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A year streak on DuoLingo German :)

Hi everyone

The streak (Jerry Seinfeld chain) feature really helped me this past year to ensure I log on daily, even when travelling or going away on hiking trips. Friends think it odd when I always try to scurry away mornings, during travel, to find a WiFi spot for my quick daily DuoLingo.

What is your experience with this feature?

I've used the streak freeze twice (both whilst hiking - usually a 3 day trip that has an inevitable internet-less middle day), but logging in daily forces me to constantly think about and test my language skills.

What other methods have you found helpful to keep you on the right track with learning?

August 3, 2014



So what is your progress in german? Are you just using duolingo?


Ok, just discovered a nasty bug in discussion. Tip: don't type up an essay and click on up or down on a comment before you post ;)

So, let me try this again, before I lost my trail of thought.

I use Anki (spaced repetition) outside of Duo, daily for a minimum of 30 minutes. This has allowed me in 18 months to learn a massive vocabulary (Mature: 14927, New Learning: 486). I started with a Top 1000 word by frequency list and then attacked a top 10k frequency list. Over time this tool has proved amazingly helpful in just dumping a massive amount of data into my head with comparatively minimal effort.

I still need to complete the Anki German tree - as I'm trying to keep everything golden which is a task in itself.

The immersion tool is nice, because it allows in context translation, which is awesome for learning words in context and the real use of the language.

About once a week I catch up on news with Deutsche Welle's Langsam Gesprochene Deutsch, which is ideal for hearing words in context and longer sentence structures.

Currently my spoken German is limited, but that will change in a month when I leave for at least a three year period in Germany :)


Does Anki contain pre-populated German lists like the ones you discuss, or did you have to build them yourself? I went to the webpage and it appears to be a generalized notecard service. Sounds like a great tool, if so!


It does indeed. :) https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/german

Here's the top 1k (with audio) https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1126003944 and you can also sync Anki mobile with the Anki web service.

I first read about spaced repetition here: http://archive.wired.com/medtech/health/magazine/16-05/ff_wozniak?currentPage=all - it contains great information on the background of why I don't consider Anki a 'generalised notecard service'.

:) Have fun.


I have never heard of this site before, but I just downloaded to the app to my cell. Thanks for the link!!


Thanks for mentioning the DW Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten! It's wonderful! I actually have a fighting chance at picking out more than one word per sentence!


Did you start from zero German? Did Anki help with nailing down all the vocab or would you say it's better to learn words in context and sentences rather than just definitions? I just found out that I'm going to Spain for work and since I've never learned Spanish in my life, I switched into Spanish-cramming-panic mode with trying to squeeze as much studying as I can in the next 2 months. I like using DuoLingo and for vocab I use Memrise, but I'm wondering whether there are any additional useful techniques I can use :)

And congrats on 365 streak. Impressive!


I started with zero German. During building period of my Anki decks (I read up on why frequency decks are helpful etc) I bought the Michel Thomas German foundation, which is about 8 hours of contextual German. When I started with Duolingo I started doing 20-30 minutes a day of 'pure vocab' (read: just new words) on Anki in parallel.

Cramming doesn't work for me, I need something I can consistently crack away at. What I would recommend from personal experience is that the Michel Thomas method works wonders for a quick introduction.

For forcing massive amounts of words into your head (caveat emptor below) I could highly recommend Anki. I would recommend setting your learning in Anki to something sensible - say 15-20 new words a day. These are cumulative and you never lose those words (they don't disappear from your deck), they just get spaced for repetition during a longer period of time. I started with 50 words a day, and after a week I already had to put in an hour of review. Eventually I tuned my 'new word' learning so that I could stay on a stable 25-35 minute daily - which I usually do first thing in the morning on a stationary bike (one boring cognitive task, with one boring body task = not so bad combined task).

I also used Memrise, until I discovered the Memrise plug-in for Anki that can extract any Memrise deck into Anki. The nice thing about Memrise are the different types of questions, and they also have some nice quality decks :)

I can also highly recommend that you build your own decks (if you don't go for frequency decks), and add relevant pictures from images.google.com in order to also hit that visual association area of the brain.

Cards can be configured to use AwesomeTTS (text to speech) in Anki, so you can also hear the speech (although this is too robotic for some people's liking).


Congrats! can you give more details about the proccess and your current level? like, how many exps have you been doing per day on german? did you focus on new words only ( like you have said previously) or did you use the review algorit of duolingo? in anki, did you write your own flashcards and decks based on the lessons here or did you use some other sources? can you chat with germans about usual stuff? I've been doing this, but i'm unsure about the efficiency of Duolingo for completely new languages, or abotu the way i'm doing this


Well done. Hoping to get to 365 myself, big challenge coming when I go on holiday for 10 days, to Germany.


