Also nice to see another Izzy.
Depends how you do the lessons. You should be able to read most things aside from gaps in vocabulary but that will always happen. If you focus on listening and speaking instead of reading everything you're going to develop a more keen ear for listening to it. It's one of the hardest languages to aurally comprehend because there's little punctuating emphasis and a lot of slurring.
Thanks Brawniosaurus! That’s a great, succinct account of why French is hard phonetically. I listen to the stories without peeping at the written words unless I have to, and I copy as many French sentences out loud as I have the patience to, and, you’re right, I am realising that I can understand some spoken French. I prefer grammar to speaking/listening though. (You should hear my singing voice. Fighting cats pity me for lacking an ear for music. I was simply not born under a sound-related star).