Just completed 1000 consecutive days. I had a streak of about 365 before that which I lost. I thought I might share some thoughts on my experience.
I started my intensive French study in mid-2013 at the age of 70. I had studied French in high school and had been reading French novels on and off for many years.
Before doing Duolingo, I completed all the lessons in frenchpod101.com. I had a paid account (I still do). Frenchpod101 gave me a very sound basis in French. Frenchpod101 has a one-on-one teacher level. I tried that for a while but dropped out because I didn't think the teacher was giving me clear and complete instructions and corrections. But I think I may go back and do the one-on-one level again. Frenchpod101 has excellent flash cards. Overall, I would give Frenchpod101 five stars.
- Duolingo is marvelous and deserves all the accolades it gets. The developers are truly good citizens of the world who have given a great gift to so many.
- There a few kinks in Duolingo, but in the big picture, they are quite minor and do not deserve the harsh statements that are sometimes submitted. Duolingo is undertaking a very difficult task and doing it professionally and at the highest level of quality.
- Here are the difficulties I had.
a. I never could get Duolingo to accept my voice. I used a variety of microphones, but perhaps 50% of the time, I was marked incorrect. I grew up in the Midwest of the US so I should have what is called Standard American. Maybe I needed to get a professional microphone. I eventually stopped using the microphone which was a loss.
b. I wish Duolingo had a whole section of commonly used sentences and conversations. I was very surprised when I spent a month in Burgundy last summer that I had to learn how to fluently order at the boulangerie, how to fluently order at the restaurant, how to easily chat with my neighbors about the weather, how to casually talk about a sport such as tennis, etc. These could be a part of the tree.
c. I tried to use the timed practice and sometimes I was able to get 20 questions correct in the allotted time. However, I would say my average score was around 14. I stopped using the timed practice because I eventually concluded that it is more a test of how quickly you can find words in a jumble than it is a test of your ability to understand French quickly. I did not feel that jumble-sorting was a skill I wanted to develop :-)
- It is almost impossible for me to gauge how much I have learned from Duolingo because progress is achieved a day at a time over a very long period. Nevertheless, I know that I have gone from A1 to at least B2, which I am most grateful for. When I started I was reading novels by Pagnol, which I consider to be at a high school level in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. I am now reading "Sur la route du Danube" by Emmanuel Ruben which has an extraordinarily large vocabulary - he invents a number of words, so you have to figure out their meaning from the context, very sophisticated use of grammar, and very complex sentence structures. I can read the book smoothly, except for the need to look up the obscure words he uses. However, I still cannot understand rapid dialogue in a French movie.
- I have worked on Fluentu. It consists of listening exercises of real people talking about real topics. You listen to them and then are tested for comprehension. I need to use Fluentu a lot more so I can understand movies, news shows, et al. It is excellent.
- I have also used francaisauthentique. I have not bought the courses but have listened to the short videos and podcasts. Johan is very good and is doing a superb job. I have lost a bit of interest because of his delving into personal development in addition to teaching French.
- Now, I am working on Kwiziq. It is a crash course (if you work hard at it) of French grammar. It goes from A0 through C1. I did not bother with A0, but I have got to the 90% level in all the others. I think Kwiziq (or something like it) is absolutely necessary if you want to write and speak correct French. It drills you on correct usage until you get it. As a side note, i would say that it has taught me that correct French is a very sophisticated and complex language - perhaps even more so than English, which many people feel is very difficult to learn.
Reluctantly, I am saying adieu to Duolingo French (although I will pop by from time to time to see if there is something new). It's like an old and dear friend. I hope all of you will continue to enjoy it and be kind and patient with your comments. Duolingo is an international treasure.
I look forward to comments and questions about this post, which will surely give me prompts to further reflections and conclusions.
I'm just hoping this is read by the OP who, earlier today, said you had no chance of learning a second language past the age of 20!
Good luck with that as I've heard it is not too easy to learn. I'll leave it until I am also in my seventies to follow your example (not long to wait actually!)
What I've found is that there have always been scientists, and others, who have emphatically, and sometimes condescendingly, stated that you can't go beyond a certain hill but in the course of history have ended up with egg on their faces once the hill was crossed.
Scientists used to say that you couldn't generate new brain cells and that was standard dogma for decades or more. Now, we know that is not true.
So, if you ever come across someone scoffing that you can't teach an old dog new tricks laugh at them and prove them wrong.....
What a MARVELOUS post! I almost hate that it's "hidden" in the French forum because I think all language learners would find it inspiring, regardless of language, but since you're specifically talking about French I do understand why you put it here.
I never could get Duolingo to accept my voice.