Spent the last six weeks there and in Switzerland, summer in Europe :) Enjoy.


Oh, and they have these 5 euro WiFi scratch cards for the trains, having a couple of those on board helped while travelling, might be worthwhile stocking up on a couple. Some hotels hand them out as well.


Congrats! I am right behind you and hope to make it to a full year. It can be a challenge on some days to get your daily dose and have also had to rely on the Streak Freeze a couple of times.


The worst is doing an untimed exercise, and having it only count the total, 1 minute after midnight ;)


Congrats on a full year. Back when I was taking the streak seriously it was almost like an addiction to get on DuoLingo every day. I managed to get to around 90+ days, if I recall correctly, but 365 - that's damn impressive.

Well..and what now? Are you ready for another year? : )


Thanks. I think I'm fine with the addiction, but won't take it too seriously if I lapse now (although that would suck). I think on-site courses are next once I complete this tree, then on to the B & C certifications, I guess and Dutch :)


sehr toll! weiter so!


Sehr gut!!! Super!! FWIW, I am not using Anki, but I'm making my own "flashcards" at cram.com & that is helping me get better in German. I am an early adopter of duo, but I've been back and forth with it. Have fun in Deutschland, it's an amazing, wonderful, beautiful place! If you're interested in what my flashcards are at cram.com search my username from here over there.


I also started using Duo in the beta days. They sure have changed quite a bit, especially in mobile delivery.

Do you know if they use SRS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition) at cram.com?

You have quite a bit of icons there next to your name - what is your experience with memory interference so far? "When you learn about similar things you often confuse them. For example, you may have problems distinguishing between the meanings of the words historic and historical. This will even be more visible if you memorize lots of numbers, e.g. optimum dosages of drugs in pharmacotherapy. If knowledge of one item makes it harder to remember another item, we have a case of memory interference." Do you ever experience this in language learning?

Having started Dutch last week - I'm still waiting for my first experience of memory interference (cross-language), some polyglots swear its real, others say not to worry too much.


Ah, hello. I'm a new Duolingo learner but not so new at language learning. As a student of Latin, Spanish, and French, I can attest to memory interference as a real thing. Two years ago I had back-to-back Spanish and French as well as a Latin class later in the day. In particular, I had trouble shifting from Spanish to French. "Ça va, Valérie?" "¡Sí!" But I don't classify this as always a bad thing. The same device that causes confusion can also be a memory aid. When I learned the preterite tense in Spanish, I couldn't for the life of me remember it. However, I was always able to puzzle it out by consulting the Latin perfect endings. Plus, learning languages within the same family allows you to draw connections. One day I was sitting in French class and just thought-- "Oh. Ayer and hier." My mind is a gobbledegook, but it works out.

Anyway, so how do you deal with it? My advice is to learn simultaneously. If you start one language after stopping another, your brain kind of picks it up as a continuation of the old one. It gets confusing, and you start to forget the first one and replace its words in your mind with ones from the second one. My Spanish is much more advanced than my French, but when I went to France for 10 days, I came back and made a total fool of myself when I met a Spanish speaker. From the first moment of the conversation it was terrible. I didn't hear her and was going to say "Comment?" but I knew it was the wrong word, yet I couldn't remember "¿Cómo?" so I just said "What?" and her opinion of my proficiency went down the tubes then and there. So keep up on all your languages!

This is just my experience. Feel free to do as you like. And as a "polyglot"-- I don't think I'm fluent in anything but English-- I swear it's real, but at the same time, don't worry too much.


I haven't experienced it myself yet. A friend is on language #7 and says it doesn't happen much, but everyone I've spoken to online recommends just taking one new language at a time.

As Dutch is close enough to Afrikaans I thought I'd give it a try, and what's funny it now seems like a bridge between Afrikaans and German.

I don't consider myself fluent in anything but Afrikaans and English currently. Maybe things will change with 2-3 years on-site.

I'll make note of when it comes up. Should be interesting. Thanks for the description. :)


Hey, well, I was doing all those languages. I've stopped. Especially the Italian, Spanish, French thing because those are so similar. And German, TBQH is really kicking my buns. I might go back to learning a bit of Spanish with German since weirdly, it helps me remember Spanish. IDKY that is either, but I've heard about it

Oh I found this link by a polyglot, he says at most, learn 2 distinct languages. http://www.thepolyglotdream.com/learning-more-than-one-language-at-the-same-time/

I have no idea if they use SRS at cram.com - I tried Anki a while ago, I just could not get into it, but for me, cram.com works really well and my German progress is going up a lot.

to find me on cram.com go here http://www.cram.com/user/

after the slash put in my user name, and you can see what flashcards I've made.

