How should I be learning with Duolingo?
I ask this question because, whenever I start a new lesson, I always fail it once or twice before I can finally finish it-it's a major bummer, and in turn just makes me less motivated. Is Duolingo intended to work by trial and error? Are there any other things you guys do that help you complete the lessons without so much failure at first?
I don't think Duolingo was initially intended to work by trial and error, but in fact it works so now. I usually consider my first round with the lesson to be an "exploring" round to see some new words and expressions. If I succeed to finish it from the first time, I just consider myself lucky, that's all. If not, that was quite expected and no big deal, I just retry.
A tip: If you make a mistake in the first or second question, press F5 to refresh the page and start over. You won't lose much this way.
It is also a good practice to repeat lessons even after you pass them. Very often you may pick up some new expressions and idioms this way, and of course you'll reinforce what you've learned before.
To decrease the frustration, don't push yourself to only do new lessons. You can do 1-3 new lessons and add 4-5 practice rounds to review previous skills or all skills. Practice makes perfect.
It's a good question.
I think Duolingo is based on such processes of repetition and kind of auto-correction of one's mistakes.
Don't be less motivated if you don't succeed in finishing the lesson the first time, it is normal. It depends on the lesson but in average I need 2 or 3 tries before doing it. Sometimes, I turn crazy when I lose my last heart at the last question but at least, at the end of the day, I am pretty sure that I have understood the most important elements of the lessons.
I think you could pass a new lesson nearly every time if you have a big memory span. The short term ability to hold a list data in your head. But you can completely forget it all in a short period of time with no repetition. Remembering the words long term is obviously more important. I would not get upset if it takes more than one time to complete a new lesson because unless you have some very super memory you will not remember it long term with out additional repetition. It is possible you would be creating stronger longer term memory in the process with the extra repetition.
I think it's important to focus on the goal here. Which isn't to pass the lessons quickly, or get points or hearts. Having said that, I do find it a little frustrating too, but try not to let it get to me. Another thing to keep in mind is that immersion helps the most. And I don't mean just the "Immersion" part on duolingo, but - watching TV, listening to music, paying attention to the language you're learning - in real life.
Don't be afraid of failing lessons! If you fail them at least 2-3 times before passing you have already repeated the stuff a few times, that's good for your learning process. If you're unlucky enough to pass the lesson the first time, you have to repeat it much sooner!
I usually have Spanishdict.com open at the same time and I look at their grammar page for a discussion of the skill I am learning. Often I take their quiz as well. I find their quizzes to be much harder- they don't accept unaccented words for instance. This really helps me with the whole concept. I also do better on the Duolinguo quiz as a result. I don't have a problem remembering new vocabulary, especially since it allows you to peek. But verbs are hard for me. For languages other than Spanish, maybe there are other free online lessons for you to use in the same way.