In my experience, the Duolingo speaking exercises are very hit-or-miss. If you have a phone or a tablet (any mobile device) try installing the Duolingo app on it. Then when you're asked to type something, like "translate this into French" click the mic button beside the space bar on the virtual keyboard. Then speak your answer, and let the mobile device's speech recognition convert your words to text. I find this is a MUCH better speaking practice.
You might have to install a French keyboard and use it for the speech recognition to be able to "understand" French. It's been so long since I did that, I don't remember if it works w/o a French keyboard or not.
I find you utterly inspiring.
@Lrtward @Gambelguy @all
Quote: I never could get Duolingo to accept my voice. In my experience, the Duolingo speaking exercises are very hit-or-miss.
If you have a phone or a tablet (any mobile device) try installing the Duolingo app on it.
No, please not the mobile tapping app which does not freely allow the "Toggle keyboard / Make harder" options for lower crowns at the bottom panel!
Instead you can use the Google Chrome / Firefox / Edge browsers (however there are some minimum version requirements) directly on the mobile device with the installed (internal) OS keyboard and open the www.duolingo.com website (either mobile or full desktop site).
Some more experienced power and mobile users have written on the forums that Android has a specific keyboard called Gboard and some smartphone vendors have their own keyboards which support that voice speaker button.
I quickly tested Mondly's mobile app last year at a friend's place as I could not get the speaking exercises working on the old Android tablet in Chrome V77.
Wow, what a great feature that you could speak the shown word or phrase/sentence from the multiple-choice answers and let the app automatically mark the answer.
I do really miss something like this on the websites.
And I would like to have it on Duolingo too :-)
Quote: Then when you're asked to type something, like "translate this into French" click the mic button beside the space bar on the virtual keyboard
Well, this would mean that there are:
A) L1 EN -> L2 FR translations (many are the other direction) and
B) that Duolingo allowed typing (and we all know that there are way too many other challenges than this).
Quite: Then speak your answer, and let the mobile device's speech recognition convert your words to text. I find this is a MUCH better speaking practice.
Besides mobile devices there is a new alternative on a computer based on a Chrome extension which allows to use the Duolingo website:
"I made this Chrome Extension to practice speaking Spanish w/Duolingo by Mikohead" (and several other languages): https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/38325814
However, what also works on the Duolingo website (full desktop site) on a computer with a userscript:
You can hide French sentence text, multiple-choice 1-3 answers, enable the French TTS audio for those missing L1 EN -> L2 FR translations, multiple-choice correct answers, have Duolingo read the TTS from the alternative answer (bottom panel),...
You just need Camilo's userscript "Duolingo Tree Enhancer" for the Tampermonkey / Violentmonkey browser addons which work on a computer with Chrome / Firefox browsers:
This is how I personally try to improve a bit my Portuguese listening skills and to focus on "on-the-fly translations in my head" when I can hide the L2 target language text and multiple-choice answers.
Night and day difference!
Camilo makes Duolingo a better world for all of us.
I've got my 180 day streak going on.
to compensate for some of the deficiencies in Duolingo, particularly in the spoken language component, I use google voice recorder in French to dictate the written exercises. If I can't pronounce a work, I go to a French-English translator app,(https://translate.yandex.com/?lang=en-fr), which works for me. I also use Yandex to figure out sentences... the good thing about Yandex is that it does not correct for grammar. You can't cheat. I also use Yandex to get more fluency with spoken French. I read some of the little scenarios into it... Finally I take notes... I write down unusual sentence patterns and I contribute sometimes to the discussion of sentences. Don't rush. Privilege written and listening comprehension..try to match to spoken fluency.
Congratulations Thank you for writing about the other resources that you use for learning French.
The Duolingo System recently gave me xp for not doing any work.
|2020-05-21||02:47:20 · 15XP|
|2020-05-21||02:47:20 · 10XP|
|2020-05-21||03:06:51 · 15XP|
In the table above, you'll see I got ten xp right after I completed a lesson. I think it might have been an award for a streak.
I'm wondering if you could check your Duome page. When you hit the raw button it gives you a list of xp earned over the last two weeks. Could you check when you reached your streak of 1000? If my guess is right, you would have an xp award right after doing your first lesson the day you reached your 1000 day streak.
Gambelguy, your age along with your language work is inspiring. I am 62 and hope by age 70 to have made massive strides in learning, particularly when the time issue of having to make a living is behind me! Just kidding, I love my work, and it occasionally allows me to use my Spanish. Thanks for the tips about Fluentu and Kwizig. I'll look into them.
Thanks for your comment. I am now up to 1176 days but work only on Indonesian on Duolingo. I think the Indonesian program is better than the French because there is so much more spoken Indonesian. I am learning how to understand spoken Indonesian much better than I learned how to understand spoken French. Good luck on your studies. Do you study multiple languages regularly?