To go back to the previous subject, my mind was getting pretty confused with all of those other languages. It is super fun, and I may try it again, but I am trying to stick with German, I'm down a good way on the German list however, I still feel confused, especially if I hear German in a film. I can pick up a word or two, but I can't really understand anything. I try to read some of the tabloids, like Bild.de at times, but don't always get time too.

Back to the previous subject of flashcards - I am just LOVING THIS. Before German was so tough, now it's so much easier because I am doing flashcards. I reference my cards in every lesson, and it helps me so much. I have no idea if the Anki deck system is like this. And I am using the free version at cram.com. I forget how I found them, but one day I was googling for something and this came up under german flashcards - and I wasn't trying to make them.

OHHHH, I remember, I was looking for language flashcards because SOME PEOPLE HERE at DL have flashcards, it was mentioned here on the discussion board, and I was completely envious because I really really need them. I do not have them, but this is superb since, and I can't be sure, the flashcards here are pre-made, I think, the ones at cram.com are ones that I made for myself, so for me that works out a lot better, memory-wise.

As far as memorization, I don't really feel that I'm "trying" to memorize anything since that never seems to work for me. I'm just trying to read DL, have my flashcards at cram.com and it's all going so much better for me for learning this language.


Forgot to clarify, the polyglot says to do 2 distinct languages at the SAME time, max. But he also says by doing 2 you slow down learning a lot. I kind of agree.


Ah, that makes more sense than a single language at a time, for me. I guess my focus will be German spoken language and usage the next year to two years, whilst I bolster my Dutch vocab (slow Anki frequency deck learning, over 2-3 years). When I'm comfortable with German, the Dutch vocab will already be accessible and I can focus on the differences between Afrikaans and German :)


I just figured that out :) I've been tackling Portuguese for a while and, since I'm still beginner but I can understand simple sentences, I added on Dutch when it came out. Boy, was it hard! I couldn't think in anything but English because my mind was so boggled by all the new info (which worried me because I have other languages I practice on a daily basis, too), that I decided to give Dutch a break and wait. At least things are back to normal now, but my impatience is definitely going to test my waiting period!


Language teacher here! Language interference is absolutely a real thing. When a language learner tries to use a new language beyond their abilities, they often try to apply the rules of languages that they know or in which they are proficient. I see my students do it all the time as they learn Spanish. There's a phase in language learning that we call "interlanguage" during which students are expected to have pronounced language interference from their primary language.


You have earned yourself a lingot dude! Congrats! Do you feel that the streak helps in learning better than compared to someone who takes a break here and there? I started learning German on duo 27 days ago, haven't quit since, some days I can't get too much in but I usually get a minimum of 100xp per day, I'm hoping the streak rubs off some extra help on learning ^^ Best of luck to you!


I guess like with all things I want to try and make learning a habit. The streak makes me stay consistent, some days I do the bare minimum, some days I stick around for an hour. The streak helps consistency in coming back, I guess :)


That's it, the streak also makes me consistent, some days it's just the 30 second things that I can do. Really helps though to stay consistent.


I like the timed ones myself, usually can get up to 17 or 18 on a run, rather than the 'new' learning that sometimes has that disheartening (yeah, yeah) no points ending.


That lingot backfired on you ;)


Hahaha I noticed! Thanks for the reply though, any bit of new information on how to learn is good! I think full immersion is one of the best ways to learn a new language, so ever since I started my streak I have been listening to more music in German, movies in German, basically anything I can get my hands on (I hope to spend time in Germany at some point, but till then I have to go about it this way haha).


If you have any German movies you can recommend specifically for language learning, that would be great. :)

Some friends from there got me into weekly Tatort viewing as well.


Depending on what type of movies that you like depending on where you live there are quite a few good ones that I've found on Netflix and Hulu.


I'll check out Netflix when they launch in Germany :)


I can't say I know any specific for learning but I saw "Oh Boy!", "Das Leben der Anderen", and "Goodbye Lenin!" are the ones I saw so far, and the German in them is clear enough for you to be able to make out some things. I am still way in the beginning so I have to go back to a few things in each movie, still I can make out a thing or two in each sentence in the movies so I'm pretty happy with the progress hahaha If I'm not mistaken there is a list on imdb of movies that are good for people learning German :D


Thanks! Definitely grabbing these.


What do you think, what is more important. Vocabulary or grammar?


I don't think there is a distinction to be made, vocabulary means nothing without grammar and grammar nothing if you don't have a reference word meaning.

Vocabulary helped me an incredible amount - I can remember travelling to Germany in 2012 and being able to make basic conversation, but still sitting dumbstruck and misinterpreting most conversations. After the year of vocab, I returned to Germany and it felt like 90%+ of conversations, radio passing conversations was at least comprehensible.

I'll probably learn a lot on the grammar front, once I have regular speaking partners and regular tandem events.


Good job! I find it hard to do duolingo everyday!


Congrats, people like you encourage me to continue learning German despite all of its difficulties


I saw many links of interest shared in this post. Thanks and congratulations for your feat!


Planning and discipline.


Congrats on the nice streak. So, I just worked out, I have 192 Duo exercises to go. Think I should attack and finally finish this tree. 2 a day means I can make it by year end, maybe.


It's actually one of the most motivating features i've come across, for me. I'm new to the site, and at first i wasn't too bothered about keeping the streak going, but over the last couple of days i've caught myself thinking, "I should log on to keep the streak going!"

I enjoy learning languages, but i often fall into that trap where i start missing a day here and there, which turns into weeks and so on. But at the moment the streak is keeping me going and it helps that the lessons are pretty straight forward and suited to how i learn a language best.


Congratulations! And thanks for sharing the tips. Keep it going.


RESPECT this is my dream ! keep learning you`r in the right way!!


not sure if it's the one you used. but the thing that i installed was like a super old 90's interface.. was it useful?


It might be a super old 90's interface. I don't know. I customize my card decks with HTML5 and CSS which leaves the design up to myself, also UI isn't important for me here, just getting massive amounts of words into my head.


The source code is open source and Python so you could feel free to help out with jazzing up the interface with some Qt5?


thanks a lot! take my lingots


Anki seems extremely helpful so here's a lingot for you my friend. Is there another deck you would recommend besides the top 1000? https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1126003944


There is also this one which is 10k words, with about 1/5th audio. Yet with AwesomeTTS you can setup text to speech for German cards so you can hear the pronunciation as well. https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/4050872349


Such dedication is admirable! Perhaps you could come motivate my students (I teach high school Latin) to do the same!


Perhaps your high school Latin students could inspire me to stick to my Latin :)


"Wheelock's Latin" and a reader which accompanies it called "38 stories by Groton and May" are fantastic resources which should both be adult enough to not irritate you, and comprehensive enough to answer any questions you might have.

Remember, it's just charts, charts, charts :P


that's awesome. I couldn't keep 2 months


I had a 21 day streak going and then I missed a day due to RL issues! I was super bummed because I forgot to buy a freeze. Oh well, just means I have to longer to beat it is all.


So I'm back on the wagon. Back to a good old streak, this time a more sensible 20 a day (for now), wish me luck.

I got so discouraged when I lost my 420 day streak that I didn't Duo for months.


Welcome Back and let the streak begin! Again.


Thanks! Discovered any cool new German learning tools recently :)


I started following @LearnXDGerman on twitter. He'll post sentences and then translate them for you. If you sign up on his website he'll email audio stories with accompanying PDFs to follow along with a story spoken in German. It adds another dimension that keeps things interesting.


Aww, but that's a beautiful illustration of why beeminding Duolingo is more motivationally robust than maintaining a streak (aka "don't break the chain" aka the Seinfeld hack).


You know me, I do both, but yes, breaking the chain, when it gets to the bigger levels, becomes seriously demotivational, at least for me.

I kept up my Germany learning in Anki (tracking via python update to Beeminder) that just seemed upward and onward, but I

just couldn't face the owl at zero. :)


We blogged about "Beeminder vs The Seinfeld Hack" in the meantime: http://blog.beeminder.com/seinfeld


The Seinfeld hack’s greatest strength is also its fatal flaw. Once you do break the chain, all the motivation it provided bursts like a bubble. [...] Beeminder simultaneously turns the flexibility to 11 and magnifies the subtle psychological pull of the Seinfeld hack into raw unassailable motivation. With Beeminder you can commit to maintaining a certain average [like 100 points per week]. It doesn’t matter what days of the week, and, critically, you can build up a safety buffer and then take some time off, without the danger that that will lead you down a slippery slope of sloth. With Beeminder’s yellow brick road you’ve precommitted to not let your overall average dip too far. (If you do, we literally charge your credit card.)


How many lingots do you have? Congratulations on the achievement!


OMG, my 4-days-streak seems really poor next to your 367-days-streak! Congratulations! Viel Glück weiterhin!


A tiny Iron Bank of Lingots. Really don't know what to do with them. Will probably use the 'expensive' test feature at some point.


Ich danke dich fur die Lingots.


Awesome!!! It's so inspiring to see posts like this one :)

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